Canadian experimental drone metal band New Age Doom recently released their new album "Himalayan Dream Techno" and to celebrate we asked them to tell us about the title track. Here is the story:
The album "Himalayan Dream Techno" was recorded and produced between March and June 2020 and circumstances required each musician to record their parts remotely under lockdowns of varying severity in Vancouver, Toronto, Calabasas and Tucson. Album production was open-ended yet meticulous and aimed to create an impactful sound that would convey, at least in part, the feeling of a raw, live musical performance (in the "warm thrill of confusion and space-cadet glow" sense).
The drums were the first to be recorded and thus set the pace for the other musicians. Eric J. Breitenbach laid down the drums for tracks 4 and 5 in a single ten-minute take, so for optimal experience we recommend listening through the entire suite, starting with "Phononic Landform Resonance," which introduces the elements that find their climax in "Himalayan Dream Techno."
The track begins during a lull. We hear distant windy synthesizers, wailing guitar feedback and a cymbal wash punctuated by metal singing bowls. This calm is short-lived however, as the drums soon re-enter, buzzing with renewed vigor and ready to top the already-dizzying intensity achieved in the previous track.
Breitenbach is using a hybrid kit made up of Staccato, Ludwig Vistalite, George Way and Woods Custom drums with Zildjian cymbals. This may come as a surprise, but the drum mix is basically mono. The snare, kick and toms are sub-mixed down to a single track on a vintage Peavey PA-9000 mixer, which grants analog saturation and punchiness for the mere sacrifice of the stereo spread. The rest is just overhead and room capture. The drums are also responsible for the track's locked-in, tectonic synth bass sound, by way of a Roland RT-30 on the bass drum armed to a Roland TM-1 module.
There's quite a bit going on in the synthesizers. The terrifying cascades of chirps and beeps come from Tim Lefebvre running a Hikari Monos and a custom box from Synthcone. The combined dry signals are mixed with a close-mic'd cabinet track for a full-ranged tone where most of the bass is in the right channel and most of the treble is in the left (these two tracks are also slightly time-offset from one another to enhance the stereo effect). If the drums are this music's beating heart, then Cola Wars' Roland Jupiter synth is the lungs - here it offers a smouldering skyscape for the other instruments to inhabit, and its ramp-up before the one minute mark sends everything into overdrive.
While most guitarists avoid microphonic feedback, Greg Valou leans into it, using subtle movements to harness and manipulate feedback blasting from two low-watt tube combos (a 7-watt vintage Japanese TAKT and a 1-watt Blackstar), with added gain courtesy of an Ibanez Nu-Tube Screamer running at 18 volts. He also adds percussion touches throughout, using a collection of metal singing bowls and a pair of silnyen (Tibetan hand cymbals) to enhance the texture and spaciousness of the tracks.
There's not much more we can say objectively about this music - it was a spontaneous outpouring unbound by discussions, plans or considerations of structure or tonality, so the music could emerge under its own volition. How should you listen to it? That's up to you. Use it as a high-powered ambient soundtrack for extended bursts of heavy-focus tasks or exercise. Or do the opposite, and closely follow the musical events to try to pick out details and synchronicities found within. As an abstract work, "Himalayan Dream Techno" is highly subjective and will speak differently to every listener. Hear it with an open mind and draw your own conclusions about the inspirations, meanings and intentions.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the album here