ETHEREAL RIFFIAN: Composers of Unconventional Music

Ethereal Riffian

Kiev based explorers of progressive, psychedelic and stoner rock, Ethereal Riffian, released their second studio album in January 2014. This installment, titled Aeonian, brings four tracks of an epic, spiritual journey into the vast and unknown, as far as the sound goes.

Prog Sphere teamed up with the band for an interview talking all things Ethereal Riffian.

Define your mission with Ethereal Riffian.

Val: To compose unconventional music, which expands the frames of the listener’s musical perception, and to shed light on the existence of a subtler plane, whose laws if understood properly may help to perceive the reality on a deeper level. With our creative work we hope to transform people and make them think more, make them better. The world needs more kind and caring people.

Comparing to the debut Shaman’s Visions, what evolution do you feel Aeonian represents for the band?

Max: Well, first of all I should admit that we achieved a better interplay and a great communication inside the band, we started composing music by mixing preferences of each member and without any huge focus on specific genres – just wanted to make something unique and distinctive. Val made a huge leap within his vocal abilities, Nikita and Alexander grew to a massive concrete-like rhythm section. We also got a deeper understanding of music and harmony. The Aeonian had an impact on other artistic spheres – e.g. writing.

Have you managed to make any new discoveries in terms of songwriting on the new album?

Max: Yeah, some discoveries were made in terms of dual soloing, harmony structure and “orchestration” for we had to sew a lot of different instruments in the musical fabric.

Val: Definitely. In addition to what Max has mentioned I can add some vocal hooks (like entwined vocals in the end of the first song), injecting more progressive edge to the music and a more delicate approach to noises and adding psychedelic flavour to the music.

Ethereal Riffian during the "Aeonian" recording sessions

How did the creative process for Aeonian go?

Max: At first me and Val decided to compose two songs for a 7 inches vinyl (Wakan Tanka and Anatman). Val had a few fat riffs, so we started developing the songs’ structure and thinking of arrangements. Everything went fine except for one section in Wakan Tanka – we tried different options including rock-n-roll like and progressive pink floydish solutions but at the end chose the current shamanic\tribal variant. Then we decided to add to these two songs the old one, March of Spiritu, for it was represented only in the Falling Down compilation and we thought is should be given to a broader audience. The last track Thugdam was born after Val and Nikita arranged and played the intro riff and we made up our mind that three songs for the vinyl was not a goddamn reasonable idea, and it should be 4 of them.

Val: All in all it took us three years to finish the work on Aeonian.

Give me a snapshot of the topics you explore on the new songs. It is a conceptual story very well-documented and accompanied with a book. Tell me more about that.

Val: Aeonian refers to the eternal search of human being of its true nature. Aeon is a long indefinite period, may be a billion years or more. So it doesn’t matter when the urge for such search arises – today our 100,000 years ago, because the call for such search is timeless in relation to human nature. But people often misinterpret this call and are being mislead by their desires. They try to satisfy themselves with pleasing their bodies. But that doesn’t work, it will never work, because you can’t satisfy the yearnings of your soul by supplying to the desires of your body.

Human being lives a very limited amount of time, and it’s that small in the scope of the universe as an atom is small in relation to the size of the human body. Nevertheless, peculiarity of our kind is that we can achieve the right sensation and understanding of our true nature despite of the limited time we have.

Album consists of four songs, book consists of four chapters of the same title. Book uncovers the interconnection between the concepts and allows the listener to feel the full Aeonian experience.

This is the general idea, but there are a lot of other concepts and things to reflect on. Just take yout time to accompany the music with reading the book.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Max: To begin with we recorded backing tracks per each song with the metronome and tempo changes for Nikita. Thereafter recorded drums, bass and guitars in the given order. After that we invited guest musicians for cello, flute and other instruments and discussed their parts.

Val: While recording we have worked patiently and persistently on every song and every part of the song until it started to sound perfect to our ears. Every background noise, tiny psychedelic reverberation was very well thought of.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Max: Do you mean how did we write down our music ideas?


Max: Well, we used tabs. I also used the GuitarPro 6 and different plugins, as well as Sonar software for arrangements.

Val: I just try to record all my new riffs and arrangement ideas on my cell-phone in order not to forget them. Than I show them to Max, or to everyone, and we start to work on them.

