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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.

Soul Enema

Review: Soul Enema – Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

I’ve been struggling to find an album from this year’s crop of new releases that’s been able to hold my interest through repeated listens, but with “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns,” the latest after a very long wait from Israel’s Soul Enema, I think I’ve finally hit on something. The band’s first official release back in 2010, “Thin Ice Crawling,” was introduced as an album which takes risks, but with the new record which has been in the making for quite a long time, Soul Enema continued to work on diversifying and honing their sound.

Opener “Omon Ra” pretty much sets the tone for everything that’s to follow. “Of Clans and Clones and Clowns” walks a line between progressive and power, with plenty of ‘70s style synths and a very strong Eastern influence. The band members work brilliantly together. The harsh vocals add a nice sense of gravitas to the album’s heavier sections, while cliché clean/harsh pitfalls are deftly avoided.

Of Clans and Clones and Clowns

“Cannibalissimo Ltd.” shifts gears a bit and has more of a prog rock feel, with a main riff that will definitely work its way into your head and some killer lead work.

“Breaking the Waves” is a largely subdued progressive affair with a driving chorus that’s addictive as hell. “Eternal Child” is a successful ballad with a symphonic line serving as a backbone and wonderful vocal performance by lead singer Noa Gruman. This tune also features Ayreon’s mastermind Arjen Lucassen.

When an album is mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren we expect good things, and “ does not disappoint. The various instruments, vocals, and percussion are all distinct and well defined in the mix, with nothing overpowered or underserved.

In the end, everyone else who’s a fan of more lighthearted progressive fare should also give this album a spin, there’s a lot to like.

Listen to the album here.