New album Uncertainty is Bliss is out now via Relapse Records.
For nearly ten years now, Leipzig’s Black Salvation have been mining a vein of psychedelic rock/metal that is haunting and murky like an underwater seance. Earlier this year, they released their latest album Uncertainty is Bliss. Their first for legendary metal label Relapse Records, the album sees them refine their sound with a confidence and swagger that swirls in a heady mix.
We spoke to vocalist/guitarist Paul Schlesier about the four-year gap since their last record, keeping psych rock fresh, and the lo-fi nature of their recordings.
Overblown: It has been four years since the release of your debut album ‘In Deep Circles’. Why such a long wait?
Paul Schlesier: The main reason is probably that we were without a drummer for quite a long time, which took some time to approach songwriting in a different way than before. Besides that, we actually have been busy doing two EPs, one for a feature film called Wald for which we not only wrote the music but also starring as actors. Also it took a pretty long time from recording Uncertainty is Bliss until the label signing and the actual release with all the preceding promo-stuff that swallows time. It’s just a long process until it finally ends up in the listeners’ hands, minds and ears.
Overblown: The album artwork for Uncertainty is Bliss is quite evocative. The male figure in it looks like Jesus to me? Is that accurate?
Paul Schlesier: Interesting take – but it has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. Actually, it’s a female figure. I saw her on a painting when sitting in Benjamin Springer’s studio and there was something in the way her eyes looked that caught me. So I asked Springer if we could use that in some way for the artwork. Which brought us to the idea, to cut her face out and sew it on a new bigger canvas to paint around it and combine it with the vision we had in mind. In the end, it matched more than perfect. The way it turned out fits really good to what we had in our minds and lyrics for quite a while.
Overblown: I really enjoyed the new song ‘Leair’ on the album. However, I have never heard the word ‘leair’ before. Where did the title come from?
Paul Schlesier: It’s a neologism consisting of levitating and air. In some way, it’s supposed to describe a distinctive feeling with no escape that surrounded me when I wrote those lyrics.
Overblown: Personally, I feel that the psychedelic rock genre in which you ply your trade can be rather generic and derivative. This is not the case with your music. How do you prevent this from happening?
Paul Schlesier: I guess it’s because we don’t try so hard to make it happening, or to force our musical direction into some very certain way. It comes always in a different way than you’d expect it in the first place, so let it breath! Also, we’re all huge music enthusiasts listening to almost everything therefore being influenced by almost everything. We would feel caged and trapped in our expression if we would build boundaries around our musical horizon as listeners and musicians.
Overblown: The video for ‘Breathing Hands’ is quite idiosyncratic. Who created it? What is the concept behind the video?
Paul Schlesier: We did it ourselves. Beside making music I spend my time with filmmaking, so it was a pretty natural decision that we create the visual aspect to our vision on our own. I don’t want to give away the whole concept but it’s definitely a journey to some kind of salvation, at least one chapter of it until you realize that it’s depth makes you loose yourself. The whole thing is in a way a circle that’s symbolic for the circles you endure in life, those moments when you gain an experience and maybe a decision from it. It’s somehow connected to the whole process we’ve gone through with Uncertainty is Bliss.
Overblown: You’ve signed to Relapse Records for the new record. What opportunities has this given you compared to self-releasing your debut album?
Paul Schlesier: The most obvious benefit is that we’re now able to make our vision of musical expression available to a much bigger spectrum of audience interested in various genres. We have a really good distribution and Relapse is an open minded Label with a lot of variety and a slight touch to the more extreme fields of music which we think fits perfectly fine. Beside reach and distribution, this also opens up possibilities to play more shows.
Overblown: You record your music in a very lo-fi manner. I feel this really creates a visceral and live sound on the album. Could you elaborate on your recording process? Why record in this way?
Paul Schlesier: It just started once with a 4-track Tascam Tape recorder when we realized that this is the most honest way to record our music and to have the approach to capture the ‚something‘ that’s swirling in a room full of floating music. For Uncertainty is Bliss we used an old Fostex 8-track tape machine. It definitely took some patience to outplay the ticks of that old lady but it totally was worth it because it gave a good feeling to recording the music. We had one tape per song so we had to make choices – getting certain about uncertainty so to say. It was about decisions, about the moment you’re creating something.
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