Machine Music's Albums of the Decade: An Interview with Abyssal
This is the 38th installment of the Albums of the Decade series of interviews. For the rest of the series go HERE.]
Label: Profound Lore Records
Favorite Song: "Veil of Transcendence"
The Bare Bones: Antikatastaseis is the third full-length by English one-man black/death project Abyssal, the brainchild of Bristol musician Gregg Cowell.
The Beating Heart: If the purpose of making art is launching disparate elements at one another in the hopes of gaining a sense of beauty or a glimpse of doom – preferably at the same time – then Antikatastaseis is not only one of the best extreme metal albums of the decade in question but one of the best death/black albums ever. Fusing an almost classical desire for structure and ambition with a despondent, dissonant tsunami of riffs and fury, Abyssal stands as an entirely unique entity in the spehere of contemporary underground metal. Not least because, and perhaps similarly to one other artist discussed in this series and that shall be mentioned in the interview itself, Abyssal succeeds not only in scope, ambition, and ability but in humanity – in delivering the beating pulse of pain and vulnerability underneath layer upon layer of dense music. It is for those reasons that we included Abyssal and Antikatastaseis in this series, and why we endeavored to speak with Gregg Cowell about this special, challenging album.
But before we get to my pleasant conversation with Gregg this is my chance to encourage you to check out the rest of the Albums of the Decade series as well our new podcast MATEKHET (YouTube, Spotify and all that) and/or our latest compilation album MILIM KASHOT VOL. 2, which is pretty packed with unbelievable music. Finally, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and also, if so inclined, support whatever it is that we do on Patreon. Thank you for your time and support. On to my talk with Gregg.
Do you remember a moment you had with an album or a song, perhaps as a younger person, and given that there are many such moments in one’s life, that completely changed what you thought about music up until that point?
It’s a good first question because I can’t think of a straightforward answer. But one of my dark secrets, I would say, is that my first route into metal was more from the classic rock side of things. So I went through classic rock and ended up in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, specifically Iron Maiden. And I discovered Iron Maiden kind of backwards – I latched on to them through what was then their newest album, which was Dance of Death. And I remember listening to an eight-minute song there called "Paschendale," which is a song about a battle in World War I. And I remember hearing that for the first time and it had this really grandiose, well-constructed, well-thought-out, almost operatic structure, in metal music. And I remember listening to that and thinking: "Wow." To me it just ticked all the boxes. I know that album is considered not to be the best of that era, but to me, when I first listened to that, as a 14, 15 year-old boy, it floored me. I had never heard anything that was this compositionally interesting.
So that was really the way into metal. But I had revelations before that in terms of the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix, which I think was the actual first musical experience that I was floored by. And listening to him and just the way he played guitar, it was obvious to me that he kind of trolled the line between playing technically and playing with his feelers, so to speak. And that was something I had never heard before. I’d always kind of thought of the shredders and the high-speed guitarists as being soulless puppets, and hearing it played technically as a little boy and thinking "Wow, that actually moves me." So I’d say those were my first two.
And I would say that I had revelations after that as well. The first time I had heard Morbid Angel…. That was almost kind of a flirtatious relationship because I actually got into the Steve Tucker era, and I remember listening to it and thinking "I’ve never heard anything this heavy, and I can’t quite handle it" [laughs]. And I came back to it ever now and then and there was just something alluring about the whole mystique, the language they used, everything, so I just kept coming back. Until eventually it all clicked and I was just: "Ah! OK!"
It’s interesting, especially with Jimi Hendrix and Iron Maiden. I mean, those were experiences when you were a young boy and I would imagine that some of what was shocking or surprising about those ceased to be as surprising as time went on – you heard other moments of well-constructed metal or heard other players who were as emotive in their playing – but can you look back as the more seasoned, somewhat jaded musician person
And understand why as a grown musician those were important touchstones for you?
Oh yeah, absolutely, and I still go back and revisit it every now and then. I think you kind of end up going through some kind of oscillation as a musician and maybe as a music fan, because you get into metal and then you kind of race to the periphery to find the most extreme, the fastest, most technical, complicated, compositionally intricate stuff. And then we get there and we kind of go: "OK, yeah, this is interesting." And then we always find ourselves, at least from my perspective and that of people I know, going backwards again and end up listening to Manilla Road and songs that have all power chords and a rock-n-roll solo in it. It’s weird, because I do think you get to that point where you pushed the limits and you’ve heard everything and you try to rediscover some of the things you might have missed and that fill in the blanks you might have jumped past as you raced to the extremes.
