.:.A HAND THROUGH THE SUN.:.
An Interview with Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries
Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries is a project that should be talked about, especially after the release of its long-time-coming debut album, Even Spilled Seed Crawls Toward the Womb. Noah Coleman, the core of the project, was kind enough speak with our resident Greek, Christos Doukakis, giving some solid answers to most of his questions—ranging in subject matter from the project’s history to sacred music and on to politics in art—along the way. Read on…
Heathen Harvest: Hello, Noah, and thank you for accepting this interview. Could you tell our readers about your music background, studies, and previous projects/bands?
Noah Coleman: I’ve been writing, making, and recording music for most of my life. I certainly don’t have any proper musical training, aside from a short period of piano lessons as a teenager. I started getting into and making more “experimental” music at eighteen, and it’s been a steady descent ever since then. I started my first actual noise project (Crow Bones) in 2005, then Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries shortly after in 2006.
HH: Your debut, Even Spilled Seed Crawls Toward the Womb, comes almost eight years after your last demo, The West Was Nothing but a Dead Beast. Why was this album so long in the making? Were you involved in other projects in the interim?
NC: In 2008, I started a black metal project called Monument, then a doom band called Oyarsa in 2011. With those two bands taking up most of my time and creativity, Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries took a back seat. I still wrote for it and always had plans to record something under that name again; it just took a while.
HH: The dystopic, claustrophobic sound of your debut is difficult to describe. Was it something intentional or something which came as pure artistic expression?
NC: It certainly wasn’t accidental. The album came out exactly how I wanted it to, so I suppose you could call it intentional.
HH: Can you elaborate? What were you attempting to convey to your audience with your intentions?
NC: I wanted the album to convey what the character was feeling: terror, insignificance, loneliness, and—ultimately—purpose; a stark emptiness; a constant sense of dread looming; a need to complete your mission. I like your “dystopic/claustrophobic” description; that fits very well.
HH: Rarely do we come across such a raw sound as your multi-layered noisy soundscapes. Could you enlighten us with what kind of equipment you used to create the new album?
NC: The drums are actual acoustic drums (played by my friend ::) that were edited and sequenced to fit my needs. The “synth” is just an old Casio that my wife found abandoned in a hallway in an apartment building we used to live in. I run it through fuzz, delay, and reverb pedals to juice it up a bit. All of the “noise” is an array of field recordings that in some way conceptually fit the particular song, which are then run through various pedals.
HH: Of note regarding the new album is your switch from black metal towards more of an industrial-influenced sound. What has driven you in this direction?
NC: When I started the project, I really wanted to make black metal but couldn’t play any instrument well enough to do so. Once I did learn those instruments and started to get involved in metal bands, Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries continued on in my head (and the occasional show). It slowly took on more of a structured “industrial” vibe as opposed to the more “black noise” vibe that it had when it started. If I had actually recorded all of the material I was writing during the “dormant years,” it would not have seemed like such a drastic jump.
HH: The album has been described as ‘loosely telling the story of the last person on earth, a woman, making a journey to find her death and coming to terms with being the final bearer of our collective human history.’ Where did the inspiration for this concept come from? Have you explored her character in more depth personally, outside of the album? Does she represent someone personal to you?
NC: All of the songs were written during a trip my wife and I made up to Alaska during the summer of 2013. We took the whole summer to do it and were camping and sleeping in our truck most nights. We had come from Chicago—this big, dirty, violent city—and were suddenly being enveloped by, what felt like, prehistory. It was the first time I had seen such vast, ancient, and desolate landscapes. It was humbling and terrifying. This was the environment that the album was written in. It was mostly a way for me to document the immensity of what I was feeling during this trip through the eyes of a fictional character. I have not explored the story any further because it is very specific to that time and place.
HH: How did this trip change you? Did anything in you develop, like an environmental edge? How difficult was it to get acclimated back to ‘normal life’? Do you still find yourself inspired by the trauma of being forced from that wild setting back into an ‘everyday life’ role?
NC: Aside from being the marker in my life indicating the social upheaval that the move across country was, the trip was also a personal/spiritual milestone, and a definitive evolutionary catalyst for me. There were some moments where it was difficult re-acclimating to “normal life,” but mostly there has been less and less of a need to feel a part of “normal life.” Instead of trauma, there was growth.
HH: At the moment, are you currently involved in any other projects or bands apart from Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries? Are you still active with Monument and Oyarsa?
NC: Monument is still and will always be active. I have a new album that’s finished, minus a couple of guests that will be recording some parts. Oyarsa is still an entity, though not living near each other anymore makes it difficult to get much done. We will be getting together this year, though, and recording some new songs we’ve written. Most of my musical focus lately has been with two bands I’ve started locally—Seven Chains and Vociferii—my folk project, the Hunter, and my recent inclusion in the live lineup of Wolvserpent.
