Voidcraeft is my latest one-man musical endeavour. Instrumentally speaking, it is somewhat atypical black metal with an emphasis on dissonance. The lyrical themes deal with emptiness, pessimism, renunciation, suffering and the human condition in general.
In my early days I was primarily influenced by raw black metal like Darkthrone (primarily Under a Funeral Moon and perhaps Transilvanian Hunger, they haven't made anything resembling black metal in close to a decade now, though) and Katharsis (of Norma Evangelium Diaboli fame). In the past ten years the two artists I consumed the most and returned to over and over again are avant-garde black metal legends Deathspell Omega and Australian experimental (blackened) death metal pioneers Portal. Other bands worth mentioning are Nightbringer, Black Witchery, Diocletian and Antediluvian.
I have been accused of trying to gain publicity by dropping some big names but mind you, I never claimed that my music would appeal to people who are fond of some of the aforementioned artists. In fact, I feel largely unable to imitate the style of the ones I admire the most (i.e. Deathspell Omega and Portal). I just think it helps with putting the music into context and gives you some insight into what motivated and inspired an artist in their creative process.
This was my first release after a long period of inactivity that lasted for around two years and two months. I did record a couple of tracks during that time but they never made it into any public release. The inactivity was likely connected to me entering the final stages of my degree at university and the resulting increase in academic pressure.
Apparently I was not able to emotionally commit to any of the old projects so I started releasing stuff under a new name again. In this case it actually was not that much of a break from the material from the project prior to this one but I guess two years was just too much for me.
Most copies of this release being distributed are from the original release when I was still using an ancient version of Cubase. Once I started using a different DAW (Reaper), I translated the old track project files and released a cleaned up version but I suspect it was never widely circulated. The version you can download on this site is the cleaned up version.
Overall I still feel positive about this release. It meant a lot to me back then because it also coincided with the conclusion of my academic career. However, there is still a sense of discontinuity with the traditional high-pitched vocal style I consistently employed for this release. Starting with the third release of this project, this style is no longer the dominant mode of delivery and is only used for lyrical highlights.
Derision is a rather discontinuous and short release that coincided with me starting to work full-time, resulting in weeks of physical exhaustion and new time constraints (especially because of the daily two hour commute) that never existed during my six and a half years at university. I was gone for around eleven hours a day and was struggling to reclaim the recreational activities that previously dominated my life, making music being one of them. I believe that this release demonstrates that I am still able to do some creative work, despite the lack of time.
As for the music itself, the first two tracks are largely consistent with the style of Ascetic Elite. In particular No Hatred, No Fear was actually praised by several of my acquaintances that I have review my unreleased material (I thought it was somewhat too melodic, honestly). Shortly after I recorded Hear No Command I had a brief artistic breakdown during which I repeatedly accused myself of choosing to make rather melodic black metal (not actual melodic black metal, which I despise, mind you) that I do not particularly enjoy and that is also more time-consuming to make.
After that I tried to make something that is closer to blackened death metal, making use of lower registers in riffs and using lower pitched growls. This resulted in the track Blind to the Earth, which is not part of this release. It is far too different from the previous material in sound and I felt it would be inconsistent and dishonest to make it part of this release.
At this point I was stuck with two tracks that added up to less than 13 minutes that used a style I resented at this point. I felt that this was not quite enough for a public release, even for a short one. In the end I brought myself to make an odd slow filler track to finish off this release. This is Love of Life. It feels really out of place and I cannot say I am particularly fond of this one I made use of at least some low-pitched backing vocals. One might say that it represents the transition to the future style of this project, which will be closer to blackened death metal in terms of vocals, although not in riffs.
This was a radical deviation from the previous vocal techniques. In the previous releases and also in my older projects I almost exclusively employed high-pitched growls. I have always had a hard time with that approach because I felt that my performance was rather inconsistent and I kept on heavily using vocal filters to "fix it up". It is possible that my technique just sucks and that I have failed to adjust. Technique includes proper use of the vestibular folds, good breathing and also microphone training.
However, with this release I pretty much just gave up on that and started using low-pitched growls, sometimes in combination with high-pitched growls for vocal highlights. The output seems far more consistent to me and I am quite pleased with this release overall. Instrumentally it is largely a continuation of my previous approaches.
