The War Inside My Head: An Interview with Lamp of Murmuur
Here we are in another exciting episode of the The War Inside My Head interview series where we speak to some of our favorite current artists and see if they would be willing to geek out on some of their favorite albums for a bit. It's a series that really came into being as a kind of metal offshoot from the Albums of the Decade series, mostly because it was very easy to notice that even the most reluctant musicians were more than happy, eager, in fact, to talk about the bands that they love. So, here we are again, and for past installments of the series (including Forlesen, Kaatayra, Harakiri for the Sky, Caina, Crowhurst, E-L-R, and others, go here).
This installment features an artist that seems to be on everyone's lips these days (everyone = people into obscure black metal, naturally), shooting into attention relatively recently with a quite stunning series of demos and splits. Whether hovering over the abyss in his more ambient/dungeon-synth pieces or tumbling down with some of the best black metal in recent years, the artist behind the American one-man project Lamp of Murmuur has been one of the most fascinating and infectious artists at the moment. This specific head (mine) was turned mostly from the uncanny ability to seamlessly combine harshness, melody, sparsity, grandiosity, and, importantly, catchiness. It seems at times that Lamp of Murmuur is just sitting at the loom, weaving all these threads together – melody, aggression, immensity, modesty – and creating some of the most compelling music in the underground today.
And those weird sentences and half-baked descriptions are really why I thought he would be perfect for this series, since such a rich approach to music must, I thought, entail some quite varied and interesting musical leanings. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed, as you shall see in the interview below.
Just before all the music stuff I would to encourage you to follow us on any one of our social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Spotify) and also, if so inclined, support us on Patreon. My aim has been to use whatever support we can get to produce interviews like these, focusing on the art and life of that art, as well as other projects supporting our local scene and beyond such as the newly launched music compilation MILIM KASHOT VOL. 2 of amazing local metal, hardcore, and noise as well as some of the best forward-thinking metal in the world right now. That includes, I should add, our brand new podcast MATEKHET, that is my somewhat philosophical take on a metal podcast, and can be found in all your favorite podcasting platforms (Spotify, Youtube, Apple Podcasts). On to the musical underworld of Lamp of Murmuur.
What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?
It may come as a surprise, but the first album I ever bought was Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. I was around six years old when I bought it from a street vendor who happened to have a lot of original CD's for sale. It was around an era when the Nü Metal sound was everywhere. I don't find myself listening to that kind of music since I grew older.
What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?
In my early childhood, my father used to listen to Machine Head by Deep Purple a lot. It's an amazing record, a timeless classic that found the band at their creative peak, showcasing their skills and musicianship to the top. I still listen to this album quite often as a source of inspiration.
A few years later, my first musical obsession started with another album that might surprise readers, but Rammstein's Sehnsucht opened my head to a world of music I haven't yet explored and cemented my path towards other styles of electronic-oriented yet visceral music like Godflesh, Genocide Organ and such.
And with extreme metal in particular during my early youth Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse was one of the first albums I've listened that were THAT heavy and abrasive. The orchestral arrangements, the pummeling drums, the bone crushing riffs . It's insane to me how a band that young was able to create an opus with this level of magnificence.
What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?
I learned how to play guitar and drums with a really well known album and that one is Metallica's ...And Justice for All. I had no knowledge of Guitar Pro around that era, so I started learning all those songs by ear and that was my "instruction." With drums I used to listen carefully and air drum the patterns with tables chairs and such. I wasn't able to have a drum kit until two or three years ago, in which I was finally able to practice and eventually record Lamp Of Murmuur's music with it.
And overall musicianship, technical detail and sonic production it has to be Fields Of The Nephilim's Elizium. I've listened to this album several years ago, and since then it has permeated my mind constantly. I never get tired of it because it's so rich on all fronts. It was a mind-blowing experience (and it still is) that has influenced my guitar playing and songwriting approach.
What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?
The new self-titled Kommodus album. It has this original and unique black metal identity, yet there's also this unapologetic energy and fierceness that I relate or find in early crossover hardcore music, stuff like Cro Mags, LeeWay and Ringworm, etc. The whole album is a nonstop madness of riffs, might, and power. Truly a masterpiece that has raised the bar in underground black metal releases.
What album relaxes you or centers you the most?
This is a tough question, as I listen a lot of different music that relaxes me. But if I had to pick one it would be Moondance by Klaus Schulze. Absolute synthesizer mastery, a visionary that created sonic landscapes that sound fresh and futuristic even for this age, especially remembering that this album was released in 1976. And as a plus I would like to add the Voldsom Tapes label from Germany. The tapes they release have an excellent aesthetic, both in imagery, concept and sound terms. Incredibly talented people.
What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?
One album I’ve been enjoying a lot lately is God Bless The Royal Hounds by The Royal Hounds. This band really knows how to create hard hitting oi! outbursts, yet with a sense of identity that is fascinating. There’s not a single dull moment, and by the end of it I’m sure most people find themselves singing along to the tunes. Simply fantastic.
Another album that I’ve been revisiting a lot is Three Devils Dance from barbaric death metallers Qrixkuor. It was one of my favorite albums (EP would be the correct term though) from 2016, and since then I almost forgot about it. It came back to me in the last few weeks and I remembered why it shocked me when it came out. The atmosphere is abrasive, the riffs are monolithic and the songs are just massive. Can’t wait for more music from this band.
What album is grossly underrated?
In a oversaturated scene like black metal/raw black metal, we often find ourselves overlooking releases in a sea of very similar musical proposals. One of these albums I feel is severely underrated, is Darkness Cenotaph by Nidernes. This album hits all the right spots I like while listening to a black metal albums. Demented vocals a great sense of melody and song crafting, drums that punish you with every hit and a somber atmosphere that just drowns you in obscure ecstasy. A gem of this year that deserves a lot more attention.