And it’s something that I have done as well, because I think that Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius, which was our second album, it’s way heavier than any of the others, and I don’t think I’ll do anything that heavy ever again. I mean, parts of it are virtually unlistenable, just the most hideous chords and things to make it as compositionally dense as possible. And you almost think "Well, I don’t want to do that forever, because there are so many tricks that you can pull," and I think that all the Antikatastaseis stuff was almost a step back from that. There are a lot of, say, overly melodic sections on that album, which in some cases I think work quite well and in some cases were perhaps a little too sickly sweet.
This is something that’s really interesting to me because to me a lot of what we might call "modern metal" was borne out of the revolution that was Floridian death metal, to an extent. That, while a lot of those bands weren’t just heavy for the sake of heavy they somehow triggered a "heavy weapons race," that could, I think, be traced back to Slayer. While Slayer was quite a varied band, they did emphasize "heavy" and "dark" in a way that made a lot of their contemporaries, who were for the most part more melodic, trite. And so suddenly a lot of that other stuff doesn’t seem heavy anymore, but I actually think it is still heavy. The way I think of it is that Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying is the best Slayer album that Slayer couldn’t write…
[Laughs] That’s a good way to put it.
It’s just as heavy, just as dark, all the atmosphere is there but it’s not "just heavy," it’s also other things. And I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to Antikatastaseis, because it doesn’t feel "just heavy," it feels like a struggle. I wanted to get to this later, but I am known to be an unorganized interviews. Known by me and my mother, who is my sole reader, obviously.
But the album feels like two things, an unstoppable force and an immovable object, just fighting it out. And I think that’s pretty good general descriptor of albums that I enjoy. I don’t usually go for the "total fucking darkness stuff" nor do I reach for the major-chord, uplifting stuff. Anything that has conflict, that’s what I like, and there’s something about Antikatastaseis that is conflict. So, to what extent was that what you were going with with that album pitting the dissonant, heavy side with what you’re calling "sickly sweet"?
It’s quite strange with Antikatastaseis because I wrote it extremely quickly, it kind of just appeared one day. And I did quite an in-depth interview, specifically about Beacon in the Husk, and in that I talk about how Beacon in the Husk was a real struggle, and it was originally supposed to be the third Abyssal album. And I had such a struggle writing that, both conceptually and in terms of music, that I ended just giving up and focused on the idea of Antikatastaseis, which almost appeared overnight. I went "This is quite interesting, I’m going to work with this." So, I can understand where you’re coming from when you say it sounds like a struggle in musical form, but it was almost like a stream-of-consciousness writing. I wasn’t maybe particularly cognizant of it at the time, but I think that a lot of the lyrics are also reflective of that kind of idea. So it does almost hang together as a bit of a concept, even though it wasn’t intended to be that way, it’s almost like a marriage of two things out of their opposites, I guess. An emergence of things out of their opposites.
I read that interview, actually, as well as others and I think it’s safe to say you’re quite a cerebral person, also in terms of how you think of your own art.
I mean, not everyone write an album based on Jungian psychoanalysis.
So it seems the thinking and design part is very important for you, and what comes out of that attitude is that when you speak of Antikatastaseis it feels like it’s a fluke you don’t consider the artistic process that led up to it to be as rigorous as it would have been for, say, A Beacon in the Husk. So I guess I could ask whether or not you felt it was the case that even if it was a stream-of-consciousness, lightning-in-a-jar moment it could be used as a kind of revelatory moment that you can then reverse engineer, or think about?