I did change the sound of the drums a lot, though. The extremely stereoesque default configuration of the panning and the high frequencies just made the drums feel totally out of place for me. I tried to make them blend in more with the other sources by reducing drum stereo and heavily cutting into higher frequencies. I believe I have succeeded at that but the whole sound is more lo-fi now, too, and some of the complexity was lost.
The result is far more to my liking than Derision and I believe I will keep on going down this path that has lead me somewhat closer to blackened death metal.
Also, I just realised that it has been only nine days since the previous release. However, Blind to the Earth had already been recorded when Derision was released so it was really only two new tracks I was working on and I had already partially recorded them back then, too.
Overall I was still stuck somewhere between black metal and blackened death metal. I continued to use the lower pitched vocal style of the previous release in these tracks. Inspired by novels by Charles Bukowski, I also drank quite a bit while I was working on some of these but I think it just slowed me down.
The slow open hat hits I heavily used during blast beats on all previous releases sounded increasingly artificial to me so I got rid of those. On top of that I heavily altered the drum configuration in general and tried to get rid of the over the top stereo sound. Despite all that I became increasingly disillusioned with the use of drum machines and the unnatural sound of it.
In fact I nearly ended up buying some acoustic percussion for future releases but in the end I did not go through with it. I thought it was too much of a hassle to deal with in combination with my current lifestyle.
Now that I am listening to the entire thing I must admit that it is not as terrible as I thought. Just a few days ago I was all set on making really outlandish ambient/drone/black metal/death metal without any drums because I dreaded the synthetic/non-organic components so much. Such a move would definitely alienate a lot of people, even myself. I suppose I will find out soon enough.
After the release of Aversion I had a phase of great artistic uncertainty and I ended up making a couple of rather ambient/drone/noise tracks. However, I abandoned all of these and I doubt I am going to release them. In the end I returned to my traditional approach to making black metal for the most part.
Once again high-pitched growls are the primary vocal style, with occasional low passages. Guitars, bass and drums stayed the same, really. The primary instrumental difference is a more liberal use of repetitions that are not a power of two (in particular 3, 5, 7) and occasionally also awkward time signatures such as 5/4 and 7/4.
One of the greatest changes in this release was my approach to writing lyrics. I started making notes while I was consuming inspiring literature, right as certain images and fragments of sentences struck me. Later I would then use these notes to write rather lengthy lyrics, composed of eight lines of per verse.
I used to record the music first and write the lyrics later. This also made it easier to write lyrics whose metre is highly compatible with the rhythm of the music. I largely abandoned this method in favour of the rather plagiaristic new approach that remotely resembles the Dadaist cut-up technique. Incidentally I first encountered a description of that technique while reading William S. Burroughs, years after I had already been using methods like this.
Anyway, this is why the two tracks on Disgust are so long. Each track includes most of the source lyrics I wrote based on the particular literary episode I was going through. I wrote the lyrics Meditation on Despair while I was vsiting relatives of mine in Berlin in December. It is largely based on the writings of the French existentialists Camus and Sartre. My stay there was rather strange. I was drinking heavily and visited a friend of the family that was dying of lung cancer. She died a couple of weeks later. I also used these lyrics repeatedly in the ambient/drone/noise stuff I was making prior to actually working on the current version of Meditation on Despair.
Where There Is No Image is primarily based on a single novel I was very impressed with. It was Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Unfortunately his other novels are useless to me.
The cover also deviates from all previous releases. It is from a series of distorted organic forms I have been drawing lately. They were greatly inspired by a Polish artist called Piotr Zygmunt. I love his monochrome stuff.
The process of making this release was far more smooth and not as dramatic as Disgust. Even though I returned to the established 7 minute track pattern, these two releases are largely identical in style and I applied the same lyrical process, too.
While the shorter tracks prevent me from fitting an entire consistent lyrical unit into one track, it is much more practical. I prefer recording vocals in a single session and I must admit that growling for up to two hours to do an entire 15 min track can be brutal. My vision is blurred, I keep on seeing bright spots racing across the walls and all sounds are distorted by an echo. Maybe my breathing technique is just really poor.
Lyrically this release was dominated by William S. Burroughs and Emil Cioran. I recently got my hands on some more books by Cioran. He is by far the most dramatic and hilariously over the top philosopher I have come across. The amount of lyrics I can generate from just a few pages written by that man is immense. In that regard he is the most effective author I have relied on in my musical endeavours.
