Band – 0-NUN
Album – The Shamanic Trilogy
Country of Origin – Brazil
Genre – Avant Garde Black Metal
Release Date – December 20, 2020
Label – Brucia Records
Author – Hayduke X
Allow me to start with an apology. The end of the year is a blur every year, as I try to put together my Top 50 article. It seems there are always too many worthy albums, and 2020 was no exception. I start finding ways to make cuts. One thing I do occasionally is to try to find legitimate ways to push something to the following year’s list. I had it in my head that Brucia was releasing The Shamanic Trilogy in January of this year, but as I write the review, I see it was officially released in December. An initial glance through my published Top 50 (as opposed to the agonizing listens I do where I pit album against album over and over again) suggests #32 would be about where this release should have been.
The Shamanic Trilogy is, as the name suggests, a cohesive whole released in three parts. We had the pleasure, back in July, of presenting the stream of the first EP (Nihility Ascetics) to the world. At the time, I wrote:
“This exploration of the ascetics of nihilism is driven by crepuscule black metal, strained through the multi-faceted lens of avant garde death pulsations, and offered as sacrifice through the beauty of ritualistic chaos. Time signatures fragment. Guitar jumps to strings, horns to blast, harsh feral vocalization are tempered haunting siren calls.”
My full review can be found here.
The second EP is entitled Dissociate, Alienate. True to its name, the trio of tracks on this EP are the most deconstructed of the trilogy. I mean this not only in a musical sense, as layers are parsed apart, then recombined in new forms, but also in what it does to the listener. I feel myself pulled apart and returned to being in very strange configurations. This is, of course, done mentally, but the music is visceral enough that it feels physical. The second half is true as well, for just as various parts are dissociated from each other, they are also alienated and alienating. The EP is an uncomfortable listen that leaves me in a ratcheting state of partial dispersion.
The third EP is entitled Transcendental. My experience with this EP is certainly transcendental, but in an unexpected way. I am dragged into transcendence of all, thus taken into Nothingness. I am beyond everything. To stop and analyze the music would be derivative of what’s already been written, as this EP is also chaotic, also visceral, also destructive, but the feel of it goes beyond the others in a final avant garde drive into the void.
The three albums together are a trinity of negation, a three-in-one actuation of the opposite of Nun, the Egyptian primordial liquid of creation. First, the chaos, then the separation, then the rising away from all, from everything…from anything. The Shamanic Trilogy descends not just into the Other, but into the absolute Nothing. Read below the link for an in-depth interview with Nuno Lourenço, the creative mind behind this project.
Hayduke X: Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Shamanic Trilogy in a physical format through Brucia Records. How did that all come about?
Nuno Lourenço: Thanks man, really appreciated. Well, I was minding my own business and received a message from Void, the guy behind Brucia Records telling me about their interest in releasing the trilogy and presenting me some cool ideas about it. I instantly agreed to follow that path and I have not looked back. Brucia is doing a great job in the preparation of the special limited edition, and it’s a real honor to join the fantastic roster that the label has.
HX: Very cool! I feel that he has great taste in music (at least, it matches very well with mine), so I was pretty excited to see the 0-NUN name come up as a release. I think it’s a really great fit on both sides. I don’t know too many details about what the limited edition will be like. What can you tell me?
NL: It’ll be an edition of 66 copies with the three EP’s being represented in CD, so three CDs. The whole thing will come in a simple case with a logo, and inside the three CDs, each in a separate sleeve and inside a folded poster. Brucia used some of my original artwork, but totally reworked it. I can assure you that I’ve been blown away by what they have presented me as a mockup.
HX: That sounds very elaborate. This is your first release as 0-NUN. What inspired this project?
NL: Yeah, you know what I’ve been doing in my other projects, for which I was actually quite active last year. But midway through 2020, I suddenly felt the urge to try new approaches and new themes. I thought they would not fit any of my other projects, so I simply created a new one: 0-NUN. You know well that it reads line zero none, but the way it is written actually looks like an anagram of my name. To be honest, that was almost a coincidence, as I wanted something to represent the lyrical themes of the project: void, nothingness, nonexistence. Nun is actually the Father of all ancient Egyptian Gods and represents the primordial liquid from which everything was created. I thought that, to represent the exact contrary, I’d put a 0 before that…and it was by that time that I noticed the anagram coincidence. Musically speaking, I wanted to do a more direct type of Black Metal, but it turned out to be what you can hear now. I think the experimentation is something well inbred in me, that I cannot escape from, whatever plans I have. When I start recording, all those approaches that lead into avant garde tendencies start to unfold, like an invisible force that molds my creative process.
HX: The release is actually a trilogy of EPs, as you’ve stated. Does each have a distinct theme? What are those themes and how are they connected?
NL: The lyrical theme is constant throughout the three EPs: I tried to apply lyrics that would provide notions of nothingness that, while personal, could be shared by people going through a similar inner self type of hypnagogic meditation. That’s from where the “Shamanic” idea evolves. The whole concept is to present “meditational” experiences that could be universal, when deep thinking about the notions of nonexistence. Yeah, it sounds pretentious, I know. The covers present three types of shamans that exist in different parts of the world and that are “knowledge seekers” and “conscience sharers”: the Indian Ascetics, the Amazon Shamans and the Tibetan Monks. The curious thing is that even if all seems quite cerebral, the name, theme and concept were all decided in a few minutes, believe it or not.
