Drummer René Aquarius, best known as one-half of Dutch jazz-grindcore duo Dead Neanderthals, is releasing his first solo album, Blight, via the Utech label (which released DN’s album Polaris in 2012). It’s entirely composed of sounds made with drums and cymbals, then electronically manipulated. Check out the first track, “II”:
René Aquarius answered a few questions about Blight via email:
When and how did the idea come to you to make a solo album?
Early 2015; I wanted to try out new things on my drum kit and I had the time to do it at that moment. So I just started working on what became Blight. Simple as that.
How did you arrive at the methodology, and what kind of software, etc. did you use to manipulate the sounds?
I wanted to create sounds that didn’t really sound like they were made on drums. So I started rubbing on drumheads, cymbals and kettles. It sounded pretty alien. I immediately knew I wanted to explore that side of playing. I simply started recording drums at home. As for effects, I only did some extreme EQing and I added reverb on some of the tracks. Most of the stuff you hear came directly from the kit. For example, I achieved those really low bass parts by extreme close mic-ing my cymbals.
How long did it take to put the whole thing together?
1.5 years from start to finish. I had no plan whatsoever. I trusted myself enough that whatever I made came from somewhere deep within and that these were the sounds necessary to record the album I really wanted to make. Several times I headed into rough territory filled with struggles, mistakes and dead ends. I repeatedly had to abandon the project. At least for a while. But I kept coming back, and every time I did the album improved. At least that’s what I like to think. I ended up with something that didn’t sound like anything I ever did before. It all took way longer than anticipated. I think the thing that took the longest was to be happy with all of it. I can always discuss the music I make with Otto (Kokke, Dead Neanderthals saxophonist) and quickly separate the good stuff from the bad stuff. For this album, I was the only judge. I never thought it would be so difficult, to be honest.
Is it meant to be a single complete work, or do the tracks exist separately?
I think it works best as a whole. To me it feels like an album and not like a “collection of songs.” But I guess that’s what all artists say…I just can’t see these tracks as separate entities anymore.