The irritating title of the track Void Militant is actually a somewhat humorous reference to the Catholic concept of the "Church Militant". The original term refers to the Christians who are still experiencing life on earth and are yet to undergo the Day of Judgement, as opposed to those who have already been granted (or even denied) access to paradise. The "Void Militant" might then refer to a hypothetical dispersed group of people who are struggling with renouncing worldy existence. However, the analogy ends right there because an atheistic view of the universe features no afterlife and does not address the "Church Triumphant" nor the "Church Penitent".
If I am going to make another release, its lyrics will likely exclusively be based on writings by Cioran. I already started hoarding more material. By the way, the cover art of this release is also a poor imitiation of an illustration I encountered in one of his books.
Things got a little out of hand with this release. I had just finished Emil Cioran's "A Short History of Decay" and I had this strong urge to fit all the material I had extracted from it into a single track, to preserve its uniformity and its purity. As it turned out, the lyrics were so long that I repeatedly had to lengthen the whole thing just to fit it in. I also changed my lyrical process. In the past I first converted my initial notes to an intermediary poetic form with eight lines per verse but now I simply skip that part and go directly from the notes to the final lyrical form. Even at over 25 minutes the piece is verbally [sic] crowded by my standards. I also increased the beats per minute from 163 to 173 for this one.
Several people who reviewed the material prior to its release seemed really bothered by the sheer length of the single track. I never quite understood such objections and it has never bothered me except in cases where the good parts of a track are concealed between some boring ambient parts.
Just as I predicted last month, Cioran did not fail to deliver and I am already in the progress of finishing another one of his works, "The Temptation to Exist". I am not overly motivated to make more music right now but I suppose the addiction will kick in again at some point. This release was a bit of a tour de force. The experience of making music is more rewarding for me with shorter tracks because it generally takes me far less than a month to finish a track which I then get to enjoy.
This time the cover art has no deeper meaning. It was a fairly spontaneous and also messy piece. My feet are currently covered in splatters of Chinese ink.
Instrumentally speaking, I took a strange turn. This was the first time I actually made an entire release using a microtonal tuning for both the guitars and the bass. I altered the original tuning of D2 G2 C3 F3 A#3 D#4 (guitar)/D2 G2 C3 F3 (bass) such that every second string, starting with the lowest one, is tuned down 50 cents. Effectively, this results in a 24 tone scale instead of the regular 12 tone one widely used in western music (including black metal). It enables you to create more dissonant riffs and it just sounds unusual in general. However, many argue it sounds "funny" or even "out of tune", even when it sounds just as intended.
I finished the last of my eight Emil Cioran books while working on this release. There is still lots of unused material so I will likely get back to it in future, should I ever make more music. Overall this concludes my Cioran phase for now, though. I also realised that I thrive on his aphorisms whereas I have a harder time making use of his essays. Actually I have come to believe that aphorisms resemble the way I make music: short, disconnected fragments (riffs) that are merged into a greater body (i.e. a track).
I returned to the traditional track length of approximately seven minutes, in the end it is simply more convenient. Lyrically I drew from three different books by Emil Cioran: The Temptation to Exist, Tears and Saints, The Trouble With Being Born. After finishing a novel about life in a Soviet concentration camp I have sinced moved on to an English translation of a collection of sayings of early Christian ascetics living in the deserts of what is now Egypt. It remains to be seen if it will be of any use.
The title of this release, as was the case with Verbal Carrion, is a reference to a quote by Emil Cioran: "The solitary artist writes for himself, or for a faceless public [...] in a faceless epoch". I believe he was writing about the changes in lifestyle and communication mankind has undergone. Historically artists were generally supported and consumed by a small circle of people they personally knew. Things have changed a lot since then and the content of artists is increasingly being consumed by people the artist will never meet in person. To me, the internet has become another major stepping stone in Cioran's "faceless epoch".
It has been three months since the last release and there have been a lot of changes since then. Definitely for the better. First, I stopped using a drum machine and hired a proper drummer for this release. So, many thanks to Chris Balch (Nostril Caverns) from Canada for putting up with my long, erratic songs. The subject of drum machine use had been very painful for me for years and I felt like this change finally enabled me to make somewhat "authentic" music. This is also why I was able to make a full-length album instead of the usual 20 minute releases.
