Exclusive: Baring Teeth Present a Track-by-Track Deconstruction of Ghost Chorus…

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In case you hadn’t realized, I and several other writers here at the Toilet have an unhealthy, borderline denko-stalking-esque obsession with dissonant death metal. In fact, one of the biggest ToH meetups we’ve had in real life was at a show for our beloved Texas pals Baring Teeth. While watching their set with my buddies Stockhausen, Leif Bearickson, Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple, and David, I kept thinking to myself, “How do three people with such a small set-up make such an amazing sound?”

Well, much to my delight, our friends in Baring Teeth actually reached out to us with an answer. Below is a track-by-track breakdown of their triumphant 2014 album Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins, directly from guitar wizard Andrew Hawkins. So enjoy this Toilet-exclusive look into how baby skronks are made as you listen along to the album.



An Illusion of Multiple Voices

About halfway through the writing process I created a work-in-progress running order for the album, using blank spaces to stand for songs that needed to be written to make a complete, “whole”-feeling album. It really put a spotlight on the points we wanted to hit on this one, and the idea of having an intro to kick the album off came from this process. The idea behind it was to both draw in the listener and repel them, haha. The construction is pretty simple. I used three guitar tracks, playing the same chord at the start of the song and then gradually building onto it. I wanted to create a wall of sound that was incredibly harsh and dissonant, and thankfully the effect came across in the finished product.

Mountain

The majority of this song is built off of a pretty simple idea: take a three-note chord and fuck with it as much as possible. The chord falls in between consonance and dissonance, which creates that “warble” effect when it’s arpeggiated. The inspiration for using that type of chord came in part from the Scott Walker 30 Century Man documentary, in particular an interview in it with Walker’s longtime orchestrator. I really love the drawn-out two chord progression we hit halfway through the song; it’s something we probably would have shied away from on Atrophy. This was the song that really opened up our approach to writing that sustained itself throughout the rest of the album.

Visitant

This song features probably the most obnoxious chord I’ve ever used, haha. I was listening to Daughters a lot at the time, which is where a lot of the grating aspects of this song came from, I imagine. The sludgy part in the middle was pretty challenging for us to write; it has a lot of tricky variations in counting, mainly to make the section a little more disorienting and lurching. The crossfade that comes in at the end was Scott’s idea. We were struggling as to how to finish the song, and the crossfade worked out really well. The guitar line I play at the fade out is very much inspired by Robert Fripp and King Crimson, a huge influence on all of us in the band.

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Baring Teeth Opening an Inter-Dimensional Portal at Gatsby’s Mansion

 The Great Unwashed

This song took us about a year to write. Granted we were playing shows at the time (this was right after we recorded Atrophy), but it still highlights how difficult this song was put together. I think we realized about halfway through that we might have gone a little over our heads in terms of technicality, but the end result came out great. This song works out well on Ghost Chorus because it stylistically ties the album together with Atrophy; it has a very similar feel to a song like “Distilled in Fire” from that one. The breakdown towards the end of the song is a particular favorite of mine; Jason’s double bass on that part makes it sound crushing.

Terra Nullius

This song is the second section of a three-song suite (for lack of a less pretentious term) that ends with “Dripping Sun”. I really love the synth playing on it, provided by our friend Sean Kirkpatrick from Nervous Curtains (and formerly The Paper Chase). We sent him the guitar chords, and he knocked the part out in less than 30 minutes; pretty incredible considering we hadn’t practiced the part with him beforehand. One of the hardest parts on the album for us to really feel comfortable with playing comes at the end of this song. For some reason it was just really tricky, but I love how it punctuates the song and really heightens the aggression before “Dripping Sun”.

Dripping Sun

People always highlight Jason’s drumming performance in this song, and for good reason. It gave the song a completely different feel than it would have had with a more static drumbeat, definitely for the better. This song is one I would point to as highlighting the differences between this album and Atrophy. Scott’s main vocal at the end of the song, in particular, gives the track a little more color and variety than anything off of Atrophy, which was a little more monochromatic. I really enjoy the switch down to the really low chord at the “In that instant” line. It sounds heavy as hell.

