Bedsore & Mortal Incarnation
How did this split come about? Did you reach out to each other directly because you were aware of each other and wanted to work with each other, or was it 20 Buck Spin that proposed this cooperation and brought you together?
Shimpei (Mortal Incarnation): Jacopo directly contacted me around the end of 2019. At the time, Bedsore had also only released a demo, but he sent us two tracks from their first full-length that were unreleased at the time.
Jacopo (Bedsore): We started talking about this split back in August 2019, to be more precise. As Shimpei said, at that time Bedsore had published only the self-titled demo and we were thinking about the future plans for the band. During that summer we’ve been pleasantly surprised when we listened to the first Mortal Incarnation’s release, so we decided to contact them to propose this idea. Right after we had to focus on our own first full-length, and this has obviously delayed the release of the split.
With music that resonates on a much deeper level compared to your average status quo death metal band, would you say that Mortal Incarnation and Bedsore mirror each other in terms of scope, ambition, aesthetic, and sensibility, that you have found the right match and worthy counterpart in each other?
Jacopo: Absolutely, you got the point perfectly. Beyond the different influences and the sound of both bands, what we have in common are surely the concept and vision of the genre, and of the music itself, aiming to be more progressive and deliberately experimental.
Shimpei: I’m a fan of death metal from the original era and have a strong respect for the great current bands that carry on their genes. However, I want to make music that does not treat various existing styles as symbols at the same time, something that is as complete within itself as possible. When I listened to the tracks from the Bedsore album that Jacopo sent me, I could hear a similar orientation, although we have slightly different musical influences. I remember being drawn to their song structures and the beauty of fragile harmonies.
What exactly is the purpose of this split, artistry-wise, and was there anything specific you wanted to accomplish with it?
Jacopo: Speaking only for Bedsore, we wanted our song to represent the real manifesto of what Bedsore is capable to offer. Listening to Shapes From Beyond The Veil Of Stars And Space, it’s possible to guess the path that the band will run across in the future. A real turning point compared to the previous productions, both in terms of sound and songwriting.
Shimpei: I’d also add that we wanted to know how the split, with our consciousness of each other going back and forth, would affect the compositions of each band.
Now that the project is done and you presumably had enough time to get familiar with the other band’s contribution to the split, could you briefly explain what you find particularly noteworthy about it?
Shimpei: I think this is the most mysterious and progressive sounding song of their career so far. I love the progression of the song, the dynamism of the rhythm section, and the mysterious yet beautiful atmospheres that I can’t find a reference source easily. I can say that with this song they have shed the grit of death metal and gained more of the organics and energy of progressive rock. I think this is a new level of metal.
Jacopo: The side of this split written by our mates Mortal Incarnation is a real death/doom gem, which however encloses much more inside. At first listen, it could seem a less complex song compared to ours, but the magic is exactly in the weaved textures and in the atmospheres that the guys built for the entire duration of the track, which can refer to bands of the caliber of Dead Can Dance or Swans.
Were these songs written specifically for this release and do you see them as fully rounded statements whose narratives are entirely contained within themselves, in the sense that they probably wouldn’t even work within the broader context of an EP or a full-length?
Jacopo: Our song was in the works way before the idea of making this split, so it’d be wrong to say that it was written specifically for this release. But yes, we consider this track as a composition in its own right, without doubts, and, as already stated, as a real declaration of intent considering those that will be the future steps of the band.
Shimpei: As for our side, our song wasn’t composed just for this opportunity either, but I think it certainly would not have been possible without this split. I was indeed conscious of presenting something closed in a single song, so it may not be suitable for inclusion in our future works. At the same time, there may be a possibility to re-record it and include it in a different release, time will tell.
Given how high the bar has been raised with this split, do you feel that writing your respective next full-lengths will present a challenge, in the sense that it won’t be easy to outdo yourselves and write something even more advanced and elaborate?
Shimpei: I’m quite excited to see what styles the next releases from both bands will be. For us, it’s been a couple of years since I composed the music for the split. Some parts of me as a person have not changed over the years, and some parts have changed, and I am sure that will have a positive effect on music. I can say that the direction of our future evolution is not to necessarily become more complex, but to create what we think is good at the time. Maybe it will be something more powerful and physical.
Jacopo: Working on our next release will be a challenge, no doubts about it, starting from the production, as we set ourselves to care about every single detail more than ever. From the composition side, we aren’t afraid of not being able to outdo ourselves, and we are confident that with a higher playing time we’ll be able to split in a more natural way our ideas and influences, providing a definitive shape to the new proposal of the band. Moreover, a lot of the material that will be included in the new release was in the works way before this split.
