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Solemn Golem – CLIMBO or The Mistakes That Make Us | Cathartic Journey

Finnish singer-songwriter Pyry Urhonen in his musical project Solemn Golem creates a somber and cathartic listening experience. With his debut album CLIMBO or The Mistakes That Make Us and the two singles, I Wonder and Promenade already released from the album, we got a taste of the vision and scope of Solemn Golem. The album has 10 tracks and runs for about an hour. Solemn Golem takes its influence from 70’s prog and art-rock acts along with post-rock, folk, and alternative rock music. The music can most aptly be termed as Post-rock and Folk prog with a doom rock feel. Solem Golem takes the singer-songwriter structure and creates deeply reflective songs with intricate sonic canvasses.

The intro track Close Your Eyes starts with a haunting piano chord progression setting the base for things to come. The second track and first full song in the album … And Try To Picture Nothing with its gliding guitar solo sets up a sound that could be termed as nordic doom and realization. We follow up with Are We Dreaming? which is an instrumental with wind sounds and clean guitar notes which takes its time to build up. I Wonder has an acoustic folk rock feel with a laid back drum beat. The emotional release in the outro combined with the spaghetti western sound is unique combination.

Promenade contains the organ at the beginning followed by a clean guitar intro refrain. Steady drums work in building the tempo with some neat and intricate drum fills in the outro. Honeymoon has a zen-like space reverb aura with the drums in the second half picking up the pace of the track. Blight has a complex bass riff that creates confusion and a thrilling sound. This song contains Gregorian chant-like vocals to add to the doom and gothic effect. The album concludes with the final song Gatekeeper which ends the record on a note of partial reconciliation with its folk chorus pushing the edges to show some light a the end of the tunnel.

Meticulous and measured songwriting which retains a raw core is what we get from the album. Sculpted with care, CLIMBO is a work that is to be approached with temporal flexibility. This is a record that would leave you with feelings of deep release and acceptance. We can hear a bit of Opeth, Johnny Cash, Katatonia, and Nine Inch Nails in the album. Urhonen is influenced by classic progressive rock artists like Pink Floyd and King Crimson, post-rock acts like Mogwai, to alternative singer-songwriters such as PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke, and Leonard Cohen. CLIMBO or The Mistakes That Make Us is a deep journey into the annals of human experience which we are hesitant in exploring.

We speak more with Solemn Golemn about the album.

1. Hi Pyry! Why the artist name Solemn Golem? A possible Lord of the Rings reference?

Though it would be a fun reference I hadn’t even made the connection to Gollum before this question! The name is in fact inspired by a small sculpture I made in art school about ten years ago. It looks really sad and lonely, but I like it so much I’ve always had it someplace visible. When the first songs began to take form they always made me think of the lonely tall figure standing atop my cupboard. I’ve featured the sculpture in my visuals. You should check it out in my Instagram!
2. What are the instruments and synths used in the record? How do you achieve your guitar tone for that matter? How were the drums recorded? Who else was involved in the creation of the album?

It’s just me. I started composing with just one guitar and voice, but it was clear from the start these songs would benefit from a bigger sound. The guitars, bass and pianos I played live and those were often the foundation. I’d then play or program the drums and synths where they were needed.

I really love the guitars on this album! I managed to find the sweet spot where the intensity and distortion could be controlled by the dynamics of my playing. I think it makes for some very dynamic and powerful lead guitars. I used an 8-string strat-style, a semi-hollow, a western style acoustic and my dear 5-string Neuser bass. I’d say you can really hear the beautiful tones of the guitars although I’ve really done a lot of work with the signal-chain too.

For the drum sounds I used EZDrummer and I have to say I’m surprised by its versatility. At first I was meaning to just demo the stuff on EZD, but ended up using it for the final versions because it sounded so good. For the mellotrons, strings, synths and pianos I used a myriad of different plugins. I have to take my hat off especially for Spitfire LABS. I love their user interface and the versatility of their sounds. You could make a whole career by just layering their free plugins.

3. Your album almost embodies almost Zen philosophical emptiness. We can hear your great use of space reverb to create a hypnotic aura. What is your approach towards space in sound?

I’m glad you asked! In many cases I approach my songs with a visual goal in mind. I close my eyes and imagine a space where I want to hear the different parts and where I want to take the listener to. There’s a strong contrast between vast spaces and almost claustrophobic sonic close-ups on the album.

The seventh song Blight would be a good example of the visual approach to sonic space. It starts out in the open, then comes really close and when the drums really start to bellow I have this sense of walls of sound rolling towards me from both sides as I’m flying forward between them.

4. The album has a dark contemplative aura and eventually cathartic effect. What are the roots of the emotional core of the album?

I’ve long had this idea of a world being built from a lonely thought. I wanted to explore what it is that makes right choices so difficult and horribly bad choices not difficult enough.

I’m a quite cheerful fellow. Some of my friends would say even frustratingly so at times. The somber thoughts I mostly keep to myself and make into something I’d want to watch or listen to myself.

That’s what Solemn Golem is at its core: the songs I want to hear that no one’s made yet.

5. What is the idea behind the interesting title of the album?

 I wanted the album to have a punchy pseudonym, something easy for reference. CLIMBO is a bit of a pun, but basically it’s the idea of the endless repeating struggle to do better. The longer part The Mistakes That Make Us is more self explanatory. I think we learn and grow more and often faster from mistakes than success. I’m a teacher by profession and I always encourage my students to embrace mistakes.

6. We can hear some Opeth, some Nine Inch Nail, Bon Iver, and what one could term Nordic gloom in the record. What are the influences of your music?

I love the references you picked! It’s hard to grasp the spectrum of influences people tell me they hear in my music. Of course everyone chooses from their own musical history, but I also feel the songs must have some complexity to be heard in this many different ways. You’re not the first to mention the nordic quality of the album! It’s very interesting, ’cause none of my finnish listeners ever point that out. It must be the dark melancholy and scarce soundscapes!

The biggest influences I’m aware of are classic prog bands, especially Pink Floyd and King Crimson mixed with my love for post-rock groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai. Some of my favourite singer-songwriters: Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Leonard Cohen and Thom Yorke probably have a lot in common with my process and I pay close attention to what they are doing.

7. In Promenade, we hear a spaghetti-western sound and you have said that you like your music to be slow and deliberate as Sergio Leone’s movies. You and to a huge extent you achieve that effect. What is the story of the album which you envisioned?

I’m happy the atmosphere comes through! Some listeners have said the songs take them somewhere and that it’s like reading a book or watching a movie inside their heads. That’s the best thing I could ever hope to achieve with these songs. I really hope people take the time to sit back and listen to the whole album. If you give music time, it will give back much more than the 15-second banger on your social media feed.

Experience the album here!

Check out our playlists here!

Discovered via http://musosoup.com

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Guitarist. I write on music and praxis.

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