Eden Rayz (Vocals/Cello) ‘’Corpus Vice” as a title is quite literal – corpus is the body, vice is the crime. Since antiquity, humanity has ascribed an inauspicious meaning to when the moon appears red. Some mythologies even say it’s a sign of the end times. It’s also a super flower blood moon. Extra festive.
Released on 16 May to mark this occasion. Corpus Vice is the definition of music; vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion. Eden Rayz debut solo album is that, a genreless expression of uncompromising emotion that swells and enthralls whilst simultaneously able to rage and cofound . A visceral piece of extreme art that is able to combine her many varied vocal talents along with her classical training to create the title track in 7 movements that are so well executed they are as palpable as they are expressive and passionate, yet intangible. An Album conceptual in nature delivered with utter honesty.
‘’Yes, it does have one unanimous theme – the album was written as a scathing remark toward the oligarchic forces who continue to decimate the health of our oceans and planet, and toward the individuals who stand by and watch the destruction with eyes wide open and mouths sealed shut.
Are we neglecting the importance of nature and how we might at times feel insignificant in terms of the universe yet our actions here on earth are catastrophic? Is Saint Anthony’s Fire a reflection of this?
Absolutely, nailed it. Fossil fuel companies want us to feel bad about ourselves and hold ourselves accountable instead of them. They know that we love to feel bad, change our behavior, and then feel better about ourselves. It’s a nice dopamine boost. Of course we should all change our behavior based on reason, I’m in no way saying to hurt turtles with plastic straws or whatever, but we have bigger enemies than ourselves in the climate crisis and their game of deflection and gaslighting is very transparent.
Photo : Rafael Pulido
A lot of people are making "noise" about climate yet are not actually carrying out their actions?
Oh for sure, look at what happened with COP 26. We need to turn our focus toward the thousands upon thousands of activists and scientists who are proposing solutions, all the while governments worldwide pat themselves on the back for making tiny empty promises that fix nothing.
Is it an incredibly personal album? Have the last couple of years allowed you to identify priorities of the natural over the material?
The album is very personal. Until now, I hadn’t released anything as a composer on my own. I hope the pandemic helped folks everywhere clarify their priorities, and for a lot of us it helped us understand our and our environment’s mortality. Material things start to mean less.
Your album is the release of these emotions where the passion takes precedence over traditional song structures?
My album is very, very emotional. I’m a very intense person, and this is part of my life’s work, so of course I’m going to yell about it a lot. The word “passion” and I have a complicated relationship – it conjures something in which one is swept up in a sort of divine inspiration, and that’s not how this work was conceived. It is all very much calculated, and everything besides Threnody No. 1, which was improvised, is scored in full.
One major thing this music has in common with Angel Grinder and even Scaphism [her death metal bands] is the adherence to the inevitable. I chose to stay clear from already realized formal structures that would allow listeners to slip into comfort.
It feels very organic and unrehearsed.
Thank you! It’s all very thoroughly rehearsed aside from Threnody No. 1, but I wanted listeners to feel like it was spontaneous and aleatoric, even though it’s not.
Threnody No. 2 was recorded in one take?
Antonina Styczeń is such a boss of a flutist. She recorded 2 passes of the full piece, but the first was all we needed. We knew it when Miranda and I were tearing up in the control room.
The experimental nature and collaborative effect Corpus Vice has had on you? A cathartic release where anything is musically possible?
Composing Corpus Vice was definitely a catalyst for me. I got to rehearse with the performers really intimately in the studio and record music that suited them as individuals. There were no molds that they needed to be forced into in order to make the right sounds happen. It was a gratifying experience that I hope to continue for all of my releases.
I’d like for listeners to go through a cathartic process with this music, to get clear on their intentions and “go through it,” whatever it needs to be.
There is a lot of free form percussion? Was it easy to just see where a musical idea took you?
So this might sound crazy but there’s no free form percussion on the album. Writing for Austin Birdy, who played all percussion on the album, was a goddamn blessing. I really think he can play anything and advise on anything.
