Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Michael van Gore (MvG), J.R. Fish (F.) and Jonas Heidenritch (J) aka Anatomy of the Heads, your favorite ChiChi fueled CIA psyop, honey-pot/money-bomb-operation that will sell all your personal information to Korean gangsters and hot tiger moms.
F: Okay, first title. What do we have?
J: The chainmail bikini is definitely the highlight here.
MvG: I want to say right at the beginning that this is the most challenging track on the album
F: I still think we should have put “Frightful Green Panic” at the beginning because it’s the most accessible track.
J: Yeah, why didn’t we put that one at the beginning?
MvG: Only true believers! Okay, let’s talk about the chainmail bikini, as people have dubbed it.
J: For the record, it wasn’t a bikini.
MvG: During the first part of the track there’s this rather out-of-sync metallic percussion that runs through the whole track. We added that because we had the basic instrumentation of the track, but it still felt kind of empty. So we played around with different ideas, added another guitar, noises – whatever. I can’t remember how we came up with it….
J: We noticed that the metallic percussion really penetrates the sounds, but we couldn’t find a rhythm to go with it.
MvG: Right, so we ended up hiring a ceremonial dancer, the kind you hire for weddings. She came up with a dance beforehand and then came to us in an outfit of metal beads, did her dance in like what – Three takes? And we cut the best parts together and that was it.
J: She was quite out of breath afterwards.
F: You have to get your money’s worth, after all.
J: Another thing that carried over from Triptych Terror Oriente is the intro.
MvG: Yeah, we doubled down on that. “You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band in the world…”
J: THE BEE GEES
MvG: THE MICHAEL VAN GORE SOLO EXPERIENCE
J: That’s also the track that features vocals for the first time.
MvG: Yes, one of the biggest stylistic differences between this record and our debut is the introduction of vocals. In the lead up to the record, we released a lot of individual tracks on compilations and experimented with a variety of vocals. Until we figured out what best suited our music. The music video we did for the second part of the track really helped contextualize the progression of the composition for the uninitiated.
F: I really like how much mileage we got out of that silent movie footage. We’ve been wanting to re-cut and score a silent film for ages, and now we’ve finally done it. MvG: Does anyone have anything else to say about this? No? Okay, let’s move on.
J: This track is pretty straightforward and one of the most accessible tracks. There are a lot of new instruments though.
MvG: We’ve had the electric piano and organ on previous albums, but on a much smaller scale, which I always felt was gimmicky. But this time the electric piano, organ and flute really do a lot of the heavy lifting.
F: Also, we had a new production team on it because of the Rona™, as the kids would say.
J: Yes, I did the mastering. Some people are surprised at how our records sound. They immediately think we have crappy equipment. Actually it’s the opposite, we have good equipment that sounds way too clean. As far as production goes, we spend a lot of time dirtying everything up.
MvG: I think that this sound is essential to Anatomy of the Heads. We make exotica or fantasy music, if you will. It should sound like something you hear in a dream.
F: Others say it sounds like it’s played through a bunch of pillows. MvG: You see, dream music.
J: That kind of production really adds a lot of – I don’t know – magic to it. It would be a very different record when produced bombastically and direct. Our sound is more menacing, peripheral and stealthy, which suits the compositions well. Because the melodies are really not straightforward. There’s always something secretive about it.
F: Can I take this opportunity to ask why you think I’m a leprous & humorous dwarf?
MvG: No, let’s move on.
MvG: Well, that’s it – the heart of the album.
J: Dude, my favourite lyric is “love goddess of love”.
F: Talk about wordsmithing….
MvG: Silence, peasants! What works, works, even if I have to rhyme love with love.
J: That being said, I think you did a good job, and I think overall we found a good balance with the vocals on this record. Not too much, not too little. The sound of the vocals also changes throughout the record.
MvG: Yeah, because I’m really not a big singer in terms of range. We definitely keep vocals as part of our palette, but I would never do a full album with vocals.
F: Maybe you just need singing lessons.
MvG: Only time will tell. Anyway, there’s not much to say about it. Normal song format. It’s a mood piece.