Those vague human shapes on the front cover, what do they stand for? Are they in any way, shape, or form correlated to the themes of the songs?
Jacopo: The artwork definitely gets inspiration from the themes of the songs, but takes a cue from the lyrics only in part. What it represents is overall a visceral snapshot that the artist gave us after listening to our music, without any particular instruction from our side. We prefer to proceed in this way when we commission a work from an artist such as Comaworx.
Shimpei: My interpretation reflecting my creative position is that of a modern, flesh-and-blood human being juxtaposed to, and thrown into, the nature and the grand spirituality of our primitive past. And I think that such content seems to be fitted into a pairing structure that symbolizes the split work.
Were you discussing and premeditating the whole concept of this split even before working on the material and were you looking for the lyrics, music, and artwork to cover the same, or at least similar ground narrative-wise?
Jacopo: There’s no real correlation between music and lyrics in the various steps of the work, but for sure the themes remain aligned, as the emotions and feelings at the basis of the creative process are exactly the same, so the artistic aim has a common root. Our song talks about the relation between life and death through the acceptance of the latter and how we can perceive ourselves inside time and space during this voyage. These topics are strictly linked to the poetics of the band. Regarding the artwork, on the cover and the back cover it’s possible to read the bands’ names and the song titles translated in the satanic alphabet floating inside the two drawings.
Shimpei: Actually, I did not go into that much detail with Jacopo and Manuel about the concept of the songs and lyrics, but I had the foresight that Bedsore and we would be able to present something coherent to each other as a body of work. Briefly, the theme of our song is the contrast between two things ˗ the eternally cyclical and the local, finite human subjectivity.
Now that this split is over and done with, what’s next?
Shimpei: We have a variety of songs and ideas that we have yet to record, and we are hoping to get them into shape soon. I think we will record an EP before a full-length, there is much to experiment.
Jacopo: We are currently working on our second full-length. The process will take time, so we still can’t foresee how much it will take to complete everything nor when will we enter the studio to begin the recordings. We’re very satisfied with what we’ve done so far, so we want to take care of every aspect of this work in the best possible way.
Does your music, in general, stem from a place of anger and frustration or perhaps from a place of inner contentment, with you accepting and embracing who you are as people and musicians, and showcasing it to the world through music?
Jacopo: We surely feel closer to the latter. Maybe when we first approached to play together and to write music it wasn’t like this but now it is so, for sure, and we feel to have reached our balance both as persons and musicians.
Shimpei: I may come across as a megalomaniac saying this, but there is always a sense of obligation to return something comparable to the severeness of great nature and the magnificent music I have been influenced by. And it can be said that our music is the result of a mixture of this feeling and the reaction to the daily oppression of life in Tokyo. At this point, we can say that it does not spring from contentment, but arises from thirst. I believe that positive emotions and a sense of fulfillment can only come from keeping on with creation.
Does art always and inevitably imply suffering and is it even possible to be content and creative at the same time?
Jacopo: The two things can coexist even though it’s often difficult to be fully satisfied with a production and all the aspects liked to it. That’s how it is, in our case at least, since we are definitely demanding when it comes to all aspects concerning our music, both on the side of what we bring to the table as musicians and regarding the people with whom we work. We don’t have answers about the correlation between art and suffering, but we can say that in our own experience it has been like this for sure. It can’t be denied that this association frequently occurred and still occurs in the history of music and art.
Shimpei: I believe that the state in which a person is immersed in songwriting in solitude is the furthest thing from being a social person. But the process of giving shape to this while interacting with people externally also awaits ahead. There is both the suffering of loneliness and having gaps with others, and it’s going to take us a long time to get over this.
Does that mean that being a loner is a mindset more conducive to creative work? Is it easier to come up with something truly worthwhile while dwelling in solitude or do you prefer songwriting to be a collaborative process?
Shimpei: In my opinion, notational elements, performance, and production are all equally important. Therefore, although I do most of the songwriting, I feel that all members of the band must be aware that they should contribute to some of the elements I mentioned. So, up to a certain point, it is an infinitely solitary process, but from that point on, I think it is necessary to have open communication with band members.
According to Bukowski, an intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way, while an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way. If you were to translate this reasoning to music, would you say that you tend to express your ideas in a more artistic or intellectual way?
Jacopo: It’s interesting to explore both of those aspects in music and composition. Progressive music, in the purest meaning of the term ˗ and in opposition to how it was used later ˗ gave many times various examples of these two philosophical visions put into practice through music. So, answering your question, when we write a song we eventually adopt both of these approaches, but in different periods.
Shimpei: For me, music is only enjoyable fiction. I also believe that among the various arts, music is the most animalistic and subjective, as if one is putting something out into the outside world through the power of one-sided faith. So, no matter how complex the music I’m making is, for me it’s a process of just amplifying what I initially believe intuitively. I don’t think it is necessarily backed by the logical intellect of a scholar.
