by Niklas Göransson
The Predatory Light acts as a guiding beacon for exploration into the centre of one’s self – pondering matters of both spirit and flesh, and how to sever the link which bonds them.
– My personal and creative aim with PREDATORY LIGHT is to illuminate the dark corners of being. Life is cryptic and bizarre, and I intend for my compositions to reflect that – to act as vehicle for a journey into the centre of our selves.
Speaking to guitarist and vocalist Luke Sheppard before the interview, he mentioned that they’re trying to ’do something different’, so I thought we’d start off with determining what that entails. Almost every artist I converse with makes similar claims, I have in fact yet to come across anyone saying ‘just trying to blend in, really’.
– Good point. Sonically, we’re not in the ’big chord’ black metal camp, we have no overtly occult or satanic influences and we don’t play old school death metal. I think this gives us some separation from the scene at large but doesn’t automatically make us unique.
To that purpose, he hopes that the self-titled 2016 debut album will stand on its own.
– Not everyone is going to find us remarkable or even good, and that’s fine. We’ll keep trying to overcome ourselves as artists, recognising our own creative trappings and putting out music that just might be a little different.
There was not a lot of information available about these gentlemen, so I based most of my talking points on nit-picking quotes from the one interview I could find – precisely what artists usually detest being subjected to. One claim was that ’the album meditates on the spirit confined within our flesh’. The art of meditation is a concept that was explored in a recent ABIGOR feature, so I thought to hear Luke’s approach to it.
– Well, when I say ’meditation’ I’m referring to the different ways I explore ideas through PREDATORY LIGHT. This whole album is to me one amalgamation of various interests – some songs are inspired by profound concepts and others… are merely expressions of ideas, or ’hey, I’m just going to write a fucking metal song’. It does however bear mentioning that there are larger themes connecting the songs throughout.
A lot of the material, he says, deals with the spirit and the flesh and how they’re related.
– Can they be separated, and is freedom from our skin something to strive for? Is our existence defined by our bodies, or can we inhabit other vessels – and is there a way of morphing the physical to suit the dynamic needs of the soul? I have become fixated on this idea of changing skins. Perhaps it’s through the separation from our corporeal form we can find true freedom, or sovereignty to travel the multidimensional.
Shape-shifting might one day be enabled by transhumanism, a strongly technology-oriented movement seeking to evolve past the current mental and physical limitations of being human. Google’s chief futurist Ray Kurzweil is a huge advocate for this. The goal is essentially to achieve immortality through technology – implants, digitalisation of consciousness, age reversal and so forth.
– Transhumanism doesn’t really interest me, at least not from a Western science point of view. I love the idea of our consciousness being able to creep from our bodies to explore in non-physical form, but I doubt anything could render life more meaningless than immortality. In many ways, death is our creator – it grants us meaning and simultaneously deprives us of purpose. Our mortal frailty shapes who we become.
Mind uploading is a hypothetical technique that would allow scanning a brain for long-term memories and the ‘self’, then storing it on a hard-drive. The theory is that a computer would then be able to run a simulation of the copied brain, to the extent that it’s perceived as having a consciousness. This spirit replication would then either be inserted into a virtual reality – something we will doubtlessly see a lot more of in the coming years, or be installed on a processor in either a mechanical or organic body.
– I suspect that’s the next step for humanity, but I want no part of it. That kind of self-inflicted dehumanisation can only result in a destructive future, one that’s sterile and devoid of the human complexities which make our species unique. I often feel that our futuristic intentions are narrow-minded, short-sighted projections of our inadequacies, as if stripping ourselves of humanity could be the pinnacle of human achievement. What the fuck?
Scientists estimate that with modern medicine and technology, people from this generation will be able to make it to two hundred years before expiring of natural causes. Besides all the interesting connotations pertaining to overpopulation, I’m curious what it would do to societal rules when one is middle-aged after living for a century.
– That’s too long to live. It seems like we’re already seeing an extended adolescent period and I bet this would be magnified. I picture a world of bumbling man-children committed to the brash and irrational fumbling marked by immaturity. Actually, this doesn’t seem much different from where we are now. I don’t know.
On one hand, he says, that kind of lifespan could lend itself to immense wisdom. Perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to forget historical lessons if blessed with a larger sense of continuity.
– But then on the other hand, I think a lot of people over time become slaves to the past, possessed by a temporal dogma that renders them blind to the future. Likely we’ll be ruled by ancient oligarchs that fit into the latter category – rendered inept by age, entrenched and lost in bygone eras.
Luke has described the PREDATORY LIGHT concept as ‘a voracious agent of truth stripping the hide of convolution and falsity to expose the hideous fabric of existence’. This sounds exciting, and having recently discussed the illusionary nature of reality from both Gnostic and Buddhist standpoints, I’d be curious for a third contribution.
– I don’t really believe there is an illusory nature to reality, and if there is; it’s man-made through social conditioning, religious fervour and dulling of our senses. What I’m trying to convey is that there are non-evident truths, or the faint glimmering of alternate perspectives, and I view PREDATORY LIGHT as an instrument to pursue and expose these elements.