Since I was very pleased with his work I originally intended to keep him around for future releases. However, I was unexpectedly given access to a rehearsal room with a decent drum kit and a proper microphone setup for recordings. I started frantically practising the drums for 1-3 hours every single day and have not stopped doing so since then. Now, Chris has been playing the drums for a long time and it will likely take me at least 5 years of regular practice to get close to his level but I decided to play the drums myself on future Voidcraeft releases. I just have a strong desire to make everything myself and since Chris plays the guitar, too, I am sure he can relate.
As for the music, most of the release (other than the drums) is quite similar to Faceless Epoch. I reused the strange microtonal tuning for the first three tracks. However, the fourth and the fifth track feature my traditional tuning (D2 G2 C3 F3 A#3 D#4 on the guitar, D2 G2 C3 F3 on the bass) which I had last used on Verbal Carrion. These two tracks also deviate in other ways. I reduced the BPM from 173 to 163 and started using a new, cheap condenser microphone for vocal recordings (t.bone SC 440). I used to make all vocal recordings at home but since I moved to a new place, closer to where I work, this is no longer possible. These were the first recordings I made in the new rehearsal room I now have access to.
Lyrically, this release heavily drew from good old Emil Cioran (The New Gods, All Gall is Divided, Drawn and Quartered, Anathemas and Admiration). This is my fourth release featuring material from his writings. Actually, I recently put up a framed picture of Cioran on the wall behind my workstation at home. I also put up a print of an icon of St. Anthony the Great on the wall behind the mattress on the floor I have been sleeping on for the past eight years. The latter was motivated by his frequent appearances in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers" by Benedicta Ward, a book featuring sayings attributed to early Christian ascetics who lived in the desert in Egypt. I wrote down many memorable quotes from that one, my favourite one being: "There are three things I hold to be fundamental: poverty, asceticism, flight from men". I can already picture myself having to explain to somebody why I am in possession of framed pictures of a former Romanian fascist and a Christian saint, even though I vote for a democratic socialist party while also being an atheist. As Cioran would have said, "A life full of contradictions is so much richer and creative". Other sources worth mentioning are the amazing essay "The Last Messiah" by Peter Wessel Zapffe and, to a lesser extent, some of Alan Watts' writings on Zen Buddhism.
As for the cover art, it breaks my tradition of drawing everything myself. While it is still very minimalist, I plagiarised most of it from scans of a 1901 edition of the Catholic Vulgate Bible. I love the look of movable type and European woodcuts. I even thought about setting up a printing press of my own at home, using historical movable type letters. The font used is actually a reconstruction of the 18th century Caslon font made from historical sources.
As for the future, I am currently very motivated to make more music and I already purchased plenty of new hardware, including a new notebook and a Tascam US-1800 for drum recordings. I also bought a Rode NT1-A condenser microphone for future vocal recordings.
- Where can I buy your releases?
You cannot, at least not legally. There are some automated rogue services that will sell pretty much everything they find through search engines and filesharing networks and you do find some of my releases for sale there, but of course that happens without my permission. I do not distribute my music commercially and I do not plan on doing so in the future.
I only distribute my releases digitally, free of charge. I do this for two reasons. First, I do not need the money. I already have more than I need from my regular job. If you want to live off making music you generally need to play live anyways. There are very few studio-only artists that have an audience so large that they can actually live off it. Second, I feel that money has great potential to spoil art. Artists start adjusting, knowingly or unknowingly, to gain a greater audience to earn more money, at the cost of their artistic integrity. They end up creating art as a commercial product to compete in a capitalist market instead of creating what they really wanted to make originally.
- Do you play live?
Oddly enough I received an email about this subject at one point. I was invited to play at some small metal event and obviously I had to turn down the request.
I have never played live and I am not really interested in doing so any time soon. I have never even been to a concert and I do not like loud music in general. Many people find this rather odd about me, knowing that I obsessively listen to black metal and death metal.
Playing live would likely require teaming up with at least two more people and I would also not be able to reuse my current approach to songwriting for such a project. There is little repetition in my songs, they are not easy to remember and somewhat unpredictable or even random, some might argue. Songs also tend to be fairly long. Studio-only projects like this one tend to have instrumental parts that are more difficult to perform live, I suppose.
- What setup do you use?
