Monosphere continues on its path.
After a debut album in 2021, the band comprising Kevin Ernst (vocals), Max Rossol (guitar), Valentin Noack (guitar), Marlon Palm (bass) and Rodney Fuchs (drums) announce the release of Sentience, their second album, in 2023.
Preface gently opens the doors to this strange universe where keyboards and vocals dance together before being joined by the other instruments, offering a hazy, haunting approach that leads into Borderline Syndrome, a decidedly more aggressive composition. Furious Metalcore roots fuse with heavy Post-Metal elements and intricate patterns, before fading away into quietness, with occasional waves of rage re-emerging, before Smoke & Wires offers an eerie sound and a return to violence contrasted by some heavy tones. Dissonance and Hardcore influences are easily felt in this long explosive track, which gives way to the shorter but equally devastating Friends & Foes, which doesn’t hesitate to engage the most abrasive elements to strengthen its jerky riffs, accompanied by Mirza Radonjica (Siamese). Howls and clean vocals take turns before Bleak offers us a moment of quietness before letting chopped riffs resurface, just as on Ava and its heady leads, accompanied by a few majestic samples that create a contrast with the savagery the band can spread. Human Disguise follows with a rather dark sound that soon fades away to make way for more virulent parts, then Living Flame follows, mixing dissonant air parts with its devastating elements. The massive parts complement samples, which resume more calmly to allow Intermission two minutes’ respite in the company of a soothing instrumental before Method Acting gives it back all its scathing, dissonant energy. A dose of gentleness is also in store, but it flares up to gain in intensity and lead us to Turing Test and its explanatory vocal samples, regularly broken by the fury of a heavy rhythm completed by saturated vocals, accompanied by Jim Grey (Caligula’s Horse). Sentience, the eponymous track, brings the album to a close, linking a few airy tones with intense clean vocals, leaving nothingness to settle in.
Monosphere‘s evolution is obvious, showing once again that the band knows how to skillfully handle softness as well as fury, to give Sentience incredible diversity and insane richness.
Few questions to Rodney Fuchs, drummer and songwriter of the modern Prog/Post-Metal band Monosphere.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Monosphere without using the usual Metal labels?
Rodney Fuchs (drums): Hey there, I’m Rodney – drummer and main songwriter for Monosphere. I’d say we’re a band that aims for a sound that is unusual, diverse and experimental. We really try to incorporate all of our favorite things about music and draw influences from movies, as well as literature and art in general to create something new that doesn’t try to sound like anything else, even though we have many influences that might remember of some bands you probably already know.
How do you link the name Monosphere to the band’s music identity?
Rodney: Actually, Monosphere is exactly what we try to do with our music. We want to bring everything into one musical sphere. All our influences are there and there’s no boundary. It’s one musical sphere, even if there’s many genres put together. That’s basically what was the main idea behind choosing “Monosphere” as our band name.
Sentience, your new album, is about to be released. How do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Rodney: I’m very excited! We got some feedback already and it’s better than we expected it to be. As stupid as it might sound: when doing an album you’re having a lot of struggles and often ask yourself, if you did the right thing. Sometimes I absolutely love the album, some day I think we could have done better. It’s pretty common for creative people to have self-doubts on their own art, so I think it helps us to keep a certain quality level. With the album being released very soon I just feel happy that this campaign is coming to an end, because that means we can move on and see what’s coming next. In general I can easily say it’s the best album we could have done and we’re all very proud of the result!
How would you sum Sentience’s identity up in only three words?
Rodney: Dark, complex, extreme.
How did the composition process happen? Was it different from the previous record?
Rodney: It was slightly different. The Puppeteer was totally written by myself, while this time our bass player Marlon contributed on some tracks. Ava and Human Disguise was almost completely written by him, while Living Flame is a 50/50 collaboration between us. Here and there he added some thoughts, as the beginning of Borderline Syndrome for example. Apart from this, each and every band member put his own creativity on top of it when we were in the studio. All songs that were written by myself came together quite fast. Method Acting was even written shortly after I wrote The Puppeteer, I somehow recycled it and put it into shape, which turned out being a perfect fit for the album. Apart from this we had the same ideas going on: a strong concept, musical fluidity, natural flow and reoccurring motifs, just to name a few.
What about the artwork, what were the guidelines and how do they fit with the music you created?
Rodney: I think the artwork was done before we even did the album. Kevin, our singer, was experimenting a bit and showed us a first draft, telling us that this could be our next album cover. We all loved it and think it perfectly reflects with the concept of the album, dealing with artificial intelligence. On the other side, I think the darkness and coldness of the album artwork perfectly reflects with the sound of our music.
Where do you find inspiration to create your music?
Rodney: For me, it can be everything. New bands I listen to, a symphonic orchestra performance, a walk in the forest, a movie, or even just daily life situations. There’s no way to force creativity, but sometimes you just feel the urge to start writing something and in the end you have some riffs together or even a full track. I’m very inspired by music in general and really like listening to new releases, which always had a big influence on my writing.
