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Soul Enema

Interview with SOUL ENEMA

Israeli prog quintet Soul Enema have recently returned with the release of their second studio album “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” (reviewed here), which has been in the making for a number of years. The band collaborated with a few guest musicians, with the most prominent names being Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen and ex-Orphaned Land guitarist and composer Yossi Sassi.

Soul Enema’s keyboard player and composer Constantin Glantz spoke for Progstravaganza about the band’s origins, the meaning behind the band’s name, writing, inspiration, and more.

What made you go for the name Soul Enema?

No offense to the sensitive souls, but this damn thing serves the people. It comes to you in your sleep; it has wings of an angles and eyes of the world. Then you wake up and feel like a new man. That was a little secret, maybe I already told too much. The simplest answer is the obvious one – the name reflects what we do. It’s mainly about cleansing out the negative emotional stuff, which is a major catalyst for music and lyrics writing sometimes, and putting some soul into it – that’s how the creative process goes, roughly speaking. However, I can’t say we end up exclusively with the doom and gloom package – there is a whole palette of ways to channel different emotions, so there is a place for every kind of animal. Since we also have something that I would call “a punk element” and a (self)-ironic touch, there’s no real problem with using any kind of words and metaphors if needed. Maybe it’s a greeting from the era, when Rock, and Progressive Rock in particular, was influenced by an experimental forms of counterculture and had full inner freedom to push the boundaries in any direction, for better or worse.

How do you usually describe your music?

Well, it’s an eclectic ensemble for the post-post-hipster world of the late period civilization, so usually we face some problem with describing it. I could present it as anything from Abba to Zappa, from King Crimson to King Diamond – which isn’t miles away from the truth, actually. It has many contrasting moods, from melancholic to cheerful, pastoral, manic, satirical, absurdist, etc. It has many different ethnic influences; Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. Space or Psych Rock elements as well – I’m not sure which planet they come from. There is some Metal in it, though nothing too brutal to make your grandma really scared. Some “avant-garde” elements as well, but it’s still melodic and memorable enough for my four year old kid to sing along to most of those melodic lines and tunes.

Soul Enema

What is your writing process like?

Usually I create full demos in midi, and then revisit them to add or edit something in the composition. That’s the musical part. The lyrics mainly come afterwards, and generally they have a theme behind them; it’s not a “stream of consciousness”. The lyrics definitely have to sound good with the music, but sonic and rhythmic compatibility alone is not enough. The arrangements might be revisited during the recording process due to particular features of musicians involved. In example, we added more voice-like-instrument parts, and some sitar arrangements, when Noa and Michael became involved.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

There’s no single major inspiration, but I will provide a list of relevant connections, to make things more substantial: Devin Townsend, Ayreon, Orphaned Land, Faith No More, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Voivod, ABBA, King Crimson, Cardiacs, Eloy, Sparks, Black Sabbath, Secret Chiefs 3, Pelevin, Spengler, Machiavelli, Orwell, von Trier, Vasya Lozhkin, Ethiopian music, John Zorn, Guinea pigs, baboons, little kids, dear bollocks, Aral Sea, death, decay, techno death, death-grind with elements of hummus and paprika, life after death, and strangely enough – life before death. That’s just the beginning of the list, but I will have mercy on you!

What is your favourite piece on the upcoming album “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns”?

No way to tell, really. They all are different and essential elements of a puzzle. I can say that “In Bed With an Enemy” is a characteristic example of our serious side, and tracks like “Cannibalissimo Ltd.” represent our ultra serious side – the one you can’t even talk about, without including a serious amount of idiocy.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

What makes “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” different than other similar albums/artists in your opinion?

Look, it’s a problem to find albums that are really similar. Maybe if that was easier, I wouldn’t even bother to write music and lyrics this way. It’s done because this particular combination is what I miss as a listener, so it’s a pure case of “if you want to have it your way, do it yourself”. So, yep, it has different non obvious instruments, arrangements, this and that, but the more important thing here, is that it’s placed in a way that cuts through different dimensions. That’s how I see it, at least.

