MASTER EXPERIENCE: Led By Emotions

Master Experience

Italian progressive metal quintet Master Experience has been around for over 20 years, but it was 2012 when they released their debut album titled “Billions of Grains.” In an interview with Prog Sphere, the band talks about the mentioned album, and hints that we will not wait that long for its follow-up.

Define the mission of Master Experience.

Master Experience is a 5 men journey begun long time ago in Reggio Emilia, Italy. A unique human experience, the life of the band fused with the lives of single members, represents the source of our inspiration for music and lyrics.

Our songs have a mission of culture and progress, understanding of our internal and external world through the experience narrated. We study the society, measure their feelings and sensations, then express a message for the listener, not only with lyrics, but also through an experimental leap to non-conventional musical frameworks and rupture of traditional schemes.

Billions of GrainsTell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “Billion of Grains” and the themes this release captures.

Billions of Grains is a concept album, part of it autobiographic and part of it not, 10 years of composition matching with 10 years of our life. The root of this record is the ensemble of two events that have changed dramatically our lives: the transition from childhood to adult life and the fall of the Twin Towers.

Just out of curiosity: “The 11th” was the first song written after this event, and we can consider it the seed at the basis of the concept, but for stylistic reason hasn’t been included. Bizarre, isn’t it?

From a philosophical point of view, Billions of Grains is the experience of a man narrated in the present through the revival of the memories that rush in his mind during a cold October night (October, 2012). The structure is circular, the album ends with the starting point, when the main character accept to “accept” and re-elaborate all memories and metaphorically returns to present time (“I Return”).

Generally speaking there are many different messages in our lyrics. Solitude, marginalization, rejection from what we may call civil society, but also distance and lack of communication between the people, caused by the new media that drew a wedge between people instead of creating a network. These key concepts can be found especially in “Multitude of Solitude”, “ The Audience”  and “The Shout”.

Concept of lack of freedom and democracy finds its development in “Mind Control” (fully dedicated to the use of fear to frighten and control people) but also again in “The Audience”. “Mass Destruction” and “October  Pt.1” remind us the theme of war, all little and big wars, both real and psychic, that came after first invasion of Iraq. “October Pt. 2”, the last song, simply represents the final reconciliation with those memories and the acceptance of the experience made by the main character.

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

We usually record every interesting improvisation, every single idea and every development or arrangement of it. In our studio a lot of gigabites of live recorded sessions are stored in the HD, since every microphone is always switched on and linked to our computer ready to capture every note (interesting or not).

At the end of each session we upload the best versions in a private section of our Soundcloud page. In this way we can download the files and work on them also later at home, or in streaming while walking or driving the car. In this way nothing is lost and we can listen to our songs whenever we want (even in the office !!)

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected or is it an organic outgrowth of performing them together?

Our style is mainly influenced by Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal and by electronic sound, but Master Experience most important feature is the architecture of songs, completely written in studio, during jam sessions. The creation of the songs mainly goes on like a stream of consciousness, an interior monologue without any fixed constraint, led by emotions and ideas coming from each one of the members.

Master Experience

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Billions of Grains wanted to be an essential album, therefore we chose not to exceed with multiple guitars, keyboards and vocal lines. This minimalistic approach is willing to bring the sound of the studio version to the original soul of the songs without any other superfluous element.

From a certain point of view we wanted this album to play almost like a “live concert”, since for us the live performance is the most important moment of expression. Playing on a stage brings true life to the songs we have written.

How long “Billion of Grains” was in the making? 

Billions of Grains took 10 years of our lives. Your following question may be: Why such a long period?

Well, we changed many musicians, many songs have been thrown away during those years because we put in discussion not only old ideas, but even our concept of making music. Eventually, playing in our studio we found the balance and wrote brand new songs that satisfied us all! Then we arranged and re-arranged our music during live performances before entering in studio, to have the best organic and fluent result.

Cooperative songwriting has its dark side: it takes really a lot of time to create something new, most of it spent to discuss instead of playing!

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Our influences are different and of course every member of the band has his own list of favorite artists, not necessarily belonging to prog. For sure the bands that played for us a leading role in our growth are Fates Warning of the prog-era, Rush, Porcupine Tree, OSI, Tool, Dream Theater, Area and even Soundgarden and NIN.

By the way, let me say that playing with Fates Warning during the 2013 tour was a great experience; sharing the stage with a band you’ve grown with was priceless.

Master Experience

What kind of gear do you use for recording your music?

We recorded Billions of Grains with Pro Tools and many other digital and analogue devices (it would be too long to name them all) at Macchina Magnetica Studios near Reggio Emilia (http://www.macchinamagnetica.com), but we decided to make the mastering at Finnvox Studios in Helsinki (http://www.finnvox.fi).

What is your view on technology in music?

Regarding technology, we have the same experimental approach of musicians of the 70’s. Progressive wouldn’t be an avant-garde without the important contribute of new technologies. We keep us informed about every brand new technological device and if it represents an interesting way to express our ideas, we apply it to music itself.

Do you see the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Just like I said at the beginning of this interview, we have always considered our songs as educational. Let me explain in a better way, our songs must have a message (Our singer even thinks that this message is the most important implication in our musical production). Master Experience is the teaching experience, the experience of the master. Like in the opera of S. T. Coleridge, at the end of path, the wedding guest, who is listening to the Ancient Mariner, becomes a sad and wiser man.

What are your plans for the future?

We are working on the new album, now we have approx. 15-20 minutes of raw music, and I can anticipate that it will be again a concept. Strong and uncompromising as usual…

In the meantime we will take part to some prog-festivals and events, we are always ready and eager for live performances! Follow us on our pages and stay tuned!

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