Esoteric interview from Qvadrivivm #1 (1999)

Interview: Kuronen

Not so long ago, someone inquired me what has been the strongest moving experience with metal I have gone through. I don't remember what I answered, but one substantial contestant would be the moments spent with The Pernicious Enigma, the second album of the UK-based orchestra Esoteric. It is not necessary to tell you how it blew my fucking socks off when I first heard it, but heck, it definitely did. Now they are proceeding on their pathways, with Metamorphogenesis, the band's fourth official recording. This interview veers on the past of the band, since, by the time of the interview, the new effort was not yet available.

Many of our readers haven´t yet heard Esoteric but are interested so could you give us a brief history of the band ?

-ESOTERIC formed in July 1992, after the gathering of five individuals, inspired to create dark, innovative music that was evocative to and expressive of the contents of our psyche. The lyrics and music are reflections and transpositions of our thoughts, philosophies, emotions, experiences and so on. The Demo Esoteric Emotions - The Death of Igorance was recorded in 1993 and was well received by all that experienced it. Aesthetic Death signed the band shortly after it's release and work began on the First Double CD Epistemological Despondency (1994). Two years later, the Second Double CD The Pernicious Enigma was created with a slightly different line-up. I replaced one of the guitarists but we were unable to find a suitable drummer due to the intense diversity of the music. Two tours later we lost another guitarist and Greg (vocals)took over in his place. We have recently finished recording the new CD Metamorphogenesis with a new drummer, Keith York who works well with the band having worked with a diverse array of bands including Pitchshifter. The music still captures the essence of the word 'esoteric'.

I´ve had a few discussions about different sides of music lately and I´ve used Esoteric as an example, because Esoteric represents to me something that many others can´t achieve. In my own opinion your music isn´t rational in the common meaning of music, more like a feeling with an ongoing soundharmony in the background. Very innovative music, in other words. How do you view the music yourself ?

-The music may sound irrational but it is logical. The timing structure of each track can vary immensely from start to finish but is always calculated to precision. There are sections which require thought, understanding and even a little effort to listen to, and others which wash over you in a dream-like way. There is always something new to hear in the music, no matter how many times it is listened to. We are all very creative people and the music reflects this.

Your kind of music isn´t maybe the best king to be played live, but you have been playing live. How is the 'usual' live show ?

-I'm not sure that we have a usual live show as each one has been very different. My favourite shows are the small gigs with just a few dedicated listeners but the energy that we dispel in the bigger gigs is also very satisfying. We are very limited in terms of venues as our music requires a good low-end response from the PA which, unfortunately, is very hard to come by.

You play the songs faster ?

-Absolutely not. We are not entertainers so audience satisfaction isn't our primary goal. Our music is created entirely for ourselves and we assume that anyone who visits our live performances have at least acknowledged this. It would be wrong to play all the songs faster as that is not how they are intended to be played. The tempo varies greatly through the course of each song to portray the content of the lyrics so slow sections tend to be a little slower and the fast sections are played a little faster, but as a rule, we try to keep it as close to the recorded arrangements as we possibly can.

How does the audience respond to it -I bet they do not mosh too much ! ?

-The response, in general, has been very good. People who know the music tend to enjoy it more as it is not the type of music that you can easily get into. As for moshing, there are a few idiots who like to jump around a bit but we soon put that to an end. Our audiences tend to vomit more than mosh.

Esoteric is now on Eibon rec. and you´re going to release your third album quite soon, if I understood correctly, could you tell us something about the record ?

-The new CD Metamorphogenesis consists of three tracks and is about 45mins in length. It was recorded, engineered and produced by ourselves and mastered by Tom of Paradigma (who also contributed vocally to one of the tracks). The noticeable progression between Epistemological Despondency and The Pernicious Enigma is also evident in the new CD as we take the music to a whole new level of complexity and majesty. It is a little less psychedelic than the last release but it is so diverse in emotional content, it is impossible to describe. It is aggressive and hateful yet majestic and beautiful. No, I can't describe it.

The artwork on Epistemological Despondency is very mesmerising and I´ve always appreciated the fact that you create your own graphics. Was this something intentional from the very beginning and who came up with the idea ? Also, why is it important to use your own graphics and layout ?

