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Where Men Can't Live Gods Fare No Better; An Interview With A Death Cinematic Pt. II

Illustration from the bottom pages of "Prelude to the New World."

Written by Sage.

Heathen Harvest:  So tell us about your decision to release the Prelude to the New World book and The New World CD as separate releases but packaged together.

A Death Cinematic: It wasn’t so much a decision to release the book and the CD in this way as it was a natural progression and evolution of the project to do it that way. At this point I’m not even certain which came first. As I was working on the sounds and the themes for the CD I was also shooting, collecting and compiling images that fit those themes. I started to work on both simultaneously. The collection of images grew to a larger number and sort of demanded to be its own thing as opposed to just a handful of images to go with the CD. Still the images and the music were inseparable to me so they had to be included together. Plus each one illustrates a different facet of the main theme in different ways.

A large format and professionally printed version of the book actually came out before the album did. I got a good deal on having some books printed so I released them with an exclusive suite of drawings in order to raise some funds to purchase materials for the album.

HH:  What exactly was the prelude supposed to narrate?

ACD: The prelude narrates a very short time right before the change over to the new world. Even in things that progress for a long time toward a change of  some sort, there is always a moment, a pin point in time where the change occurs. An event horizon. A slow melting of a glacier until it can’t bear it’s own weight and collapses. Or soil slowly eroding from a 3000 year old tree’s root system until it finally falls. Events that are a long time in the making but can only be witnessed for a few hours, minutes, or even seconds once hey occur.

That is kind of what the the photos in the book try to capture. Those few moments of the changing event and the hopes, memories, and nostalgia that might be associated with the movement toward that change. So the book is the prelude to that change. The change happens in the span of the book and the CD together. At the end of the book there is the realization that whatever hopes there might have been for us are gone, killed by our own doing. That is what the statement and the symbol of the horse on the back cover of the book is supposed to symbolize.

HH:  It seemed that with the photographs in the book, you were moving from man’s achievements and tools of destroying the world and keeping his own world together as well as human progress to the reclamation of Earth by wildlife.  What do you think was going on there for you on a subconscious level?

ADC: I think that is a pretty accurate observation of what was going on on a subconscious level when i was organizing the photos and sequencing them. These things were always there thematically from when I started to play and record the music, maybe even when I was shooting the images, reading and hearing Matt’s poem until they gelled at the end. Things started to fit and the themes became more cohesive as I finished the album and the book. So there is this movement through the images toward a world with very little human presence. Things on this earth will continue to happen with or without us.

But there are also realizations that come way after the work is complete and sometimes it takes someone else’s pointing them out. That is a reward of keeping the meanings loose.

HH:  The image at the bottom of each page actually turned the book into a flip-book of sorts.  What exactly was this character with the red cross?

ADC: I wanted the image and symbolism of the horse to emerge throughout the book. Kind of like a slow realization of what is happening. The red cross I have used before as a symbol and to me it is the need, want and potential for healing. It also stands in as an Apposite archetype for hope and even mercy.

I used this symbol before for similar reasons but I also like that if you turn the cross 45 degrees in either direction and it’s meaning becomes almost opposite.

HH:  Tell us about your work with Matt Finney.  How did this come about?

ADC: Matt Finney has the patience of a saint. The idea to work together was his. He asked if I wanted to do a track with him and work together. I said yes and he sent over a track of him reading his poem. It was supposed to only have been a single. Once I started to record and put the track together I got all these ideas that came to me very quickly and clearly and I knew at that instance that this couldn’t just be a single. At that point I asked Matt if I could just build this album around the track. He had no idea it was going to take me so long to get it out there. If he knew he might not have agreed.

HH:  Was this the first vocal presence in any A Death Cinematic track?

ADC: This indeed was the first intentional vocal experience on an A Death Cinematic track. There is a track on Epochs… that has a voice of a woman my amp picked up from a radio station. I just happened to be recording at that time with some reverb so her voice is well echoed and she was talking about men, women and children “cooking” in ovens. It was a very bizarre occurrence.

HH:  How much did Detroit and the surrounding suburbs influence you on “The New World”?  Much of the book showcases degradation and pollution.

ADC: Detroit has a strong influence on every release and it does have a big one on The New World as well. Almost all those images were shot in or around the Detroit area. Detroit can show you how bad things can get and it has been doing it that for a very long time but I have to mention that there a lot of hard-working people here trying to turn that around too.

HH:  I had mentioned the tempo of the album as a whole being uncomfortably slow, inevitably adding to the feelings of desperation and hopelessness.  Can you explain the reasoning behind this?

ADC: The tempo of the album is deliberate because I wanted that feeling of discomfort. A pace akin to slow gasping or plodding. Kind of like the slow and heavy climbing of steps to the gallows. No one sprints towards it. I have to imagine that when faced with such a situation, even subconsciously your steps must slow down, your legs don’t want to move. That is the overall pace I wanted for the album.

HH:  Finally, can you tell us a bit about the construction of this release?  How you did it, how much time the full process ended up taking, etc.

ADC: This has been a monumental undertaking for me. I do this on my own. I do all the printing and fabricating. I know 150 copies is really a small number when you compare it to general record releases but it is huge when you make every single copy by hand.

Once I figure out a mock up I try to set up a little production line and build little jigs to make things a more efficient. There is a lot that goes into the process that people don’t see in the final result. I have to work in batches and phases. I break down the process into stages and work on those in batches. This also helps to alleviate some of the monotony of working on these larger editions. I have copies of the album in smaller numbers at different stages of completion all over my studio and I am still making covers. Although every time I start a project or a new album I tell myself I won’t release it until all the copies are complete I find myself compromising. If I waited until all The New World copies were done it might be delayed by another year or two. So I have to release well before all the copies are finished and work on them as I go.

It is hard for me to tell how long it takes to make each copy because I don’t do them one at a time. If I had to guess, with all the stages for the book and the cover I would say well over an hour and a half. Maybe closer to two per each copy.