Today we have the honor of premiering the second EP from United States-based psychedelic black metal abstraction WHITE NIGHTS, ‘Solanaceae‘. Whereas their first recording was a largely improvised kaleidoscopic deathgaze this second set of tunes sets a more intentioned yet unfettered hand upon creation with results that show even more remarkable touches of classic deathrock and the wellspring of obscure psychedelic rock of more recent decades. Of course the artist speaks better to his intentions than I, so we’ve the pleasure of an interview here below to precede the full premiere stream of ‘Solanaceae‘. Whip your scroll down hard, hit the stream on, read what the fellow has to say and enjoy. Thanks goes to White Nights, their label Iron Bonehead Productions and their representation for the early stream and interview. Look to our beloved font of the obscure arts at Iron Bonehead Productions and their many distribution channels to grab a copy on CD, 10″ vinyl, or cassette (each has different artwork) this coming Friday, February 5th.
Grizzly Butts: How do you sleep at night? Er, does the name “White Nights” refer to the mind having unfinished business to the point of sleepless nights? Is this project a collection of ideas that strike you with inspiration in quietude/solitude?
White Nights: Not necessarily, but there might be something to that. I spend 2-3 months a year with poor or very little sleep, so maybe it could, at a subconscious level. The ideas for WN can come to me at any point, sometimes during peace, sometimes during complete insanity. Inspiration moves independently from everything else in the natural world, it cares not for what we prefer.
There is an improvised, emergent feeling to a couple of pieces on your first 12″ (‘Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother’) Has your songwriting developed deliberately thus far? Or, is there a certain off-the-cuff or improvised element to your method?
The first mLP was written and recorded in 24 hours, so improvisation is certainly a very important part of the creative process. I would also say improvisation is very important to psychedelic music as a whole. Solanaceae was a considerably more labored and thought out process in comparison. I started writing the 10” material right after the first mLP was finished and spent a few months messing with song structures, sounds, etc. to really get everything to sink in the best that I could.
Deathrock, weapons, hallucinatory drugs, cathedralesque psychedelic black metal — Perhaps the specific influence of other artists isn’t all that important but when sitting with ‘Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother’ last year it did feel like some amount of (earlier) Black Magick SS had crossed your mind, or inspired one or two choices. Is that a fair reference for the new listener?
Honestly, I am not familiar with that project you speak of, so I cannot really say anything beyond that. I would say WN is a kind of spiritual successor to a prior band I had played in for many years. It was always purposefully antagonist and contrarian to common “metal” tropes, to the point it bottomed out completely and left us isolated and abandoned in our own world AND the outside world. When that ended, I had nowhere to channel these strange ideas into, which WN was born out of – even if only accidentally. WN plays off the “dark” side (although it’s less metal), where the other band was more of the “light” (and was more metal).
For ‘Solanaeceae’ this approach becomes increasingly your own, honed with a more sophisticated deadpan/deathrock movement. Is there an ideal in mind, a certain album or influence that provides some basal approach to your work in White Nights?
There are too many influences to list off the top of my head, but I will say there were 2 particular recordings that I kept at the forefront of my consciousness while making Solanaeceae; Bardo Pond – Amanita & Xmal Deutschland – Incubus Succubus. The atmospheres, songwriting, tonality, production…pure magic. If I could even capture a fragment of the power those recordings hold, I have done my job.
The suggestion of “sadistic dance music” intrigues me but, I suppose I’m most interested in what sort of artists/genres move you not only physically but to write lyrics. Are these themed tirades or, stream of consciousness?
In reference to danceable music? Stuff like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Rosetta Tharpe, Carl Perkins…original rock and roll has the best feel for that kind of thing. But I also do have a strong appreciation for stuff like Xmal Deutschland, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, etc. Lyrically? My own mind and my own experiences within the strange multi-dimensional lab we call “earth”. Existence as a whole. The lyrics have both been thematic AND stream of consciousness. Some personal and some from secondary sources. Whatever works the best is what I use at that time, they each have their function and appropriate use. I work with whatever is presented to me and speaks the loudest/resonates the most.
