Thanks for the opportunity to look back on Posthuman with you. I welcome the opportunity to reconnect with this early era material since the band can maybe seem quite fragmented between the various eras, from an outside perspective, maybe even for the band, haha, so its great to dig into again. Thanks for the heads up about the 15 year anniversary as well. I hadn't noticed (I had been focussed on the upcoming 20yr anniversary of the formation of the band next year) but you are correct, the CD liner notes list the recording as taking place between January and October 2002.
This album is precious to me. Despite its flaws, despite its small standing, it is still close to my heart. When else in my life have I been so focussed to accomplish such a clear vision? When Mat and I created Posthuman it was without hesitation, everything was certain. At least that's how I remember it. I wasn't interested in anything much going on in the real world, I just wanted to make this album and I put all my energy into that. I don't think I really knew who or what I was at that stage, but I was certain what was going on with VOID. I guess I felt like I was always teetering on the edge of the void, of complete oblivion, except when I was expressing that feeling by playing in the band.
The album has serious flaws production-wise. I didn't know what I was doing with recording and mixing, but to be honest I don't think I really noticed. I recorded a piece of shit guitar through a piece of shit amp with a piece of shit mic, but I didn't really notice. I wasn't a typical metal musician in that sense. I didn't care about gear. I just needed to capture the music in the moment.
The album was programmed in Cubase using an S300XL sampler and a Supernova II synthesiser, which was all then exported into Syntrillium's awesome Cool Edit Pro DAW where the guitars were recorded and all the audio processed to create Posthuman as you hear it. The music was created at home on a PC paid for Nocturnal Art Productions. We then went into a proper studio to record the vocals.
From the first note you can hear the awesome distortion that was built into Cool Edit Pro. It could really mangle sounds. I don't know what that grinding noise was originally but it definitely it got chewed up by that plug in. We wanted the album to start with a very industrial sound and it features an almost traditional industrial clanging over the top of a sustained 'black metal' chord which Mat requested.
Into the verse and that riff, that always gets me labelled as a weirdo. It has a very disjointed, odd groove, like fragments of other unrelated riffs all stuck together. I don't know why it came out like that but it certainly sets the stage for the album.
I remember Mat getting the 'old spacesuits' lyric from watching a documentary about the Russian space program and how the astronauts were revered like religious figures. He told me when his girlfriend at the time read the "we are dead, waiting to be buried" lyric she totally freaked out, she thought it was so awful. We liked that a lot.
I think there is definitely something quality about the use of sub-bass on the album, a sine wave from the Akai S3000XL under something subby from my Supernova, but the drum programming just doesn't cut through in the mix as it should. Only the psy trance kick with that resonant attack pierces the guitars effectively. If I had the tapes I would remix it, but they're long gone.
The middle section features the first psuedo blast beat of the album. I'm still looking to get that blast + electronic groove element perfected on record. Watch out for the new VOID album.
Possibly my favourite on the album and one of only two songs that didn't originate on the previous EPs.
The intro was inspired by Chinese water torture. I wanted a drip of water sound that with each repetition morphed into an immense explosion. I guess the result was 50% there.
The main 6/4 riff is closely inspired by a string passage in Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade that described the wave like motion of a ship rocking on water.
The second riff with the long phrase clearly demonstrates the DØDHEIMSGARD influence and that riff from "Traces of Reality", although transplanted fairly out of context. I remember painstakingly figuring out the harmonies of that riff on paper, for bass, second guitar, even vocal.
The sung passage was meant to sound like drunk old men, reciting a passage from Jorge Luis Borges. We explored that element more in the outro of the piece where Mat reads a touching passage over a drunken conversation I recorded by chance between two German girls talking about the Jews.
The opening of this song starts with a riff written by Mat and finished by me, very black metal sounding chords using that semitone clash on the top strings, that has a weird 5 then 4 feel. Unfortunately this is one of those places where I feel the synthetic nature of the production spoils the feel of the music. The gaps I cut into the music are jarring, but it soon transitions into something else... via a riff lifted from Mussorgsky's "The Hut on Hen's Legs (Baba Yaga)", one of two references to Pictures at an Exhibition on this album.
The song that follows is pretty fucking bonkers. If only I had got the drum and bass feel right... the drums don't do it justice, but the twisty-turny guitar still keeps it exciting. The original title of the song was "Leopard Moon Itch" and it had a very different vocal. It first appeared on our first EP Designer Disease (2001) where we were just starting to experiment with electronics and just about anything could happen. We didn't know how to do it but we were doing it anyway, exporting clips from Propellerheads ReBirth and thrashing out over the top. Satyr from Moonfog / SATYRICON heard it and met with us in Oslo. Although he described some parts as "amateur crossover", he still wanted to sign the band, but he wanted too much creative control so we didn't go for it. What might have been... Who knows.
