That Night, A Forest Grew by Aldaraia
There are so many genres in the world of rock; in fact there are so many that sometimes you can simply blend two genres to create a whole new sub-genre that appeals to both types of fans on almost every level. In the case of Aldaraia, a progressive industrial band out of Dayton, Ohio, this is exactly the case. Mastermind Kriby Johnston works tirelessly with computer programs, synthesizers, and live guitars to create an album that contains the best of both worlds, with exciting and outstanding results.
The album opens with 'Through,' a heavy yet soulful track with ethereal vocals and industrial sound effects, then slips into 'Elegy,' a soft, elegant song with ragged edges that soar through the listener in a deep and effective way. Nearly every track clocks in at over five minutes, creating an immersible experience that is both memorable and thought provoking. The next track, 'A Spectre,' is raw and expansive, utilizing lovely female vocals during the chorus. In 'The Old Growth,' an eerie instrumental track, Johnston shows off his talent with his synthesizers and keyboard work that is clearly inspired by industrial acts like Nine Inch Nails and Tool. Johnston's vocals are soothing yet aggressive, a perfect combination for a progressive act that also dabbles with industrial sound techniques. The shadowy 'Only Steps Away' is a languid and dreamy track that builds up to a strong conclusion. The titular track, 'That Night, A Forest Grew,' is a scratchy, solemn track that seems to drive into the listeners' very soul, to plumb it of the darkness it most certainly harbors.
As we venture further into the darkness with 'Orison,' Johnston uses electric instrumentation and whispery vocals to pull the listener down deep into the depths of the album. The ominous tone of the tracks is overwhelming and wondrous at the same time. The staticky, hard hitting guitars in 'The Day We Died' bring the energy level back up to speed, boasting a strong vocal performance from Johnston. 'Risk' is a pulsating, dynamic track, using echoey vocals and chants to round out the tune. The last track, 'Root and Stem,' is a scifi reminiscent track that slowly seeps in and spreads out with finesse and purpose.
I am a huge fan of this album and the amazing effort put forth by Johnston; the composition and arrangements are done so well and move together seamlessly to create a genuinely great progressive industrial album. Being a fan of both of these genres allowed me to submerge myself quite easily, but this album is not only for people like me, but can be heard by all of those who appreciate a great effort in experimentation and modern visionaries.
Interview with Aldaraia
Tell me a bit about your background and why you formed Aldaraia.
Aldaraia started as just an outlet for me to work on music free from any outside influence. I'd found in the various bands I was in and out of when I was younger didn't allow me to really explore myself and my creativity. I have fun playing with other musicians but I never felt as though I really got to express myself in a constructive way before working on my own.
What/Who are your musical influences?
One of the drawbacks of working on my own is how obvious my influences are. Anyone to skim my iTunes library would not be surprised by what they'd find: Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine, Caspian, Isis, Deftones, Radiohead, King Crimson, Tool. I was recently told that the album sounds like what King Crimson would sound like if Trent Reznor were in it, and while it may be a bit on the nose, I was humbled by that. This album in particular I found myself listening to soundtracks and ambient music more; things focusing on setting a tone or mood as opposed to being digestible, in a pop sense.
Your music is described as progressive, but also sounds industrial. What appeals to you most about these genres?
The industrial vibe is honestly just a byproduct of the kind of music to which I grew up listening. I don't really go out of my way to write synthesizer and sample based music, but it's what's familiar to me and what feels most expressive. Similarly, the progressive arrangements are a result of my composition style. This album was four years of work, and working by myself in my own studio in a primarily digital environment, things tend to get more than a little self indulgent. I'm able to just set a drum loop, go nuts on the guitar for a while and then just kind of rough out an arrangement and spend a month on one song adding layers and finding where it feels right. As such, songs can get long and shift in mood and direction just simply as a result of never really saying "okay, I'm done," and instead saying "what ELSE can I add to this?"
In what ways do science and psychology inspire you while writing your music?
This album in particular was heavily influenced by psychology. Not to get too far into specifics, as I like to retain some of the mystery, this album was primarily about, I suppose, discovering myself; figuring out where I belong, what I'm afraid of and where I feel I'm going. To that end, Carl Jung and his process of individuation was a tremendous influence on the story the album tells, as well as the underlying themes. Lyrics were written quite separately from the music, and as such were able to flourish on their own. I could talk for days about Carl Jung and how strongly the themes pertinent to the album were influenced by him, so I'll stop myself and sum it to had I never discovered him when and how I did, I likely would never have made this album.
How do you feel about the digital revolution in music and has it helped or hindered your success?
As far as Aldaraia's success, I do not feel I would be the best person to discuss it as I am still finding where to stand and my own voice among the thousands of others in a similar position. However, I can say with absolute certainty that without sites and services like Bandcamp and Spotify, Aldaraia and those thousands I mentioned previously simply would not exist. The low barrier to entry and ease of getting music out to anyone who would want to listen means that far more people have heard Aldaraia than who would have five years ago.
On the flip side, the growing prevalence of digital music software has made it easy for anyone, with little or no musical experience or training, to make music and make it available to anyone. The unfortunate truth is that if you give everyone the ability to make music, most of what comes out is not really worth listening to. This makes it difficult for listeners to find music that really speaks to them. Because of this, bands have to work much harder to put themselves out there and find people to whom they would appeal. This, plus the relatively recent revelation that Facebook, the primary forum by which bands interact with fans, charges arguably exorbitant amounts of money for a band's posts to even reach fans takes the low barrier to entry I mentioned in the last paragraph and whittles away at it. The industry as a whole is in a very nebulous place. Too many people are making music, no one really knows how to get their music out to the right people and as a result there's just a lot of noise and very little collaboration, and more competition than music as an art form deserves.Its an issue everyone who is remotely serious about music is considering right now. The next medium that pays a fair amount to artists and facilitates organic discovery of music as opposed to random "maybe you'll like this" suggestions will be a winner from both sides.