The only thing that might be considered free form is the snare and kick phasing at the beginning of SAF, but the tempos were predetermined. There are 3 simultaneous chaotic polyrhythms between the drums on SAF during certain sections and he nailed them all.
Are we afraid of taking things far enough as artists/people?
I hope we aren’t afraid of taking things far enough. If you’re wholly and authentically yourself you might scare the wrong people off, but that’s actually convenient for us. See ya!
Not afraid of scaring a complacent audience?
If they are complacent in the first place, I’d prefer them to be afraid!
Photo : Duke Mulberry
That wicked distorted sound? How did you create it for your cello? And you are a classically trained artist?
I run my acoustic cello through a Sovtek Mig 100. Miranda Serra dialed in the EQ/gain in such a way that we didn’t end up needing effects since it’s got all the engine power of a soviet aircraft.
Yep, I am a classically trained cellist and composer.
What is the notion of music for you and should it be free of rules?
For me, the notion is to do what must be done, nothing more, nothing less. I also ascribe to the highly-academic notion of “fuck around and find out.”
If rules help one get to the goal, then follow them. As a composer (and as a human) I like to understand the rules so I know which to break and why.
I once asked you how we change the absence of hope? Have your ideas changed?
That was a really hard question and I was really grateful you asked us. I think about it often. But no, I don’t think my ideas have changed much. Hope is an inward process and stems from equanimity and the pursuit of knowledge, for me. We can learn to be empathetic through practice, and I still think that’s very important.
Perhaps hope begins with accepting our/taking responsibilities for our actions being as a single person or a multi-corporation?
That sounds very optimistic, I’d like for it to be that way. Because I trust myself, I have hope for the things I do as an individual. But I’d love to feel hope when a corporation or government promises to cut fuel emissions by X percent by X date, but I don’t trust it because I have no reason to. Maybe hope stems from trust then?
What are the three things we need as a people to be true to ourselves and represent our being?
Your questions give me the best kinds of existential crises! Weee doggy, here we go:
Empathy (all 3 types, is that cheating?)
And how does your music reflect this?
Oh look! Another existential crisis! Keep ‘em coming! I believe Corpus Vice reflects these values because of its openness to interpretation and re-interpretation on the listeners’ part. Okay, crisis averted.
Must we never sacrifice our values to be mainstream?
Of course not! Real recognizes real. A lot in the mainstream is there because it is authentic, I believe. People can smell that inauthentic shit from miles away. Mainstream doesn’t equal bad but the desire to fall into popularity regardless of one’s values can be a self betrayal.
Your passion for music knows no bounds? What's next for you? How are your other projects going?
I am obsessed with sound, always have been, always will be. I got to work with my old friend Wayne Ingram (Wilderun) on the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok OST as a “wild cellist” recently, that was a hoot. I love those games, and I hope to do more games like that down the line.
There will likely be some more single releases coming up, I have some ideas in the hopper that are pretty chaotic and ugly. I recorded cello for an art installation for my composer/sound designer friend Bahar Royai which I look forward to seeing. I’ve also started doing little Instagram reels based on my followers’ nightmares because I’d like to do a horror film score at some point. That would be…correct for my music.
Angel Grinder is in pre-production for our next release, which will hopefully be out this coming winter if all goes to plan. That one has some surprises and changes in the works which I’m excited to announce when it’s time.
Scaphism is also in pre-production for an EP that’s got some fun themes, like building code violations and eating mummies. The basics.
Any chance of a live one-off show?
It’s gonna happen! We did a prototype of Corpus Vice several years ago live and it was wild. I’d like to relive it. Austin and I are talking about doing some SAF performances with the 3 drummers surrounding the audience like at its premiere at MIT Chapel a few years ago.
The top 6 things most important to you musically?
Ok one final crisis, thank you Sparky. Really. We need those. I’m being serious!
Thinking in terms of myself as a composer/performer:
Write for the performers
Make no sound before listening
No limits, only boundaries