Review and Interview: Igorrr-Spirituality and Distortion
In the Beany Boy house we appreciate Igorrr and all they do. Lucky for us I got to listen to the upcoming album, Spirituality and Distortion, which drops March 27th through Metal Blade records, as well as email a few questions over to Igorrr mastermind Gautier Serre. So without further ado, how about a quick one-two punch of that good shit?
Spirituality and Distortion starts off with a deceptively conventional sound. There is the new sonic influence of Middle Eastern/Eastern music, which while it may be new for the Igorrr sound, isn’t necessarily groundbreaking overall. However, as the record goes on, it starts branching off into the oddball eclectic sonic landscape fans of the band have come to expect, especially by the track “Himalaya Massive Ritual.”
Spirituality and Distortion really is a bottom-heavy record. There isn’t a bad track on the album, but for me most of the highlights were in the second half, other than a few highlights in the beginning like “Nervous Waltz” and “Parpaing.” My personal favorite track so far though would have to be “Paranoid Bulldozer Italiano,” with its particularly strong Igorrr flavor flitting frantically between breakbeat and glitch, death metal, and baroque music.
Newcomers to Igorrr will find something equal parts odd and eclectic and accessible, and fans of the band will see an album that will reward them with multiple spins, with new ground being uncovered with each listen, one that isn’t nearly as conventional as it comes off at first blush. Highly recommended.
4/5 Flaming Toilets Ov Hell
You incorporate a lot of different styles into your compositions but your personal sound stays cohesive and authentic. How do you approach your songwriting when it comes to combining all these stylistic elements?
Combining all those elements is natural for me as it is basically the way I want to hear the music. Some styles of music are awesome to combine with their opposite, like for example Baroque and Death Metal, those are very opposite styles and they work together a bit like the Yin and the Yang. One is light and easy and the other one is dark and brutal, they articulate each other very well and can be used together if you find the good balance. Combining genres is not the main goal, combining genres is the result of the main thing, which is to use contrast in music. The contrast in music is very helpful to underline the message, you can contrast a genre of music with its opposite and it will make it feel stronger, like with noise, the noise will never feel so noisy when you contrast it with silence, and on the other way around, the silence will never feel so silent when you contrast it with noise. You can check the track Parpaing on the album Spirituality and Distortion, Parpaing is a very heavy track with no concessions at all. Full brutality. George Fisher delivered extremely brutal and heavy vocals, Sylvain Bouvier did a impressive performance at the drums. It is indisputably loud and powerful. Martyn Clément as well brought a absolute killing guitar riffing on it. Here comes the contrasts to articulate the music :
With Parpaing, and its ridiculously heavy vibes, the perfect contrast that can be given to that is the lightest music possible, a 8-bits Chiptune music, that’s why I set up this track in 3 parts, it starts with simple and almost normal death metal, as heavy as it might be, then I contrast the music with its opposite, the 8-bits Chiptune, and then the death metal comes back, slapping and killing the 8-bits Chiptune music. It has been pretty clear in my mind of how this track should be from the beginning, but one day, I tried, just for fun, to let go another George Fisher verse, not on the death metal this time but on the Chiptune, I felt like this was it, this was the perfect music I was searching for, the perfect link, the absolute combination of sounds. Death metal has no wish to sound like 8-bits Chiptune music at all, and 8-bits Chiptune music has no intention to sound like death metal at all, that’s why each genre has plenty of space to fit with each other.
You also use a lot of micro-rhythmic and microtonal shifting within a line. Is this something you began doing deliberately or did it come more organically for you?
As you said, it’s something which comes like organically, I would even say instinctively. Music is a matter of emotion, when you create music, you express what you feel, or what you want to feel. The best example which comes into my mind now is on Downgrade Desert, at the end of the track, on the last part of it, there is a bend on one note of the guitar floating on the blast beat, a bend from down to up, which passes through all the micro possible tones from one note to another, this makes you feel like your heart is going up and down and your whole body is following it, it’s almost a physical sensation, it’s made in purpose, at some points, those musical effects brings you out of the usual musical rules where all the notes has a precise name and should sounds in tune with the A 440Hz. Microtonal helps to feel a bit out of this for a moment, while micro-rhythmic, specially with the breakcore parts helps to reach a very detailed work and vision on the sound, so for those who are interested in details in music, there is a insane amount of work on this over all the Igorrr albums. Some things I’m sure to be the only one to hear, but makes me smile.
What are some of your favorite films, and what have you seen recently that you’ve enjoyed?
The last movie which I remember enjoying very very much is « What we do in the shadows » the 2014’s movie of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, I’ve seen it quite recently for the first time and it has been a memorable cinematographic moment for me. I’m not into vampire stuff, but this one is above that.
I’m not sure which movie to add on my top list, probably Dogtooth, Interstellar, Spirited Away, Fight Club, Seven, Lion, The Intouchables, The Exorcist etc… those are all very different movies, but right now those are the ones which came into my mind. On a easier note, the movie Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra is a masterpiece, at least for French people, I’m not sure you can translate those jokes for another language, it’s really French, made for French people.
What are some of your influences—musicians, books, art, etc?
I have many musical influences, coming from Bach, Cannibal Corpse, Chopin, Meshuggah, Beethoven, Agustín Barrios Mangoré, Mr.Bungle, Taraf de Haïdouks, Aphex Twin, Sepultura, Mayhem, Domenico Scarlatti or Gabi Lunca, again extremely various and different artists, all beyond amazing, but this is just a very small part of my influences, I’m listening tons of very different music since my childhood so I have a heavy and diverse musical background. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about books, I got a kind of hyper activity disorder, so I’m not able to focus long enough to read a book or at least having enough patience to get into a book, this sucks, because books looks awesome and it’s frustrating not to be able to really read one.
