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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Clustersun...The Art of Psychedelic Soundscaping

Hypnotic-obsessive bass lines, dark and cold drum patterns, a strongly expressive guitar with a range that goes from an ambient ethereal mood to fuzz-and-reverb madness, fat analog synths and dreamy melodies. That's what you will experience when listening to Catania, Italy based band Clustersun. Guitarist Mario Lo Faro sat down with us to talk about the origins of the band, the development of their sound and making their latest album "Out Of Your Ego".

CMM-How did the band get together and what type of musical background do each of the members come from? How did the bands sound develop over time.

Mario-CLUSTERSUN are basically four really close friends that enjoy making loud noises together. Starting a band was a very natural move for us, because we all have a strong human interconnection and share the same musical background. We're all into shoegazey soundscapes, walls of sound, cold wave reverberations, psychedelic journeys, crystal clear dream pop melodies: we grew up and were influenced by these sonic textures, first of all as listeners and music fans. So we found a wonderful feel and interplay between us just from the first rehearsals: that comfortable sensation of speaking the same musical language, with cranked amps, reverbs and eyes pointed at our feet. Also everyone here is a sound-tone-gear geek and has a maniacal approach to the expressive possibilities of his instrument: a filtered bass, a reverse reverberated fuzzy guitar, a fat analog synth or an ice-cold drum pattern are often the starting point for building a song. In this way the band's sound is always in evolution. Our debut album "Out Of Your Ego" came out at the end of April with a distinctive airy-spacey-dreamy-ethereal mood that we love, but we are now at work exploring our fuzzier, grittier, dirtier side in the live renditions of the album tracks and especially in the new material that is coming out at rehearsals. We hate to stand still.

CMM-What are some artists that you got into early on that made you want to play the music you play today and who turned you all on to them.

Mario-All of us were very lucky to have our parents listening to The Beatles and Pink Floyd instead of more conventional italian music. If you're a kid and vinyls of Ummagamma, Sgt. Pepper, Dark Side Of The Moon, Abbey Road, A Saucerful Of Secrets are on the turntable at home, that definitely set your taste about melody and experimentation and teaches you to become curious in searching new music. When we grew up a very crucial discover were The Velvet Underground: their discography was the starting point to search and know the bands that in a way or another were influenced by them. So we discovered Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Ride, Swervedriver, Pale Saints, Loop, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Cocteau Twins, Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, Neu!, Can, PIL, Bauhaus. Basically we could say that the infatuation for shoegaze, dream pop, post-punk, wave, psychedelia, kraut, kosmische musik shaped our music language and, in the end, is the reason because we started a band.

CMM-What was the song writing and recording process like when it came to making "Out Of Your Ego"?

Mario-All the songs on "Out Of Your Ego" came out from long, trippy and free jamming during rehearsals. We record every session so that we can later listen to it and find if there's something good to develop. Sometimes a song came out almost complete and structured from these improvisations (it's what happened to tracks like "Meteors" or "Planar I", that are on the album with the same structure of their very first jam versions). At other times we isolate a single riff or section, a melody, a sound, a noise, everything that seems interesting and then we try to expand it into a more complete form (it's the case of "Hipgnosis", built upon a filtered and delayed bass line; same with the guitar riff in "Floating" or the drum pattern on "Nebula"). We consider this kind of approach crucial to keep songwriting at the most spontaneous, authentic and genuine level. Lyrics come at last, when the musical structure is defined, and are tailored upon it with a great focus on abstract and dreamy thematics. Recording the album was also an amazing experience. Our label Seahorse Recordings brought us to Eye&Ear Multimedia Studio in the lovely little town of Fiumedinisi, here in Sicily. We lived there for ten days, a full immersion in music... and in great food! Recording was really fun, easier and faster than we thought, even because we came with good pre-production of all the tracks, made on our own: so we recorded tracks quickly and spent most of time fine tuning sounds and mixes with the help of our producer Paolo Messere and sound engineer Giuseppe Barbera. The final mixes then flew to Chicago for mastering by the legendary Carl Saff. Easy to say that we are really really happy of how "Out Of Your Ego" came out.

CMM-When did you guys first start playing shows and what was the overall reception like?

Mario-Our first gig as Clustersun was at the beginning of September 2013, in a very cool festival near our hometown Catania, called Lavica Rock. Three months before in June, we had put out our first self produced single "Be Vegetal" with very good feedback, so the attention upon us was growing: a great spotlight just at the right moment. We also were billed very high in the lineup (the organizer loves taking risks supporting emerging bands that he likes, and fortunately he liked us very much!) so we had the chance to play at night, in front of a big audience and with a wonderful lightshow. Played a 30 min. set literally on fire and the audience reaction was really warm and passionate: many people came in the backstage to compliment us for the performance and asking for info on the band. Most of them noted we were the loudest band: that made our day! Anyway, it was a very cool baptism of fire.

CMM-Who writes the lyrics for the band and what are you all's songs about?

Mario-Our lead singer and bassist Marco wrote all the lyrics for "Out Of Your Ego", with a visionary, dreamy and allegorical touch. Our songs are more descriptive than narrative, they talk about alienation feelings, strange states of mind, love and life too, but in a metaphorical and imaginary way. We wanted to reach a very effective and coherent match between lyrics and music, sounds and atmospheres: we're really proud of what came out.

CMM-So have you guys been working on more material with plans for another release soon?

Absolutely! "Out Of Your Ego" was released in April but we are now at work on new material, it's a very productive and inspiring moment for us. We have completed a bunch of new songs that are coming out in a grittier, edgier and more aggressive mood compared to the ones on the album. At this speed, I think that in a few months we could be ready for a new release. We also finished recording a cover of a song called "Icehouse" by australian artist Iva Davies, known in the 80's with the monicker Icehouse too: it's a wonderful synth-pop tune à la Depeche Mode that we rearranged with our psych-shoegazey touch. We're very happy of how it came out and it represents an interesting preview of our new material's sound. This cover will be featured in a tribute compilation to Australian alternative scene of '80s and '90s, that will be issued by our label between next autumn and winter.

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