He makes no claims of having unearthed any profound concepts, but will continue to use musical composition to stimulate his own ‘awakening’. Many of these thematic ideas are tackled through his own pseudo-mythology, as portrayed in the lyrics.
– We’ve worked hard to move away from over-exhausted occult concepts – there will be no references to lesser keys of Solomon or mentions of the Sephirot in PREDATORY LIGHT. You’ll find no esoteric sigils, and I’ll purposefully limit any allusions to alchemical processes or doctrine. This doesn’t really leave me with a lot to fucking talk about so I decided to work on a creation myth to describe the chaos and darkness that is life.
This tale of genesis speaks of a primeval consciousness stripped of shape and form, dispersed throughout the void to create the physical, psychological and individual properties of the universe.
– The remnants of this deity’s once cosmic body are built into an edifice, a bone tesseract that pays homage to the loss of harmony and singularity; a skeletal god-grave that provides mysterious spiritual infrastructure of the beyond. Meanwhile, the atomised tissues of ’The One’ form the planets and stars where we rise from the black effluence or divine ooze and are nurtured in the heart of a great stone womb.
The plot thickens.
– This is just a quick and convoluted synopsis, I can’t completely demystify all aspects of the band – plus I want listeners to engage and find their own meaning. I’m not trying to tell people how it is, I’m looking for release and fulfilment through a particularly pessimistic medium. With all of the uncertainty surrounding life and death, I think there’s a want to find freedom from pain and suffering. Truthfully though, I see struggle and hardship as defining moments; catalysts which encourage humanity to forge ahead for better or for worse.
Since he’s gone through the trouble of creating a mythical creation tale, I would be curious to know if his own world-view is linear or cyclical.
– Hmmm, this is tricky for me. We see cycles everywhere and are subject to the seemingly endless rotations of time, so I guess I believe time is cyclical but choose to view it as spiralling, or whatever the three-dimensional version of a spiral would be… maybe a vortex or a conical helix? Fucked if I know.
Regardless, to him this accounts for the variation we experience within the revolutions of life.
– Turn the wheel of Samsara into a cosmic funnel spinning us through this sceptic matrix of our universe. I think there’s an endless cycle of distress in this model but at least there’s room to suffer in a variety of ways.
When you say ‘body and soul’ – do you identify your self more with either of them, or is the ’I’ somewhere in-between?
– I feel that whatever it is that encompasses us as conscious beings has the transient freedom to change between physical and spiritual identification, depending on the situation. I believe we primarily dwell somewhere in the middle as thinking creatures in the flesh, but there are instances of polarity when we become largely physical or psychological beings.
We might as well mention the actual music while we’re at it. Consulting Metal-Archives, one learns that PREDATORY LIGHT perform ’black/doom metal’
– Well, I don’t really think we have a lot of doom qualities – we have slow parts but ultimately I think we’re just a black metal band. My only real issue with being labelled is that too many descriptions give people expectations about the music before they hear it.
“Lurid Hand”, is that a homage to NEGATIVE PLANE?
– Most definitely not. They’re certainly a great band and stand apart from everyone else – but aside from playing a bunch of trills I don’t think we have all that much in common, sonically. We probably share some influences and if that’s the best comparison people can make, we’re doing something right.
There are quite a few weird, slow musical passages. Luke says that the more out-there aspects can be traced back to krautrock and a selection of old prog bands.
– AMON DÜÜL II, POPOL VUH and KING CRIMSON are major musical influences. My black metal preferences are fairly regional; Italian and Hellenic with a major dose of the old South American stuff.
He also mentions significant contributions from non-musical sources, such as the vast and austere high desert landscape he resides in.
– I’m fascinated by caves – we used to live in those places. That’s where the old gods came from and probably still reside. Dark eyes that serve as passages to the underworld, geological wombs and manifestations of our sub-conscious.
For conceptual influence he cites Jorge Luis Borges, a versatile Argentine author who is regarded highly important to both the fantasy and philosophy genres.
– He wrote these labyrinthine stories of magic, time and philosophy. I’m intrigued by the human body and the immense power hidden within our delicate flesh. Big fan of skulls too, I might add. Lastly, I’m obsessed with death; the great ruler – gravity’s hand that inspires us to live, and the author of metaphysics, spirituality and pain. We’d be nothing without it, shambling fools forgotten by time.
He doesn’t believe in God but feels there’s a psychic connection to the boundless void. This is the spark one should seek to ignite through art, music and spirituality.
– To find a sense of belonging, not just existing within it. Sometimes we need help in separating our consciousness or diminishing our self-awareness, be it through internal means or the use of chemicals and plants. Occasionally thinning the veil and welcoming the flood of unfiltered stimuli can help forge new mental pathways and alleviate our fixed psychological, spiritual and physical status.
What’s next for PREDATORY LIGHT?
– Not quite sure, we’ve managed to obfuscate just about every aspect of the band – going forward I’d like to hone our intentions and philosophy. I think this will make the music a little less impenetrable for people but not too much. Maybe the next release won’t even be music at all, who knows.