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Photo Credit: Tristan Dagenais
If you’re looking for your new favorite experimental psych rockers, look no further than Atsuko Chiba. The Montreal-based band defies genre with an enticing blend of subversive post-rock and prog rock, weaving together a rich tapestry of sounds and textures. The psychedelic armada is back with Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing (January 20th, 2023 via Mothland), unearthing a fierce collection of droney, yet bombastic compositions that should please fans of The Mars Volta, Beak or Spirit of the Beehive. Groovy, droney, and hypnotic, Atsuko Chiba’s newest offering leads listeners down a path of epic sprawling soundscapes.
On the album, the band shares: “We wanted the record to take the listener on a journey, each song being a moment. Because of that, we were less focused on traditional song structures… Instead, we gravitated towards creating musical experiences with a trajectory, equally comfortable with repeating an idea for 5 minutes as we were reacting to a past moment by forcing a sudden change. We were far more concerned with the evolution of a single part, rather than thinking of our songs as sections, parts or modules that needed to fit a certain mold or structure. Songs could simply be their own musical worlds.”
They add, “We were also influenced by musical genres that tend to be more repetitive such as electronic or drone music. We discussed topics such as drones, ragas, hypnotic rhythms, minimalism, spatial awareness, musicality through overall patience, trying a less-is-more approach, etcetera. This led to us five playing as an ensemble rather than as musicians with defined roles; we were all responsible for pushing forward the main idea.”
With the album announcement, the genre-bending group share their latest offering: “Link,” a head-banging prog rock anthem. From its engine-like roaring intro, all the way to its clever instrumental coda, “Link” marches on, Atsuko Chiba fleshing out unequivocally a stern musical take on bringing others down for one’s own benefits. Calculated percussive aggression from a rhythm section playing with urgency, poly-harmonic guitar lines, alarming synthesizers and Zack de la Rocha-esque vocals make for a dissident anthem that’s all at once gritty, epic, and cinematic.
Accompanying the single is a music video directed by artist Laurine Jousserand. On the artistic vision, Jousserand shares: “We wanted to create an evolving picture based on implicit concepts; a metaphorical narrative through contemplative representation. The challenge became addressing themes such as sterile conflict or false pretense from an internal point of view while using minimal movement. Lyrics and visual elements immerse us within an accusatory monologue, the enemy taking on the form of the narrator, though their identity bears no importance. Nature becomes increasingly uncomfortable, eventually engulfing the subject, stripping them of their humanity until they are quasi-vegetal and ultimately linked to their doubles. These ghost-like twins are hostile yet passive, mimicking their every movement. The final scene takes the rhetoric out of its intimate and personal confines, giving it different identities, expressing a general state of being, a shared reality.”
We sat down and chatted with the band about the song, the video, and what’s next for these psych rockers.
The Big Takeover: Hey Atsuko Chiba! Congrats on your new release. Can you tell us about “Link”?
Atsuko Chiba: Link is a song about judgment. About how we often tend to judge and belittle others to prop up our own self worth. It’s about the lengths that we go through to destroy others, without taking the time to look deep inside ourselves. The music accompanies these types of feelings as its one of the more frenetic and chaotic songs on the record.
The Big Takeover: Man, the music video that accompanies the single is pretty amazing. Talk about visuals! What inspired the collaboration?
Atsuko Chiba: We knew that the video for Link had to be different stylistically from the Seeds video. Animation was one of the directions that came up while we were brainstorming ideas. We had seen Laurine Jousserand’s work in the form of the “Hollow” video by Elephant Stone, and contacted her. The rest was very seamless; she tuned in almost immediately to the feeling of the song, without really having much direction. In the end, we are incredibly happy with the video she put together for us.
The Big Takeover: We hear there’s a record on the way too! Who or what are some of your main sonic influences for the upcoming album?
Atsuko Chiba: Overall we were inspired by the idea of repetition and hypnotic rhythms for this latest album. Bands such as Can, Parliament/Funkadelic, Portishead, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Thee Osees played a major role in our approach to the style, and writing of the new music. We took inspiration from older and newer psychedelic music and wanted to create a record that was both warm and vintage, while also pushing what we do into new territories.
The Big Takeover: Finally, what else is next for you? Will you be touring the album? Any other projects/goals for the near future?
Atsuko Chiba: Next up for us is the release of the full record. Once it’s out we absolutely plan on touring as much as we can in support of it. Finally being able to play these new songs live is a great feeling, but theres always more to be done. We are continuously working on improving our studio, and have already began working on new music. 2023 is shaping up to be a busy year!
Stream “Link” now and stay tuned for their full length, Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing, out January 20th, 2023 on Mothland.