Noise or Pictures At An Exhibition…

Hey everybody!

We’ve been quite busy as of late working hard on our new album and knowing that a lot of you are patiently waiting for the noise, here is the album cover along with the tracklisting!

HiRes Cover

Tracklisting

1. Quietus
2. Signal to Noise
3. Fade In/Out
Part 1: Revelation
Part 2: Confrontation
Part 3: Reconciliation
4. Altered State
5. Headlong
6. Fragile
7. Coda ( for a Dream)

We’ll go more into detail on these tracks in upcoming posts on this blog, but for this post we asked our photographer Bert Treep to tell us how he came about making the art.

Bert: “Ben sent me the story behind the lyrics. The nucleus of this whole story, the key to this concept that could not be avoided or unseen, was white noise. I had to ask myself how I could represent that. My first tryout was a series about ‘Natural Events’, where the color white was prevalent, due to reflection, movement etc. This tryout however didn’t work due to the colors, so this idea was scrapped.
Although it was planned to keep the Purified and The Gift of Anxiety album covers in the same line as Waiting For The Noise, I was given total freedom with regards to creating it. So I went off into nature and through a combination of beautiful light, colors and especially this wonderful tree ( No, those black orbs are not birds nests!). By applying several effects on the photo, white noise began to appear. The remaining artwork was designed after this great coincidence, allowing the artwork to become a body of itself.”

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Boom! A Studio Update On The Second Sylvium Album

It all started with a joke…

After Antal recorded the piano parts for the demo of ‘Breaking’ (working title) that would be the sixth track on ‘Waiting For The Noise’, someone made the comment about constantly hearing a saxophone solo in his head at the end of the song. Surprisingly, Antal took up the challenge and recorded an example of what it would possibly sound like using a sax from a sample library.

Initially met with cautious enthusiam, as we weren’t sure if this would fit in with our overall sound ( as a band and the sound of the upcoming album), it began to grow on us. This sax solo became such an integral part of the song, we couldn’t unhear it anymore. We decided we wanted to keep this on the record, as it just added the right vibe that we were looking for in that particular track.

Antal recalled that one of his ex co-worker had a son who was very good at playing saxophone, although he was just thirteen years of age. After having sent over a demo version of the song to him, Antal asked if it was something he could see himself playing for our new album. There was an immediate enthusiastic response and made a quick recording over the weekend of himself playing along with the demo. We thought that it sounded just awesome and made plans to go to the studio and record the part.

The sax parts were recorded at Jeff’s Recording, a studio of a friend of Antal’s located in Didam. It was decided that the parts would be winged, allowing a lot of improvisation for the player. Given the jazz background the player was coming from, it was decided to focus more on emotive playing rather than simply technical. Antal would be giving pointers here and there as to the vibe that we were looking for. Despite his young age, our sax player was quick to pick up suggestions that would get on his takes would incorporate those immediately into his next takes.
All in all, we took about 15 takes of different solo variations that Antal took home for further processing.

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This was a totally new thing for us to try as well as a completely new experience for Antal. We’re glad we went through with this idea, as it gave the track that extra vibe of melancholy and tension that it required.

With the drums, sax and vocal recordings behind us now, it was up to the rest of us to fill in the blanks, or fill up the noise, so to speak.

Using an early mix of the drum and vocal recordings as a guideline as well as the demos that we had already recorded as a reference, Antal started to record his synth parts over the holiday season. Although he had already thought up basic parts for the demo recordings and the album preview live show we did in November, recording for the album would be a whole new ballgame. On the previous album, Antal had joined the band just a week prior to the final recording deadline. Although all the of the music had been written, Antal wrote and performed a solo ( on Ominous). This time however, he would be able to integrate his own playing style, sound and vision on the Sylvium sound.

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Antal’s exclusive use of soft synth instruments that he controls live with MIDI controllers allows him a great deal of flexibility both live and recording with the band. Not only does it allow him to simply add new plugins or sample libraries on the fly if required, but he can use the exact same sounds when playing live.

Working on his parts from his home studio, Antal set about fleshing out the scenes and finding the right sounds and melodies for the songs on this album. One of the themes that was constantly in the back of his mind during the whole process was that of “Noise”, both in the sense of white noise static and just plain weird noises. In his own words: “I tried to give each track just a touch of this “noise”. Between Gijs’ Taurus pedals and my synth parts, I think we succeeded pretty well.” Another highlight Antal pointed out was the piano parts, which sway from bombastic in one song to minimalist and fragile in the next, setting the mood for each song.

Crash! A Studio Update On The Second Sylvium Album

And now we come to the bottom end of the album; the bass guitars! They’ve always been quite an important feature in Sylvium, not just because its all done on a Rickenbacker bass guitar ( which has a phenomenal sound!), but because Gijs is playing them. His quite pronounced playing has brought quite a dimension to the tracks when we were writing and arranging the tunes for the new album and it makes everything sounds extremely punchy, narly and powerful.

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Hard at work recording the new songs. Rawk!

 

So although the sound hasn’t changed for the majority of the album, it did for one tune in particular, currently known under the working title ‘Breaking’, where Gijs’ bass playing almost sounds like a fretless bass guitar in certain places, being used minimalistically to create a sonic landscape of its own. You can imagine how excited we were when Gijs first played his parts on this track in the rehearsal studio.