HH: What are the difficulties of being an artist from Idaho? Is there much of a music scene where you’re from? Does anything about the area specifically influence you?
NC: I haven’t noticed any difficulties. On the contrary, I’ve been much more productive since moving here. The town I live in doesn’t really have any music scene, but I’m only a short drive away from Spokane, Washington, which has a small but tight-knit music community. Nothing from the area influences me any more or less than anywhere else I’ve lived.
HH: While this is a horribly cliché question in most interviews, it’s curiously fitting here considering the album’s concept. If you were the last person on Earth, what would be the five songs you would want to hear before the end, and why?
NC: My perfect playlist to drift into the end (in this order):
- Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
- Wolvserpent – Within the Light of Fire
- Wovenhand – Blue Pail Fever
- The Highwaymen – Highwayman
- Arvo Pärt – Te Deum
HH: Are you satisfied with the collaboration with Annihilvs Power Electronix for the CD release thus far? How did you and Lee Bartow come to work together for this release?
NC: Yes, most definitely. I have been a fan of Lee’s musical output for a while now, so when I had the chance to work with him, I was very excited. A mutual friend of Lee’s and mine, Brandon Elkins (Auditor, Iron Forest, etc.), connected us.
HH: Tell us a bit about your Sol y Nieve imprint. Does it have a specific or broad purpose? What is your vision for it?
NC: I started it with little intent other than as a vehicle to release my own albums, but it has slowly and steadily grown into its own. The only vision is to never stop and never stagnate. CDs and vinyl will be in my future, but I am currently only releasing cassettes.
HH: You’ve chosen to list Sol y Nieve on Facebook as a ‘church/religious organization’ rather than a ‘record label’. What was your reasoning for differentiating the label as such? Are you influenced by any contemporary sacred music like Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, or even ritual music like Arktau Eos or Phurpa?
NC: As I said, when I started Sol y Nieve, it was mostly as an avenue to release my own music, and my music is my worship. I don’t really suppose that I can consider Sol y Nieve to be a “religious organization” anymore in its present state considering the broad spectrum of artists that I work with, so that title may be a little outdated now. To answer the second part of your question, I am certainly a fan of, and am undoubtedly influenced by, contemporary, traditional, and ancient sacred music. Pärt is one of my favorites for sure, along with Tavener and Gorecki. I enjoy some modern ritual music (like the above mentioned artists), but I tend to gravitate more towards recordings of the traditional and ancient forms of music they emulate.
HH: What other power electronics / industrial artists do you think our audience should pay attention to going forward?
NC: Lee turned me on to IRM, who I think is fantastic. Teeth Engraved with the Names of the Dead, Magia Nuda, the Vomit Arsonist, Wet Nurse., Sewer Goddess, Bloodyminded, Koufar, Auditor, and Pharmakon are also current favorites and should be, in my opinion, paid attention to.
HH: We have clearly had a bit of a political edge in the past and have favored projects like Am Not and the aforementioned Koufar for taking intelligent stances on difficult issues. Some fans of the genre / other artists think politics should be separated from music/art altogether, however. Clearly, Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries doesn’t partake in this side of things, but do you personally have an opinion on whether there is room in art for political issues?
NC: Of course there is room. There is room in art for everything because art is a projection of yourself/your worldview/your situation. If you feel very strongly about something, it’s going to manifest itself in your art—be it politics, religion, love, hate, whatever. There is no reason to say that some things should be excluded from art, but there is also no reason to say that you should accept something just because it is art. If you are vehemently liberal, of course it will be difficult to listen to music made by someone projecting extremely conservative views. If you are someone that values love and hope, of course it will be difficult to listen to music made by someone projecting extreme negativity. But should they no longer be allowed to project those feelings just because you disagree with them? I don’t think so.
HH: Is your album going to be presented live at some point? If yes, what should the audience expect?
NC: Possibly. I’ll be playing the Autumn Dirges festival in October, but I haven’t decided if I’ll be playing that album or new material. As for what should be expected, who knows? My sets tend to take a life of their own as they’re being performed, so I don’t think about what is to be expected very often.
HH: What are you planning next for Ten Thousand Miles of Arteries?
NC: There is a lot in the pipeline. I recently finished a split with Wet Nurse., and am currently working on a new full-length, Survival Bloom. Both are a continuation of the sound that I conjured up for Even Spilled Seed… but explore different avenues, both sonically and thematically. I am also in the beginning stages of working on collaborations with Teeth Engraved with the Names of the Dead, JOLI, and Golden Fawn.
HH: Thank you, again, for taking on this interview. This final space is yours to say what you feel has been left unsaid.
NC: It’s been a pleasure being a part of such a well thought-out interview. I greatly appreciate the support and interest!