This month Nunbient were featured on the Epileptic Gibbon Podcast Music Show as part of episode number 16. We have also just completed our second interview for the show in which Eppy picks our brains about the new record and as always we were really pleased to answer such insightful questions. The latest show can be found at epilepticgibbon.co.uk
Epileptic Gibbon: So obvious questions first: why Nunbient and how does it connect to your other musical projects?
Matt: Well, as you might be able to guess from the name, Nunbient was derived from our band “Nuns” (formally Antique Seeking Nuns) and the word “ambient”, so in a literal sense it is ambient/electro-acoustic music made by two members of Nuns. Musically we started to arrive at the idea after working on some of the more experimental areas of our music, in particular the link tracks that we developed for the Songs for Days album by our other (now defunct) project Joff Winks Band.
Epileptic Gibbon: There’s an obvious nod with Nunbient to contemporary electronica and IDM – acts on the Warp label, Boards of Canada, Autechre, etc. How much of Nunbient’s sound is a direct homage to that, how much is directly influenced by it, and how much would you say is entirely fresh, original and new?
Matt: We’ve both listened to Aphex Twin since the mid-nineties, and more recently Boards of Canada have had a real influence, especially in the types of keyboard sounds we create. But there are other influences as well, such as ECM records and drone based artists like Continuum. The whole approach to field recording is something we’ve been doing since the first Nuns E.P in 2001.
Joff: We’ve been interested in making ambient/electronic music right from our first recordings, especially with tracks like M.O.D.A.R, but lately we’ve achieved more of a focus in this particular musical style than we have before. I think there are elements of influence from Boards and Aphex Twin but I’m not sure we really touch on direct quotes from either of these artists. One of the areas I find most interesting in making this music is the field recording. You never know what might be captured or how the sound will turn out when it’s played back at half speed or quarter speed, certainly it’s always unpredictable and original.
Epileptic Gibbon: You’ve kind of implied that this was an easier musical project to do than some of your other recent efforts with other projects – how so?
Matt: It was easier in the sense that there was no “band” to record, which instantly makes things more straightforward from a recording perspective. But there is a certain feeling of freedom that we get from doing this music.
Joff: I think the working process when creating this type of music makes life a little easier. It seems to make my mind more concentrated, as the work itself is quite detailed and meticulous. The recording has a natural focus and flow to it that seems conducive to being able to finish things more directly.
Epileptic Gibbon: It feels quite a dark and cold album at some points. Was this intentional and was there a reason for this focus? Is it a comment in any way on the current almost apocalyptic, end of times mood put forward in the news, etc. what with global warming, wars, worldwide economic problems etc? A dark album for dark times perhaps?
Matt: It is absolutely meant to be a comment on our times, particularly the trilogy of tracks that close the album. A recurring theme for us recently has been this idea that we are currently standing on the edge of a cultural abyss, and possibly in it already. It’s a concept that links together some of our other projects as well: I’ve recently finished a 35 minute classical work for 10 piece chamber ensemble called “Here Come The Dark Ages”, and Joff has a song called simply “Dark Ages” which will be on the next Nuns album. So this album forms a trilogy with those other works.
Joff: As we were putting together some of the tracks for Nunbient – One this dark theme seemed to become really prominent. The record started to become an audio extension of an idea that Matt and I have been discussing for a while now. We have both been feeling that perhaps we are standing on the edge of another dark age period in history. That perhaps what’s in store for us as a species is not very promising. People don’t feel confident about the future or themselves and there is a lack of any direction or progress in our thought or our actions, we seem so almost mute and unable to respond to this culturally.
Epileptic Gibbon: Antique Seeking Nuns CDs often contain strong elements of humour but that’s less obvious with Nunbient. Is there humour on the Nunbient album? Does humour belong in Nunbient?
Matt: Not that it was a conscious decision of ours, but I think the lack of humour was simply a natural result of the subject matter and the genre.
Joff: Humour has always featured in our music and partly as a natural defence against taking ourselves too seriously. Although, I have to say, that perhaps what we’re most interested in is absurdity rather than humour. Taking something that is already ridiculous to an extreme point in terms of its development is a real joy and does create some weird and wonderfully macabre songs. In this record however the subject matter is serious and I think the album fits our emotional response to the matter in hand well.
Epileptic Gibbon: What are your favourite tracks on the album and why?
Matt: It’s tough to pick as the album has such a unified feel to it. I think “Indian Box” is a real standout and I also love the closing section of “Drone Frost Porous” when all of the guitar overdubs start fading in.
Joff: Fable Of Babel is one of my favourite tracks I love the voices in this recording. I think it’s a really great example of never knowing what might happen to a sound when it’s slowed down.
Epileptic Gibbon: The album is due out on Burning Shed: How did that come about? Do you have a particular affinity for the Burning Shed label/brand?
Matt: We sent the album off to various labels, but were always hopeful that Burning Shed might respond to it as we have always been inspired by the label’s approach to music and how they work with artists.
Joff: It is also a huge pleasure to have the CD packaged by Burning Shed as the Carl Glover designs are always inspirational.
Epileptic Gibbon: Is there likely to be a second Nunbient album? Is there more material that didn’t make it onto the first album?
Matt: The second Nunbient album called “Nunbient Two: Like Glass” is about 50% written and a third album is in the conceptual stage as well. There is nothing specifically left over from this album, but there are still some of the link pieces that we mentioned that we didn’t have room for on Songs for Days. There is also some music in the Nunbient style that we recently completed for a short film. Hopefully we’ll get the second Nunbient album out in 2009 along with the new Nuns album, and of course the archival Antique Seeking Nuns recordings that have still to be released.
Joff: We have discussed some conceptual ideas for a third record which I’m really excited to explore and as Matt has mentioned we are currently recording a follow up to Nunbient – One.