A couple of weeks ago I was staring at my screen, pinching myself. I've been a big fan of Wrath of the Weak ever since his eponymous first album. However, 2010 saw his last release, "Solace", which still stands as one of my favourite releases ever. As it turned out, J., Wrath of the Weak's creator and sole member came out of a 4 year musical break and resurfaced in Syracuse as Nested. You can find the review for that album here. I contacted J. and had the following pleasant conversation through the miracle that is facebook chat.
First of all, thank you for taking the time and i hope this afternoon finds you well.
Likewise ... It's grey and rainy here, so I'm happy to be inside, haha.
While it was, as quoted on your facebook page, 'oft threatened', Nested still came to me as a surprise to see you re-emerging into the (underground) music scene. Is that what it is, a re-emerging? Or is Nested something you wanted to get out of your system?
Kind of. I'd had a ton of ideas for post-WOTW things to do but never managed to follow through and turn them into actual music. That lasted for a while, then one weekend I started dicking around and next thing I know I have the initial Nested release. And I figured that would be as good a time as any to re-emerge and maybe keep things going again.
It's funny that you describe it as 'dicking around' (and 'lumpythumpydroney' on facebook) because it does sound like a deeply profound piece of work.
All my best stuff comes out of not trying, haha. It really caught me off-guard when it was all done because it just HAPPENED. Once "Ironsides" got going it felt like 'Okay, I found a story here and I gotta see where it's going to take me', and that's what I did. And somehow, it turned out far better than I ever would've expected.
Do you feel that Nested is a continuation of what you set in motion with WOTW?
Yeah, it's in a lot of respects what I probably would've done with WOTW anyway. I felt like the black metal side was no longer resonating with me as strongly as the noisy side was.
Yeah that was what I was thinking. On "Persse" and "Solace" it was only just barely black metal anyway. Were you fed up with it in general, or did you feel that you took it as far as you wanted to go?
That's just how things turned out. I'm not good at being consistent, so I'm not sure I could've kept doing really BM-influenced stuff without it being blatantly phoned in.
Well I guess that's the best thing to do in a genre so obsessed with authenticity, haha..
Haha, pretty much. People would get annoyed with me one way or another, so I may as well do something interesting in the process, or at least find a new fanbase to annoy.
So far that hasn't worked with me but that's because Nested is pushing all the right buttons here.
Well thank you! I like to think that people who dug on WOTW for 'the right reasons' will enjoy Nested as well.
That's true although Nested feels more based in electronic music than WOTW was but the deeeeep layers, the repetition, the bleak atmosphere, it's all there as it was in WOTW.. Did you set about creating it in the same way as you did with WOTW, from a purely technical point of view?
Pretty much, it's all guitar but recorded / processed on my computer. I took a lot of influence from Gas on here, especially "Zauberberg" and "Koenigsforst", and I think that constant bass drum pulse works well at tethering the noise and the repetition without being overtly songlike or structured.
Whereas WOTW had parts and riffs and chord progressions, this is generally just a few ideas bouncing off each other until they feel like they've done what they need to.
Yeah it sounds as an organic whole. Nothing feels out of place which must've been quite some work considering all the layers?
Yes and no. It's really just setting up a process of sorts and letting it go, and then tweaking the overall soundscape as a whole instead of worrying too much about each individual piece.
Set things up right and even two or three parts can sound like a million.
So I imagine the whole setup gave birth to combinations of sounds never intended as well? That makes for an adventurous creation as well as an adventurous listen..
Oh god yeah. Some of the tracks I wanted to touch up after the fact, but when I tried to mix everything down again it just wouldn't line up right and end up sounding completely different (and not nearly as good).
But that's the fun of doing this kind of material, unexpected things happen and often they're pretty great.
You could spawn a million remix albums yourself like that haha.
Haha, yeah, in theory at least I could be incredibly prolific with Nested.
But at the same time I'd also be really concerned with feeling like I was just crapping things out for the sake of it.
You never disguised the fact that WOTW was never inspired by black metal exclusively. Shoegaze, ambient, drone, all of this found it's way into it. Are those the same things that inspire Nested? You mentioned Gas, but i somehow feel a new wave vibe in it as well, perhaps even a postpunk vibe..
Kind of? Like nowadays I have very little idea what's going on for contemporary music of any genre ... I've been spending a lot of time digging through all the seminal 70s / 80s albums that I never really listened to, so even though it's not a conscious influence I'm sure it comes through. The only intentional touchstones I have for Nested at the moment are the aforementioned Gas and then Skullflower's "Orange Canyon Mind". That combo was the foundation to what I've done so far.
When you listened to those 70s and 80s albums, to which did you find yourself most drawn towards? The usual suspects? Or things like Kosmische and krautrock?
Yeah, krautrock was a big one ... also bits of funk / disco / R+B, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Queen, B-52s, and so on.
Well, there goes the black metal streetcred hahaha..
Hahaha, I was never good at gaining any in the first place. Back in the day I did a few WOTW promo pictures and didn't realize until after the fact that I was wearing a Belle + Sebastian T-shirt in them.
Well, that is what i feel the big trick about creating interesting black metal in the first place. not restraining yourself and never ever dismiss any outside influences, however unlikely. Not saying Belle + Sebastian somehow crept in WOTW though...
Yeah, otherwise things just get too inbred and weird. Gotta have new genetic material ...
In an old interview you mentioned studying geography and urban planning. Did you follow that through and do you feel that those studies somehow creep into your music? In that respect, would you say the unstructured side (as in nature and geography) or the structured side (urban planning) applies more?
I did get a degree but ended up in an entirely different field. I'm definitely more on the structured side of things, but I think both creep in as necessary ... There's solid patterns to start with, but those patterns end up ripped apart and reassembled in a more aleatoric manner.
And I do like the idea that my music has a location ... like it's the audio equivalent of a city / forest / desert / etc.
Now that would be an interesting idea to take that literal: actually rolling dice and see where that would take you haha.
Oh yes ... dice were rolled and "Oblique Strategies" were consulted, haha.
Haha. Bless you, Brian Eno... So if you were to place your music, lets take Nested since this is about that in the first place, where would the location of Nested be?
I took the titles on the initial release from locations here in central New York, and it's kind of a heavily embellished journey through them. And I'm sure future releases will feature other areas.
Time to fire up Google earth and have a look at those areas then I say. To conclude this interview i'll go for the obligatory question. What's next? Do you have the intention to take Nested further? Any plans for future releases?
Yeah, I feel like this will continue on in some form or another. No real solid plans beyond that though.
Well, here's hoping for a lot more. Thank you very much for your time and your answers and feel free to say any closing words.
Thank you for the interest / interview / review!