HX: I wonder if that was some sort of ‘mystical’ revelation in and of itself then, given how quickly it fell into place.
NL: Looking back at the particulars of my mental situation at the time, I believe 0-NUN was more of a defensive mechanism against depression, than any other thing. You know, keeping the mind busy, even if with such dark thoughts and themes, is a powerful weapon against even darker thoughts. So 0-NUN was really (yet again) a healing process.
HX: Based on what I think I know, and a little research, 0-Nun is the sixth musical project you are either solely or partially responsible for. Does that seem correct?
NL: Six?…hmmm, I believe even I’ve lost count on them. So we have 0-NUN and Salqiu as active solo projects; we have Thermohaline as a multi-national collaboration with a couple of musicians I deeply admire (the guys from Druon Antigon and IER); I have had Züüd as a one-shot thing back in 2019; Návia as my progressive rock oddity. And I have had Anthropomorphic Soul as my first real solo project, which handled experimental death metal in a very rough and badly played way. What you don’t know is that my first solo project was named Cotard Delusion and it was just horrible.
HX: That’s a lot of projects! Are only the first three mentioned active?
NL: Yes. A guy needs to move on through self-assessment, and realize that some projects do not make any sense anymore. Even because of the ability to play and the capacity to create and assemble tracks. The techniques change and so does the mind and hands of a musician. I only started playing at 43 years old, when my kids were born. It was a midlife crisis thing, I believe. I had shortly played drums when I was nineteen, and we had a thrash metal band for around three months before I joined the army. I think there was a gap in my life since then and it grew over the years until I finally decided to answer the call that was screaming inside…
HX: I’d like to go back to address something from a couple of answers above, that you also hint at here. Specifically, can you tell me more about how the creation of music serves as a catharsis or a means of healing for you?
NL: I have dealt with depression since an early age. I also have a complicated and stressful professional life and I have two twin kids, aged seven, that are hyperactive and have been confined with me at home for the last nine months. Most people can’t even start to imagine what all of this combined does to a guy. When I, occasionally, have the time to escape to my humble studio, put on the headphones and play the record button, I enter my fantasy world and my mind heals. The way I record, the way I feel when I’m playing, and the way my mind transmits orders to my fingers in order to create my tracks, is nothing short of a “soul orgasm”. If you can picture the idea of “Nirvana”, a place where you can feel the world, or the room of the Akashic Records, where all questions have an answer, that’s basically what I experience. Honestly, the thing that matters the least is the final result of the track that was recorded. The whole thing is all about a therapy, a catharsis.
HX: Process more important than product then. Tell me more about the process. I mean the nuts and bolts of it, if you will. How do you go from day one to the completed Shamanic Trilogy?
NL: Oh, the process…I reckon most people won’t believe me when I say that each track from the trilogy took me no longer than four hours to finalize. The exception being the last one which I recorded in two days. I normally don’t have anything thought out when I sit down and pick up my guitar. I start recording riffs ,and then move them according to the place I find they should take within a song. I always leave spaces empty to fill in with the more atmospheric parts. So, I record the guitars, then the bass and then I add the drums. Only after that, I start experimenting with the collection of VSTs that I have, molding the final sound of the track. This process, independently of the length of the track, doesn’t usually take more than two to three hours. The last thing I do is record the vocals. They are never trained and I rarely do second takes, they are the spur of the moment. I have developed a specific mix for my vocals in order to make them deeper and stereo-sounding in the final mix. For the specific trilogy, which has nine tracks, it took me ten half days to record, in six weekends (yes, I can only hit the studio on weekends and depending on family plans). Don’t ask me how I could do things differently, for I would not be able to answer. Also, when I finish recording a track, I don’t take much interest in bettering it or mastering it properly…I just want to export it and share it. Making full length albums is a real torture for me, as I don’t have the gift of patience when it comes to keeping my creations “hidden” for months.
HX: Do you have any formal training at all (either musically or with the technology you use) or are you completely self-taught?
NL: Completely self-taught. Same with my profession and even my English speaking ability. I’ve always been able to learn by myself and from trial-and-error. Well, for my guitar playing savviness that hasn’t worked that well, for I am still a very basic player. I tend to disguise my inability with the creative side of things.
HX: Given the purpose of your musical endeavors, do you think you’ll ever try to get some training? If the purpose is the process, does that level of playing matter a whole lot?
NL: I don’t intend to become a professional and I don’t have the illusion of playing live, even if the latest is a dream I would love to achieve. Also, like previously said, I play and record for my own healing purposes. I do share my music because…well, because someone else may like it, but my life is too complicated and full in order to save some time for lessons. In a way, that would probably change my mindset and my way of doing things and that would probably ruin the magic it has for me. I firmly believe that learning and practicing is the absolute and only way to get better, and it would provide me the right tools to evolve my creations, but this thing is a hobby and a catharsis, not a professional choice. So I just let it be, and I just keep doing my stuff.
