Thursday, December 30, 2010

Interview with Mamaleek

"Truly Original. Mamaleek is experimental Black Metal exploring Middle-Eastern history, sorcery, and ritual."
-quoted from Enemies List.

The anonymous brothers behind Mamaleek have released two genre-bending albums to date, namely "Mamaleek" and "Fever Dream." Utilizing fierce intensity as a counterweight for ethereal, sometimes jazzy, and always slightly off-kilter atmospheres, this horrendously underrated band' third opus, "Kurdaitcha," will be released next year on Enemies List Home Recordings, better known as the home of experimental pop mongers Have a Nice Life and Planning for Burial. It would seem that this is the first Mamaleek interview, and I must say it is quite the honor, so, without further ado, here is an in-depth look into what makes Mamaleek "tick."

What is the story behind the name Mamaleek? Care to provide a brief history of the project?

I suppose the most honest answer is that Mamaleek is a compulsion and thus is difficult to understand, even for us. We don't have a mission statement or any useful way to understand the direction it takes. I began collecting aged songbooks of a particular nature and rearranging them in Portastudio recordings without any particular course or intention to take it further than some songs. Home recording has served as a practical solution for a complete lack of modern music-making machinery as well as a trusted, familiar aesthetic. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

What is your writing and recording process like?

Slow and deliberate, despite the copious amount of coffee drunk.

What influences Mamaleek overall?

Troubling as this always is, for posterity's sake, worldly influences lately include: film works of Roy Andersson, Standish Lawder, and a lot of Robert Bresson. Musically, lately, Polish jazz: Tomasz Stanko, Krzysztof Komeda... among other varieties.

The Charlie Parker cover on "Fever Dream" was a pleasant, yet unexpected, surprise. Do you two have a background or any sort of formal jazz training?

One of us has years of experience and training in a wide variety of music styles, including jazz, and the other has virtually no training at all. The "jazz" vibe has been completely purged on Kurdaitcha and its follow-up, though I expect it to return, full-fledged, in the future.

Being brothers, does the family dynamic have an effect on the band itself? Why or why not?

It allows us to be more efficient with our time and avoid the petty fights that most bands fall prey to at some time or another. We know each other very well and we know what we like without having to discuss it ad nauseam.

Though I personally haven't heard it yet, I've heard wonderful things from Dan about your new, yet-to-be-released album, "Kurdaitcha". How do you two feel it compares and contrasts to "Mamaleek" and "Fever Dream"?

Kurdaitcha sweats similarly by conflating fiction and non-fiction. It's full of great "mistakes" and improvised moments. Much of it works on skeletal acoustic structures.

Why the anonymity?

I don't want to be responsible for such ugliness. We remain anonymous like God does...Who would want to be exposed for conceiving of such a reprehensible species?

What are your thoughts on the current state of music?

Much of the music I listen to was recorded ages ago and cannot, by anyone's definition, be considered "current." What I do often hear in public I find in the very least to be alienating, and at worst, terribly vulgar and depressing. This is normal. I'm sure if I were around in any earlier era, I would have felt the same creeping revulsion.

More often than not, Mamaleek is grouped in the "black noise" subgenre. Do you agree with this? What terms would you use to describe Mamaleek's sound?

Black noise? It sounds insulting. Though there are many associations one could make between our sound and black metal, we have acquired a love/hate relationship with it that becomes fleshed out in the music. Consider us as part of the non-aligned.

What does the future look like for Mamaleek?

The future, as we understand it presently, is uncertain as always, particularly with us being on different continents. Eventually, more recording, inshallah.


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