“Solanaeceae”, “Cannabaceae” these are broad terms referring to species of plants with all manner of effects (flavors, defenses, poisons, etc.), indicating some interest in botanical origin and perhaps preparation. For our purposes I’ll assume you’ve named the associated pieces for the sake of psychoactive preparations? Are these odes to their general effects or, markers for a certain trance achieved under their influence?
That would be correct. As much as I love potatoes and tomatoes, that was not the point of the work. These are odes to BOTH the general effects AND the trance they induce. I have always been interested in the idea of altered states of being, whether spiritual, mental or physical. The exploration into the unknown has always been something near and dear to my heart and mind.
Cannabis in excess brings to mind wet/spring reverb, psilocybin has me seeing the color green in seeming endless shades, salvia divinorum is a fleeting/dissolving loop, LSD use finds me obsessing over the process of decomposition and the layers of the soil… Do certain drugs or plants bring about certain musical moods or successive trains of thought for you? Is there a specific habit, substance, combination, or cocktail that inspires the right frame of mind for White Nights?
Certainly, although I make it a habit to compose in multiple states, to be able to fully explore the spectrum of inspirational energy. Clear-minded WN doesn’t sound a whole lot removed from “influenced” WN. It all comes from the same mental space, regardless of the other outside elements involved. Living in a place where cannabis is legal certainly does not hinder the White Nights further expansion, I can tell you that much.
The artwork for White Nights appears somewhat improvised, intentionally maximal, non-era specific in illustration and full of color. Is this an echo of your larger modus, to express yourself freely and colorfully? I get the sense that overthinking any aspect of White Nights might remove the “magic” of it for your own taste.
That would be correct. I wish to compose and create freely, without limitation or pre-thought about what something “should” be. I don’t care about what “should” be, I care about what “is”. The music is colorful, vibrant and otherworldly, there is no reason why the art should not represent that in the same way. All elements of a work should be contextually consistent. And if someone wanted to overthink the concepts I present, I would ask them to look deeper into the work itself first. All of the immediate questions one may have are answered within what is presented. The secondary questions are yours to seek answers to in the outside world and have little to do with the White Nights.
These 20-30 minute EP releases have been just the right size thus far, though ‘Solanaceae’ feels like it could dirge on a bit more. Do you have plans to aim for a full-length in the future?
Yes. The full-length is mostly written as of now and I will begin to record it later in 2021, once my schedule clears up. The artwork is already in the first phase of creation as we speak. The album will be called “The Crystal Rainbow”, whenever it comes out.
What is the best way folks can support White Nights in the future?
“Do and you shall know”
Per the press release:
IRON BONEHEAD PRODUCTIONS is proud to present a new mini-album from WHITE NIGHTS, Solanaceae, on CD, 10″ vinyl, and cassette tape formats.
It was but April 2020 when WHITE NIGHTS revealed their bolt-from-the-blue debut EP, Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother, for IRON BONEHEAD. Adorned with eye-gougingly colorful cover artwork, WHITE NIGHTS’ four-song public debut indeed conveyed a very strange and very malformed world: warped, literally sun-damaged dirges of abstract black metal deviated further by undertones of shimmering deathrock, the whole headfuck lysergic as it was languorous.
Wasting no time in wasting the listener’s last threads of sanity, WHITE NIGHTS deliver a new warped recording from the psychedelic void: the four-song/27-minute mini-album Solanaceae. From the opening track/title of “Hallucinogenic Black Cubes” onward, this mysterious entity makes it (malformed) mission clear – that you’re gonna get headfucked by a darker ‘n’ more drugged (d)evolution of sound. The muse may be more immediately deathrock in composition, but the execution of such defies conventional definitions of such; here, WHITE NIGHTS make sadistic dance music for malcontents and deviants, and drugs are optional if not encouraged. And while the soundfield may be raw ‘n’ distant, wrapping around these more melodic ruminations and evoking hauntological sensations, there’s actually a great deal of Technicolor tweaking going on above and below Solanaceae: a record ripe for headphone exploration. Which it so say nothing of the closing 13-minute title track….hearing is believing.
Life is grim. Find salvation within the magick mushroom cloud of WHITE NIGHTS’ Solanaceae.
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