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Gijs’ pedalboard, his Sansamp Bass driver on the left, and the mighty Moog Minitaur and bass pedals on the right.

 

On the first track, ‘Dance of Defeat’ ( working title), Gijs is primarily focused on adding bass pedals to the song, with the mighty Rickenbacker roaring to life at the later half of the song, especially when his playing is enforcing the heavy guitar riffs and adding to the brutality of that song. On ‘Signals’ he is a prominent force in the song, not just meshing beautifully with the drums on his bass guitar but also adding extremely catchy bass pedals; you’ll understand when you hear the final version 😉
On ‘Washing Out’, ‘Uncoiling’, ‘Rush’ and ‘Ending Theme’ ( respectively our third, fourth, fifth and seventh track on the album) his bass is also featured prominently, blending in amazingly with the guitars and generally providing the power required for those particular tracks.

In addition to sounding so mighty on the new album, Gijs recorded all his parts within three hours, which not only had our jaws drop to the floor but also proved to be a new personal record for him.

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All the work is done!

That concludes the mighty Rick recorded, next up is a special surprise…

Signals: The start of the writing process of ‘Waiting For The Noise’

Setting up for the new album has been a different experience than when we were recording ‘The Gift of Anxiety’ in the summer of 2013. When we joined in 2013, all the music had already been written, with the exception of the lyrics to ‘Surround’ and ‘Weathering’ and a couple of additions added during recording. That process was quite short and relatively painless.

That, however, would change dramatically with the new music.

‘Waiting For The Noise’ started out as a completely different thing, as most project eventually diverge from whatever was originally intended. Although Ben would still write the music, we were given a lot more freedom with what we wanted to bring in to the album and with that in mind we set about to work. After discussing several ideas for the theme of the album, I came up with a story based around one example that Ben proposed, one that resonated a lot with me. This was the genesis of the project really.

Although Ben intended to write the album from track #1 to track #7, we started this whole thing at track #3, at the time a demo of Ben that predated ‘The Gift of Anxiety’. It was a powerful song but nothing that I could fit lyrics to anywhere on the track, even though we all agreed this should feature vocals. So after having chopped up the track in a sequencer and rearranging the order of the bits and pieces we were left with after said chopping job, we were off!

We took our time to finish this album, simply because we realised that this wasn’t an album we would want to rush. It’s important to go with gut feeling on this and in hindsight, I’m happy that we stuck to our guns for that strategy, as the music and the lyrics eventually became a coherent story.

‘Waiting For The Noise’ is a concept album, although I must profess we never intended to write one. Our initial idea as a band was to go with whatever music we wrote and follow the emotion and power of those tracks along with the original theme we had wanted to explore. But the divergence caught up with us and here we are.

Before going a bit more into detail on this album, it is important to explain a couple of things first.

1: We’re not going to tell the entire story. Not because we’re childish people who wish to deprive any music fan of what the backstory is of this album, but because that by witholding specific information about the backstory that people come up with their own versions of what is happening.
2: There is no wrong story. All things that people think the story is about are plausible. The possibilities are endless. We would’ve never forgiven ourselves if we took that ability away from the listener. But all stories have a beginning and we will share as much with you all.

‘Waiting For The Noise’ is the story of a man who finds out after a long period of unspecified illness that he is dying and only has a short amount of time left to live.

In the upcoming posts, we’ll divulge little bits and pieces of the new album, giving you all a bit more insight to this project, as well as share the recording process.

Thud! The beginning of the recording of the new Sylvium album!

We’re off! The start of the new album recording has come and gone and we’ve taken a deep dive into the work that we’ve got ahead of us.

The way that we record this album is by using the demo’s that we have of the seven tracks that we’ve written and piece by piece replace the parts with the actual parts that we play now in our set. As every record needs a solid rhythm section, these recordings are always kicked off with drums.

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First one to commence work was Fred, who showed up at Artichoque studios with Ben and in no time put down an amazing recording for each song, with an amazing sound. Powerful when required, restrained and quiet at other times. Listening back to the recordings, I can’t begin to tell you all how pleased we are with this hard work he put on the record and I can’t wait for this to be finished in its entirety for you all to enjoy!

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Next up was yours truly, taking care of the vocals and some acoustic guitars. Considering my demo recordings of the vocals I did at home weren’t close to what I sing nowadays, I had to do quite a bit of homework to make sure I came in prepared and ready. So after a couple of takes on the first two songs, we began laying down the tracks and managed to keep up with a nice tempo! After finishing up all the vocal work ( with some bits and pieces left that will be recorded at my home studio) we took to the acoustic guitar.

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For track 3 ( currently known as ‘Washing Out’) Ben had the idea to add some acoustic guitar during several verses and choruses, prompting me to bring along my trusty 12 string for some amazing warmth added to the song. It’s rapidly growing on me with this addition and I am happy we’ve found a place for it to be incorporated.

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After that, Ben took out a guitar and recorded his parts for the middle section, changing the sound drastically but really making it shine. It’s got a lot of power and especially with Fred’s drums on there giving it an amazing feel.

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So a lot of work already done in two days! But we’re not there yet, as we still have basses, guitars, synths and some remaining vocal work left to do before we can send this to the mixer. But here’s a little spoiler as to what we’re doing at the moment…

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