When I listen to the album, I for sure hear some wild and aggressive moments, but also very quiet and soft parts. How do you find the correct balance to create your songs?
Rodney: It’s just about what feels right. Sometimes I have the feeling that we need to do a cleanpart after one section and that’s exactly the way we’re going. Of course there’s many thoughts on song structures as well, as we tried to make our tracks more song-suitable this time (just listen to Smoke & Wires or Method Acting and you’ll easily find out there’s a pretty basic song structure going on) but generally it’s all about what feels right. Music is about tension and release, and if the tension is on its climax, you can push it even more but the point where people start enjoying it, is as soon as the tension releases. This counts for harmony, melody, as well as atmospheres and the balance of heavy, aggressive parts and calm passages.
There are two guests on this album, Mirza Radonjica (Siamese) and Jim Grey (Caligula’s Horse). How did you get in touch with them, and how did these collaborations happen?
Rodney: I know Mirza for a long time and met him several times, so I actually just asked him via Facebook and he was in. His first draft was what ended on the album, so needless to say he’s an absolute professional and nailed it! I once did an interview with Jim Grey and we were chatting a lot about things and music in general as well as his spoken word performance on Inertia. I always had the feeling that he enjoyed it and might not forget me (as many musicians do, not blaming anyone). When we started thinking about a spoken word performance he was the first name coming to my mind. I also just wrote to him on Facebook and he was in. Sometimes it’s that easy.
Maybe you have a favorite song on this album? Or maybe the hardest one to achieve for the album?
Rodney: The fav one might vary, but I think Smoke & Wires feels the most complete and has something that makes me very happy. The hardest one to achieve is definitely Method Acting – it’s the fastest one, has many blast beats and some very odd rhythmic sections. I love the track, but it’s really challenging, haha.
Do you think you are still improving yourself as a musician and songwriter?
Rodney: Absolutely. It was a very long way to perform Sentience when we started recording it. I practiced for more than 8 months to get on the next level and play it in the studio. When it comes to the songwriting process, we tried some new things this time and pushed ourselves from 39 minutes to a 54 minute record. It was a bit more difficult to make it cohesive, but I think we all grew with that challenge. I think if we would not have the feeling to grow and improve ourselves with our music, we might question ourselves and evaluate if we’re still doing the right thing.
According to the internet and setlist.fm, the band played a few shows across Germany, as well as one in Belgium, and one in France. How were those shows, and how do you feel playing live?
Rodney: We all love playing live, as it’s easily the best part about playing music. I love talking to people at shows and to see their reactions. France and Belgium both were great shows and we really hope to get back in 2024, as we know that the French Metal scene is having a lot of interest in Progressive and Post Metal music. It’s just not so easy to get seen, especially when being from Germany.
Are there any musicians or artists you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, or maybe more.
Rodney: There definitely are! I still dream of doing one track with Tommy from Between The Buried And Me. I’d also love to hear Loic from The Ocean on one of our tracks. But what always was more important is to have a personal connection to people we collaborate with. I wouldn’t have dared to ask both Mirza and Jim, if I didn’t knew that they know me, haha.
Why did you decide to stay independent, and still release the album by yourself?
Rodney: We did a self-release on The Puppeteer and it went well. Nowadays, music business is a very difficult place. We started pitching the album to labels and to see if there’s interest. But the more we thought about it, the more we saw that we could still do it ourselves, without selling the album for too little. Being a small band, you don’t get big offers, which means on a long run, the label is making benefits, while we’re only having a big impact on a short period of time (around the release). This time we thought it’s the best way to take the financial risk on our own but remain owners of our music and licences, because we are very confident we will get the money back. We might think about a label for the next release but it’s 2023 and a lot of big bands stray away from having labels – so who knows if we might start our own and self-release album 3 again.
Maybe you know the French Metal scene? Which bands do you like?
Rodney: I’m a big fan of bands like Celeste, Déluge, Hypno5e among bands like Gojira, Alcest, Uneven Structure obviously. We got the chance to play a couple of shows with Celeste and also with Hypno5e, which was awesome! I also really like Birds In Row, Klone, Resolve and Fall Of Messiah. There are many great bands and I love how much spotlight the French Metal scene is getting due to bands like Landmvrks that really made their way!
If you had to organize a concert for Sentience’s release show, which bands would you love to play with? I let you create a poster with Monosphere and three other bands!
Rodney: We are actually having our friends in Senna and Xarise at our release show, but if I have to choose my absolute dream bands, the lineup would be: Between The Buried And Me, The Dear Hunter, Agent Fresco. Luckily we got to play with TDH already this year, so two more to go, haha!
Funny and last question: which dish would you compare Monosphere’s music with?
Rodney: I’d say probably a pizza. There’s a solid base with many different flavors on top of it – also we all love pizza. You can make pizza in many different ways and that’s what we like about our music.
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Rodney: Thanks for your time and having me for the interview. We really appreciate your support and can’t wait to release Sentience. Each and everyone that listens to Sentience is welcome to chat with us about what they like about it and we really appreciate you for taking the time listening to it!