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Interview with Codes in the Clouds

img  Tobias Fischer

As the Spirit Wanes is one of those albums that unfolds gradually rather than hitting you in the face. Was there some anticipation prior to its release that people might not have the patience to wait for the magic to reveal itself?
We actually think the second track on the album is our most immediate sounding song. The first piece has a slower start, but  we wanted to ease listeners in smoothly. Thankfully post-rock fans have a lot of patience!

You mentioned that personal experiences were an influence on „As the Spirit Wanes“.
It was basically an amalgamation of completely unrelated things or events effecting our individual personal lives. They all happened to us around a similar period, whilst writing the album, so obviously it had a huge effect on the music we were creating at the time. Out of respect we won’t go into specific details.

In which way, then, does the music „deal“ with these experiences?

There was certainly a period where a couple of the members were treating the writing sessions as a kind of counselling and there are a few songs on the album that, to us, have a very specific mood. But listeners may take something completely different away from them. Over time songs can develop their own personality, that’s part of the fun of touring songs and getting different reactions. There’s definitely a theme to how we came up with the titles on this record, too, but we’d like people to figure that out on their own. It’s more fun that way.

You worked with Guy Andrews of iambic on this project. What was it about his remix of „Distant Street Lights“ that so impressed you and made him seem like a good match for your studio work?
The remix was just one of those things that we all heard and loved immediately. When looking for a producer for this album Erased Tapes suggested him and we were all really pleased when he said yes. He was great to work with and we felt at ease in the studio from day one. We wanted this album to touch specific emotions, and his music he makes evokes that kind of feeling in us.

In the end, a lot of people got involved ...

There was a real community spirit to this album. Lots of people that we have met through touring, the remix album and Erased Tapes have made contributions. After the actual recording session though, Message To Bears added string parts. Ryan West (aka Rival Consoles), with help from Robert Raths and us, really made the album with his incredible mixing, followed by Nils Frahm’s wonderful mastering.

In which way was the entire composition and production process different from Paper Canyon this time?
With Paper Canyon, we were still finding our feet as a collective as song writers. Though we’re still very proud of that record, we feel that this album is a truer representation of the music we want to create. The driving forces of the two albums were completely different. With Paper Canyon, the emphasis was on making sounds together that we found pleasing, whereas on this record we tried to follow a more conceptual route.

You once said that you're „very conscious of how we structure songs and write melodies“. In which way?

When we write songs, sometimes there is an instinct to go on and on with a specific theme or melody that we enjoy, but we try and frame that in a more direct structure. There is certainly an element of both improvisation and composition. When composing songs there is no set routine for us, sometimes we’ll work with a specific pre-written motif. However, sometimes songs come out unexpectedly, starting as improvisation which is then developed into a structured song.

Which of the songs were finished first in the writing stages?

„The Tragedian“ was the first song written on this album. It ties this record to our first release, as it was written before Paper Canyon was even recorded. „Look Back, Look Up“, on the other hand, was one of the songs that came out of nowhere, and showed us where we wanted to take this album in terms of feeling.

How did that piece come about in terms of songwriting?

We were joking around in a rehearsal with the bassline to „Summer Lovin“ from the Grease-Soundtrack, though you can’t hear that in the song itself. The next thing we knew we were playing the beginnings of „Look Back, Look Up“.

Do decisions to take this kind of new approach have to be taken by the entire band?

We usually take a democratic approach to the decisions we have to make, but sometimes one member of the band will feel so strongly that their enthusiasm will spread to the rest of the group. „Look Back, Look Up“ was quite a departure from our other record and was a song that showed us that sometimes one person’s passion can guide you in the right direction.

You're an instrumental band, yet some of your lines have a quality which people in the classical music world might call „cantible“ („naturally singable“). Do you sometimes think of vocals or at least the human voice when writing your melodies?
Having vocals on a song is never something that we would rule out, but for now, as none of us can sing, we leave our most ‚cantible’ material to our instruments.

By Tobias Fischer

Codes in the Clouds Discography:

Paper Canyon (Erased Tapes) 2009
Paper Canyon Remixed (Erased Tapes) 2010
As the Spirit Wanes (Erased Tapes) 2010

Codes in the Clouds

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