Interview: Flowers For Bodysnatchers – “Asylum Beyond” (Cryo Chamber/dark ambient)

Asylum Beyond

Some time ago we did an interview with Flowers For Bodysnatchers’ sole member, Duncan Richie.  However, he’s just released a new album Asylum Beyond on Cryo Chamber.  Without question, the album dives a bit deeper into a cinematic horror feel.  We decided to do something slightly different and do an album-specific interview this time.  Again, we thank him for taking time out to answer some questions.

For the readers who might not already know, can you talk about the general
story/inspiration behind the album?

Asylum Beyond tells the story of antique store owner Ernest Semenov who
brutally murdered his wife and two daughters in what police investigators
described as bizarre ritualistic killings.  Declared criminally insane by the state Ernest Semenov was imprisoned in Ravenfield Asylum for treatment and rehabilitation. Subsequently on the night of July 1st, 1971 Ravenfield Asylum was consumed by fire. Police discovered the horrifically burnt bodies of 68 of the 70 patients and staff savagely murdered and dismembered in a manner not dissimilar to the 1968 Semenov murders.  The album is inspired by true life stories of sacrificial occult murders and constructed into an original horror tale.

Can you take us through the cast of characters and perhaps which tracks they
appear on if they don’t appear on all?

There are four characters, Ernest, Silvia and their two daughters Oksana and
Polina Seminov. Oksana has her own theme in the opening track Red Ballerina.
Ernest and Silvia appear on Midnight My Dearest Midnight and, all other tracks
revolve around Ernestʼs decent further into darkness except the closing track
White Ballerina which is Oksanaʼs closing theme for the album.

What did you do on this release that you didn’t on previous efforts, artistically
or technically?

This album was intended to have the cleanest piano movements Iʼve recorded.
In many cases they stand alone without additional instrumentation. Which I
believe has added greater variety to the album. I also extended my use of
analogue synth work in an effort to give the album a slightly more kitsch/retro

We both know that the quality of the recordings on Cryo Chamber are of the
highest quality.  So from a technical stand-point, what do you do to achieve

I do all my own production and mastering as I feel I understand what Iʼm trying
to accomplish more than using a third party. I like to keep my music as real
sounding as it was when originally recorded. Iʼm not a big fan of mastering that
embellishes the original recording. Iʼm also a bit of a control freak!

Is this album a part of a series or is it a stand-alone?

Itʼs stand alone but, it represents a move for me into a more horror ambient
sound. Still maintaining the neoclassical element but pushing it further by
including aspects of the horror and macabre.

Did you use any sort of field recordings or found objects on the album?  If so,
what did you use?  Feel free also should you choose to illustrate on what tracks
they appear.

This is certainly the most field recording heavy album Iʼve done. From hospitals
to abandoned houses. Warehouses to in studio improv. Also all spoken word on
the album is me. Right down to learning to speak latin passages. Most of the
recordings taken from the hospitals are humming machines, squeaking
trolleys, T.V.s, doors opening and closing, shower curtains. The list is endless.
The abandoned house material is where all the floor board sounds come from.
Smashing lights and windows. Dragging objects across the floors. Phantasm
is a great track to hear all that in full effect.

The nature of the Cryo Chamber releases is one in which the stories are left to
the predominantly instrumental atmosphere of the artists.  So how does an
artist such as yourself successfully illustrate the dynamics of the story and
characters so the imagery is at least partially grasped by the listener?

Again field recordings work wonders to put the listener in the right place. You
can quite literally put the listener in a particular room with the appropriate
sound. Then reinforce the mood with the corresponding instrumentation.

Let’s pretend for the moment that there is a live show with a few Cryo Chamber
artists.  Do you A., do a semi-improvisational set, B. present one of yr. albums
in entirely (and if so, do you include multi-media to accurately portray it) or C.
a mixture of material from all your releases?

Iʼd certainly do a semi-improv. set. Give the listeners and fans something
familiar yet original to create a unique one-off experience.

What’s next for Flowers for Bodysnatchers in the rest of 2017 and 2018?

2017 – Sleep.
2018 – Iʼd like to do another E.P. like Fall the Night and see where that leads

A very distant relative locates a copy of Asylum Beyond in a box located in the
attic of an old house.  They sit back and begin to play it.  Slowly the ghosts of the characters in the story begin to appear.  Knowing the story that inspired the album, what do you hope this person learns when the ghosts begin to speak?

Considering the characters in the story and their motivations said distant
relative is certainly going to die… horribly!

Asylum Beyond is available on CD as well as digital download.

Also check out the interview we did with Flowers For Bodysnatchers a while back…

Duncan Richie

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