The outro for this was originally written for Vikotnik (DØDHEIMSGARD) after he told me a story about appearing in a play as 'the blue man', being dragged about stage by his own penis. The soundscape was intended to describe the arrival of this character. It was created entirely by mangling noise in Cool Edit Pro. I sent it to him but he didn't reply so it ended up here instead.
This song was the result of Mat requesting I write a more straightforward piece of music. In order to break from any muscle memory that might be forming I created the riffs for this song entirely in MIDI, sampling each note of the guitar onto my S3000XL. This made it fun to develop the triple time feel riff, that enters in its pure form at 2mins30, underneath the chord structure of the main 4/4 riff. Each time the 1bar phrase loops it changes to fit the harmony, creating a meandering 8bar phrase. The idea of developing the material of one riff to play accompaniment or melody to another is central to Posthuman, where the two guitars don't ever play in unison. Though missing from the next two VOID releases, where we utilised only one guitar, I am pleased to report that this element of thematic development is back on the new album, having again enlisted a second guitarist. Indeed we've taken it to the next level, utilising some melodic phrases repeatedly across multiple songs.
Future Horror Aura
"In my confusion of nuisance I have nothing to look forward to"... haha.
Something about the juxtaposition of those eerie, high chords in the verse and Mat's awesome existential lyrics really hits a nerve on this one. The chorus is both bombastic and nihilistic and you can tell at that very moment we truly felt that the world was ours.
The song's opening emerges from a soundscape about waking up in a torture cave. A robot arrives and pulls a tape of the next song from your guts, then spools through it to find the beginning. I guess I forgot to put in the sounds of pain; the subject seems quite unperturbed by the situation.
The riff that emerges is the heart of Posthuman, thematically and also, duration-wise, its in the middle!
Also though it has that groovy, driving grind on the bottom E (downtuned to D) the chords over the top neatly sidestep the key completely [ E5, Fm7, C#dim, Bflat, D#m7, Amaj ], yet don't sound atonal at all. I guess I thought that was futuristic enough. I do like chaotic, atonal music live, but listening at home, I prefer things to be melodic. And weird.
The verse riff was adapted from an early demo of a lost song called "Paradise Hotel" and a riff that eventually found its way onto the latest EP in the song "The Phobia of a Fiddler's Paradise".
Heimoth from SETH had wanted to use the riff in a SETH song back in 2002 but I said no. Why? I was an arrogant prick in my youth.
At the end the song goes underwater...
Sulphur City Sickness
This is the most industrial song on the album to my ears. Lots of swirling industrial sounds, mostly processed samples from an inkjet printer. There was a great industrial sounding track on Thorns which was a big influence. It's the only song that experiments with dropping the guitars out and letting the samples shine through.
Zero Signal Pattern
We still play this song today. Perhaps because everyone loves the intro riff.
The middle section samples "Catacombae (Sepulcrum romanum)", from Pictures at an Exhibition again.
The riff that emerges is one of the best on the album and is lifted from the song "Superhuman Frequencies" on the first demo - the first VOID song ever written. I added a lot of vocal effects. I used to love to reverb the reverb tail of a sound so it would reverberate forever, or delay the delays. An offline process all done in Cool Edit Pro.
This song was intended to be the template for how VOID would continue post-Posthuman, but with the breakup of the band soon after its release that never really happened. We did record two tracks in that vein but Mat didn't like them much and quit the band. He joined CODE around the same time and soon after DHG. I struggled on alone for a few months, but without a creative partner I lost focus. I got more into drugs. I fell out with Mat. I fell out with Samoth. The music got weirder, more electronic... Toxic. I felt cut off from any music scene, lost and alone. I guess there was a time when VOID slotted in nicely with the Jester Records post black metal scene, and the projects that would appear from that; ZWEIZZ, ALIEN SYNDROME 777, Joey Hopkins, HAEIRESIS, DREAMS OF THE DROWNED... but that was an online community and I didn't have the communication skills to keep those kind of relationships alive. I wish I had.
In the end I put VOID aside, moved to Brazil and started a punk band.
In 2005 I thought Mat and I had decided together to write and record another album in Brazil, but I must have got my wires crossed because when I reported it to my mailing list he replied saying that VOID would never record another album, not in Brazil or anywhere else. It's water under the bridge now, he doesn't even remember this, and I'd like to think we have a good relationship again, but anyway, I didn't play metal again until I met Joe Burwood in 2008.
And then we recorded another album.
And now we are ready to record our third.