Most people probably haven't heard of GODHEADSCOPE, but many are probably familiar, at least in passing, with its main culprit. This is the latest solo project from Matt Rosin, known best for his ongoing work with the digger Smolken and his two main projects, Dead Raven Choir and WOLFMANGLER. While working on his other project, Cindervoice, Rosin was inspired to do something else, something new. And thus, GODHEADSCOPE was born. With his debut album just released on the God is Myth imprint (also responsible for Dead Raven Choir's "Selenoclast Wolves"), Matt Rosin is stamping out his own path through the gates of oblivion.
I've been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember, ever since I heard my uncle's Rush and Iron Maiden records in elementary school. But I got my real start by playing French horn in high school and middle school concert and marching bands. This is where I first began to learn how music works. I started composing seriously at the end of high school, at which point I acquired my first serious instruments and gear. I've been hard at work musically ever since, always trying to strike a balance between genres, always learning by doing.
Vocally, I have been training with an opera teacher for around five years. Once a week, every week. I take voice training very seriously; it's one of the most sacred parts of my week.
My work in GODHEADSCOPE owes a great deal to how I approach my voice. The arrangements "breathe" in the same way that I breathe, whatever the tempo. The result is a very intimate connection between instruments and voice.
Cindervoice is still active. I've nearly finished the first Cindervoice CD, “Inertia Set Aflame”.
GODHEADSCOPE came about because Cindervoice was taking so long to finish. I had a lot of ideas that needed desperately to come out. I wanted something that would be very high quality but also ruthlessly efficient. That became GODHEADSCOPE, which was initially supposed to be only a little side-project. The GODHEADSCOPE MySpace page was barely an afterthought.
Then it took off--with a speed and intensity that was quite humbling. The more I recorded, the more people responded. I reached a deal with God is Myth Records to release “A City Out of Sight” – which was already recorded and finished—more or less six months after the birth of the project. Before I knew it, GODHEADSCOPE was this amazing and fulfilling entity, with a strong character and audience of its own.
GODHEADSCOPE is now my primary and foremost musical outlet. The music "chose" me. The time was right. I'm very thankful.
I wish I knew. It wasn't a terribly reflective decision. The word simply announced itself as I was listening back to the early compositions. I ran with it. It seemed right.
Everything that's most worthwhile about GODHEADSCOPE is born of surprise. My job as a composer and lyricist is to be open to surprise, follow wherever it leads, without flinching, and share what I learn.
Smolken is one of my dearest friends. We've been friends for around ten years -- since long before Dead Raven Choir. We met in college through a mutual friend and started sharing music on day one. It's very natural for us to collaborate. We trust and respect one another completely. And there's always a lot of laughter.
I've learned a lot through working with Smolken. The most obvious debt, at least to my ear, involves knowing how to use silence. Smolken is a master at using silence in his work. Silence is almost an instrument unto itself, pushing and pulling the listener this way and that. Silence is similarly important for GODHEADSCOPE. My work with Smolken taught me to be interested in the entire context of every single note: its attack, its inflection, its decay, the silence that surrounds it, and its place in the whole.
I've also learned a lot about melody by working with Smolken. This may surprise some people. Smolken isn't known as a melodic composer. People usually talk about the pace, tone, dynamics and instrumentation of his work. But his songs are also inspired loosely by Eastern European folk patterns. This is always my starting point for our collaborations. My job is to listen closely and express the melodies that Smolken isn't playing. The arrangements are usually teeming with them. By working with Smolken, I learned to chart melodic paths even through the most dissonant and disorienting settings.
The Cindervoice album should be finished in early autumn. I'm very proud of it. It's incredibly intricate and expressive -- a combination of psych-folk, chamber music and progressive rock.
Thanks! It was quite natural, but very rigorous. It's all about breathing. Allow me to explain what I mean.
Take the song "Room of Light," which opens the new GODHEADSCOPE album. That piece required me to be extremely responsive to the decay of the instruments. Each phrase decays for as long as possible, but each subsequent phrase enters before the overall arrangement collapses into utter quiet. The piece does not start and stop. It breathes. As a result, the instruments and the vocals work together seamlessly. The entire arrangement breathes as one.
This sense of breath in the arrangement is one aspect of composition where studying voice seriously has made a profound impact on my work -- and most especially in GODHEADSCOPE.
The next release will be a split album with Stroszek, a wonderful dark acoustic band from Italy. My material for the split is mostly complete. Two of the tracks, "Patience" and "Medusa in the Cistern," are currently streaming on MySpace.
I'm beginning to think through the next full-length as well. As far as live performances are concerned, I'm considering it seriously. It will almost certainly happen.
The future is bright.
God is Myth released Dead Raven Choir's “Selenoclast Wolves” album. That CD included a re-release of the long out-of-print “Lesbian Corpse Wolves”, on which I collaborated extensively.
I'm also a huge fan of the label. God is Myth has released music by some outstanding artists, such as Caïna. The label explores the intersections between metal, folk, post-rock and ambient fearlessly.
I sent Todd Paulson, the head of the label, a few CD-Rs of GODHEADSCOPE material and he got back to me immediately. Todd has been an absolute champion for GODHEADSCOPE. He believes very strongly in the project. His steadfast support and conviction are a true gift. I'm very proud to play a part in the continued development of the label. With the foundation that Todd is helping to lay down, GODHEADSCOPE will have a long and compelling career.
We have no future plans to collaborate at the moment. The door is always open. But things have slowed down now that we're on different continents.
Some new work is scheduled for release soon, however. I sang lead vocals on a cover of Stan Rogers' "Bluenose" for the next Dead Raven Choir album, “My Firstborn Will Surely Be Blind”. It sounds amazing. Aurora Borealis will release it. And Digitalis Industries just re-issued some of our work together in Wolfmangler.
I'm still keeping busy with interesting session work. I'm handling drum programming and electronics for Phenivor, a progressive black metal project led by the electric guitarist/bassist from Cindervoice. I also make a small vocal appearance on Vincent Bergeron's new CD, “Philosophie Fantasmagorique”. Vincent is an absolutely extraordinary Canadian experimental composer. And I just finished some vocal work for a song by progressive metal band Twilight Congregation.
My father is the photographer behind the visual artwork of “A City Out of Sight”. In addition to being a law professor and a poet –and, indeed, one of my biggest inspirations in becoming a lyricist—my father is a gifted digital photographer. The opportunity to feature my father's work has been one of the most joyful aspects of releasing this album.
The lyrics of “A City Out of Sight” explore our struggle to hold on to one another in a modern world that continuously displaces us –the struggle to pull joy from grime. The imagery is urban and surreal. As work progressed on the album, and as these themes became more clear, I recalled the photo that now graces the cover.
I'm fascinated by the worn industrial seams; the deadbolt locks; the splatter of paint that seems to explode from the behind the door, with incredible energy, from a source that cannot be seen but insists on making itself known. The photo is mysterious, unnerving and beautiful. It seemed a perfect visual accompaniment to the music and the lyrics.
Only that I am incredibly thankful for the energy and enthusiasm that GODHEADSCOPE has inspired so far. I hope to continue this journey for many years to come. Thanks for the interview, Brad!
(Cover photography for “A City Out of Sight” by G.Rosin/4P Creations
, Used by permission. All other imagery by Matt Rosin.)
-- Brad Rose (31 July, 2007)