THE UNRAVELLING: Clear Vision

The Unravelling

Calgary experimental duo, The Unravelling returned this year after the five-year break with their second studio album titled “Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision.” Steve Moore answered an interview for Prog Sphere.

To me, your band name implies a sort of methodical destruction of things we all take for granted; the album title reinforces this. How did The Unravelling get their name? Are there any stories, any intentions behind it?

That’s a very interesting interpretation. I see it more as clear vision, although of course there could be destruction on the path towards clear vision. The unravelling, to me, is the process of the false falling away; the supposed importance of our thought patterns, our cherished opinions and beliefs, the structure of the person we’ve built ourselves up to be in our minds, our political ideas and how we assume things work…all of those things falling away and leaving us finally quiet.

The album title does in fact go with that idea. The collective vision is all the ideas/beliefs and assumptions circulating the globe, and I think it’s critical for people to cut through the noise completely. Anyone who has experienced information overload or been exposed to too much activity, social media, news, etc tends to feel a pull away from all that, a very natural feeling that they need to ‘tune out’ for their own psychological health. Tearing a hole in the collective vision is another way of saying lift the veil. Take the wool from over your eyes…

Your second album, Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision is coming after a considerable period of silence. How would you compare it to the debut? Now that it’s done, what are your thoughts on it when you listen to it?

I’m happy with it. Circumstances beyond our control forced us to rush its release, but this felt very visceral for me, putting out an album that wasn’t completely finished. The album was recorded in a much shorter period of time, and some of the songs were written within a single day. This really kept the emotional weight intact, which is very important.

Also, the message seems to be getting across to people much more with this album, I think, because it’s much more urgent and easy to describe/understand. The first album was a concept album as well, but this one is more relatable and has a more universal message as opposed to merely a personal one. The title grabs the attention and it also clearly states the message.

The Unravelling - Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision

One of the things that struck me most about the new album is that it really sounded like a collision of two distinct personalities. What is the experience of working together like? Do you usually find you have a ‘collective vision’, or is there the occasional disagreement?

That is definitely true. While we definitely meet on some of our shared influences, our personalities are extremely different. We’ve always had an amicable relationship for the most part, and we both enjoy what each other does. That being said, the music is where the magic is, and our personalities are so different that they don’t always mesh well. I think that any tension in that regard helps the music.

Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision has been widely associated as a comeback following one half of The Unravelling’s struggle with cancer. How has such a difficult life event informed the way you approach your music?

That’s a tough one to answer. I’m not entirely sure that it has informed the way I approach my music. I think it’s best to drop the past as much as possible, although, ironically, I’m sure that experience helped me learn to be in the now. There were times at the hospital where I had to focus within because there was nowhere else to go. I’ve learned more about mindfulness, and I think I do bring that into the message of the music. I also tend to enjoy making music, recording, etc very much without any looming expectations. That’s something that used to plague me.

One of the things I find most interesting about industrial-tinged music is the way mechanical sounds and textures are used to fuel a scathing criticism of the modern world. The Unravelling’s music certainly gives me that impression. Was this desire to use sounds of the modern world as a way to criticize it intentional, or was merely the combination of the sound and lyrical themes you wanted to pursue?

The electronic elements in the music just happened; it was unintentional. Gus started working with different ways of putting songs together when I was away, and by the time we started making music again, we both wanted it to sound more like us. We thought, for this album at least, let’s continue on the cinematic path he had been walking over the previous few years and not worry about sounding like a band. We just wanted it to be good.

As far as the lyrics lining up with everything, there are a lot of criticisms of the modern world on the album, but many of the lines people may perceive as negative are actually not at all. Even the title of the album sounds aggressive to some, but to me it’s beautiful. The title track sounds aggressive, but to me, it’s like a prayer or a loving call to kindred spirits. That being said, I don’t expect anyone to see it the way I do; I’ve been making music that many people perceive as very dark for a long time, and I just tend to see things differently.

The Unravelling

Photo credits: Ryan Donnelly

You guys have enlisted the help of session musicians to round out the act for the sake of live shows. What’s the experience of playing your music with other people like? More importantly, how does it translate into the live setting?

Playing live is amazing, and it’s critical to have comradery with whoever you’re playing with. I always prefer it to be like a brotherhood. All for one and one for all. That’s the only way it can translate well, I think.

Are you thinking of touring anytime soon?

Not at the moment. We’re focusing on the album promotion right now.

What advice would you give to other musicians out there, whether it’s creative wisdom or tips on the technical end?

I find that very few people actually act on advice so I’m trying not to indulge in giving it! Haha…I guess the only thing I’d say is that I honestly think things turn out much better when you just do “you” without holding back in the slightest. People will respond to your work more if you’re unafraid to be weird. If you try to sound like your favorite band, or appeal to the radio, people sense that. There’s no originality there.

What have you been listening to lately? Anything you might recommend?

Oh, a ton of stuff lately! It’s been exciting. A lot of doom metal, like YOB, Kongh, Pallbearer, Windhand, and other sludge, psychedelic and rock bands like Jex Thoth, ASG, Failure, Miroist, Monolord, Russian Circles, Red Fang and a ton of others. Definitely listen to Kongh’s track “Sole Creation” if you want to distill that list. Such a heavy groove.

Thanks very much for having me!

Get “Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision” from Bandcamp. Follow the band on Facebook.

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