With a name that can be translated as ‘Death Death Death’, you know from the off that this will not be a record to cheer up that hipster house-party on a hot summer’s day. London noise/drone/doom duo NDM are back to rain down their misery upon you with their third record of blackened apocalyptic noisescapes. Featuring AJ Cookson (bass, samples, synths, vocals) and Matthew Rozeik (guitar, samples, synths, vocals), the gruesome twosome are once again a cluttered mass of harsh, refracted, desolate volume that owes as much to The Chemical Brothers and Kraftwerk as it does to Godflesh, Sunn0))) and Khanate.
Matt Rozeik was kind enough to sit down with Shaman scribe Pete Green in deepest, darkest North London to step into the endless vortex of his band’s latest creation…
So how does it feel to feel to get this latest record out?
Good – it came out on July 2nd! We wanted to have it ready in time for our live show at Roadburn in April, but it didn’t quite work out. This album came together really quickly, perhaps almost too quickly. I actually didn’t listen to it properly until it was done and I was initially quite worried because of that, but when I listen back now, I’m impressed with where we’ve taken it. It’s less colourful as a record than ‘Music of Bleak Origin’, but it’s also less all-over-the-place. It was all written and recorded in just two months in our underground lair.
It definitely feels that way. You can actually hear some of the vocals this time too! Did this come about through just sheer rage alone?
Pretty much, yeah! We knew that we wanted this record to just be heavy, heavy, heavy. We only use vocals where they’re needed for a track’s feel and it’s all about layers for us. Building layer upon layer until we’re satisfied and then remixing it – mangling the sound some more. There’s a track on there for example, called ‘Arrows’ which actually has some female vocals distorting through from our good friend Eliza Gregory that we knew we really wanted to get on the track. Before the vocals got added that one had the working title ‘Donald’! I didn’t actually know what Eliza’s lyrics were on the track until well after we recorded them and then I figured I should probably ask her what they are!
Haha! With final song titles like ‘Imperial’ and ‘Led to the Water’ on a record entitled the ‘The Colonial Script’, is there a wider narrative or a foreboding warning being spelt out?
There isn’t a strict concept, and this isn’t a concept album I would say, but we do dip in and out of themes. The tracks themselves are our narrative. ‘The Colonial Script’ deals with the alienation of the human race, but as seen by alien beings. The story loosely is about a planet being terraformed by colonists who introduce a currency to themselves and then it all goes tits up. After this, a giant moth lands on the planet and wipes them all out instantly. It’s a lot about just general dickheads, and wishing you were in a different place to a load of complete idiots.
Wow! I knew there would be a story, and that did not disappoint! You mentioned the collaboration with Eliza Gregory, but do you have a wish-list of other acts you’d like to work with too?
It may sound arrogant, but I don’t really see many other artists adding to what we do, it’s more that we want to add to what other people do and especially we love remixing. We’ve done remixes for Steven Wilson and Ulver and we’d like to add others. I know that the one artist AJ and I would love to work with would be Tarantula Hawk, definitely, and maybe Techno Animal too. We’re also going to be doing a record with Dead Fader, and that’s likely to be really electro sounding, but it’ll be really dirty electro too!
Have your influences changed at all since the first album?
They haven’t really changed, no. This was never meant to become a live band, and we didn’t play a gig until after ‘This Beat is Necrotronic’ came out. But I guess now we find it more satisfying to play actually songs, and heavier songs, rather than the computer meandering of that record and we’re much more confident now in our actual song-writing. Now we have more guitars and vocals and we just prefer playing the heavier songs live as it’s much more satisfying.
If the first album was entirely computerised, what are the actual instruments that are being played, along with the obvious guitars, bass and synths?
