Spiritual Machinery is a progressive musical outfit with a formula for the avant-garde and creativity. The group’s recent release of Alma Le Coquillage (read full review) is quite a stirring accomplishment and unveils their ever-growing thirst for melodic innovation. Luckily, I had the blessed opportunity to be able to interview the full cast of Spiritual Machinery and the factors that spurred the creation of Alma Le Conquillage. Enjoy!
Warlock Asylum: It’s great to see one of my favorite musical acts once again. I love your new song Alma le Coquillage (English- Alma the Shell) and find it a very thrilling addition to your catalog. Can you tell us how this song came about?
Hakan Sunar: Alma actually originates from an older song I created approximately ten yours ago… It had a nice atmospheric feel that I felt deserved some new and better treatment. Unfortunately, the original multi-track recordings were lost years ago. So, everything had to be re-created from scratch. Luckily, Nori is a masterful sound wizard so he took on the task using my original mixdown track for guidance.
Warlock Asylum: Hakan Sunar, you are listed as the composer of Alma le Coquillage. How long did it take to finish the track once the composition was complete?
Hakan Sunar: I can’t honestly remember how long it took to finish the original recording from the point I wrote the piece. It’s so many years ago. But the current reworked version I think took about two or three weeks to finish.
Warlock Asylum: Where did you get the concept about a shell for the song?
Hakan Sunar: The original track didn’t contain any vocals. Instead, there was a flute in place. However, it was a tad bit repetitive. So, we removed it on Alma. The idea was to replace the flute with narrative vocals.
I wrote some suggestions for the lyrics. Nori liked Alma better than the other suggestion. So, that was it. The poem somehow fits better into the song’s sonic landscape.
Warlock Asylum: Nori Ubukata, is credited as the producer of the song. Can you explain the depth of your involvement in the recording and completing the track?
Nori Ubukata: Hakan gave me only the mp3 file of this song and it was everything. There was no midi or multi-track. So, I had to recreate several important parts of the song by my ear. I also made the same synth and drum sounds of his mp3 file and improved or replace with different sounds.
Warlock Asylum: (re: Nori Ubukata) What kind of recording gear did you use to complete the process?
Nori Ubukata: MOTU DP, KV331 audio’s Synthmaster 2.9, N.I. FM8, ARTURIA Analog Lab, FXPansion BFD-3 etc.etc.
Warlock Asylum: (re: Nori Ubukata) The warmth and overall sound quality for Alma le Coquillage is really superb. What steps did you implement in mixing and mastering to ensure the best quality possible?
Nori Ubukata: I used a compressor or limiter only for each instrument as a dynamic effect. I never used comp. Limiter or maximizer for mix and mastering.
Mastering is done by my friend Mr. Yasushi Utsunomiya. He has established his own mastering techniques and with the benefit of this, the sound is very clean.
Warlock Asylum: The production and structure of Alma le Coquillage seems entirely different from previous releases by Spiritual Machinery. Why is that?
Nori Ubukata: Cause, I have no brain at all. So, I don’t remember anything that I have done before!!!! In fact, it’s due to the nature of the situation. It’s all a result of feedback and feed-forward.
Hakan wanted to remove the [flute] melody part that was on the original track and put in something else. Then, he listened to the background track I had created, he came up with the idea of adding narration and listening to the narration, I envisioned the sounds to add, arrangement too.
Warlock Asylum: Cynthia Caubisens, I love your vocal performance on the track. Can you share a little bit about your artistic background with us?
Cynthia Caubisens: Thank you ! Well… I’m a highly classically trained pianist and musician for many years now. I nourish my proposals on stage with works from the repertoire, creations, and contemporary improvisations. My improvisations and real-time compositions are deeply led by sound plasticity and its connection to different languages, so I design shows and performances associating musicians, dancers, poets, or visual artists. I mostly perform with acoustic and electronic pianos, ritual percussions, electronic devices, sometimes with the body and vocal involvement.
Warlock Asylum: (re: Cynthia Caubisens) How did you become part of the Spiritual Machinery family and gain a central role in the creation of Alma le Coquillage?
Cynthia Caubisens: I met Nori Ubukata 4 years ago on a performance where I was not playing music but participating in a body performance, covered in black paint. It was a project called VIDENOIR by the visual artist Damien Saillard (with whom I also conceive lots of performances in our duo DEUXLAMES).
Nori and I got along and started to play together, creating the duo LUNAR 23.1 which we toured in Japan last year. Nori asked me to translate the text of the song from English to French and to simply record my voice as a material for production. Hakan then liked it, along with discovering my musical world and I felt very honored to answer a big yes when they invited me to join The Spiritual Machinery family!
Warlock Asylum: (re: Cynthia Caubisens:) Tell us a little about the recording. Were there any limitations or could you freely work with different expressions?
Cynthia Caubisens: I had “carte blanche” from Nori and Hakan! To be honest, it came pretty naturally because the poem quite moved me. I named the shell Alma as a gift to a young girl, daughter of a close friend. I got inspired and to my surprise, Nori chose to keep my reading almost as it was.
Warlock Asylum: (re: Cynthia Caubisens) Alma le Coquillage is the first song from Spiritual Machinery in French. How did that come about? Did you consider any other languages ?
Cynthia Caubisens: The poem was in English and after translating it to French, I recorded it in both languages. Then Nori and Hakan chose to release it in French only. I’m French, so I guess I expressed some special tones there!
Warlock Asylum: How has the feedback for Alma le Coquillage been since its release?
Hakan Sunar: Very positively I’d say. It is our most played track on Bandcamp to date. And so, we’re excited to see what reception it’ll have once it’s released on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and etc on May 14th.
Warlock Asylum: What can followers of Spiritual Machinery expect to see in the near future? Any final thoughts?
Hakan Sunar: There are some projects in progress. They’re a bit different from Alma. But I guess changes in sound and direction has become a bit of our trademark by now. It just mirrors our broad musical taste. And so, as for some of the projects in the pipeline. One is quite baroqueish while another track got more of an ambient or lounge feel. But you never know. That might change as we progress. So, our next release will be a bit of a surprise for everyone. Including ourselves.o
*On behalf of Warlock Asylum International News, I would like to thank Spiritual Machinery for taking the time to answer a few questions and sharing some insights into their profound track Alma le Coquillage. Congratulations and much success!