Saturday, December 12, 2015

Streaming: So Hideous - Laurestine

Band: So Hideous
Album: Laurestine
Label: Prosthetic Records
Year: 2015

01. Yesteryear
02. Here After
03. Relinquish
04. The Keepsake
05. Falling Cedars
06. The True Pierce
07. A Faint Whisper

From NYC, So Hideous combines intense, blackened hardcore with orchestral elements to create a unique blend of music that has been called a "raging force of post-black metal; frothing with shoegaze and oozing with tortured melancholy.

Having formed in 2008 and with two EPs and a full-length under their belts, Brooklyn’s orchestral post-metal outfit, So Hideous, are set to release their most ambitious offering to date with their seven song conceptual opus, Laurestine.

Founded by Brandon Cruz (guitar), his intent was to score soundtracks to films that have yet to be made and sites Arvo Part, Ennio Morricone and Beethoven as his main influences. After many lineup changes, Brandon eventually enlisted his brother Chris (bass/vocals) and childhood friends Etienne Vazquez (guitar) and Danny Moncada (drums) to round out the group.

It’s safe to say that So Hideous write music a little differently than most bands of their genre. Each song starts off being written on piano with the orchestration built in next. The guitars, bass and drums fall into place only after the orchestral foundation is complete.

The band recorded Laurestine at The Wild Arctic Recording Studio in Portsmouth, NH with producer Dean Baltulonis (Brand New, The Explosion, Sick of it All). Orchestral elements were recorded a few weeks later at Little Field Performance & Art Space in Brooklyn, NY by Chris Montgomery (Mumford And Sons, Lily Allen, Florence And The Machine).

For Laurestine, a thirty-piece orchestra was enlisted for the album. Assembled by the band members, the orchestra is known as The First Light Orchestra, which consists of brass and string sections and also includes a small choir. The result is a more dynamic interplay between the band and orchestra with both aspects treated not as support or accouterments, but fully formed expressions able to exist without the other.

To compliment the musical achievement that is Laurestine, So Hideous brought on Italian illustrator/comic artist Daniel Serra (Shining SW) to handle the elaborate album artwork. Serra, who painted the artwork using his watercolor technique, had the following to say, “It was very interesting to work on this piece, first because it was a particular format, very long and narrow and then because the band provided a preliminary sketch with very specific guidelines, so I had to combine my style with an old classic style that it could remember painters like El Greco.”

It has been said that following death, the brain is active for seven minutes, one’s life flashes before one’s eyes and the ascent towards the afterlife begins. This is narrative behind Laurestine. The number 7 factors heavily into the fabric of the overall album as the number serves as a constant reminder of the seven last minutes of life as they pass. With seven total tracks, Laurestine is written in 7/4 and 7/8 time signatures with recurring motifs of that meter found throughout.

“The album starts off with our character, who is simply known as "man,” dying at the opening piano notes of Yesteryear,” states Brandon Cruz. “He then begins his journey through an altered sensory landscape where he first notices a laurestine flower and hears a woman's voice. Intrigued, he follows the voice.”

Laurestine or Viburnum Tinus flowers in the winter months and endures in the harshest conditions. It is considered a deathless flower and is also the name of the woman guiding “man” throughout the album. Brandon further explains, “Laurestine leads “man” through a series of distant memories, fragmented life events juxtaposed with experiences well beyond the scope of his understanding.”

So Hideous’ unique approach to songwriting and attention to the album’s overall theme is what truly separates them from the countless other band’s of the post-whatever genre. Many critics have taken note of this, giving high praise to the band’s debut full-length, Last Poem/First Light. Originally self-released, such admiration towards the album lead to Los Angeles based Prosthetic Records signing the band and reissuing the album in the spring of 2014. Tours and festivals followed and towards the end of the year, Brandon sat himself down in front of his piano and Laurestine began to take shape.

Seven minutes reflecting on one’s life and preparing for the afterlife doesn’t seem like a lot of time. Truth be told, it’s a towering and a beautiful concept, one that the Laurestine captures perfectly to form.

We closed our eyes and slept...


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