They’re just standard midi synths and the best sound we get is when we’re playing everything entirely through a laptop. It helps a lot with transport too as we can tour in just a Fiat Punto with our entire backline! The beats are all programmed in for the live shows with a backing track and then we just add our guitars, synths and effects over them live. We have our own lightshow too, all programmed in to sync to the music which we can take on the road with us. So we do the entire show – music and lights ourselves onstage! All we need is a stage and darkness, and we always request all venue lights to be turned off. We can only really play these shows in near complete darkness – if you can see things then you can’t imagine them, and we want to create an atmosphere where you can imagine your own narrative. No-one really wants to watch a couple of guys on a stage stood behind a table playing with a laptop!
Have you ever thought about playing with a live drummer?
We did actually play one initial show with a live drummer – the singer from Godzilla Black – it was all improvising and messing about, but the drums aren’t the key focus of what we are about and it would be pretty boring for a live drummer to do. They’d just need to be a metronome, and it would take away some of the mystery of the music onstage.
How does the song-writing between you both work? Do you start with the beats first, or riffs or a base electro layer?
It just sort of happens really – our song-writing is really unorganised. AJ and I just seem to pick up bits of material from each other and finish off each other’s songs. There are never any arguments about it and we actually recycle a lot of our material, especially the beats. We’ve got about 100 spare ideas knocking around on computer files! AJ will often come in with some beats and then I’ll add to it and we’ll build a logic structure around it. Or I’ll have a riff and we’ll build something around that. We’re doing a lot more jamming now too – ‘Wretched Hag’ came about from a live jam. We’ll try anything and everything really, even if it doesn’t sound good. One of the samples on the new record is some pots and pans!
Would you be able to walk me briefly through the tracks on the record please? What stands out for you on each?
Definitely! Here goes…
Imperial – This is the intro track and it’s roughly about the initial settlers. It’s one we’ve had for a long time and kept changing about, it’s been in development for 3 or 4 years. We just kept adding stuff, mashing more parts in and it never felt finished until now. It took me a long time to listen to and enjoy that track properly as we’ve been working on it so long. I’ve got about 10 different versions of it from over the years. Originally we called it ‘Shinning’!
Led to the Water – This one is basically a massive moan against mainstream society, the dickheads out there and all their mainstream idiocy. It’s also got some silly references in there to stuff like bad comedy films and poor driving! The lyrics aren’t exactly jibberish, but we certainly didn’t labour over them! It’s a pissed off record, but pissed off about people.
Endless Vertex – This is probably my favourite on the new record and it’s got a lot of emotional feelings in it for me. It’s an old keyboard piece that I just kept working and working on. It was really hard work, but now I’m really happy with it.
Wretched Hag – This is actually a recording of a band playing live that AJ and I used be a part of. AJ then took the live recording and put it through some huge textures and added crazy vocal effects, really mangling it up and making it sound awesome.
Arrows – I’ve already talked a lot about this one, but it just feels really huge and songy. We’re enjoying writing some actual songs as NDM now, whilst still trying to avoid a “rock band” sound.
Shadows of Reflections of Ghosts Past – This one is AJ’s song – he wrote it all and then I added more layers. It’s grown a lot on me lately, that song. It’s doesn’t really go anywhere, but it has a great vibe.
Theme From Escape – That one’s all about cunts too. It’s about wanting to leave your home and escape from all the stupidity and mindlessness in life. It’s about being alienated by the dickheads essentially, haha!
Starbeast – AJ put the guitar through a midi synth and a plastic snowman and a gas canister gets involved somewhere…
Insecto! – This is the story’s conclusion. A giant insect – a moth – lands on the planet and kills everything accidentally through having the sheer clumsiness to crush them all instantly. It’s got no idea what it’s just done and then flies off back into the galaxy, without a care in the world. We are all that insignificant after all.
So there you have it. Giant moths, dickheads swarming the Earth and bad comedy films are all in the Script for Necro Deathmort. Go pick up a copy of ‘The Colonial Script’ to experience the desolation for yourself. Remixes are more than welcome.
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Interviewed by: Pete Green