What should music lovers expect from “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns”?

The things that struck me the hardest, as a listener, were those where I didn’t expect anything at all. I just happened to be there at the moment when that music was playing, asking myself: “Wow, what the hell is that?! I’ve got to figure out the name of this band!” So, expectations are not really essential – you may just come with a clean sheet, no prejudice, hit the play button and let it flow. Hopefully we have already done the rest of the necessary work.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

“Damn, I would marry this record!” Seriously, any kind of emotions are welcomed. The only unwelcomed scenario is no emotions at all. We have many colors and moods there, so in fact, it’s perfectly understandable to experience all kinds of different things on your way through.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

Life in the studio, of course – it’s far better suited to deal with an actual creative process, which is the main reason to engage in such a consuming activity as this kind of music-making.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

That’s a tough limit. Well, three albums for today only. Yesterday or tomorrow they may be different:

Cardiacs – “A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window” – this will do instead of a morning coffee. In fact, it might twist you the way no coffee would be able.

The Cure – “Pornography” – this will do for moments of sadness and desperation; after all it’s a desert island, not a five-star resort, so you are there to try and survive.

Pixies – “Bossanova” – this will do when I need some good-spirited easy going music. I thought of taking a Dillinger Escape Plan album to scare off the wild carnivore animals around, but… well, maybe tomorrow.

“Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” is out now and can be ordered here.

Band

Pandora

When a group gives their band a name, hence  to specific genre, it’s never at random. And even when it comes out as part of some sort  of “internal vote”, it hides the unconscious reasons that will carry on dreams – and goals – that will give life to various components.

Pandora resorts to mythology, as it often happens with to those who refers to progressive music, that is, to that genre of music that peaked at the turn of the 60’s and 70s, and subsequently decreased in number of enthusiasts, and today was once again on the increase although just within the genre’s group followers. But the link between the „now“ and  „then“ highlights certain analogies, certain similarities, which shorten timeframe and turn fresh concepts and ideas passed down through books, and often used by the people in the form metaphors.

In Greek mythology, the opening of the box given as gift from Zeus to Pandora caused a spill to the entire world’s evil, but initially, hopes remains on the bottom, bringing back life, which became an essential element, just as today, to face daily life. Inside Pandora’s box though, there’s another kind of hope. Hearty and contagious, because it joins together the idea of what quality music is for the group and their fans: to bring back the satisfaction and continuous appreciation of a musical genre which has grown out to infinite dimensions, as with classical music, jazz, and blues. Pandora creates music by merging the arts, combining talents in history and in experience, by engaging and sharing every single step of the way, presenting one with a layered-complex music product, but not self-congratulatory.

Donato Zoppo recently described them as follows:

“The constant theme seen in Pandora’s writing is that of a dream: a cultivated dream, cradled, guarded to act as a launching pad to improve reality. A dream that becomes music,  that becomes a colorful “no man’s land” in which, unlike Pandora’s Box, no worldly evil lurks out but instead out comes the idea of a peaceful coexistence between musical genres,  between themes, moods, memories and plans.

While proudly stating that they belong to the Progressive Rock world and to the stainless “Psychedelic-Symphonic” style, Pandora are diehard fans and creators of good music: with no labels, no categories, no limits.

Pandora were born in September 2005 but are the arriving point of an old, touching love: that which extremely binds a father and a son, that find in their belonging within Progressive’s  music a transgenerational common language, a shared hope. Claudio Colombo, multi-instrumentalist and drummer, is the son of Beppe, a musician of long experience: The Colombo’s are voracious listeners of excellent Rock music from the Seventies and choose to start together a new musical journey. Alongside the excellent keyboardist  Corrado Grappeggia, they launch a musical project based on their love of Seventies’  Progressive Rock, inspired by Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, PFM, New Trolls, Gentle Giant, and Le Orme, though aimed toward a newer sound, thanks to Claudio’s love for Dream Theater.  In Pandora one can find not just the passion for the genre but also their desire to give it their own interpretation, bringing forward new compositions: this is how the first songs that gave free play toward fantasy, toward researched sounds and melodies, toward lyrical  vision, mythology and Fantasy were born.