Aeonian vinyl edition

Both of your studio releases were released in different formats including downloads, tapes, CD’s and vinyls wrapped in very nice packages. Not many bands today decide to invest in this. What is your take on this?

Val: I believe that production and packing is essential because it completes listeners’ relationship with an album. If it’s lame – the experience is incomplete. Packing transfers the idea of your music and differentiates you from thousands of other artists. With this understanding we always try to come up with something unique. If you try hard to create a great album – you should also try hard to give it a proper production. It takes much effort but the result is 100% worth it.

Aeonian is available on vinyl through Nasoni records, on tape through Tartarus records and on CD through Mulliogre production. Limited editions, ER Bundles and hard cover books are available directly through the band.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when making Aeonian? Tell me about the technical side of the album.

Max: Among the biggest challenges in terms of composing and recording I assume it was the “orchestration”; as I already mentioned we used a considerable number of instruments and we had to mix them together so that each of them was easily perceptible (although it depends on the mixing as well).

Val: Oh, I can tell that in terms of mixing we spent countless sleepless nights on the studio to make the album what it is now. It’s not an easy stuff to do when you have an everyday job and family. But it can work. Another thing was vocals. On this album I really started to sing and it took me some effort and about 20 hours of studio time to record everything the way it sounds now.

Where was the album recorded? Who produced it?

Val: On Bayroot studio in Kiev, Ukraine. Recorded by Max & Bob. Mixed by Max Poops, mastered by Will Killingsworth from Dead Air Studios.

What kind of gear you used for recording Aeonian?

Val: Orange TH30 and 4×12 celestion speaker cab. Fuzz War, Hardwire Supernatural Ambient Verb, Line 6 Echopark and Greco Les Paul. These are the main contributors.

Max: The boss delay, the Buddha wah-wah pedal, Messa Boogie amp.

Provide some insight into the band’s chemistry that leads to what is to be a final product – an album.

Max: Usually me and Val are jamming together, choosing the riffs and ideas that may be embedded in the song, than make the approximate arrangement and show them to other guys in the band. After that the practical part of the songwriting takes place – Alexander and Nikita incorporate their unique patterns in the composition.

Ethereal Riffian live

I suppose that you will be promoting Aeonian live. What can be expected from an Ethereal Riffian live show?

Val: We don’t want it to be ordinary live shows, that’s why we aren’t performing at the moment. We want to make people feel certain experience during our live shows, that’s why performance should be top-notch, and there should be a great atmosphere. We plan to develop the show program. Personally I hope to get ready with this program in a year and organize and film the real show, the way I want it to be performed by Ethereal Riffian.

You grab inspiration from many distinctive musical genres. How do you go about channeling this inspiration into writing?

Alexander: Musical resonance creates correct vibrations in the soul. The words transmitted through the paper give birth to the required merge of fiction and truth. Ambient, psychedelia, stoner-rock, heavy/industrial metal, sludge combined with the mood and meaning of our songs equal the result.

Val: Easy. It comes very natural.

With a band like Ethereal Riffian, are there any limitations to how far your sound can stray from the sound you established?

Val: There are no limitations. The sound is good as long as we and our sound engineer like it.

How do you classify what you do with Ethereal Riffian?

Max: As for me it’s the music that takes you in a journey and makes you discover new depths of the personal ego.

Val: For me it’s a path of individual transformation. The path I’m uncovering for myself and that I want to share with everyone.

What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your music?

Max: The nature and environment.

Val: The world around and inside. If we talk about personalities I recall Buddha, Jesus, Laozi, Goenka, Tesla, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Rumi, Dalai Lama XIV, Black Elk, Leo Tolstoi and all the wisdom spreaders and peacemakers. I find the shelter in the qualities of great minds and great spirits.

It seems early to talk about your future endeavours, but how do you see your music evolving?

Max: It’s difficult to say for sure what will be presented further in terms of genre, but I would say that we’ll keep trying to make something unique.

Val: We have the plan for four more albums. Each one will be unique in it’s own way. United by one epic story.

Ethereal Riffian is:

Val Kornev (aka Stonezilla) – guitar/vocal/lyrics
Alexander Kornev (aka SAF) – bass
Max Yuhimenko (aka Southman) – lead guitar
Nikita Shipovskoi (aka Ship) – drums

Visit Ethereal Riffian online at: 

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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