May 27, 2024

Implant interview: ‘Embrace chaos through the machines!’

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Implant interview: ‘Embrace chaos through the machines!’

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When a band signs his 12th studio album, “The Chaos Machines Part 1 – No More Flies On The Windscreen”, and can be proud of an impressive eclectic discography and music legacy ranging from industrial dance to harsh EBM through electro pop and dark synth, we could not resist to meet with Len Lemeire, the voice and driving force behind that unique Belgian sonic UFO called Implant … And before he asks me, yes Len, I did have my Implant today 😉!

The new “The Chaos Machines Part 1 – No More Flies On The Windscreen” album is out via Alfa Matrix and available from Bandcamp and from the Alfa Matrix webstore.

SL: “The Chaos Machines Part 1 – No More Flies On The Windscreen” is the first chapter of a trilogy. What inspired you to embark on this ambitious project, and what themes or ideas can listeners expect to explore throughout the trilogy?

LL: It evolved into this indeed! We started composing on this album with the idea to release the typical Alfa Matrix 2CD limited edition. We have been doubting the concept of a CD and a remix CD for quite a while. With oxynoxe-x we wrote a 2nd cd using only the modular synths. But we did this after we finished composing the first disc. This time we wanted to do something similar, but instead of composing 2 entities, we wanted to work on the 2nd disc while working on the first one. To give the tracks more room to grow. At one point I started singing on these soundscapes, and it worked very well. And hence we started to re-arrange these tracks, but with vocals in mind. Along this process we realized that the 2 CDs were starting to intermix, to blend. So, the idea grew to release them as 2 separate albums. And somehow make clear they belonged together. We also wanted a 12” vinyl. Because we like to smell vinyl J. Alfa Matrix liked the idea, but only if the vinyl had some exclusive content. So, we decided to make a trilogy out of it.

SL: The album is described as a clash against algorithms and a journey into chaos. Can you elaborate on how you approached creating music that embodies these concepts of chaos and defiance against digital norms?

LL: It is a bit hard to talk about defiance against digital norms when a lot of the chaos is actually circuit based. Defiance implicates that one refuses to obey to something. I don’t think we are trying to refuse to be bound by norms or anything. It’s not a statement or a quest to redefine things.  I think we embrace chaos more than we used to. We gave more space to the machines themselves. Sometimes synths can be rooted in such ways that chaos is more imminent. And we took that as a concept. we incorporated this while writing the songs. And eventually ended up adding chaos to unexpected places.

IMPLANT’s sound in this album ranges from psy-trance industrial cuts to electro-pop with influences from early SKINNY PUPPY and KLINIK. How did you blend these diverse styles to create a cohesive listening experience?

LL: I’m not sure if we always succeed in blending it all to a cohesive entity. But I guess that is one of the liberties you get if you work with chaos. You can hide behind the concept and claim that blending styles chaotically was part of the idea. The truth is far more pragmatic. Sometimes you must let a track take you on a little journey in the studio. And the final product should be judged by its quality, not its style. In the end the intersection between all the tracks is IMPLANT.  It has always been a part of IMPLANT to experiment with elements from different styles. I think this has been our strength over the years. But I guess, one could easily argue that it is a weakness.

SL: Noemi Aurora’s lush vocals are a highlight on this album. How did her collaboration come about, cos it’s not the first time you guys work together,  and what do you feel she brings to the overall sound and atmosphere of “The Chaos Machines”?

LL: I am a huge fan of Noemi’s voice, and she already collaborated with us on ‘phantom pain’. While writing the lyrics, I always had in mind to make it a duet. 2 sides of the story. She was the first one I had in mind. It took a while to set it up. But the result really works. She has this kind of power voice, and it was exactly what this track needed. She also collaborated on a track that will be released on ‘the chaos machines part 3’. It is very different from this track. But I think even more essential to the track than her contribution to ‘I wasn’t there’!

SL: Your declaration, “No boundaries, no compromises, only chaos and machines,” sets a powerful tone for the album. How does this philosophy influence your songwriting and production process?