This is an important question for one-man projects as it requires quite a bit of know-how in different areas. Let us start with the hardware.
- Guitar: ESP Ltd EC-401; this guitar made me love fixed bridges; tuned to D2 G2 C3 F3 A#3 D#4; formerly also D2 G2 C3 F3 A#3 D#4 with each second string, starting with the lowest one, tuned down by 50 cents and even plain A1 D2 G2 C3 F3 A#3 during my blackened death metal phase
- Bass: a really low end Harley Benton bass, I cannot even figure out what this model is called; tuned to D2 G2 C3 F3; formerly also D2 G2 C3 F3 with each second string, starting with the lowest one, tuned down by 50 cents and even A1 D2 G2 C3 during my blackened death metal phase
- Drums: pretty random kit I am sharing with some other people
- Microphones: currently a Rode NT1-A and an AT ATM33a; in the past mostly the good old Shure SM-58, also a t.bone SC 440
- Speakers: small KRK Rokit-5 studio monitors
- Audio interfaces: M-Audio FireWire Solo for guitar recordings, the drivers are bugged and break on a regular basis but other than that it works fine; this thing also comes with an amp of its own; Tascam US-1800 for drum recordings
As you can see my setup includes no traditional amps or combos or anything like that. I do not mic my guitar nor the bass. I actually use digital guitar modelling, which is far less work, more flexible and more enjoyable to work with in general.
As you can see there is also no drum setup included. I did play the drums for about a year but the issue is that I cannot easily use acoustic drums in a cheap flat in a city without getting into trouble with landlords and neighbours. That is why I use drum machines. I am also not at drumming but I would definitely still do proper drum recordings if I had an environment to do it in. Right now it is just impractical.
Moving on to the software.
- Operating system: Windows 7 (64-bit); Linux is a pain to do pro audio stuff on and MacOS is no good for me in general, I do use Linux on my servers, on my router and on my notebook, though
- Digital audio workstation: Cockos Reaper; I used to use an ancient version of Steinberg Cubase for years but I recently switched to Reaper and I am loving it, it is very affordable, too
- VST plugins: AmpliTube (digital guitar modelling), in the past also Superior Drummer with Metal Foundry (drum machine), LoudMax
- What is the official way of spelling Voidcraeft?
Is it Voidcraeft, Voidcræft or even VΩIDCRÆFT?
Please stick to the plain "Voidcraeft" and avoid all the Unicode shenanigans. While I do love UTF-8, these different renderings of the name just make it more difficult to set up a uniform entry in public databases and it also makes googling unnecessarily painful. I just make use of more extravagant ways of spelling the name in graphics, just to spice it up a little.
- Why does this website resemble a Wikipedia article?
This is a valid question and there are probably not that many websites about black metal that look like a Wikipedia article. What can I say, I go on Wikipedia binges on a regular basis and I have absorbed a vast amount of information using this glorious service. It also helped me a lot during my first years at university, when I was getting my degree in computer science. A well-deserved tribute, would you not agree?
I am a year old male and I currently reside in Karlsruhe, Germany. My primary recreational activities include arguing with people on IRC, watching English series, reading English literature, PvP gaming, coding and, as you already might have guessed, making mediocre music. I obsessively listen to black metal and death metal pretty much all day long except when I am watching series or talking to people. I work as a software developer at a local company.
It is worth mentioning that many people consider my general lifestyle rather disturbing and I have been called mentally ill on more than one occasion. Pretty much my entire social life is on the internet and in the past seven years I have had exactly two visitors (not counting the occasional mailman and such). I am not some kind of profound misanthrope, in fact I generally like people and enjoy interacting with them. I think I just got gradually culturally alienated from my immediate environment, in terms of recreational activities (I fell in love with all things digital), in terms of language (I was primarily speaking English at home since my late teens, whilst living in Germany), musically (I have yet to encounter a local who has even heard of Deathspell Omega), politically (fairly far to the left by European standards), ideologically (my opposition to religion and a great number of social norms) and so far I have not had a strong desire to reconnect.
I also hang out on IRC on freenode and EFnet and such but I prefer not to post any of my nicks in public in this particular context. It is a dying medium anyway and it is extremely rare that somebody I met outside of IRC actually turns to be an IRC user. If you do wish to talk to me on IRC I will likely tell you how to find me, just drop me an email first.