Thursday, August 3, 2017

An Interview with Ingurgitating Oblivion

Germany's Ingurgitating Oblivion released one of the most entrancing albums I've heard this year. Ambitious in its scope, Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light branches out from a doomy death metal base, employing jazz and classical influences, along with unorthodox song structures and instruments. Knowing that this is an album I'll be digesting for years to come, I contacted the band to find out more about the album's creation and the band's history. Founder/guitarist/vocalist Florian Engelke kindly took the time to answer my queries.

Dreams of Consciousness: Please introduce Ingurgitating Oblivion for those who aren't familiar with you - where are you from, and how would you describe the music you make? And what does your band name mean?

Hey Adrian and "Hi there" to all of you guys out there who happen to be reading this. Thanks for the interview – we do appreciate your support and interest in IO. Hmmm, so we start off with a difficult one ... describing my own band. I reckon I'd like to see IO categorized in the section of "good music" first and foremost. I started the band as "Of Trees And Orchids" back in 1997. The band has, of course, always been an intensely personal matter ... in my case this means dwelling on poetry I like, venerating nature, digesting dreams of mine, thoughts which have been relevant at certain moments in time.

When it comes to influences, I think my musical taste was shaped by bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Winter, Resurrection, Brutality, Suffocation, Obituary, Dethrone, Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Crowbar, Celtic Frost, Celestial Season, Septic Flesh. So mainly Death/Doom stuff, I suppose. So far for some Metal influences of mine. However, my musical influences have always covered a whole range of artistic forms of expression. I love stuff like Zappa, Collosseum, Deep Purple, Terje Rypdal, Rabi Abou Khalil, Julia Boutros etc. Also I have always been peculiar when it comes to lyrics and dwelled on the works by Byron, Dunsany, Blake, Borchert, Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Purcell, Dowland, Rilke and such ... over the years I have developed a style which I still refer to by Death Metal. Our style is brutal, dissonant, very complex, postmodern, very epic and most certainly music one should enjoy in moments of focus :-)

DoC: If you would, please give a brief history of your band - when did you form? What led to the end of your previous band Of Trees and Orchids, and the creation of Ingurgitating Oblivion?

Formed the band [Of Trees and Orchids] back in 1997. Released two albums under that name. Renamed the band [Ingurgitating Oblivion]. Released tons of demos and three official releases now. First one on Unmatched Brutality. The last two ones on Willowtip Records. I changed the name ages ago as I wanted it to sound more telling and obvious. The background of the name is a personal one which could be interpreted like this: "A state of oblivion that ingurgitates the one who thinks".

DoC: How would you describe your approach to music? What would you like the listener to come away with?

Feel free to interpret IO's music as you like :-) What I enjoy personally is to be carried away and to bathe in oceans of sound. To me IO's music is soothing, beautiful, poetic, brutal and insanely intense. Obviously I enjoy the musical and lyrical depth of it as well. I like to refer to IO's approach by progressive Death Metal ... progressive as I use progressive chords quite a lot as a guitarist. No obvious developments in my compositions, really :-) Also, [IO drummer] Lille of Defeated Sanity is a progressive artist as well! He doesn't just accompany the structures dictated by the rhythm section ... he is a free spirit and so are the vibraphones, pianos, the bass lines ... everything. We love this feeling of freedom and openness. This feeling of "denial of harmonic relief" ...

DoC: Your latest album is Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light. How long had you been working on it? How does it compare to your previous releases?

I started working on Vision (...) in 2014 and pretty much worked on it nonstop until its release in early 2017. When I compare Vision (...) to Continuum (...), the current album is so much more mature and free. The reason is obvious. On Continuum (...) I was “forced“ to work with a bunch of people who were not good and musically proficient enough for what IO was heading for. So Continuum (...) was a bit of a compromise. Vision (...) is free, musically more profound and most certainly performed in a more adequate way. Also, I could try things out which have always been at the very core of IO: experimentation and non-Metal elements including loads of classical influences ranging from Prokofiev to Pärt.

DoC: Your songs are unorthodox for many reasons - the length, song structure and instrumentation are unusual for a metal band. How do you approach writing new material? How clear of an idea do you have of what the finished song will be while you are writing?

To be honest, I usually do not have such a clear idea of where the song is taking me. Sometimes I go like, "Let's be a bit more brief here"; or, "How about something more mellow?" Or, “This one needs to be completely desolate, sad and sombre" ... but in the end the song just evolves and I am usually surprised by what I have created. This goes for the rest of the band as well. Usually I start off by composing the basic lines, record them, tweak them, modify them, finalize them and present the entire thing to the rest of IO. In most of the cases, this is the final general structure then and the others add their bits. I then compose the second guitar voice, then we add bass lines, solos, vibraphones etc. The order of these steps varies a great deal ... there is no generally applicable approach. The only consistent step here is me starting off with the basic ideas on guitar.

DoC: Ingurgitating Oblivion is also unique in its song titles and lyrics. What kinds of themes/subjects are explored on Visions Wallows in Symphonies of Light?

I got inspired by Rilke, Baudelaire, Milton, Melville and Nietzsche. These are the poets/philosophers I read at the time I created Vision (...). So the lyrics deal with water, the sublime, nothingness, longing, love, the absurd and dying.

DoC: How often do you get to play live? What are the challenges of touring and performing, given the complexity of your material?

At the moment IO does not perform anything live on stage, but I may change that in the future. The complexity of our approach to music does not pose a problem. I reckon we'd rehearse the material for 2-3 months and we should be fine. In the future we will only play exclusive shows – that is for sure :-)

DoC: In the time your band has been around, the way music is released has changed dramatically, with a much greater emphasis on digital platforms over physical releases. Has this affected you, and do you see this change as good or bad?

It is a natural development as far as I am concerned. We still love physical releases and that is why we released Vision (...) on vinyl as well!!! Hell yeah! I know for a fact, though, that labels and artists who depend on their music to pay their bills have been affected greatly over the years. Personally I think people should buy the music they love and not just listen to it on some online platform. This approach and passion I still observe in the underground scenes and that's what I love about it! Idealism with its practical implications is something I clearly embrace ...

DoC: I'd like to ask some questions about Of Trees And Orchids. The music was unique, and in many ways ahead of its time. How do you look back on those albums? Are there any plans to re-release them?

No plans to re-release any Of Trees And Orchids albums ... I am afraid there is no demand for it, really. As I said above, I have always been a bit peculiar when it comes to combining musical styles and dwelling on specific lyricists as well. I have always treated language with great respect and I have always detested limitations often imposed by any kind of scene. I disdain artistic obviousness and predictability ... and I reckon the outcome is a clear result of this. Thanks so much for your kind words by the way :-)

DoC: What does the future hold for Ingurgitating Oblivion? Danke schön!

Gerne geschehen :-) I think I will start writing new compositions for the successor to Vision (...) ... I will clearly develop our approach a little further, but keep true to our roots ... Death Metal.

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Ingurgitating Oblivion on  Bandcamp