The Unwilling

We knew we wanted to keep some of the slow stuff on Atrophy when writing this album, but we wanted to approach the slower material in a different way. The slow songs on Atrophy were much more melodic, whereas this one is very focused on heaviness and creating an oppressing atmosphere. We wanted to make it very aggressive towards the end of the song, and Jason’s use of double bass about halfway through it really drives home the shift in feel. We also had the idea of using this song as a “false ending” to the album, to lull people into thinking we’d end our second album the same way as our first: on a slow, droney part.

Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins

This was the last song we wrote for the album. I was listening to a lot of Malignancy, Guttural Secrete, and Maruta at the time, which would explain all the pinch harmonics, haha. I wanted to translate the way slam/brutal death metal bands use them and integrate them into what we do, and I think it gave a pretty cool effect to the song. Like “An Illusion of Multiple Voices”, we wrote this song with an intent in mind, namely to make a straight ahead, to-the-point punctuation for the album. The breakdown at the end is probably the most straightforward thing we’ve ever written. It works really well in context, though, and I think it’s a great way to end the album.



Thanks so much to Andrew for reaching out to me! In case you somehow missed Ghost Chorus last year, get on it and check out the band over at Bandcamp. Also, don’t forget to like them on Facebook.

(Photo VIA)

  • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

    This is a good article.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Nerdgasm. I listened to this album three times just last night.. I guess it’s going on again this morning. This is a good thing.

    http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120430034820/sgttrollzthemovie/images/7/7b/Robocop_fap.gif

  • I love track-by-track breakdowns from the bands themselves. Thanks a ton, Dubya and Andrew!

  • Tyree

    “This song took us about a year to write.”

    Fuck! My band wrote and recorded a full length in two damn nights. It’s like these guys want to write songs or something. Stay shitty drunken grind.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I wish I could do that, it takes me way too damn long to write.

      • Tyree

        Play blast beat. Play slower blast beat. Play D-beat. Play blast beat. Song finished. *Chugs beer.

        • SLOWER blast beat? Unacceptable!

          • Dagon

            Slower at 265 bpm

        • Nordling Writes ov Karhu

          I usually go by the legendary: Produce noise from “E”

        • Stockhausen

          EVERYTHING FASTER THAN EVERYTHING ELSE. EVEN SLOWER PARTS.

          • Nordling Writes ov Karhu

            No, everythingslowerthaneveryoneelse.

          • Stockhausen

            YEAH, BUT FASTER THOUGH.

          • Tyree

            “Still not loud enough,still not fast enough!”

            Someone take this bait.

          • but it’s… GOOD ENOUGH? (van halen)

          • Tyree

            Wrong. Some else please.

          • Tyree
    • hrm, either they’re staying too much beer, or not enough….

    • http://scabgore.bandcamp.com/

      Promote! Support!

      GL

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Ohhh, that cover art… *drifts off into trance*

    • DDubya.

      I think the aesthetic works really well with the sound. All of their associated imagery tend to work with grey-scale and geometric shapes that give a fuzzy, interdimensional feeling.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Thumbs up from me, I’ll give it a listen.

    • Guacamole Jim

      It’s been the background on my phone for quite some time now. It really helps me hate my phone less.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Mine. Same sentiment.

        • Lacertilian

          I have this pic on my phone for the same reason.
          Not sure where it came/comes from though.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Ooh, kvlt

          • Lacertilian

            I worked out where it came from.
            I searched for one of my favourite songs (Lacertine Forest) on Google once and clicked Images to see what came up, a fuckload of that picture for some reason unbeknownst as yet.

  • Spear

    Awesome. I love seeing articles on artists’ writing processes.

  • Hubert, Goat ov/of SATAN!!!!!

    No matter how much I love the riff from Mountain, I think that The Unwilling is the best track on this album. It sounds so incredibly tortured and strung-out. It seems as if this track is constantly on the verge of exploding. As if it’s trying to keep itself together from breaking apart. Really good stuff.

    • DDubya.

      Visitant does it for me. That, and the intro (which was really cool live).

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    u.n/fox/cnn media consortium did 911

  • Dagon

    Just realized I didn’t listen to this yet. Ha!

  • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))

    This album cover fooled me once already into thinking this would be atmospheric black metal.

    https://etaw1415.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/04-george-w-bush-2-copy1.jpg

  • Stockhausen

    These guys rule, I like hearing what they were listening to at the time of writing. Baring Teeth 2016.