-The demo and 'Epistemological Despondency' were illustrated by Simon, the guitarist, who is a very talented artist. He also contributed the cover artwork for The Pernicious Enigma. I was responsible for the booklet design on the second CD which has attracted quite alot of attention due to it's originality and complexity. 'Metamorphogenesis' is illustrated by my brother Chris who has always been in contact with the band even before I had heard of Esoteric. He has managed to convey the content of the music extremely well under my supervision and I am proud to include it in our work. We have moved away from the Op-Art theme that Simon introduced as he is no longer in contact with the band and there is no way we could mimic his style of design. The Pernicious Enigma booklet was entirely computer generated using various 3-D rendering applications and photo-editors. Metamorphogenesis is a mixture of photographic imagery and electronic editing which suits the new tracks perfectly. It has always been important that we use our own graphics and layout as no-one else could possibly know how to illustrate the sound of the music.
-Recently, we have turned to using computers as a matter of necessity. The studios available to us are not designed to cope with the techniques necessary to record our music so we set up our own recording environment. Computers and hard-disk recording suits our music perfectly as we are not limited to a 24 or 48 tracks. We invested in the technology to allow us to create Metamorphogenesis and now that the studio is in place, we can develop it to suit the music we want to create. Technology has always been a part of Esoteric and the Digital Effects that we use has helped establish a definite 'sound'. There isn't an effect type that we don't use, there is no other band that uses effects in the way that we do (at least none that I have heard). Our guitar and vocal effects often get confused as being keyboards or synths.

The first album had it´s "Fuck off and die" -list which practically forced me to ask this question: What is Esoteric´s ideology ?

-I cannot speak for the entire band on this, as we are all individuals and we encourage each other to be individuals. The easiest way to put forward our collective ideology was to produce the Fuck Off And Die list (Which is now at least five years old). It is still relevant but no longer appears on our releases. I have never analysed the ideology of Esoteric as it is not relevant to do so but in simple terms, we are who we are and anyone who tries to impose any different views or beliefs on us without exception will be told to fuck off. We are open minded, and welcome intelligent debate but if the opposition is not convincing it is generally ignored.

What would be the three best musical styles in the world, and why? Can three or more music styles be mixed with each other without the result being chaotic ?

-I am not aware of three different musical styles. Music is always intended to provoke some sort of reaction, to laugh, cry, uplift, depress, to think or even to dance. If the music succeeds in provoking these reactions in me, then I will acknowledge it as being of worth.
-When something is consciously constructed, the result can never be chaotic. Only the onlooker can see chaos, the creator sees beauty. Chaos can never be created, as is the nature of chaos. It is assumed that because we create something new, we consciously mix styles, but there is only one style of music and that is our own.

You have released two albums up to date, Epistemological Despondency and The Pernicious Enigma. How do you see these albums today, still as good as the day they were made ?
-I don't think a day has passed since I first heard Esoteric that I haven't listened to or thought about the tracks on these albums. The music is, and always will be, a part of me and my lifestyle so I will always appreciate the content.

One difficult and quite irrelevant question I´d like to ask you is how would you categorise Esoteric´s music ? I´ve had a little discussion about this and I promised one guy that I would ask it from you. He said that in his opinion you´re doom/death which I didn´t agree because to me Esoteric isn´t just doom/death, it´s something bigger. So how would you comment this ? Is it 'drug influenced doom' or something else ? Your opinion ?

-We have been described in many different ways over the years. People have mentioned ridiculously long descriptions in reviews/interviews etc. The most amusing of which was something like Doom, Death, Grunge, Industrial, Sludgecore, Black, Ritual, Noise or something. I have never subscribed to the labelling of bands. Make your own mind up, It is none of my business where in your CD collection our music sits.

The three most important elements of the Esoteric creation ? How would you express the proportion of these elements ?
-Narcotics, hatred and misery in equal proportion. There is nothing that influences us except our will.

Is demand for progression the biggest aspect that drags Esoteric to release albums, and to continue working with music? If not, what is and why ?
-There has never been any demand for us to create music, we do it because we like to explore and record our thoughts. Music and art is the natural way for us to do this and we will continue to do this until we die. We may even die as a result of our creativity but that is a whole different topic. Music is our chosen medium for releasing our thoughts and emotions. Others choose various methods but this suits us. The music is strong enough to prompt labels to release the CDs, but this is just a bi-product. We would continue to make the music we like regardless of whether it is to be publicly heard or not.

Since I´m a Finnish guy and we´re talking about extreme doom musick here, I would like to know if you are familiar with bands like Skepticism and Unholy ? Opinions on their music ?
-I am familiar with the music of these bands, although I'm not really a fan of Skepticism's music. Unholy on the other hand have always had my support as they are a truly innovative band. Unholy and Autopsy are probably the only two metal bands that I choose to listen to.

Yes. Disembowel is art where most death metal fails. Not to say many a word about Critical Madness demo. Reader, if you are aware of better death metal, get in touch...  Memorium?
-Visit our website. http://www.bereft.demon.co.uk . There are MP3 samples, lyrics, and artwork for all of our music, about two hours in total. Your support is much appreciated.

Slicky guitar solos suck. Thanks for the interview.
-Cheers Mikko, I hope the zine is successful.

"As the night stalks revenge. The moon is culling for blood, so will it be! This soulless light. Shall feel the pain of my suffering." -Allegiance, from The Pernicious Enigma.

This is the closest we can get to the symmetry of rapture. Find Esoteric. Kill yourself.

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