So here I am, after a considerable period of time spent working on this bright-colored and multi-cultural album, having the result in my hands, and wondering how this will come up when we finally give birth to it.
According to the official Fabulae Dramatis statements, the album Om is to be released soon. All of you, fellow music lovers and exotic experimental sounds fans, soon will have the magic box in your hands, with a detailed booklet.
However, I feel like sharing some of my thoughts and reveal what was hidden behind the curtain of sound production and music creation for more than a year of our work on this musical piece. I knew that the sound and the conception of ‘Om’ must be different from all that I have done before. We were sure to invite numerous musicians to create a variation in the music and let more personalities give their touch to what we later would merge into one calico pled of progressive rock masterwork. The first 2 songs I’ve received were “Whine” and “Kein Schmerz”.
“Whine”, designed as an almost classic metal ballad, involved Isabel’s first line up, with Andrés Camilo Silva and Juan Carlos Robles, who were working with Isabel’s previous project, Spiritual Ashes. Daniel Díaz, who later would become one of the main songwriters on the album, provided pretty impressive acoustic guitar layers and Isabel herself surprised me with Sitar additions to the classic metal genre and her husband, Erik Vochten, brought some low-pitched spoken word part. This song, which I made as a stylization of very early metal experiments, was published at the first, and despite that I still do not think it represents the album as it is, in all the shades, it still provides a nice experience to the listener.
“Kein Schmerz”, an emotional piano ballad, was the second to come. I shall not say a lot about this piece of music, so that you will have the chance to enjoy it yourselves. Later on, I was asked to take my part in songwriting and arranging of the songs – several more of them we have created together with DanielDíaz at Isabel’s small, cozy, private home studio. I was rather impressed by Daniel’s ideas and brought them into the entire arrangement to fulfill the sound with many details. At the same time I came to the general conception of the sound. While my main instrument on the album is bass, I also took part in the recording, playing some guitars, as well as some keyboards and other small details here and there. For the songs “Labyrinth” and “Vigil”, I wrote almost all the parts and recorded most of the instruments myself.
At this point, when the project’s conception was crystallized, we invited a master drummer, pretty well-known on Belgian progressive metal scene, both by his incredible technique and his fabulous beard, Steve Vanderperren. He easily dealt even with the most sophisticated drum parts, so our collaboration was set.
A very special word I must say about the 6 minute epic “Ixquic”, whose lyrics contain a piece in original Mayan language – sung by Isadora Cortina, a Mexican singer with a Norwegian heart, well-known on the metal scene by her work with Ancestral Legacy. The song, inspired by an ancient legend of Popul Vuh, consisting of several musically and stylistically different parts, from ambient trip hop to authentic prog and even flamenco classical guitars, which we managed to merge into one solid composition.
For several compositions, including the brilliant up-tempo opener, “Bastion”,we invited Thomas Hubert, a huge, long-haired metal Viking from Liège, whose growling and screaming should please the ears of fellow metal lovers while his looks will please the eyes of aesthetically sophisticated metal ladies.
One of the most personal songs on the album, dedicated to the complicity of love collisions and choices, wrapped into the metaphor of fog-walking, ”Vigil”, obtained additional charm from the bombastic vocals of fellow progressive rock singer Nick G. Coward. On this, and several other songs, Isabel had played a harmonium, an instrument, whose wailing, sad sound can pierce through you better than any synthetically created tone.
I shall not say much about several other beautiful pieces, forming the heart of this album: the aggressive, yet elegant “Neelakanta”, based on the part of Hinduistic myths about Shiva; the almost traditional folk song “In the Woods”, which gained a magical touch and wings from David Rivera’s violin. And, at last, “Quaerens Quem Devoret”, a classical metal song, twisted by personal lyrics and sung in duet by Isabel and the Colombian metal beast Juan Carlos Henao.
I must also say a thankful word to all the other collaborators of the album, who brought their special touches and spirit into what we have done. All of them are present on our webpages, all of them are mentioned in the album’s booklet, all of them did amazing jobs, regardless of the instrument and amount of time included into the project.
Traditionally, as a producer and as a composer, I prefer to finish albums in a very special way, put the point, ask a question, let the listener think of the answer, long after the last note has faded. Such became “Zeergentiin Shil”, a haunting, half-instrumental composition, that came upon me after listening to the extremely emotional Mongolian native singing from Bolorchuluu. Her strange, modulating voice along with my keyboards/bass improvisation and a touch of Vietnamese jaw harp from Dimitry Boyd, created a certain musical statement, a coda, closing the album the way I think it should be closed, leaving us, musicians, and you, listeners, with thoughts and wonders from this small musical journey.
The journey we went on together.
Preview of the album’s booklet.
Designed by Carlos Jácome, photography by Mariya Frantseva.