Post metal act Kauan have been creating waves over the past decade with their unique mix of atmospheric doom and black metal. Their 2015 release Sorni Nai, a concept album was their most ambitious release. 6 years later, they are back with another concept album, Ice Fleet. The 43 minute long release is “dedicated to the terrific story from the 1930’s northern shore of the USSR” and out now on Artoffact Records. Find out more about the album in our email interview with frontman Anton Belov.
Your new album, “Ice Fleet” is the 2nd concept album after
“Sorni Nai.” Why did you decide to make another concept album?
I love to tell stories with music. A concept album is the best way to do it. It is always a challenging task, especially when you’re narrating the story of someone’s death. In this term, “Sorni Nai” was much more difficult because I’m sharing the homeland with all the hikers, seen hundreds of photos and docs etc. Hopefully, I did it the right way since it’s a big responsibility to tell their story to the world. “Ice Fleet” has been simpler in terms of the story since the original article is the only evidence we have, but it was much more complex in terms of composition. I tried to merge my experience from past years to make a wide variety of music dynamics. I hope the listener will hear and feel it.
Your friend, a scriptwriter, told you the story about the “Ice Fleet.” What about the story
appealed to you? Did you do any research while writing the album about the vessel? Did
you find any new information?
This is both, simple and haunting story. I love the fact that the original letter from the geologist’s grandson is the only proof that these events actually happened. Also, the letter has been written soon after the coup d’état in Moscow, which marked the previous regime’s fall, so his text smells of freedom of speech and the long distilled question “heeey, look what happened, is anyone knows something about it?!” But since the article has not been published, we’ll never know.
Speaking of new information, I didn’t even try, I’m more than satisfied with the abstractness of it, my mind filled all the gaps.
Was the writing process for “Ice Fleet” similar to “Sorni Nai” where you wrote sketches, then collected them in one long song? How was the album recorded? Together in a studio or individually due to restrictions?
I had a few sketches that I composed right after hearing the story and then building the
whole composition as one solid piece. It took around two years – first half and then second,
no heavily arranged parts or reassembling the sections – it’s all came naturally from the
first attempt. My relocation to Estonia and the death of my close friend Alex Berkun (who
did all the photo shoots for Kaiho Kauan sessions) affected my overall mood but helped
me to be correctly tuned on one line with flicker qualities of life and cold sea winds.
On your previous album, “Kaiho,” the band stepped away from its Metal towards atmospheric rock. What prompted the shift in sound?
Most Metal music is “that” heavy because composers arranging it that way. “Hey, I have a
melody here, and I’m a Metal musician, what am I going to use to express this melody?
Obviously, a high gain guitar!” I decided to try using a different approach this time.
Usually, when the melody comes to my mind, it has a clean reverb-like sound (might be guitar
or a piano), and I kept it like this, it gave the whole album a much lighter sound and
showed many details, which had to be properly arranged and mixed. And I didn’t know it
will be that tough! When you have an entire guitar/synth arrangement instead of a high
gain wall of sound, you should be qualified enough to handle millions of small sound
nuances. I’m not saying extreme music mixing is simple, just different and has fewer
corners. Plus, because of the album basic idea of “a few odes to the past and memories,” I
had no plans to write one sold track.
A 40-page tabletop RPG adventure based on the album is also available along with the cds and vinyl. How did the idea for this come about?
When I heard the story behind the “Ice Fleet,” I immediately thought – it is an open-ended
story, we’ll never know why all these people died there. But we can try to experience this.
So, a decision was made – together with the album, we’ll build an RPG adventure with the
same motif and every listener will have a chance to make a deeper immersion into the
story, grab some friends and live the Ice Fleet, listen to the album in parallel.
Are you into Role playing games? What are some of the games that you enjoy playing?
Oh, I’m a big fan of a ttrpg for some time now. Playing a lot of old-school D&D (b/x) and
Burning Wheel recently. Mostly crawling through LotFP classic modules, reading a lot of
setting books and writing a sandbox myself.
You are booked for the Blow Up Festival in Helsinki in October. Do you have any shows
planned at the moment?
No, but it’s totally understandable, no one actually knows when all the lockdowns will fall,
and we’ll get a chance to travel again. It’s okay for me, Kauan always been a studio project,
so there is no significant difference. And I’m very thankful to BlowUp Festival and Esa
Valkeajärvi in particular to give us a great chance to perform “Ice Fleet” in the proper
Live stream shows have become popular in the past year. Is that something that you have
Sure. I heard of streams but never considered doing one. Suppose someone who arranging
this type of events will contact us. In that case, we’ll indeed view this opportunity, but it’s
not an easy one-click task since the band is now located in three different countries.
Thanks for your time. Do you have any final words?
Thank you and wish all readers to stay safe!