PICTURE ANN – A brief chat with PICTURE ANN
Following the recent digital release of "The Darkness Had Texture", the new album from the Danish experimental act PICTURE ANN, which is available for streaming in its entirety via Bandcamp, I figured that it would be cool to have a brief chat with PICTURE ANN mastermind J.N. about his latest opus. "The Darkness Had Texture" is the third full-length assault following the 2014 album, "A Bone Case for Papery Skin", and contains 5 haunting and strangely unsettling songs of a lo-fi nature that will flush your day right down the toilet. Below is my brief Q&A with J.N.
Tell us a bit about your new album, "The Darkness Had Texture". How come the entire thing is all-out instrumental this time around as opposed to earlier outputs on which you added those spoken-word/whispering-type vocals to some tracks?
Well, I released my new album digitally on the 24th of January via Bandcamp, but I plan on getting it out there on some of those other scummy and cynical digital platforms as well. However, for now it is just on Bandcamp. 5 songs constitute the album, 3 of which are somewhat short and two that are pretty damn long. For some reason I just felt that there would be no point in putting vocals on top of the music this time around. That probably sounds a bit strange to some, but I really felt that the songs in and of themselves were strong enough to merely be instrumental pieces in the sense that the music does the talking. The music itself and the song titles simply did the trick for me. Nothing else was needed.
The first album, "Blaspheme 2009", was somewhat monotonous and raw while the second album, "A Bone Case for Papery Skin", was a lot more experimental and weird. "The Darkness Had Texture" seems to combine the best parts of those two records in my opinion. Would you agree?
Yeah, to a certain extent. I think "The Darkness Had Texture" is by far my best solo-record to date, and I guess you are right about it combining some of the best elements and ideas from the previous two albums. Now that it has been nearly a year since the release of "A Bone Case for Papery Skin" I think I can honestly say that I actually prefer the debut album, "Blaspheme 2009", to the second album. "Blaspheme 2009" was a lot more hypnotic, melancholic, and trance-like, and I wanted to get back to that and recapture that mood and atmosphere. Also, a lot of the stuff on my new album came about quite spontaneously, which is exactly what it was like when I composed and recorded the debut album. I love to record stuff on the spur of the moment and just go with the flow. However, some of the wacky ideas and otherworldly soundscapes that were a big part of "A Bone Case for Papery Skin" seem to have crept into "The Darkness Had Texture" as well, but those elements are more subtle on the latter.
Where did you record the album? Bandcamp does not list anything about that at all.
I recorded the whole thing at home on a small hard disc recorder. That recorder is fucking ancient by now, but I love it, damn it. I always record my songs at home.
How important are the song titles to you?
They are extremely important to me! I never choose a song title simply because it sounds cool or hip or some retarded shit like that. Everything has to fit and correspond. I often spend weeks and even whole months coming up with appropriate and fitting song titles that either signify or allude to whatever the song in question focuses on and thematizes. Trust me, the song titles are loaded with meaning, but perhaps they only make sense to me haha.
I noticed that the drums on "I Want This Room in Pieces" sound noticably different compared to those on the title track and "Closed off Entirely (The Segue)". Why is that?
You are absolutely right. I recorded the drums myself on "I Want This Room in Pieces" and made them sound really strange, kind of like everything is falling apart, but I used a crappy drum-machine for those two long songs, "Closed off Entirely (The Segue)" and the title track. I wanted to make sure that the drums sounded slightly mechanical and totally linear on those two lengthy compositions. I think those linear drum patterns that just go on and on and on enhance the hypnotic and monotonous atmosphere that I so desire. You hear all these nuances, layers, and subtle details either in the background or on top of the music, but those drum-patters remain constant and unchanging. I love that! For the record, I used that same drum-machine on the debut album.
Some of the new songs have a very cinematic feel to them. Do movies serve as an inspiration to you?
Absolutely! I love movies and am very passionate about them. Lots of movies have inspired me over the years, primarily horror movies, occult movies, and dark thrillers. Certain drama films also inspire me greatly. Literature is also a major source of inspiration to me, not to mention paintings and pictures. For instance, "Angel Heart" by Alan Parker is one of my all-time favorite movies while "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde is one of my all-time favorite novels. There is a long list of paintings dating from the Romantic period that I love and cherish, namely those by J.C. Dahl, August Cappelen, Theodor Kittelsen, Caspar David Friedrich, Thomas Fearnley, and so on. There are a lot of different forms of art that inspire me these days.
Could you name a few of the bands that have inspired you the most in relation to composing songs for PICTURE ANN?
Mostly Burzum and Ulver, but also Black Sabbath, Forgotten Woods, and Vond. I could mention a whole lot more than that, but those five are some of the most prominent ones.
Any final words or comments?
Yeah, do me a favor and check out some of poo I have collected and released at the following location: