We began following Below the Sun in 2014, with the discovery of a video for a song from their then-forthcoming debut album Envoy, and were then fortunate to premiere the album the next year. Envoy took as its inspiration the journey of the Voyager I spacecraft into interstellar vacuum, farther than anything touched by human hand. As we wrote then, “Envoy is a deeply atmospheric, irresistibly immersive work, a cosmic version of funeral doom that’s icy and vast and immensely powerful in its hypnotic appeal”.
At last, this enigmatic band from Krasnoyarsk in Siberian Russia are returning with a new album that bears the name Alien World. It will be released by Temple of Torturous Records on May 26. And on this 12th day of April — which is The International Day of Human Space Flight — we bring you the premiere of a video for one of the new songs: “In Memories“.
Where Envoy was inspired by the voyage of Voyager I, Alien World is based on the brilliant 1961 science fiction novel Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, which recounts the experiences of a team of human scientists at a research station just above the planet Solaris, in which the world-spanning ocean turns out to be a single, sentient organism. The novel explores the scientists’ efforts to communicate with the oceanic life form, which reacts to their intrusions by confronting them with their memories, by giving those often painful and repressed memories physical form.
That provides the conceptual context within which “In Memories” appears, but there’s another aspect of memory that explains the choice of this day for the song’s premiere.
The International Day of Human Space Flight was established by a 2011 resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, which established April 12 as a date “to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.”
With that in mind, here’s a statement by Below the Sun about the song you’re about to hear and the video you’re about to see:
“This track is about immortality. What we are and what we do is virtually immortal as long as memory of it remains, as long as our pioneers and their accomplishments serve as inspiration for generations to come. Space flight is a landmark achievement for human civilization: since the dawn of our sentience, we’ve been looking at the stars that pepper the night sky, wondering about their nature, divining their purpose. Never before has the vastness of space been as close as when billions of our souls ignited in the desire of finally making the sky ours, to brave the final frontier after the very first man who paved our way. This achievement and all that will follow shall make our heroes live on as long as we remember and honor them, as long as we never give up on pursuing the dream of our new home among the stars.”
Through a stylistic hybrid that includes post-metal, funeral doom, and a bow of the head to Pink Floyd, “In Memories” creates a solemn, mysterious, and even surreal experience, capturing both a sense of wonder and a sense of dread. The song is slow in its pacing, with mystical guitar reverberations and high, ghostly clean vocals giving the music an ephemeral, shimmering quality, while craggy chords and deep bass vibrations enhance the uneasy feeling of encountering something vast, unknowable, and uncontrollable.
We are told that no synthesizers or samplers were used during the recording of Alien World, and that all sounds were made by guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, with some later processing by effects pedals.
Alien World will be released by Temple of Torturous digitally and on CD, with global distribution through these outlets: Cargo Records, UK: Plastic Head, Switzerland: NonStopMusic, Benelux: Sonic Rendezvous, North America: RED Music. The album can be pre-ordered here:
Below the Sun:
Temple of Torturous:
I’m now inspired to read the Lem novel now. Any band that inspires me to read more is a winner
It’s a stunning novel (one of many he wrote). I read it a long time ago after watching the also-stunning 1972 Russian movie version of the novel directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. There’s an American film version directed by Steven Soderbergh, produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, and starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. It’s good, but not as great as the Russian version.
You definitely should. I’ve read it first as a child and have re-read it several times over the years. The book is so deep, that you find new ideas and details on each return. IMHO Lem’s “Solaris” (along with Capek’s “War with the Newts”) is a book that not only tells a good story but also shifts your entire perception on the sci-fi genre.
If you like the book, I also recommend watching Andrei Tarkovsky’s film based on it (not the Hollywood one with Clooney’s ass – wouldn’t fuck it with a stolen dick). The visualization is beautiful and his take on the book’s themes is very interesting. Lem hated Tarkovsky for it, actually – he thought it was a good film that just didn’t happen to convey any of the themes that Lem embedded in the book. “It’s not Lem, it’s Dostoevsky”, he said. I think this makes the film even more precious – an alternative interpretation, in true “author’s death” spirit.
An excellent point — the Tarkovsky film is a great example of one great piece of art inspired by another without trying to map it with complete faithfulness. I didn’t know Lem hated the movie… but I for one am so glad Tarkovsky made the movie the way he did.
In a private conversation spawned by this thread, Reverend B. pointed out to me that Tarkovsky’s film version of Solaris can be watched on-line for free. It’s hosted on YouTube, and the links are included in this piece:
Damn I’m gonna have to watch this. I’ve seen the Soderberg movie, but not read the book. I know it wasn’t supposed to be a horror as such, but I found the whole premise… how to put it… calmly terrifying?
Rather than joining the intellectual literature debate above, as reading crime fiction for some reason has become an easter tradition in Norway, I’ll just express my delight in hearing new material is on the rise from Below the Sun.
Already on their debut, they were fully competitive with the ethereal side of Monolithe. Utterly praiseworthy!
I still think they ought to be named Beyond the Sun, though.
I can understand why they ought to be named Beyond the Sun. Beyond the Solar System would also be appropriate.
…or Far Beyond the Milky Way
It’s an homage to Ahab (specifically the song Below The Sun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpGl7saUSig ), who are an important influence for them.
Thanks for clarifying. Got the album, but wasn’t aware as I’ve long since given up on remembering song names.