Except music and video, I’m not really much going further into art, I’m more a nature man, I live in the countryside with my girlfriend and I’m fascinated by wild nature and the Mediterranean fauna and flora, this is what I do during the short moments when I’m out of music, learning the infinite complexity and speechless creativity of nature, which can be seen as the finest Art ever.
What kind of music did you grow up with?
I grew up with parents which are listening to a music which I dislike very very much : Chanson Française (French Chanson).
I’m not interested in lyrics in music, and Chanson Française is like 90% of lyrics and a musical support just to help the lyrics, plus the music is usually made there in a manner that I find demagogic and fake. I’m not sure that helped me very much to develop Igorrr, but on my personal parcours, I grew up with Korn, Nirvana, Pantera, Metallica and Morbid Angel for the metal/rock part, also with Apex Twin, Squarepusher, Venetian Snares or Bogdan Raczynski for the electronic part, and Bach, Chopin and Mozart for the classical part, plus some really popular bands which I like pretty much after all like Dire Straits, Jean Michel Jarre or Muse.
I didn’t grow up in one single kind of music, I have always been hungry of something else, curious of something else because I always had this feeling that something is missing, something which I’m creating in Igorrr now, like to finally hear the music I’ve always been searching for.
Is there anyone in particular you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?
My personal hero in the death metal world is George Fisher, so the collaboration with him on Spirituality and Distortion feels like a kind of accomplishment already, so I feel pretty much satisfied about collaborations at the moment. They are still many people I would be happy to collaborate with, but Igorrr is not about that, Igorrr is a musical project that I created to express the music which makes sense to me, whatever what people might think or whatever if the label will be able to sell it or not, it’s a honest music, made with no compromise at all, there is no aim to collaborate with this or that person, it’s working on the other way around, if the music needs it, then I’m happy to collaborate, in the case of George Fisher, the music definitely needed him, but I’m not thinking about doing any collaboration since I don’t have the music which really needs it. I would say I’m doing anything in order to serve the music, the rest is out of the process.
What drew you so heavily to breakbeat on the electronic side of your composition style?
Well, I love electronic music, with electronic music you get ride of the physical limitation than a human being have. There is sadly no human touch in electronic music, neither the organic vibe which makes the human music still feel stronger, but there is something crazy, something inhuman which is very very much interesting. Both of the sides, human and electronic combined together are doing miracles. You call Breakbeat, I would call it Breakcore, or Jungle, this is the side of electronic music which I love the most as this is the one which makes the more sense to me, Breakcore pushed the boundaries miles away from what’s playable humanly, and reach incredible steps of rythmiques, this is what interests me in Breakcore and Jungle. Adding that touch of electronic music on the top of the human touch, well synchronized, is able to push the music much further that it is without electronic help.
You’ve got a new album coming out in March. What can fans and newcomers expect from Spirituality and Distortion? Are there any unifying themes or musical motives?
In Spirituality and Distortion, you will find the result of a deep musical research expressing a state of mind I’ve been through those years, this album is very personal, I feel deeply connected with it, there is no pretension of being anything else than real Igorrr, the music how I see it and how I want it.
You will find baroque music, death and black metal, middle east and Tibetan vibes, breakcore, musette, Nalkan style and minor acoustic dark melodies, composed through the years, including during the Savage Tour, which was the huge tour we’ve made to promote our last album, and even during the recording session of this last album, Savage Sinusoid I made tests and recordings for Spirituality and Distortion, that I wasn’t able to manage properly until today. Spirituality and Distortion is an big album which was vital for me, an expression of something essential for me as Igorrr. There is more or less a unifying theme, or at least something specific that you don’t find on the other albums, it’s the traditional middle east color, this is a premiere for Igorrr to play with those colors of sound.
Beside the composition and the emotional message of the music, you will hear amazing guests musicians, included George Fisher, Timba Harris, Mike Leon, Matt Lebofsky, Mehdi Haddab etc… as well as the usual guests, like Laure Le Prunenec, Sylvain Bouvier, Erlend Caspersen, Nils Cheville, Antony Miranda, Laurent Lunoir plus our new guitar player : Martyn Clément.
I believe that every musician says the same thing when they release a new album, but I really do feel it right now : this is the strongest Igorrr album and the one I feel the most connected with.
Do you have any plans or ideas for Igorrr in the coming years?
Yes, we are going on tour in two weeks, I’m not sure when the interview gonna be out, neither when you, reader, gonna read this, but here for my time and period of life, I’m going on tour in two weeks, mid March 2020 and we are going to be on the road almost non stop until this summer and periodically until the end of 2021, so I think that’s a nice plan for now. Let’s see if the future gives some surprises, but for now, this is exciting enough!
I know it’s cheesy, but I think this is important to ask—what advice do you have for other creatives out there, both those starting out on their journey and those already on their path?
I’m not sure I would be the right person to give advice in music as most of the bands nowadays want to sounds like each other while I’m on a different path, but for those who are interested in developing their very personal sound, the first advice I would give is to start again from the beginning, to question yourself on everything and to learn or re-learn every single detail of the steps of the music creation, every little step, to be sure that the way you do it is the way You really want to do it and not the way you do it just because other people are doing it like that. They are hundred and thousand of little details and little steps to proceed to a real musical creation work, and most of them can be thought and made in many different ways, by finding your own personal way on all those little steps, at some points you gonna find your personal sound, your personal touch in music, but this is a insane work, really.
There you have it, folks. Hope you enjoyed, and I hope you check out the album. Peace.