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Avant Garde

Shane Embury Speaks About His Electronic Alter-Ego DARK SKY BURIAL

Shane Embury
might be the Geezer Butler of the Death and Grindcore generation. But Embury’s boundless creativity places him in a category all his own. From Venomous Concept and Brujeria, to Meathook Seed and Blood from the Soil, he’s been prolific outside of Napalm Death. His latest project is Dark Sky Burial, a solo venture that truly took shape during the Pandemic. Here, Embury explores a confluence of electronic, ambient, and industrial music to produce a unique sound world. It is his least metallic work yet perhaps his most personal. It was an honor to speak to him about Dark Sky Burial’s latest album, Solve Et Coagula.

Dark Sky Burial seems to be a pandemic-born project, how has the lifting of restrictions affected the project? Will you continue to produce Dark Sky Burial material?

Shane Embury: Yes, I guess Dark Sky Burial was born in the pandemic. Although I’ve been planning to do this for over 30 years but got sidetracked with Napalm Death. It is linked musically also to me and my struggles over the past few years emotionally and I suppose spirituality…There’s deep meanings to music and the titles of the compositions. Releasing the music digitally meant I can be as productive musically as I like to be but I’m also aware that Dark Sky Burial’s following, although still growing at the moment wants more physical releases which I am finally addressing.

I don’t see myself slowing down with this project. I have two albums already waiting but not quite yet they all have a purpose and place as it moves forward. 

These albums take Dark Sky [Burial] in a slightly different direction although fundamentally based on its origins sonically.

What sets the albums of the Maze Quadrilogy apart from your other Dark Sky Burial releases?

I don’t know what sets the Maze Quadrilogy apart from the earlier albums, maybe nothing maybe everything. I am so immersed when I’m making the music as it seems to be synced to my experiences I have every week – general moods we all have in life – stress and pressure – track titles can just happen and I start making a track that it’s all part of my story still unfolding – this music is me getting closer and closest.

How do the albums differ from one another? For instance, Omnis Cum in Tenebris Praesertim Vita Laboret seemed to have more of an industrial influence, like an instrumental Skinny Puppy or Cevin Key record while your new album, Solve Et Coagula, leans more into the ambient side of things.

It is very difficult for me to be so subjective. The music of those elements you mentioned  are all  present and it’s been over all of the albums, maybe as I compose the music it’s just what comes out at the time when I’m feeling a certain way they happen. I love David Tibet of Current 93 when he calls his music channeling and I most certainly connect with that term. It really is an emotional exorcism. I love so much music it’s all going to ebb through in places as the albums progress – it’s all still very loop-based drawing you in. 

Do the sounds on each record represent a different concept?

I think when I chose the album titles, they were relevant to parts of my life where I felt I needed more control or focus or balance or when I fell lost or destructive to myself moving forward in life is hard for everyone I know. But when I find a sound that seems to emulate what I’m feeling at that point. The track begins to form and is very therapeutic and rewarding for me inside and I believe it’s helping me towards answers I need to grow. 

I am myself undergoing a Jungian individuation – this journey is perilous and the albums represent different stages of my journey.

Solve Et Coagula is the first Dark Sky Burial album that includes a collaboration. How did you hook up with Mirai Kawashima of Sigh? What does he add to the sound of the pieces he worked on?

Mirai has been a friend of mine for 20 years. I met him just after I met my wife in Japan. These tracks were actually composed way back in 2005 as I said Dark Sky Burial is something I wanted to do for a long long time and the seeds were sewn then in Japan I think – I remember Mirai and myself standing outside a haunted house in Tokyo for a photo. I must find that picture! Initially, with Mirai, we talked about our love for old horror movies, Italian horror movies, et cetera, so I think these tracks have more of a feel for that era while still expressing those emotions of darkness and self-reflection. I think Mirai adds a real classic edge to the tracks and nails the B movie soundtrack aspect which is one of the influences we talked about way, way back. I am very happy to have included these tracks.

Going back to the ’90s to Meathook Seed and Blood from the Soul, you’ve shown the influence of industrial, electronic music, and post-punk. The same can be said of many of the musicians who have passed through Napalm Death’s orbit. Any thoughts as to why so many gravitate toward these other genres?

Well, all of us were never only into one form of music. And I think industrial ambient soundtrack-inspired music is almost the opposite to grind, perhaps…And feels very natural. We are all externalizing emotions, especially now at an age of trying to process how the hell we got here  I think the wider palette of sound helps us paint better pictures perhaps just how much chaos there is in our lives still. It all makes perfect sense to me. I am going to work with Justin in the future we have talked about it for a long time, let’s hope the stars align.

That would be amazing.  With the amount of composition and programming you’ve done with Dark Sky Burial, does this open the door for other solo projects? Any genres you would like to work in?

I guess I would like to compose for movies although deadlines I feel would probably stress me out. But Dark Sky Burial is opening doors and connections to collaborations as we speak. It is really good to work on particular themes though – The album And a Moon Will Rise from My Darkness had a specific theme so movies or game soundtracks would be very interesting. I am now starting to turn my focus on playing live shows and making those experiences different from the recorded albums. Some spin-offs in some way also I have planned too but I am open to collaboration.

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