I would say that you are actually partially correct in that I do definitely think it was, as you said, a lightning in a jar, but I don’t downplay it in that regard. I do think that album is going to be the blessing and the curse for the rest of my musical escapades because I’m going to struggle to outdo that one, I think, and I don’t think I did quite outdo it with Beacon in the Husk. I think A Beacon in the Husk was a little bit of a different animal, but in terms of my own records that are my favorites to listen to it’s still second place behind Antikatastaseis. I’d say that trying to reproduce that lightning-in-a-jar moment is something that I’m probably trying to do but in trying to do it I’m obviously undermining its emergent nature. And the cerebral aspect of things as well, regarding Antikatastaseis…. Beacon in the Husk was very much driven, as you said, by Jungian ideas and reading all those Joseph Campbell books and all of that. Antikatastaseis was driven by visions of artwork, it was more of a visual album. And I’ve spoken to Markov Soroka of Tchornobog about this a lot, because he actually sees full synesthesia and he’ll refer to riffs as "purple riffs" and "green riffs." I can’t articulate it that well, I’m not that far along the spectrum. But, say, the artwork for Antikatastaseis, I almost wrote the music to the art, that’s almost where that album emerged from. It was more of a visionary, artistic… from a different part of the brain from A Beacon in the Husk, which was quite analytical and literate.
Yeah, but you described the process of trying to write what would become Beacon in the Husk, being very frustrated with that, and then suddenly this other idea comes zooming in, taking over, and then you would continue working on A Beacon in the Husk, so I guess my question would be to what extent Antikatastaseis is a result of that struggle? That you exerted all this effort to "plow the land" for A Beacon in the Husk and suddenly something popped out that wasn’t that but was something you could use? That even as the artistic process for Antikatastaseis felt easy but that it somehow had some kind of relationship with the hardship of A Beacon in the Husk?
You might be right. I think I’d need to go to several psychoanalytic classes to figure that out [laughs]. I write in quite a scatterbrain way so I have ideas for two or three albums ahead of what I’m working on and I’ll gradually piece them together. So, there was nothing that was written specifically for A Beacon in the Husk that ended up in Antikatastaseis. But it might be that it was this kind of cerebral enema that made me excrete this work that kind of came together in one giant ah…
For the sake of a consistent metaphor.
You’ve spoken about this before, about how you never really intended Abyssal to be this mysterious entity. But even without wanting to go there, Abyssal, through its style of music, the artwork, the name, the unintended mystery, became clumped together, at least for me, with this dissonant, nihilistic, almost free-form mode of metal. And that mode exists, the post-Deathspell Omega school of black metal, if you will. And yet I have a note here I’ve written for myself which reads "Probably the most upbeat depressive project ever." And what I mean by that is that it seems that at the heart of at least this album there’s this sense of a very dark, dissonant, foreboding space, and this general sense of fighting with melody – I think "Veil of Transcendence" is a wonderful example of that – but there’s this bottom line that, at least to me, is somehow life affirming. That there’s a real struggle being embodied there, but it’s not all bleak. There’s something that unifies, something that provides order, something that’s beautiful. So I guess I wanted to ask if any of that resonates with you, that the music still retains this idea of beauty even within all the chaos?
You’re absolutely right, really. I think that "Veil of Transcendence" in particular….I referenced earlier this idea of emergence of something out of a pair of opposites or something antithetical that eventually emerges. The idea of "Veil of Transcendence" was really this atheist treatise…. And there’s this weird kind of dichotomy in atheism where some people see beauty in the fact that we’re just bits of stars that exploded and then joined together and are now just walking around. But there’s a also a flipside to that which is that the universe is empty and everything is meaningless. And no one really talks about that, that kind of just manifests separately in certain forms of ideology. But the idea of "Veil of Transcendence" was that we were created as these balls of chemicals that are reacting in a really banal way, constantly. And yet out of that comes this strange system of laws and morals and sculpted reasoning and seemingly very ordered systems that really just come from ordinary reactions between chemicals. And that was the idea of the part of the song that, I think, 50 percent of people absolutely love and 50 percent absolutely hate, and that’s the melody that plays out of sync with the surrounding music, before gradually coming into phase. It’s kind of mirrored in the lyrics in that there’s this churning chaos of base-level chemical interactions in the physical realm, and from that kind of stems this complex, ordered brand of beauty.
Out of curiosity, and this is kind of a fan-boy moment, but I remember hearing that for the first time, and it felt like – and I know this is all you, but still – the keyboardist felt like going into this melancholy little line and the band got pissed at him…
…and did everything and anything in its power to do the exact opposite of what he was doing. And up until the moment the lines rejoin they feel so conflicting, but the band part – the guitars and the drums – feel so in sync that you’re compelled by how precise their performance is and yet at the same time going: "What the fuck is actually happening?!" So, from a songwriting standpoint, I mean, my guess is that the melody came first, but whether that’s the case or not, how do you even write a song in which two parts make no sense with each other?