HX: What are your own musical influences?
NL: I was influenced by Progressive Rock from a very young age. My older sister started me on Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator, Soft Machine, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and many others when I was about eleven. Then by fifteen, I discovered the joys of heavy and thrash metal (in the mid 80’s) and I never looked back. Death metal has been my main driver for most of my life, but around mid 2000’s I started to plummet more into black metal. The Avantgarde and Atmospheric side of it are probably currently my biggest influences, but I will never deny the presence of symphonic prog rock as one of my omnipresent muses. Contrary to many folks from my generation, I was never stuck in an era or a genre. I am an explorer and I always find the time to search and listen to new stuff. I firmly believe that metal has never presented so much diversity and quality as today. I mean, I still love the classics, but the evolution of metal is something that deeply fascinates me. If I was going to point out two albums that started opening my eyes to the aesthetics of avant garde and of atmospheric black metal, I would always have to reference Arcturus’s “La Masquerade Infernale” and Summoning’s “Stronghold”. Those were albums that deeply impacted me.
HX: How does it feel to be a part of that evolution, blending together so many of those different influences across your projects?
NL: Oh, I wouldn’t go as far as stating I am part of that evolution. Never really thought of putting things that way. But ok, I do admit that perhaps because of my musical background, there is something in my creative thinking that pushes me towards diversity, making me go for the bizarre and uncanny. In fact what would be really difficult for me would be to try to be a purist. Believe me I have tried but there is always something pushing me to add different things to my music. It’s in my nature and I simply embrace that.
HX: What’s next for 0-NUN?
NL: Hmmmm, what’s next for me? I don’t know, because I always go with the flow. If I am able to be stupidly pretentious and ambitious, I actually thought of going on a full length quora with 0-NUN next. Doing a four album concept, in which I would use a slightly different approach in each album: one more industrial, one more cosmic, one more symphonic and one more ritualistic. The problem is that I tend to mesh all of those within each song, and therefore I don’t think I will do it that way. Still I do want to release “Chronicles of an Obsidian Multiverse” as a collection of full lengths, starting with “Verse 2 – The Stygian Codex”, which I have started to record already. I can tell you that the plan is for it to have four tracks of eleven minutes each, resulting in forty-four minutes, being forty-four the shamanic number for “metamorphosis and continuous radical change”, because it’s a principle I’ve been following in my music since I started recording: constant mutation and continuous evolution
HX: That concept of evolution keeps coming up in our discussion. Can you dive a little deeper into the importance of that for you?
NL: Evolution in terms of the capacity to play differently. With experience comes new ways to play and new techniques that are developed, and that will always change the capacity to try different riffs and different techniques. Despite not being able to practice and play that often, I do intend to become better in my game. Also, even if I play mostly for myself and for my personal needs, I cannot deny that a part of me craves for acceptance from the black metal community. It would be highly hypocritical of me to say that I do not care at all about the feedback I get. In fact it feels frustrating when I don’t get it. Again, it’s not the main goal, but if you’re going to release music to the public, there’s no denying the importance of people liking your music. For now I feel that only a very small fringe of listeners fully comprehend the scope of my music, for it does not follow standards. So finding the formula to create music that is still diverse and odd but that somehow captures the attention of a wider audience is a challenge for me. One that I may never fully accomplish, but without challenges you wither, right?
HX: I think that’s certainly true. Challenges are necessary. What does acceptance from the black metal community look like?
NL: I will tell you when I get there (laughs). I am involved in black metal communities, and have been for a while now. I think I am noticed for the true support I give to musicians like myself and to the community as a whole. I do firmly believe I get recognition for that. I do also get recognition for my music from some folks out there (well, you know very well some of those). Yet I do fantasize about more people liking my music, or at least trying to comprehend the difference and uniqueness that it proposes. I will never try to sound like other bands. I may have some influences and use some reference approaches, but I would like to be referred to as having a very unique sound signature that a wider audience would like to discover and appreciate. Maybe that is just not possible because my music is not good enough. I don’t know. That is the most difficult question that you’ve asked because it deals with subjective perception.
HX: Fair enough. What else should we know? What else would you like to share? What have I missed?
NL: Well, I would like to inform you that my collaboration project THERMOHALINE will be releasing its debut full length very soon, which will probably surprise a lot of people, for it’s quite different from the EP that was released last year. Also, I will probably release more music with SALQIU this year, whenever I record music that I feel does not conform with what I want to do with 0-NUN. But, as always, I record according to the random time I have free, and anything can happen depending on the amount of studio time I’ll have. Also, I would like to thank you a million for the interest and for this conversation. I think I was able to put out a lot of things that run through my mind, and it’s always great to have an escape route for those. Finally, please do give a listen to my music with an open mind, both through my Bandcamp page or through Brucia Records one. The trilogy is available in both. Best to you, Hayduke. Your work for the metal community is immense and highly appreciated.
HX: Thank you for your time and your thoughtful answers!
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.