Would it be fair to say that albums like The Formulas Of Death, Sweven, Trance Of Death, or maybe even the eponymous ones by Necrovation or, let’s say, Temisto had a certain influence on your own vision of how death metal should sound like?
Shimpei: I don’t refer to them much for Mortal Incarnation, but I love their music.
Jacopo: About the first couple of albums that you mentioned, you’re definitely right. Those works deeply influenced us, and overall, together with our different external influences, they definitely contributed to shaping our unique and personal vision of death metal. On the other hand, it’d be incorrect to refer to Temisto and Venenum as influences, as those works have been released when we were already working on our own music, but for sure we sincerely appreciated those albums too, and they inspired us to keep up going in that direction.
One could say that your music feels like an open palette of metal’s various extremes.
Jacopo: This is surely a fitting description. We could extend this comparison even beyond the metal field. It’s something that you can notice in our own music and it’s doubtlessly an aspect that we will continue to care about, making it even more relevant in the future.
Shimpei: Yes, it can certainly be perceived that way. But I would also like to do more study on the abstract rules that underlie death metal, rather than concrete ones.
Speaking of influences, are you more likely to look for inspiration in the present or in the past? Do you tend to regularly check the pulse of what is going on around you or do you feel that just a brief gaze at the present should be enough for one to choose the past?
Shimpei: I think it is the music of the past in our case. Not only death metal, but also other classics that have been listened to for a long time and continue to be appealing to me. Even when looking at the timeline of the formation and change of a certain musical genre, it is often easier to discover new things by going back in time for me. I am attracted to works that are not constrained by technology as much as possible, and that have an underlying sense of human tension, but I believe that there are many such works today also.
Jacopo: Both things. We try to be always up to date on the majority of the new releases, but at the same time, many of our influences come from a background made of classics modern and less modern.
Do you feel that at some point down the line death metal could become too narrow a framework to express yourselves, given your music’s already present tendency to regularly branch out in different directions?
Jacopo: Yes, it’s something that could happen. We still can’t foresee exactly what will be the development of our music, but I can’t deny that the scenario that you mentioned is something we already had a chance to think about in the past. However, if it ever happens, we wouldn’t have problems moving in a new direction different from the present one.
Shimpei: I think it’s true that it is only when there are restrictions on a musical style that individuality can be developed that can be compared to certain other music. I don’t think death metal is a narrow framework by any means, so I want to take it with a good pinch of salt.
Do you feel that there’s a place for both the most primitive and most subtle emotions in death metal and that they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive?
Shimpei: This is exactly how I feel right now. Death metal has always been a music of primitive impulsiveness, but I think it is possible to have rich harmonies and good song structure. Even if it is not modern death metal, I think Utumno, for example, has that aesthetic. I think it is possible to have both the physicality of raw hardcore punk and musical subtlety.
Jacopo: Despite the musical genre, we think that in music there’ll always be space for every emotion worth being expressed. In the death metal scene, since the very beginning, there have been bands very straight in terms of the proposal as well as others way more introspective. So, to answer your question, one thing doesn’t necessarily cut off the other, it depends on the band that we are considering, the proposal, the context, or the approach that is adopted.
In that regard, do you feel that sacrificing structure and conventional arrangements for the sake of the feeling and unfiltered, unrestrained flow of emotions is a legitimate approach to making music, especially this kind of music?
Shimpei: This is a very difficult question. Depending on the degree to which it is, it may or may not qualify as death metal. What is the uniqueness of a particular musical genre may be determined by factors other than those that can be notated musically. And if it is too musically prepared, there may be less room for the emotions of the performers and the atmosphere of the band’s performance.
Jacopo: It’s absolutely like that for us, our intent is to never be stuck neither in conventional solutions nor in stereotypes. Even though it’s interesting to analyse traditional and pop songwriting, our vision is closer to an orchestral and classical conception, meaning a continuous emotional and musical flow, with various movements and themes exposed more than once in different forms, often even without the typical song structure, with verses and choruses.
So, you don’t see a strange contradiction in the fact that some of the most interesting death metal bands are actually the ones that sound the least death metal?
Jacopo: It’s not strange and it totally makes sense. The revival strands in music are always enjoyable, but it’s normal that the highlighted bands are those who are keen to blend elements that are external to the standards of a specific genre, in order to create something new and modern. Without this process, there wouldn’t be the history of music as we know it today.
