Interview: Eloi Nicod – The Scalar Process

Several months ago, I began doing “Albums of Influence” interviews. That’s basically what this conversation with Eloi Nicod is about; four specific albums that influenced the making of “Coagulative Matter,” The Scalar Process. I thought Eloi’s openness and insight about influence was inspiring, and will absolutely help any listener of The Scalar Process appreciate much more where the band has come from and plans to head in the future.

A fantastic record, “Coagulative Matter,” and Eloi was a blast to chat with! A good dude, as you shall see. Please enjoy with your eyes and ears!

J. Wukotich (JW): Hi Eloi! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us here! I hope the year has treated you well so far. It certainly has been a crazy one!

Eloi Nicod (EN): Hi Joel! Thank you for your invitation! This year has been the worst and the best at the same time for me, with projects and personal challenges. But I’m now working on new stuff, while some for other bands will be released very soon, so stay tuned!

JW: In discussing which albums have influenced your work, particularly that of The Scalar Process’s “Coagulative Matter,” you mentioned “Nomadic” by Fallujah, and “Solipsist” by The Zenith Passage as being high up on the list for you. What makes these two albums stand out for you?

EN: As you might know, I’m a huge fan of tech/prog death, and Fallujah is my favorite band ever. I’m 23 and I grew up with that band, listening to every of their albums. To me, the mood of that band is unique, is it the most ambient and atmospheric band in the genre I have ever heard. I was heavily influenced by their first record, “The Harvest Wombs”, that was released in 2011 but more specifically by their “Nomadic” EP that came out two years later. This one is a real piece of art and, by far, the best of their entire discography in my humble opinion. The structure within the songs, the fact that there is a kind of movement inside this structure, the perfect dosage of repetition, enough to strengthen all the buildups they implemented throughout their music are a couple of reasons that made me fall in love with this disk. When I first laid an ear on it, I was blown away by its magnificence; I could never have imagined a piece of music capable of weaving such a canvas, with tracks as hot as boiling lava: the feeling on this EP is pure magic!

Now to mention Zenith Passage. The album “Solipsist” was released in 2016 and was a real game changer for the tech death scene to me, I mean it is very close to what we can find with Archspire in terms of speed and technicality, but if you start digging deeper, you can also come across black metal parts mixed with jazz-fusion. The leads, the solos and even the clean parts on this album are “Holdsworthy”. Plus, they added synth elements which create a deep ambiance; I could talk about this album for hours and hours because it mixes so many influences: I hear a bit of The Faceless there but also Fallujah within the atmospheric parts, Holdsworth vibes in the cleaner parts and lead/solo sections. Justin Mckinney used a lot of legato on his leads and has a tone very close to that of Holdsworth; I just love this guitarist.

JW: I was a fan of “The Flesh Prevails” by Fallujah, and I think my interest there was spurred on by being a fan of bands like Red Sparowes, This Will Destroy You, and Pelican. By extension then, especially when considering some of the more ambient textures, drawing influence from The Zenith Passage makes perfect sense. There are moments in “Coagulative Matter” that make this parallel seem obvious, especially if you pick out some of the jazzier moments.

When I think of all these groups, the guitar is absolutely what stands out. Guitar as an instrument of composition as opposed to guitar as an instrument to show off technique with. A concept, no doubt, that was entirely familiar to Allan Holdsworth, whom you’ve also cited as a major influence.

When you mentioned Holdsworth, that made me think of The Scalar Process almost like an extreme extension of Jazz Fusion. Is there any truth to that, do you think?

EN: Yes and no, because almost every band in tech death is influenced by this man one way or another: it’s pretty much like our spiritual guitar guide you know! Concerning my own album, I tried to keep a balanced approach that mixed both Fallujah and The Zenith Passage influences with the jazz-fusion legacy of Allan, with his album I.O.U. has a major source of inspiration.

This album is, to me, the perfect jazz fusion album, being the most extreme extension of jazz at the same time. Allan Holdsworth do not hesitate to play a lot of unusual and insane chords with a lushy chorus effect, however, in this album, the leads sound very structured and have a really strong connexion with the clean parts, much stronger than displayed in earlier works. While his style is generally based on a lot of improvisation, this album is the perfect blend of freely-thought jazz-fusion and well-structured, complex songwriting. It feels really magical to me, it has a strange flavor, both softly romantic and terribly dramatic.

JW: If we take the Jazz Fusion element, along with the guitar techniques of the aforementioned instrumental Metal acts, and mix all of that with the electronic musical arrangements of Boards of Canada, “Coagulative Matter” starts to come into focus as a complete work of art. I’m so glad you mentioned Boards of Canada, because I would have never picked that out! Tell us more about how BoC entered the equation.

EN: Boards of Canada is a project I’ve discovered quite lately to be honest, with the track “Reach for the Dead,” from the album “Tomorrow’s Harvest”. It intrigued me immediately how the ambient side was put together with the creativity of their sound, resulting in a work as calm as it is imbued in darkness. Maybe it is not really the case in “Tomorrow’s Harvest”, which is more of a nostalgic release, but this was the first one I listened to. As I further discover their work, it clearly becomes a major influence, for my next projects if not for “Coagulative Matter”. By the way, you can expect to find those an influence on the synths I’m composing.

JW: What’s next for The Scalar Process? With the album having been released during all of this pandemic stuff, I’m wondering if any touring plans needed to be rearranged. Will the band be going on the road, or is there more studio stuff happening?

E.N. We have a lot of things planned for next year, for the next release etc… I’m currently working hard on the composition and, as I said earlier, I had a lot of changes in my life during this year, so I can’t say when I will release the next one, but one thing is clear: I have more inspiration than ever!

We hope to play live in 2022, but at the moment we are still looking for a session-drummer in Europe.

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