The secret’s in the different experiences and extractions of the three components: Beppe’s large experience as listener and musician, Corrado’s musical culture, and Claudio’s talent (a rare example of a young multi-instrumentalist and graphic designer).  The trio is the basic element that makes up Pandora, which from time to time welcomes the contribution of different musicians with the purpose of producing great compositions.

The Piedmontese band undertakes a live event that included acoustic performances. And it was thanks to the popularity gathered of said live event that in 2008 Pandora find the approval of the prestigious record label AMS-BTF, specialized in Progressive Rock and noted globally for their publications.

In that same period, the group signs a contract deal with BTF and finds guitarist Christian Dimasi. It was a moment of gold for Pandora: with the signing of the contract  and Christian Dimasi’s admission to the group follows the release of their long-awaited album debut. Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco: the perfect one-way ticket to meet Pandora, is a first listen into the start of their journey, with original compositions and versatile sound, Progressive by definition. Pandora’s Symphonic Rock calls strongly on the traditional Symphonic Rock of the ’70s, sung in Italian and ranges between harder sounds, acoustic pauses, hard and jazzy moods, and between great enigmatic and Fantasy frescoes. Between past and future, between great care toward a beloved and exciting Art Rock heritage and the need to dare and to aim at the sound’s modernization, Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco gathers flattering reviews by both the Italian and international press.

Invigorated by the public success and critiques, Pandora quickly targeted at a second album that could confirm the excellence of the original intuitions and release an innovative project for Italian Progressive Rock. That Italian Progressive Rock so loved overseas – from the United States to Japan, from Europe to South America – today finds a favorable rebirth and Pandora are the leaders of a renewed Italian-flagged movement.

Before the new album, the band held some concerts with fellow Italian bands such as Ubi Maior, but also  with prestigious foreign names like Poland’s Riverside. Once done with the recording of the second album, Dimasi left the band, which meant the group went back to its origins as a trio. A new collaboration  however takes place: that of artist Emoni Viruet, who executes some wonderful paintings that stimulate  the group’s new musical compositions. Like any self-respecting Progressive band, Pandora also pays special attention to the evocative power of their sound, to the strong creative visuals of the  compositions: the talent of the young painter of Puerto Rico is another added element to the band’s  already-noted polychromatic force. The completion of the album’s new cover art is immediate and for  the other paintings that represent each songof the album.

Back as a trio and lead by an always more decided and inspired Claudio Colombo, Pandora release their  highly anticipated second album on January 15th, 2011: once again labeled BTF, with Sempre e Ovunque  Oltre il Sogno. An album that explores what was presented by the group’s debut and offers the Prog trio new perspectives: hard and evocative, exciting and dynamic, open in the same way towards acoustic  and hard sounds, Pandora’s new sound is among the most intriguing Art Rock in Europe.”

The second album brings home great satisfaction, and “Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno” reaches in 21st place in the top 100 CD prog of 2011 in U.S. Radio program “Global Progressive Rock Network”. On the wave of excitement Pandora is back to work and made “Alibi Filosofico”, officially released on september 23rd, 2013. The band has, once again, joined forces with Matthias Scheller’s AMS-BTF. Their tight bond has allowed them to continue on with their musical journey, which started many years back.

Alibi Filosofico was carried out in new recording studios Pandora-music and was recorded, mixed and edited entirely by Claudio Colombo, taking about seven months time to complete. One particularly important feature in the album is its important special guests: David Jackson, Arjen A. Lucassen and Dino Fiore, while Emoni Viruet, gaining ever-growing experience within the band, gives a great vocal contribution, in addition to her on art work .

And may the dream carry on…

http://www.pandoramusic.eu/