A Quiet Noise – A Q&A with Æsthetica

From the densely wooded suburbs just outside of Oslo a deep, dark sound has emerged  with the sonic intensity of armageddon and the wistful sonorities of the birds. Æsthetica are a self-styled doom, post-rock band from Kolbotn whose live shows have mesmerised audiences for its fierce fervour and great big swathes of sound that envelop the listener like a mysterious mist. Combining elements of doom, progressive blues rock, eastern scales and even tubas, Æstethica have cultivated a sound uniquely their own and their first single La Paz has just brought his to the recorded format for the first time.

Theirs is a bold new sound lifted from the petrified footsteps left by rock icons like Black Sabbath, Swans and Godspeed! You black Emperor and shaped by a stark coldness that lies beyond the tundra. Æsthetica’s textures are dense and powerful and without provocation they lure the listener into a calm noise that lies just beyond the superficial. It’s a quiet noise that’s best experienced in the live context, which the young four-piece group dominate with a sonic presence that could make an act like Motörhead appear tame.

 

They’re bringing this sound to Jæger’s basement for a halloween special of  Den Gyldne Sprekk, so we took the opportunity as pretence to fire some questions at Tobias Huse from the band in an effort to uncover a little more of the Æsthetica, the band and the sound.

Let’s start with introductions. Who make up Æsthetica and who plays what?

We are four teenagers from the outskirts of Oslo, three from the Metal-capital Kolbotn and one from Ski. Tobias Huse plays guitar and sings, Simon Dahl plays lead guitar and does backing vocals, Vetle Rian has the low frequencies covered with bass and tuba. Last, but not least, is Petter Moland, our drummer.

How did you meet and who or what encouraged you to form a band?

I (Tobias) and Simon met in school and started playing together around the age of 13. After several musical projects we wanted to go deeper and darker with our sound, and teamed up with Petter and Vetle, who we knew through our musical studies in Kolbotn.

Listening to the opening of Haze I’m reminded of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Who were some of your musical influences when you started out?

As for all doom-styled bands Black Sabbath is obviously a huge influence. The late 90s/early 00s doom scene has also been a huge inspiration, primarily the band Electric Wizard. We also draw a lot from Post-Rock bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the later Swans records. The earliest songs we wrote have a clear doom-structure and sound, while the later ones drift more towards Psych and Post-rock.

What inspires you outside of music?

A lot of music seems to be inspired by nature, and the deep, dense forests that surrounds our hometown Kolbotn have definitely been an inspiration in the writing process. Trying to capture the feel of those woods has always been our goal.

Who does the creative process usually begin with in the band and what defines your sonic signature?

The writing process will most of the time start with one riff, or one chord that sets the ground structure for the song, that defines which sonic landscape we are visiting. Most of our songs feature eastern sounding, exotic scales, and untraditional time signatures, such as the opening melody of La Paz, which is in 11/12. Using crescendos, building intensity, volume and speed, is also something a lot of our work include.

The textures in your music are incredibly dense and expansive and sounds like the whole band rushing out at you through the speakers. How do you get to this point in the songwriting process?

When writing the more fuzzed out parts, we tend to think more of the sounds texture than which notes are being played. Asking how does the sound feel, rather than asking how it sounds, or how the melody progresses. The unique distortion sound found in doom-style music (also known as every sound guys nightmare) feels so much more alive and organic than those found in other types of metal. The dense production helps the listener achieve the intended state of mind, to get lost in the fuzz. Once the listener is in, one can build and expand on the sound, and drag the listener through the sonic landscape.

Who is the lyricist and what might influence your lyrics?

All lyrics are written by me, Tobias. During the first year of playing, there were no written lyrics, and the vocals were improvised during every rehearsal and live set. Over time, certain phrases and words stuck and the lyrics were finally written down before we went into the studio december 2016. The lyrical content revolves around nature, occultism, trance like experiences and existential questions.

 

Although there is a recorded version of La Paz, most of your recorded music are live sessions. What is it about the live context that just can’t be relayed through a recording for Æsthetica?

As mentioned earlier, we attempt to let the listener into the storm of sound. The extreme volume and presence necessary for this immersion is hard to recreate in a living room.

What do you bring to the stage that’s unique and sets you apart from other bands?

When possible, we use a projector instead of a traditional logo-backdrop, where we display a distorted and edited clip of a 1950s television show called Desert Life, which was the original title of La Paz. A group of scientist examine animals living in the extreme conditions of the desert. Using this, instead of blinking “disco” lights, calls for a darker atmosphere, and a higher grade of immersion.

Besides La Paz are there any other recordings in the works to be released soon?

In combination with the release of La Paz and the gig at Jæger, we are announcing big news related to our coming studio album (hint: physical release)

Lastly, do you have any final words you’d like to say before you hit the stage at Jæger next week?

Be prepared. Bring enough water.

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