You are right, I think, that the keyboard came first. What I wanted to do…. I actually don’t specifically remember where this is from, but there’s a black metal band named Lustre that plays extremely harmonious melodies, of a similar style to what’s on "Veil of Transcendence," and they layer it with very thick, reverb-laden guitars. And I always thought that it would be pretty interesting to have a melody like that but instead of backing it with black metal that is in sync with the melody marrying it with quite technical death metal that’s almost in complete dissonance with it, and then have them gradually snap back together. And so I have X amount of bars to fill, basically, and a rough time period where I would consider coming back into phase with the keyboard, and I divided that time period up into a selection of time signatures that didn’t match the time signature of the keyboard – the keyboard’s just in 4/4. So I divided it into a set number of bars that matched the total number of beats, but wasn’t in the same time signature. And it’s actually non-repeating as well, there’s only one riff that’s repeated in that whole sequence. And then we had Timo Häkkinen on the drums, and I showed him the stuff and he basically just went to town on it. I wrote the drums, and he took the drums and basically threw them out and did this entire, I would say, genius level of improvisation over those riffs. And that’s how that all came together. As I said, I think it came out quite wlll, but there are obviously people, and I totally understand this, who hate it.
Because it conflicts as much as it does?
I think it is quite challenging to listen to, and I think that if you don’t "get" what’s trying to be done and you’re not in the mood it does sound like there are two songs playing at the same time.
I mean, I can see that but I also completely don’t see that just because of the fact that I as a listener didn’t know there was a happy ending, I was just so confused by what was happening. It felt like someone was being intentionally annoying but was so good at being annoying…
… that I couldn’t stop listening to it. And then when the payoff came in eventually…. I remember being near a bus station and I was speaking to myself, like: "What the fuck just happened?" I think that’s one of the underrated feats of anything, not just metal or music, the ability to entice people to listen to you, even when it seems like you don’t want to be listened to, that’s a rare thing in everything. Like reading James Joyce. You can read Joyce and think: "This man does not want me to read this book."
"Had he wanted me to read this book he would have written it in a manner in which people could read it." But Joyce’s genius is that he writes unreadable books in the most readable way. You find yourself wanting to torture yourself. And I think "Veil of Transcendence," because not all of Abyssal, not even this entire album is this, as you say, "challenging," is this unpleasant moment that is fascinating. Because as someone who is interested in conflict, and who believes that all art is the result of conflict, that song just feels like a case study, something I can learn from.
It is very strange because that is the one bit of one song that I’d say most people talk to me about [laughs]. It’s the most, I’d say, widely discussed.
But you could see why, right?
I can definitely see why and I think that.… I was speaking quite a while ago with a friend of mine, who is the singer of Absinthropy, a very good black metal band from the U.K., and he said that he plated that record for the first time for a bunch of his friends in his house and they caught to that bit. And, as I said, half the room loved it and half the room hated it. But he said everyone was talking about it for the rest of the night [laughs]. I think that’s the best kind of legacy for that track, it’s something that you can’t really ignore.
I think that, going back to what I said about two forces having it out, "Veil of Transcendence" is that place where you see the currents, you can see the electricity between them in some way.
The front line, yeah.
Exactly. And other songs have that too, but it seems that in those other places that struggle is in the service of the song.
Yeah. And you can’t say that part in "Veil of Transcendence" is in the service of the song. I just think it’s interesting because one of the cosmically weird reasons we’re having this conversation is that I’ve been thinking a lot about Abyssal lately as a result of listening to another band. And since I interviewed the person from that band two weeks ago, and since we talked about you, I thought I’d raise it here. That band is Infernal Coil. And the reason I made the comparison is that both bands seem despondent, it seems chaotic, about the meaninglessness of things. But I think that in both cases, as we discussed, a certain level of meaning pulls through and perhaps beauty. In the case of Infernal Coil. since there’s a hardcore background there, that level of meaning and beauty is on a much more emotive level. The individual artist, in other words, is struggling to find a sense of sanity and order and finds meaning or beauty through working that out. It feels much less personal in Abyssal. And what I mean by that is that the search seems less about personal meaning but for systematic meaning. That whatever it is you’re trying to find beauty in may not be, and I might be completely off here, your own sense of personal worth but in finding a system that makes everything meaningful.
