7 Questions for… Inhumankind, a ‘self-interview’

Inhumankind is a Barcelona duo playing original black metal compositions using acoustic instruments. Àlex Reviriego (bass) and Pablo Selnik (flute) are ‘usual suspects’ on the BCN improvising scene and have both featured in aJN’s 7 Questions series before and this time they use their own questions to explore this latest project…

 

1) Àlex: Both you and myself play instruments with little or no presence in this particular musical style. Do you consider that lack of references a problem or a liberation? Or a mix of both?

Pablo: Something innovative cannot represent a problem. It could be a positive or negative novelty, meaning that it could be liked more or less, but this falls in the category of the subjective, that for me is irrelevant. Taste is fickle and changes with time, what remains is the risks taken and the creative intensity. In short, the fact is that the challenge of creating a new sonority is what motivates me the most when facing a new project, both at a conceptual and practical level.

2) Pablo: I’ll begin with the classic question about your influences, but this time applied to Inhumankind: can you relate the lines and techniques used in your performance with the duo with other bass players/musicians relevant to you?

Àlex: I never listen specifically to double bass players, and I try to avoid direct influence when I’m working on something specific. In Inhumankind’s case, the amount of extreme metal I consumed as a teen made much of that style part of my musical DNA. Despite what people might think, considering the hyper-technical vocabulary of Self-Extinction, most of the metal I listened to while creating these tunes tended towards “raw black metal” and the more primitive classics of the genre (Darkthrone’s trilogy, Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal, Mayhem’s Wolf’s Lair Abyss…) Lately I’ve been feeling an affinity for more lo-fi or ultranoisy black metal, like Axis of Light, Endon or La Torture des Ténèbres – specifically the sound of those guitars drenched in feedback on their first album (Acadian Nights, my personal highlight of 2016) is one of the few real conscious influences I got for my sound on Inhumankind.

3) Àlex: If you could choose somebody to listen to the Inhumankind album and talk about it, who would you choose?

Pablo: Any sensitive soul. Now I’ll answer the other way around: I’ll never sit and listen to it with somebody close-minded and operating under the influence of an orthodox non-discussion paradigm. Neither with someone who puts the music into strictly compartmentalised musical styles. And for sure, never with somebody who insists that music should be restricted by the instrument that performs it.

4) Pablo: To what audience is Inhumankind’s music directed? Do you think there’s a specific audience for this style?

Àlex: I think we have to make a distinction between the concert and the record. In the live set, the explosive nature of the repertoire and the atypical instrumentation, and some of the techniques, make it easier for any kind of audience to enjoy the music. I think it has a certain ironic point (the departure point of Inhumankind – flute and bass black metal – sounds obviously absurd to the common sense) that serves as a hook for people not used to experimental music.

The record is a different affair, possibly very strange at a first listen. The presentation of the material is quite raw and monochromatic, and many of the tunes have labyrinthine structures that demand several listens. But that is one of its strong points: many people can feel attracted to that weirdness and the challenge it represents, and slowly discover all the secrets hidden beneath the album’s surface. There’s way more melody, harmony and catchy riffs than you would assume at a first listen, apart from the stellar appearances by Eric, Celeste and Marta. I’m convinced that anybody who gives it a chance could enjoy it.

5) Àlex: With what animal would you relate your role in Inhumankind? Does it coincide with your favourite animal?

As its name clearly indicates, Inhumankind is, among many other things, a process of musical dehumanization. You can achieve it by two methods: through a hyper-intellectualization, discarding the emotional factor, or through a suppression of reason, letting the spontaneous creation, intuition and the subconscious take control. Both ways would end being the same at a certain moment.

Having said that, my favourite animal is any but the human being. Knowing that there are around 8.7 million species, we can conclude that humans should not be taken into consideration, neither for aesthetic nor statistical reasons.

6) Pablo: What was your experience working with Colin Marston on the production? And with Luciano, from the “I, Voidhanger” label?

Àlex: Fantastic. Both of them understood the project from the very first minute and got the best out of it.

Soundwise, Colin took certain decisions that gave the tracks an extra nuance and depth, and, which is usually way more difficult, eliminated some elements that weren’t helping the music. The double bass is a good example of this: a great number of studio hours (and my personal mental health) were dedicated to doubling all the lines and double bass melodies, with the idea of adding a much heavier sound to the album. Colin’s first decision was to remove almost all of those doublings, returning the record to a rawer feel closer to the real “live sound” of the band. His experience and ideas were key at every moment. The boss.

Being able to work with Luciano has been like an unexpected present. We really wanted to release the record in an extreme metal label, if possible, one as “open-minded” as possible. I can’t think of a better option than I, Voidhanger. An extremely heterodox label, with a sophisticated and bold catalogue. When we started talking about releasing Self-Extinction on his label, I checked his website to take a look at the recent releases, and the first thing I saw was a Jute Gyte-Spectral Lore record based on a poem by my much loved George Trakl… say no more; I was 100% convinced we were in the right place.

7) Both: Is it true that on the Inhumankind World Tour 88/89 Alice Cooper invited you to collaborate on the floral design of his dressing room?

Pablo: Bearing in mind that I was about 5 or 6 at the time… yes, it’s true. A very remarkable design, an ikebana base with layering touches. Pure class and excellence.

Àlex: I was still younger than Pablo, so better trust his memory. Anyway, really beautiful concerts, specially the South China branch of the tour.

Self-Extinction is available now on Bandcamp