dcrf: Nothing so poetic, unfortunately! When I was recording that album, I couldn't find anyone who wanted to play drums. So I did the percussion myself on junk & trash, bits of plastic and so on. In black metal, the drums have such a specific role that it's easy to replace them with other sounds. As long as the function is the same, it seems to work well enough.
Maelstrom: Agreed there. Book of Sand has a variety of drum sounds and sources, it seems. Other recordings seem to have an acoustic kit. Perhaps one has a drum machine? Since the sound in general is so damaged, it can be hard to tell.
dcrf: No drum machines or samplers.There's no problem with electronic instruments that aren't pretending to be something else, but I'm opposed to using electronic instruments to fill in for acoustic ones.If I want drums or strings or horns or whatever, I'll either play them myself or find someone who can.The quality of the sound and the feeling behind it aren't the same when it comes from a sample.
Maelstrom: 2012's Mourning Star has tracks that differ from what is more commonplace in Book of Sand in rhythm, which goes well in that the drum sound has the most space to breathe from any recording of yours I've heard.
dcrf: Mourning Star brought in more of the doom side of things.There will be more of that in the future, I expect.
Much of my music experiments with colliding pleasant and unpleasant elements.To me, that combination is the most powerful and evocative.My first album, How Beautiful to Walk Free, was much further to the ugly side, and Destruction not Reformation was much more on the pretty side.But, I try to keep both feelings at all times.
Maelstrom: How do you go about creating an anti-melody? Do you write a melody and then pick the least commonly suitable notes to damage it? Is it an approach that comes from theory, or more of a "whatever sounds the best (ugliest)"?
dcrf: I think awareness of context is the most important thing.There's nothing innately unpleasant about atonality or dissonance Ė a melody might be friendly in one place and shocking in another, depending on what surrounds it.
There are some specific techniques.I've used 12 (and 24) tone rows sometimes, and also random numbers and tonal counterpoint. Mourning Star has extensive quotations from various places. But, most of what I write is just whatever sounds good to me.
Four of the tracks on Destruction, not Reformation have a specific, unusual approach to melody. That will become more clear in the near future.
Maelstrom: Cryptic! The obnoxious question: what do you mean?
dcrf: The middle of the last track of Mourning Star is a place to start!
Maelstrom: You got a 0% on a review for Destruction, Not Reformation on Metal Archives. Some kind of congratulations are in order. Is that kind of response a bummer or a triumph?
dcrf: I was quite pleased to see that. The first of many, let's hope.
Maelstrom: Other congratulations go to being on Paradigms. That label always shows that a little goes a long way in packaging. Is that the kind of law laid down, where you have to use the standard CD inner sleeve, and you can't have a booklet? Do you think that in fact makes for more focused album layout ideas?
dcrf: That was Duncan's idea for the packaging, and it was fine by me. I'm not knowledgeable about graphic design, but a minimal layout seemed better Ė I had no interest in printing lyrics, and I had nothing else to go in a booklet.
Maelstrom: Right. Your lyrics aren't in the usual places: booklets, Bandcamp... but Metal Archives lists Book of Sand's lyrical content to be "anarchy, feminism, veganism, anti-racism." Would you care to support or refute those tags with some examples? Does the music and your approach to its construction correlate with the lyrical content? Where can we see these lyrics for ourselves?
dcrf: Lately, some of my lyrics have been more abstract, but the politics are Ė and will remain Ė the central theme. That list on metal archives is more or less correct.
All art has a propagandistic element, and I've tried (not sure I've succeeded) to make the structure of the music itself match my politics. I try to open up cracks in my black metal, so elements from outside of it can work their way in, and I try to make my music amorphous and difficult to interpret; I'm not interested in shoving something clear and unambiguous at my listeners, and I would like for people to have to invest some time to understand what's going on.
The lyrics aren't published anywhere, but it should be possible to make them out from the recordings with a bit of effort.
Maelstrom: Where did the name Book of Sand come from?
dcrf: The story by Jorge Luis Borges. I thought it had nice associations.
Maelstrom: Please talk about the usage of non-standard black metal instrumentation. The violin seems to be a mainstay. That must be you playing it. Would you consider that your main instrument? I think I also hear a dulcimer on the beginning of How Beautiful to Walk Free.
dcrf: I use cello quite a lot in my music, and in some ways it's my main instrument. Certainly, it's the one I've studied the longest. I'm not a classical player at this point, although I studied for many years. I have an idiosyncratic style now.
I've also used melodica, saxophone, toy piano, kazoo, bike wheel, and many of the Javanese gamelan instruments. If I remember correctly, How Beautiful to Walk Free was all guitars. But, I have a little bit of dulcimer on some upcoming things.
It's wonderful that bands have started using all sorts of instruments to make their black metal. Botanist, Wrnlrd, Vhernen, Dead Raven Choir and Lugubrum are some of my favorites at this game.
Maelstrom: You sent me a CDR in a hand-written cardboard digi entitled The Face of the Deep, which is not listed in your official discography. Is this an album to come or a lost one?
dcrf: This one will be released in a little while, maybe this summer. It's fairly different from my previous albums. That one tries something new.
Maelstrom: One song from How Beautiful to Walk Free is entitled "Hidegen F