Shimpei: It’s an example of the universalization of music. As other genres of music are incorporated into our consciousness, our vocabulary grows and becomes richer and more expressive. I feel this is a regular consequence, as I think it is difficult for pure revivalists to surpass the creations of the original era. However, I think we should not forget the barbaric appeal of immersing ourselves in one pure piece of music.
Speaking of that barbaric appeal, and when it comes to bands who made careers out of putting countless, sometimes more, sometimes less memorable and successful spins on that particular sonic blueprint, bands like Krisiun for example, are you more inclined to regard their efforts as repetitiveness or consistency? Do you appreciate that kind of one-dimensional but highly persistent bands?
Shimpei: I feel that to solidify the ensemble as a band, we need to persevere and focus on the same thing for many years. To be able to do that is truly worthy of respect. But I like music that has a core that is unique to the band but also has a sense of ambition to constantly experiment.
Jacopo: Even though I understand the importance of finding a precise identity as a band and defining a personal and unique musical proposal, we aren’t proponents of this philosophy. Both when we do music and when we listen to other projects, we prefer a conception mostly imprinted on the research of artistic evolution and experimentation.
If we agree that your music is a form of madness, would it be fair to say that there’s a method to your madness?
Shimpei: Maybe there’s some truth to it.
Jacopo: We could define it as rational madness. There’s always a method behind our work, even when we’re working on single sections initially composed in a visceral way, there’s always a step where we take a break and try to understand how to implement the arrangement in the most suitable way and how to make everything flow organically.
Is making music in your case a matter of motivation or discipline? Do you write and compose only when feeling like doing so, or do you tend to work steadily, day in and day out, regardless of how inspired or creative you feel?
Shimpei: As for composing, in my case, I don’t work on it every day. I think it is essential to practice regularly for band ensembles, but when it comes to songwriting, I tend to work on it when I have an idea or when I am motivated.
Jacopo: Discipline is not an end in itself, only a means to an end, as Robert Fripp once said. Inspiration is something out of our control, but it’s necessary to underline that when you are working on a release you have to meet some deadlines and make a quite strict schedule. Working on a daily basis with a functional method helps to connect ideas when magic happens.
Do you think that the youthful ambition and hunger that are seldom accompanied by the experience and expertise when it comes to writing and recording music, are more appealing than the soulless professionalism that comes with age and wisdom, at the expense of enthusiasm?
Shimpei: I believe that the highest intensity is produced when ambition is at the base and is properly controlled by skill and knowledge. I still think that both are necessary elements, and it is not the same to keep resting on one or the other. I don’t think it’s good that something is being produced with priority given to formality when the people involved are tired of it. However, in the case of death metal, it may be more important than anything else to have an initial impulse.
Jacopo: I don’t have doubts that a professional band is able to work even better in the studio. As years go by and after many releases, maybe the artistic drive can run out, but the experience is doubtlessly an extra.
Do you believe that it’s easier to seek beauty and find poetry in art than in life, and that the less realistic and earthly way of expression like music is the perfect medium for it, given the immaterial nature of sound?
Shimpei: If anything, I base my work on the reality of human existence. It’s like a human being constantly thrust away to the transcendent order or ruthlessness of nature, and then thrusts his lament back against it as a sound image. I hope it is a beautiful thing. Sound is immaterial, but I think riffs are very material and concrete. If we replace even that fundamental aesthetic, we may lose the contours of death metal.
Jacopo: You got the point here. We get inspired by our lives, by our personal experiences. If this develops in our mind or the world around us, being real or fictional, it doesn’t really matter.
Do you believe that outside the dimensions of our consciousness and perception there are void and nothingness or some kind of higher order of existence whose rhyme or reason we cannot even begin to understand, interpret, or identify?
Shimpei: I believe that nothingness is already on the same level as us. I finally want to value what I can understand through the human body and love living it. I have come to that way of thinking over the past few years.
Jacopo: There’s for sure something beyond, and that is one of the themes that we treat in our music. There are many ways to extend our feel, and music is certainly one of those ways.
Is the fact that death, as the ultimate equalizer, erases all differences between us in terms of our hereditary, genetic, physical, intellectual, material, social, financial, or any other advantage or status, that we spend our entire lives building and improving, something you feel reverence for? Would you say that death is much more dignified, fair, and just than life?
Shimpei: I am more afraid of the body dying in a living state than of sudden death. It can suddenly destroy a person’s beliefs so easily. I think that war, disaster, illness, and the breakdown of bodily functions are one of the most merciless things we may experience. So again, it is nature and the universe that precedes the idea of death that I am in awe of. Everyone dies biologically, but the things that occur that are directly related to that are uncontrollable. So I can’t say in general that we are equal. If I feel dignity the most, maybe it’s to personalities that fight against them.
Jacopo: This is the most ancient and greatest truth.
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