LL: It is always a bit of a marketing tool to try and work with catchy slogans. But again, something I have always done with IMPLANT. The phrase ‘did you have your implant today?’ is something I have been using since the start. For the chaos machines I wanted to try and find a phrase that fits the concept. It’s kind of a justification for it all. We did not want to be restricted by boundaries, not in musical styles, not in sound design. We have tried to avoid compromises, although totally avoiding them is never possible. We did stress the limits of the technologies at hand. We never stopped taking a track into a certain direction because it was not scene friendly. And so on. And we did try and let the machines take over at some points. Most of the time this resulted in very chaotic sounds or textures. So, with all this in mind, the catchphrase does make some sense. And it can be used as a glue between the 3 releases.

SL: The album is filled with both dark moments and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. How do you balance these contrasting elements to maintain the album’s intensity while also keeping it engaging and enjoyable?

LL: A day without laughter is a day wasted. Or so they say. I think it’s trying to add another layer to the music.  Lyrics is a place in art where an opinion, a vision, a feeling … can be expressed. But one can also use it for the obvious. Compare it to a painter. One can paint a very social critical painting, or one could draw a few lines on a canvas and claim it to be social critical.  I never got the painter that painted lines and claimed to expand our thinking. To me, there are different mediums for different outlets of creativity. If lyrics is your forum for creativity, you should try and use it. A song is a little journey that can blend melodies with words. I’m not that keen on wasting this medium for the obvious.  If it can make you smile or look at things differently it’s not wasted. If I use it to express some darker things, then It’s probably something that is bothering me or something that needs to be addressed. There is a lot of “me” in those lyrics. I hope I wrote them in such a manner that it leaves room for interpretation. I once read a scientific article on the correlation between dark humor and alzheimer disease, and I remember thinking: “shit, I’m going to die as a fool”. (laugh)

SL: Given that this is your 12th studio album, how has IMPLANT’s sound evolved over the years, and what new directions or experiments did you undertake specifically for this project?

LL: I always think it’s kind of impressive talking about a legacy of 12 albums. Not sure if that was the goal when I started all this. I guess this kind of happened. But yes, with each release I’ve tried to experiment with different things. The balance between soundscapes and more conventional tracks is the place we tried to experiment on these 3 releases. I think each song is a little experimental trip on its own. With its own merit. Either it’s the break, the intro, or the whole track. Or sometimes just the approach of the routing of the synths. To me the whole transition from the early years to now makes a lot of sense. It is what it is. We could not have made (or remade) the album we did 3 albums ago, and back then we would never have been able to create this album. if the creative process can be digitized, it will be done by machines. Surprising the algorithm is what differentiates us from automated processes.

SL: You mentioned that it’s always more fun to pick up the pieces with IMPLANT. Can you share an example from the making of this album where embracing chaos or an unexpected twist led to a particularly memorable or successful outcome?

LL: Ha, this might be the hardest question of the interview. Because you must understand how ‘intentional’ all this chaos actually is. Maybe I can explain this with a little example. If you work with modular synths, connecting cables is the routing of the sound. The fun thing is that anything can be connected to anything. So, if you have a hihat triggered by a clock-divider, you can feed it a clock (mostly the BPM of the track). But you can also feed it an LFO. If you do this with a modular, you can probably control the LFO-time or shape by a knob or connect another LFO to control the time or shape of the first LFO (and hence the rhythm of the hihat). Before you know it, you’ll end up with something very chaotic, but partially controllable. In like 99% of the cases this will turn into something that can’t be used (although some bands make full tracks out of this. And some of these tracks are surprisingly interesting). If you use the possibilities to control things (like a knob for the speed of the LFO), eventually you’ll end up looking for a sweet spot. Resulting in a sound or rhythm that can be blended with the track you are working on. All this is pretty time consuming. But the result no matter how chaotic it may sound, is very intentional. One could say that the chaos is planned, and the actual outcome more of a coincidence.Jan has this module called “morphagene” by Make-noise. This is one of those modules that create instant chaos. I have been nagging at him a lot to use this one in a track. Eventually he used it on the samples in ‘The drive’. And I think it works great. We remixed that track for the 12” and it has more of those samples. To me, this is a fine example of the beauty of a chaos machine.

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Eldrina Mich
As Eldrina Mich I work as a go-between and a devil's advocate when it comes to Side-Line. If our own staff needs to be interviewed then ask the questions no one else dares to ask.

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