6 Dec


Written words have little persuasive power when it comes to a band like Fungal Abyss – and there may be no other band on the planet like Fungal Abyss.

When a band caveats their debut recording (in this case, an outrageously heavy, epic, throbbing third-eye of a cassette entitled “Bardo Abgrund Temple,” available from Translinguistic Other, along with other beatific releases) with the declaration that follows, what could possibly be said to make the timid listener leap directly into the Abyss?

“‘Bardo Abgrund Temple’ was improvised in the studio under the influence of teonanacatl. There were no overdubs and no edits.”

Such a warning (promise? threat?), coupled with a glance at the song titles and lengths (opening with “Arc of the Covenant” at 20:11 and closing with the 24:06 “Fungal DeBrist,” with two trips in the middle adding up to an additional twenty-three minutes in the Abyss) should have your mind immediately made up – either you’re game for this sort of thing, or you’re not.

We certainly are and if you’ve followed this far down, odds are that you are, too. Blow your speakers, blow your mind. Let us enter this “Temple” as we’ve entered others before, “concerned with an artistic appreciation of beauty, a profound sense of connection with the cosmos, and finally, an understanding of archetypes and genetic history caused by stepping outside the regular flow of time.” Let us have drummer Ben Thomas-Kennedy lead the way.

What do you feel is the relationship between music and nature? Would you characterize the music you’ve made with Fungal Abyss to be a celebration of your relationship with the natural world, a reaction to man’s love for the synthetics which often place us in opposition to nature, a bit of both, or neither?

I think that sound is natural, but I don’t think all music is.  One can do some very unnatural things with sound, and sometimes that can be an amazing thing to do.  In Fungal Abyss however, we allow our natural minds and souls to join natural plants on a natural journey.  I don’t know if it’s a reaction to man’s love for synthetics though.  After all, we are using electric instruments.

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What are the key moments in your own personal musical evolution that lead you to a pursuit of more exploratory musical endeavors? Are there particular people in your life who were instrumental in broadening your musical perspectives? What was the first band or artist who made music that you felt consumed by, and how – if at all – does that music resonate with you today?

I have always wanted to explore with music more than I ever wanted to be proficient at it.  As long as I can remember I have spent more time improvising music than learning skills or songs.  A friend of mine and I used to spend hours making noise music out in the woods and it wasn’t until high school that we realized that other people were doing this, too.  We soon got consumed by Coil.  They seemed to be the perfect execution of what we were trying to do.  They are still, twenty years later, one of the artists I listen to the most.  Very inspirational.

How were you originally introduced to the practice of exploring music through improvisation? Do you feel you have trained yourself to somehow sustain the creative inspiration necessary for successful improvisation? Is creating improvised music, in your mind, akin to Michelangelo’s view on the art of sculpture – that the sculpture is already there, in the stone, and it is the artist’s role to find it and release it?

Improvisation began very naturally for us.  We used it as a way to warm up and find our volumes and tones before rehearsing with our metal bands Lesbian and the Abodox.  Without speaking or making a conscious decision, this became a lasting ritual for us.  I don’t know if we are looking for the sculpture within the stone.  I see it more as cruising around the entire stone, riding out the bits that feel good without regard for the finished product.

We find the opening track – “Arc of the Covenant” – on “Bardo Abgrund Temple” to be among the most compelling pieces of extended mind-fuckery that we’ve ever heard. What if any discussions about these songs took place before you entered the studio? Did the songs go through much in the way of additional manipulation after they were initially recorded, or is the final product completely “as is” for the listener?

We didn’t really discuss what we were going to do as it would have spoiled the ride.  Neither did we manipulate the final tracks at all.  We wanted to listener to hear it just how it happened.

What connections do the song titles have to the music we hear on “Bardo Abgrund Temple”? Were these titles discussed prior to the recording? Can you identify some of the voices we hear in “Timewave Zero” – is that Terrence McKenna speaking? – and tell us a bit more about the inspiration and execution of this song?

The song titles were written while we were hearing initial playback in the studio.  The names seemed to sum up some of the places our minds were going during this process.  Nothing was pre-planned before heading into the studio.

What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Souvenir’s Young America song of all time? Have you ever spent an entire evening listening to the album “Tumuli Shroomaroom”?

I have been listening to a lot of Atomic Rooster and Smak.  Its funny that you should  mention S.Y.A. in the context of our history of improvisation.  Last time we were out on the east coast, 4 of us actually joined them and Conifer to form an improvisation monster group called Machu Picchu Mother Future.

Obviously, one of the defining attributes of Fungal Abyss is your admission that the entirety of “Bardo Abgrund Temple” was recorded under the influence of teonanacatl, or “divine mushroom.” As a reminder, the sole proprietor of this web site has ABSOLUTELY NO EXPERIENCE OR KNOWLEDGE OF THIS TOPIC WHATSOEVER (especially if you are my mother, employer or friendly neighborhood police officer). That being said, can you tell us a bit more about your experience in this field, and how psilocybin mushrooms have enhanced your life? Speaking apart from anything musically, what is the most impactful revelation that you have had under the influence of mushrooms? Do you agree with Terrence McKenna assertion that the transformation of Homo erectus to Homo sapiens mainly had to do with the addition of the mushroom in its diet?

Without mushrooms we never would have been able to speak to the Space Warrior.  The Space Warrior is an intergalactic astronaut woman who guides our creative processes.  The entire universe exists inside her so she tends to know her way around.

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that you will soon release a colored vinyl, limited-edition 12” EP of Jethro Tull covers, entitled “Fungal in the Jungle”?

I heard this rumor too.  I look forward to hearing this.  I always love albums with rhyming titles.

William Blake (a huge Spacemen 3 fan, we hear) wrote the following in “Several Questions Answered”:

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”
Your thoughts?
I can definitely see the Spacemen 3 influence.  This is the lyrics to “Feels So Good” almost verbatim.
What’s next for Fungal Abyss?
This Spring we will be recording a new album live on the radio.  We will doing an hour long set on a show called Sonarchy on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle or everywhere else.  Check our Facebook page for updates.

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