J: The moodiest piece of them all.
F: It certainly paints a picture with the bird calls. These birdsongs, by the way, are a mixture of real birds singing and us and friends imitating birds. Not only on this piece, but on the whole album.
J: Yeah, sometimes you just need a bird call with expert timing, so you have to do it yourself. MvG. It’s the first time we’ve done a basic song. I wonder when we’ll have our Herbie Hancock moment and go from Sextant to Headhunters? J: I’d say we’re saving the pop sensibility for when at least two of us hit a mid-life crisis.
MvG: That sounds fair. Okay, let’s move on.
MvG: Bat-Pig-Medicine. Jonas has an extended bass part here.
F: Spotlight on the bass.
MvG: You did that well.
J: Thank you.
MVG: That’s basically the flipside of the album. No more vocals, and especially on this track, more experimental sounds. On our last release, Tryptich Terror Oriente, we indulged in noise and related genres. So we wanted to cut back on those aspects on this record and bring jazz rock, fusion – whatever – to the forefront.
J: Don’t drag us into that! The whole thing was more of an ego trip for you guys.
F: We like that stuff too, but like only for a minute.
MvG: Yeah, I tend to get into it. I could do concept albums for days. I’ll give you an example: I had a desire to do a 30-minute solo piano album that was just a hypnotic sequence of octaves and fiths overlapping each other.
J: You really want to be more pretentious than Emmerson, Lake and Palmer, don’t you? MvG: I’ve taken that criticism to heart. Another indulgent album would have been just 30 minutes of sampled doorbell organ solos.
J: Thank God you got that out of your system.
F: I for one am waiting for autotuned tuba solos.
MvG: COMING SOON! Anyway, we put all these ideas into one segment because they worked surprisingly well together. The first part, which we called “A Meditation on the Inverted Flora of Hell”, is the only post-rockfish part of the first record. In the end, we abandoned the post-rock aesthetic in favor of a jazz-rock or fusion approach, mainly because I came to terms with my role as dictator. I’m not the biggest fan of the genre. The prefix post should designate an abundance of sounds, but I can’t help feeling that all post-rock bands sound the same.
J: True, but its the same with free jazz. It becomes what it is.
MvG: Amen. Okay, let’s move on
J: Okay, the last one. We have reached the end.
MvG: This is one of those tracks that turned out really well. We had the basic framework of this track lying around for ages but never knew how to finish it. So we tried our new palette on it, like vocals, saxophones, organ and so on, and off we went. Suddenly it all fell into place.
J: Do you remember the track by track commentary we did for An Adoration in Prayer and Ritual? We came up with a narrative for the album. What did you have in mind for this album?
MvG: Yes, I remember. That was eye-opening in many ways. Because usually we figure out what we want to express with our music as we make it. We never really thought about it like, “Hey, let’s make an album about…. Radio Towers” or something like that. If I had to sum it up, I would say An Adoration in Prayer and Ritual is an expression of civilizational melancholy.
F: We will never strangle and eat a gazelle in our lifetime.
J: The horror. I don’t really eat meat, but I would love to fight and eat a snake one day. MvG: We all do. Well, this time we had a little more time to prepare and incorporate a story into the artwork, and if you’re ready to dive deep into the story of Anatomy of the Heads, you should check out the booklet, the artwork and all the liner notes. If you do, you will discover a narrative to the album. However, I myself would hesitate to commit to any particular meaning. It is too early for that. Maybe ask me again in a year’s time.
F: That’s fair. There is also an outro on this track that sheds some light on what this album is about. It represents a kind of ordeal, and if you get through it, you are rewarded.
Okay, that’s has been our track by track commentary. I hope you enjoyed reading and feel now enticed by our captivating personalities to give us all your cash. Stay tuned for the sequel in 2023! Follow us on Twitter and be sure to visit www.aoftheh.com for all things Anatomy of the Heads. If case you’re wondering, Bandcamp is the best way to support our band. Never leave the internet and may the volcano gods smile on each and every one of you.