It’s a very good thesis, I think, and I struggle to refute it. As I said, Antikatastaseis was never written with an underlying thread that was intended to invoke some sense of meaning. It’s not really conceptual in that way. A Beacon in the Husk was probably as closest as it gets to being personal, in that I had discovered…. Essentially you can look at it like Antikatastaseis was an exploration of – I don’t want to say atheism, but the world without God. A Beacon in the Husk was really the point where I kind of understood the Nietzschean thesis and the critique of the atheist, and ultimately the nihilist, position – where by taking that stance you in fact demolish your own axioms. And I think A Beacon in the Husk was very much me. The way I wrote it was interesting: I wrote a series of essays trying to understand what it was that I understood from all these great writers and all this new information that I had been pouring through, and those essays became the songs. That’s why if you actually read the A Beacon in the Husk lyrics, the lyrics are ridiculously dense. It’s barely lyrics, more like a written doctrine, essentially. So I would say is, in a way, quite personal. But you’re right that it wasn’t me struggling with my emotions, it was me trying to make sense of things. I think I have listened to a few Infernal Coil tracks, and seem to remember that it is extremely emotive, and I think you’re right – that comes from a very different school than me. That’s almost emotion at an emotional base level, whereas mine is almost this weird, disjointed observer. I’m almost seeing myself as the observer of things that are happening.
And actually, looking back, and this is how good your thesis is, most of A Beacon in the Husk is written from the point of view of an observer. So I think you have clearly listened to this more than I have [laughs]. It’s a very erudite observation, and I think that it’s something that it’s something that’s quite close to the mark.
I don’t get called "erudite" quite as often as I would like, so thank you.
But, I think there’s something interesting at work there, if I may. This is going to start off quite generally, but we know people, we’re around people and their differences. And there are various ways in which people distinguish themselves – extroverts, introverts, people who are more visceral, people who are more cerebral, people who are funny, people who aren’t funny. And I think sometimes people give more merit to those who elicit what we would interpret as an "authentic" response. So if someone is very emotive we identify that was "real" somehow, or if someone is quieter we tend to be suspicious of that. I have a friend who claimed the global reaction to the initial COVID-19 outbreak as an overreaction but then doesn’t stop sending academic articles about the virus and new info and so on. So he identifies other people’s reaction as an over-reaction and doesn’t, I don’t think, identify his act of incessantly reading peer-reviewed articles as an emotional response. He thinks he’s being rational. The struggle to make sense of your life is one that takes on various shapes, one of which is art. And that struggle, and art, can take infinite forms – you can try to find meaning through rage or through calm. And all this vapid talk is to say that it isn’t my intention to devalue your art by calling it cerebral or from an observer’s point of view as opposed to a hardcore style of yelling it out, it’s just to say that it seems to me to be your method. And truly great art, to me, conflates or obscures the things we would think of as emotional method with the things we would call cerebral or objective. Just like you loved Iron Maiden for how systematic they were and Jimi Hendrix for how emotive he was. So, what I think, if I may, makes your art great is that it does rest of that borderline between emotion and thinking. So even if you hadn’t told me the bottom line of Antikatastaseis I would have guessed it just by listening to the music.
Because the exploration of an atheist world, in true Nietzschean fashion, is to find a world that is, to an extent, a sad one. I’m sorry, that was the rant portion of our conversation.
No, it was an appropriate rant. And you are right in that people do think differently in fundamental ways and this is something that people need to be very, very careful about. And I think that when you see so many people succumbing to ideologies and things like that, whatever form they might take, you have to understand that you’re trying to formulate a worldview that is intrinsically linked to your way of expressing emotions and viewing things and analyzing things. Not everyone is going to agree with you, even if you think that the things that you are observing are self-evident. Like, if you had asked me when I wrote Antikatastaseis: "Could you see any purpose of someone having a worldview that is religious?" I would have said: "Get out of here! You’re a madman! It’s all nonsense." Ask me that now…. That’s basically what A Beacon in the Husk is, trying to understand why there are all these substructures in our human system which build these seemingly very common and very replicable systems of deities and stories and myth. Why is it that we seem to keep doing it even though we know it’s technically not true.
