“NERATERRÆ’s debut album “The Substance of Perception” (out on Cyclic Law records) is a daring collaborative work featuring some of the finest artists from the Dark Ambient, Drone, Cinematic and Ritual Music scene: Northaunt, Alexey Tegin from Phurpa, Treha Sektori, New Risen Throne, Flowers For Bodysnatchers, Taphephobia, Ugasanie, Xerxes The Dark and Infinexhuma.
The sound palette shifts between both stark atmospheres, melancholic ambiance and dense claustrophobic drones. Alternating between obscurity and light and oscillating between the ineffable detachment from the tangible and the relentless transmogrification of the self.”
Alessio Antoni is the sole mind behind the magic that is Neraterrae. We’d like to thank him for his time in this interview.
Can you talk about the meaning of Neraterrae and your beginnings as an artist? What is the meaning of the name?
Neraterræ is a game on words, it means both ‘black earth’ and ‘black soil’, depending on the context (‘nera’ means black, in Italian; while ‘terræ’ mean both earth and soil, in Latin). I chose to release music under that name since it fits perfectly conceptually speaking: I was about to quit my previous project NHART, and new life breeds from the black soil, after the passage of fire.
Your new release is “The Substance of Perception” out on Cyclic Law Records. It features some impressive collaboration on each of the tracks. Can you talk about the genesis of the tracks and how you collaborated with these artists?
The interesting part of the collaborations is that they were born in a very natural way; as I was almost done with the record, I asked these awesome people to check it and to give me feedback, suggestions and so on (never ever spoke to them before, and this is the best part, to me). Then it all happened. Musically speaking, no particular directions were given to them, not even regarding the theme of the record, I wanted all the people involved to express themselves freely.
On the album there appears some rain sounds. I’m wondering if you use any field recordings. If so, where did you record?
I’m into field recordings, even though I haven’t used them ‘that’ much on ‘The Substance of Perception’ (I’m planning to use more of them on my second album); from time to time I set live recordings in various locations around my area, which offers quite a bit of diversity soundscapes wise.
Bandcamp states: “the sound shifts between stark atmospheres and dense claustrophobic drones”. Was this duality a conscious decision in your vision for the album?
I make Dark Ambient music alternating a wide range of atmospheres and colors, from more classic melancholic ambiance to cinematic dense drones to ritualistic-alike episodes. I like to move between themes and nuances, I’m not the kind of musician/producer who’s into only one specific color or theme.
What do you think are some of the most “landmark” or most important dark ambient releases and why?
I may come up with a very long list, since Dark Ambient has roots in various branches of electronic music; let’s just say that I recognize some names as totally influential for the entire movement: Lustmord, Brian Eno (indirectly or not), Northaunt, Atrium Carceri, Raison d’Être, Svartsinn, Kammarheit, Nordvargr, New Risen Throne, Desiderii Marginis, Coph Nia, Biosphere (indirectly or not), Troum, Aidan Baker, Visions and maybe a few more.
Can you talk about some of your non-musical influences or sources for inspiration?
On a non-musical aspect I can get inspired by many different things: paintings and art in general, a photograph, landscapes, books, movies, particular events, and personal experiences of course. It’s something that you can’t really explain. It just happens.
You’ve also got on Bandcamp your demos from a previous project “Nhart”. Much of these are more in the vein of death industrial with traces of noise/power electronics. Can you talk about your influences from those areas and what moved you to dark ambient?
Yes, I released ‘The NHART Demo[n]s’ in September 2017, it’s a collection of tracks recorded between 2009 and 2010, back in the day I was experimenting with heavier music, such as Death Industrial, Noise and Power Electronics, but Dark Ambient always had a special place in my mind, and you can hear it on ‘THD’ since there are few Dark Ambient episodes here and there too. I’ve always been into “heavier” music acts, such as: Shock Frontier, Megaptera, Nordvargr, and more.
The cover art for “The Substance of Perception” is very intriguing. What can you tell us about the concept behind it?
I’m glad you find it intriguing, I (still) do as well. I think it’s evocative, a work of beauty enshrouded in mellow obscurity. It goes along with the music so well. In the beginning, when I approached Nihil, I told him about this idea I had, consisting of a person whose perception of the self (metaphorically represented by a veil) and the reality surrounding him/her was restrained and tainted. At that point Nihil got in touch with Daria Endresen, who provided a key element of the artwork, and it all came to life pretty quickly.
What do you think separates “dark ambient” from “ambient,” at least from a sonic point of view?
Of course they share similarities, but it’s obvious that Dark Ambient has an obscure character, and that makes it what it is. Even though I like Ambient very much, I personally find Dark Ambient more engaging, deeper, very introspective.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2019 and going into 2020?
Actually I haven’t stopped writing and recording new material since the release of ‘The Substance of Perception’, basically I’ve been working on the following album (which will be out in early 2020) since then. Plus, I have a couple of projects going on, which I’ve been recording for during the past months.
SITUATION: You received a commission to create a dark ambient version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. You can use any equipment and field recordings you wish. You must simply recreate the seasons to music. What do you use? Where do you go? How do you get this project done?
Probably I’d do some field recordings during all the 4 seasons and build it all up from there; I’d use heavy drones for winter, while the idea of something melancholy for the fall might be appropriate, then an uplifting vibe for the spring and I’d go kinda minimal for the summer. Easier said than done. This would be a hard call!