With great joy, we give voice to the stones. And to do that we are lucky enough to talk to Robert C. Kozletsky aka Apocryphos. Actually one of the dark ambient more interesting acts in recent years; a project which has a large and interesting focus on sound and that employs environmental soundscapes that could alienate anybody.
An album (‘Stone Speak’) that allows us not only to to admire the production capacity of Robert but also his musical evolution. So let Robert speak for himself.
Let’s start from your latest album. ‘Stone Speak’: A musical work characterized by magnificent and intimate sound environments. What is the message you want to convey with this work?
My interpretation of ‘Stone Speak’ is very personal. These places I visited have always been a part of who I am. I grew up in a small rural area forgotten by time and in its loneliness I found the initial inspiration. I wanted to push the concept further and decided to extract field recordings from areas around my home which include old cemeteries in the woods, abandoned ghost town regions and sites of old burial grounds. Upon returning from these clandestine places, I started recording the tracks. So the message is very simple…‘Stone Speak’ is about forgotten, haunted places that still live and breathe in their own way.
I like my albums to work both ways…one way to satisfy my needs and desires and the other way…leave it open to interpretation to the listeners. I might give them too much directive with such a strong concept, but I hope they can still find something of their own in the tracks.
The album sounds like a meditative and esoteric journey, but it’s not connected to any religion, right?
Correct. There is no direct correlation to religion as I find all western and Abrahamic religions disgusting. The album is more like a spiritual journey and it’s calm, yet sometimes atmospheric uproars help me escape the ego.
The atmosphere created in every single track is something fantastic, and they are characterized by haunting sounds. How do you choose the creation of such environments?
Thank you. I do feel each track has its own personality and they easily stand apart from each other. I’m essentially inspired by what I take from each location, whether how it looks or what strange feelings occur within me at the time. But one emotion really left a vestige throughout all these places and that was of great isolation and a sensation of being lost. So each track is started with this framework of feeling isolated. I’d then take the rough demo tracks and listen to them in these environments to see if I was close to capturing what I was feeling. If things are missing, I’d take notes and go back and rework the track. This process repeats until I feel satisfied with the end result. I’m no expert and trying to nail down a feeling is one of the hardest things to do as human emotion is hard to define. We are such strange creatures.
Continuing the analysis of the sound, we’d like to know some info about the use of effects and arrangements. Is it possible? I am a lover of effects and anything that distorts natural sound into something surreal, which is what this album is truly all about…the surreal. It’s really difficult to talk about the arrangements of the tracks as some of them just happened. It’s all feeling and no other thought process went into it. I thought it sounded good to place a guitar line here….a ring modulated effect here…a field recording with grain delay, reverb and compression here…and so on and so forth. A lot of processing was involved with some of the sounds. For example, the sounds towards the end of ‘Tenebrous’ is me gliding a rock against an old table in the kitchen of this abandoned house I found in the middle of the woods. The sound was kind of bland on its own, so I put chorus, a little pinch of reverb and flange to liven it up and then used a slow panning effect to give it this enveloping character. It sounds like I’m talking about a recipe.
Another very interesting aspect is the production of the album itself. Can you talk about it?
The production of ‘Stone Speak’ almost drove me to madness. I struggled with some of the mixes of the tracks and really began to doubt my abilities as a producer. But Simon (Heath) helped me in this department either with words of encouragement or telling me to take a break from it. Then once I finally had a finished product, his mastering just made a world of difference. It came out exactly as I wanted it. Simon knows my style very well and figured a nice, warm analog mastering would really make the tracks shine.
You are considered one of the best artists of the dark ambient scene, but also your contributions and previous projects are interesting. Please discuss…
Thank you. This wasn’t really my project, but I helped my friend Kyle (Shock Frontier) with an electro-industrial project called Defiantly Fading a couple times. Then of course there was Psychomanteum, which was released on Cyclic Law that same year. Jake and I had a falling out of sorts and decided to quit Psychomanteum and I pursued dark ambient exploration on my own. Shortly after that, I formed Shock Frontier with Kyle to explore harsher sonic terrain akin to the early Cold Meat Industry death industrial sound, but with a modern, cinematic sound. Now along with Apocryphos, I have a collaboration project with Atrium Carceri and Kammarheit….a dream project I call it. We recently finished our second album titled ‘Echo’ and was released on January 10th. We love working together, so don’t expect us to quit working together. We might change our styles and pursue another avenue of sound, but only time will tell.
Above all, your project K.S.K.N.P. is a closed chapter?
Unfortunately, yes…K.S.K.N.P. was a onetime offering. It was a spontaneous project solely based around the cover art. Since its release, I’ve lost touch with Peter Nystrom for whatever reason. He just dropped off the radar and I’ve tried to reach out but with no response. I still talk to the Steel Hook Prostheses dudes and Stephen Petrus is one of my good friends and we try to keep in touch regularly.
Should we expect any future collaborations?
Most definitely. If there is one thing I took from being with Cryo Chamber, it’s a love for collaborating and working with others. The follow up to ‘Onyx’ which is titled ‘Echo’ was released last month. And of course we will see Cryo Chamber reserve the H.P. Lovecraft mythos’ flourishing. Right now, there are collaboration albums planned with ProtoU and Monocube which I hope will slowly start to form within the following year. There is also a really special collaboration I can’t yet reveal, but I am very happy about its potential fruition.
We have never seen you perform live. Shall we have this good fortune?
I have played live numerous times with good response and had a special gig in January where I played in Brooklyn at an old cathedral which was exciting. Aside from playing abroad, I can’t afford it at the moment and until I get an offer I can’t refuse, my feet unfortunately remain planted on US soil.
Right now, Shock Frontier is finalizing its second album due out on Malignant Records sometime next year under the name ‘Tumult’ and will feature a couple guest artists. Artwork will be provided by the ever talented and morbid Christopher Angelucci who is responsible for the artwork gracing the new Gnawed album. I also have a special album planned for release through Dutch based label Winter Light in the coming year titled ‘Metanoia’, which will be primarily guitar drone based works. Every year, it seems more and more things happen, so we’ll just have to wait and see what 2017 will bring. All good things I hope.
Last question before we say goodbye. Your album has given a magic touch to the dark ambient. Do you expect changes of this kind in the coming years?
Thank you again for the kind words. I see the dark ambient genre expanding even further thanks to the work Simon does with Cryo Chamber. Expect more and exciting things to come from this hard work. My album is only a part of a much bigger vision. This is all I can say for now.
Thank you for the interview and for enjoying my work. All my best to you. Cheers!