Part of my professional life – which sucks horribly…
…has been, for the last couple of years, thinking a lot about the idea of tradition, especially in the arts, because I’m not as interested in spiritual tradition. I mean, I am, as a person, but not intellectually. And there is a tradition of artists considering themselves to be a part of a tradition. And one of the upshoots of that is that they latch on to tradition because they recognize that this made-up structure is being repeated. Not verbatim, Homer and Yeats are not identical, but that this repeating attempt has a meaning or a function, even in the very repetition. Because the utter lack of it isn’t very pretty. And it’s easy to look at that and just assume narrow-mindedness or generic or un-innovative. But a lot of the artists that I find interesting, in whatever form, are those who also see themselves as having some kind of conversation with an existing tradition.
I know we were to discuss Antikatastaseis mostly but this exact thing that you’re talking about, the fragmenting of traditional substructures of myth into atomic parts and then worshipping those atomic parts is almost what that album tries to look at. Because I do think that a lot of the more extreme, be it political or fundamentalist religious ideologies and things like that, are attempts to fragment a tapestry of myth into a simple black-and-white code that they then execute endlessly in order to achieve their idea of good. And the unfortunate thing is that there’s no easy answer to that, you kind of need the whole tapestry – you need a political right and left, you need religious moderates and atheists and religious extremists. You need them all to bounce off each other in order to maintain that tapestry of ideas that gives structure to what we do, even though we may not necessarily know why we do it. That’s something I think I discovered embarrassingly late in my life, in the last two years or so.
I think that if you’re raised in a non-tradition, non-religious setting then it kind of has to be something you realize later in life. Speaking for me personally, it takes a while to shed the illusion of complete freedom. Because that’s something that’s fed to you in so many ways – culturally, economically, whatever. It takes a while to discover that everything has its limits. And it sounds like a super political statement but really more than anything it’s a statement about art. Limits can be very interesting. I can only imagine now this all means that the next Abyssal albums will be a pop album as a result of your fascination with this idea of limits.
It is underway, I’ll give you that. I’m not sure what form it’ll take.
"Oops, I Abyssled again."
[Laughs] That actually sounds like a Yiddish-speaking person talking about defecating, but never mind.
[Laughs] I just realized that you asked me a question about the whole anonymity thing, and I don’t think I actually answered it. And that’s quite a funny story, or at least a story riddled with a lot of strange phenomena. Because, as you say, I never planned to be this mysterious figure that appeared in a giant robe and all of those things it was kind of something that was thrust upon me and that I reluctantly accepted. The original albums, they were released just by me, I just didn’t put anyone’s name on it. And the rumor mill immediately began to spin as to who this was – I still don’t quite understand why, because there are dozens of albums out there in which no members are listed. But it came to a head on the second album, where I had this very nice piece of art, a photograph done by one of my friends in Lithuania of these three hooded figures in an abandoned old church. So there were three figures and the one in the middle was beckoning, and it somehow became cemented that that was Abyssal, but that was just a piece of art that was inside the album. So it became known for at least five or so years that Abyssal had three members. So I almost reverse-adopted the image that was thrust upon me in that now we do do the robe thing because it’s the image that people had conjured up, and it’s almost like we can’t shake it. It’s what people expect to see.
I say shake it. I say go full on Meantime-era Helmet, wear white t-shirts and shorts, and sneakers.
[Laughs] To me actually the robe thing works quite well because I’m not a go who loves to go on social media and broadcast every facet of my life. I’m not going to take instagram pictures with a filter with me sacrificing the blood of a rat in a chalice and things like that. It’s just not me, and I don’t think it realistically is anyone and I find a lot of that stuff to be quite trite and cringy. So, to me, not having my face associated with it, I actually find it relatively comforting. So the robe chose me and I kind of welcomed the robe [laughs].
So, we may have gone over this, actually, but when you look back at Antikatastaseis is there anything about that album that you’re especially proud of? An aspect that you think held up well?
I think the second track there, "The Cornucopian," is probably the best one I have ever written. It’s definitely something that will be hard to outdo. I think that when we play that live, in the handful of shows we have done, it’s a very cathartic song to play. I don’t think there’s any part of that that I would change. I tend to suffer a bit from George Lucas syndrome regarding my previous work, and I resist the temptation to go back and revisit, remix, and fiddle and maybe redo things. I’m quite desperate, in some ways, to redo the entire first album because the writing on that is quite good, I think the production lets it down. But I would say that out of the entire discography I wouldn’t change a thing on "The Cornucopian." That’s the pinnacle of my writing.