Akelei - One Among Us
It has been over 11 years since the release of Akelei’s last album, the fantastic De zwaarte van het doorstane. Finally, after a long hiatus Akelei have returned with the impressive
Een Van ons, a release that is both personal and passionate. It is atmospheric, heavy and was inevitable as Misha Nuis (Vocals Guitars) explains
‘’Akelei was always going to return with new music. There were hurdles, certainly. Changes in personal life, changes in the band, changes in the world. What ultimately made it happen was my passion and belief in these songs. They kept growing on me and deserved a proper recording.
What has changed in the last ten years for you musically?
‘’If you compare the new output to the music on the debut album, the biggest difference is perhaps that the mix is less guitar heavy. The sound is more open and more relaxed. The inclusion of piano and strings on the EP's title track is evident. The writing process has changed in a way that parts are not written for guitar per se, but for the song. Then again, I have some new stuff in development that is very much riff-based and guitar-driven, so that type of writing still has great appeal.
The theme of your new record?
‘’Connectedness. We are who we are because of all the others.
The track Nabij and the absence of loved ones?
‘’Absence can mean different things, but the idea is that we are not in touch with them anymore. An essential part of the human experience is to learn that loved ones will depart from us. How we cope with loss, how we carry on, that is the subject of this song.
The EP also has a very personal dedication?
‘’Yes. I lost my father in 2017 and then it happened to some of the other musicians while we were working on this record. Our buddy who does visuals lost two close friends. It definitely became a theme and it had to be mentioned on the EP. So, we dedicated the work to the memory of our loved ones.
What impact does the work of Carl Sagan have on your songs?
‘’Carl Sagan had the brilliant idea of making the photo that became known as the 'Pale Blue Dot'. That image shows Earth from an immense distance and underscores our helplessness in that vast, cosmic ocean. Everything we've ever known is here and we're not going anywhere, not in the near future. So, we have to cherish this planet (not wreck it) and be kinder to each other. That was his message. He also wrote Contact, and that story deals with our perceived loneliness, as a species in the cosmos, but also as individuals. These are themes that resonate with me and inform my ideas about the world, and that in turn is reflected in the song lyrics.
How did the guests come to appear on the EP including Aline Kuiper?
‘’Well, Aline (piano), Josha (drums), Harm (bass) and Ørnulf (backing vocals) had all played some part in Akelei before, so they were my first choices. Matthijs (guitar) is a local musician I met through mutual friends at jam sessions, and he was really cool to play with. It was good to have him on board, the project benefitted from his calmness, keen ears, and sound mastery. Lisette (vocals) booked Akelei for a gig years ago and her own band Scarlet Stories impressed me with their debut album. The EP's title track really needed another voice besides me and hers seemed like a good match and it was. Julia (violin) and Ronja (viola) were the only musicians that I'd never met before. We got in touch after the message went out that Akelei was looking for string players.
Each track is epic. What draws you to the doom style and does it come easily?
When you crave the sound and power of thick, distorted guitars and at the same time want music with contemplative and melancholic qualities, doom metal is the obvious choice. Hearing The 3rd and the Mortal for the first time, that felt like 'home', it just made sense right away. When it comes to writing, maybe 'easy' isn't the right word, but it certainly comes naturally.
Is the song writing process an organic one? And the experimental elements in your music?
‘’All Akelei songs are written by yours truly and this time around, the songs had literally years to evolve and ripen - perhaps the most organic songwriting process imaginable. The experimental elements were very welcome because the songs themselves felt already 'old' by the time we started recording them. Bringing something new into the mix kept it fresh and exciting. Matthijs is very effects savvy and knows how to manipulate sounds. He created the droney, ambient bridge between tracks 2 and 3.
Where do you see Akelei progressing musically? And is there more music coming?
‘’It's hard to say, because at the moment it's really fun to play some actual riffs again and keep the arrangements basic. At the same time, it's been nice to see how the music opens up by incorporating different (classical) instruments. It could be that each release features either a more traditional or a more progressive side of Akelei, or maybe they will blend. The next release will likely feature the riffier side of Akelei. That will be recorded this year.
Plans for the future
‘’More releases! We'd like to do a streaming gig as well. And who knows, maybe even some real live shows...
Top 6 albums of all time (in random order:)
Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun
Heather Nova - Oyster
Jethro Tull - Aqualung
Anathema - Pentecost III
My Dying Bride - Turn Loose the Swans
Clannad - Magical Ring