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    That was a fun night.

    • DDubya.

      You bet, Nipple. Did you get to see the full set?

      • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

        Indeed. Twas awesome.

        • DDubya.

          I was bummed I only caught the first three tracks, but it was still a great evening.

          • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

            It was awesome but holy crap, the drive home from Denton took almost 2 hours (would have been shorter but we stopped at Taco Bell). After dropping my friend off at his place I ended up getting home a little after 5 AM in the morning.

          • Nordling Writes ov Karhu

            That’s what you get if you bare your teeth

          • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple
          • Nordling Writes ov Karhu

            An adorable one, isn’t he! Looks just like my tomorrow’s breakfast

          • DDubya.

            i don’t think Leif even got to sleep that night.

  • BLXKKBEXRD

    Dis is pretty rad

    • DDubya.

      Thanks, blizackbizeard.

      • BLXKKBEXRD

        Wickywicky

  • HA! THE FOOLS! UNVEILING THE SKRONK SECRET FORMULA! NOW IM GOING FORM MY OWN SKRONK BAND AND SKRONK THEM OUT OF BUSINESS!

  • Stanley

    That’s pretty awesome that a band took the time to put this together for the toilet. If other band members are reading, more please!

    • DDubya.

      They just messaged me out of the blue too!

      • Stanley

        It was also awesome when the guitarist from Blackgate joined the toilet’s cacophony when they were featured in the Best Unsigned Bands section.

        • cool avatar! this breakdown was trill. part of me wants to ask a band to do something similar, but i think it’s a big thing to ask. much better that they offer it, like in here.

          • Stanley

            I saw you mention pixlr on yesterday’s Photo Chop. I don’t have any photo editing software so I thought I would try it out and use my avatar as a guinea pig!

          • DDubya.

            I’ve been using it for my photo manipulation needs (see the next post in 20 minutes).

          • Stanley

            It’s not as easy as it looks. And it doesn’t look easy.

          • DDubya.

            There’s a bit of a learning curve, and I’m still a noob myself.

          • it’s close to adobe photoshop in its features. i would do a little reading about layers to really utilize their potential. it’s not too bad, a dolt like me can (kind of) learn it!

        • Agreed. I wish more folks would do that.

      • We should drop more hints in our reviews. “We loved this album so much that if any members of the band happened to read this and sent us a track by track breakdown, we would publish it.”

    • omg your avatar is the tits!

      GL

  • tertius_decimus

    Skronky, gritty, discordant, dissonant and higly atonal stuff is the future of the death metal. Feel free to disagree but I have no hope for technical death metal anymore. 8-10 years ago I thought tdm will bring something new to the table, since flirting with jazz was always welcome thing among many tdm listeners. Such bands like early Cynic and Exivious brought the jazz to the metal masses who [ignorantly] thought that jazz is some afro-americans with saxophones. I’m not a musician but I always knew I wanted deep infusion of the harmonies, chords, riffs and ton of other musical materials which balance on the edge of the genre to create something alike to Miles Davis fusion stuff but heavier. Technical death metal have got stuck into complexity and difficulty of playing and seems like it is going to nowhere. Where are those great bands? Theory In Practice is on hold, Martyr is on hold, Anata have problems with releasing new highly anticipated album…

    Gorguts wrote Obscura in 1995 but it didn’t appear on the surface until 1998. Gorguts were ahead of its time. The trend for dissonant chromatic death metal comes to life just now: Negativa [RIP], Ulcerate, Baring Teeth, Khariot and to some degree Gojira and Ageless Oblivion. There were many metal or core trends which I loathe. This one I dig!

    • DDubya.

      I’ve made the argument before that Tech Death has split into two distinct classes: normal tech death (stuff Jack Bauer likes) and dissonant death metal (stuff like Baring Teeth). Also, check out Mitochondrion if you haven’t before.

  • Lacertilian

    Been listening to Dysrhythmia today then came home to this, not a bad segue really.
    The main difference being a ton more blasting here and the obvious addition of vocals.
    Enjoyed the track by track breakdown also, as others have said, it would be great to get more of these.