Of all the dark electronic music released last year, perhaps the most enchanting EP was Flatliner by San Diego’s ∆AIMON. Husband and wife duo Brant and Nancy Showers released their debut album, Amen, via Tundra Dubs in 2011. It immediately announced the presence of an urgent, mercurial new talent. In particular, their track ‘A Screw (Holy Money)’ was unlike anything else being produced at the time – intricate time signatures and jaw-dropping dynamics combining to give a sense of both beauty and horror. The beauty of horror; the horror of beauty – whichever way you choose to arrange it, ∆AIMON immediately became its foremost artistic champions.
As is the case with France’s Unison or Russia’s Vagina Vangi, touting ∆AIMON as a witch house act or describing their music as ‘gothic’ is far too reductive. Brant’s production work is baroque in scale; drums influenced by industrial, post-dubstep and hip-hop do epic battle with excoriating, sheet-metal synths and shoegaze guitars. Nancy’s harshly whispered, ethereally sung vocals, sometimes drenched in effects and sometimes clear as water from a mountain stream, can instill both a creeping unease and a transcendent, elegiac bliss in the listener.
There is a preoccupation with the occult in their visual art and their lyrics, but theirs is not the fey, pretentious posing of scene kids adopting the symbols and the imagery for the sake of fleeting fashion cred. Rather it is a subject they feel deeply and passionately about. One they explore with intelligence and a compelling depth of knowledge.
With the release of Amen follow-up Flatliner on Tundra Dubs in April of 2012 and its subsequent re-release as a CD and expanded edition with remixes by the aforementioned Unison, alongside yet more dark electronic scene-leaders such as Ceremonial Dagger and Textbeak, ∆AIMON confirmed their place at the forefront of a new vanguard of intelligent, pitch-black electronic music. The album was released on CD by Artoffact Records, with a deluxe package accompanied by an ∆AIMON t-shirt, and a coyote bone pendant hand-made by the duo, intended for use as a magickal artifact. They capped off 2012 by being voted Album of the Year by influential dark music / industrial blog I Die, You Die, beating off stiff competition from the likes of Douglas McCarthy and X-TG.
An extended remix package has just been released by Tundra, and features reworkings of the tracks from Flatliner by the likes of Tash Willmore, Darkforce Complex and Preteen Pornstar. Brant Showers was kind enough to speak to Mishka about his music, his interests, and the future of ∆AIMON.
Texture: You make music with your wife – how does your personal relationship overlap with your music, and how does it enhance your writing process?
Brant: We get asked this a lot but it’s definitely still an extremely important aspect of our art. The dynamic between the two of us plays closely into how we express the sexualized and emotional energies we wish to convey. Anxiety, nostalgia, and erotically charged tension all play heavily into our writing process and is directly correlated to our relationship.
Texture: From previous interviews I’ve read with you, it seems like the occult is a big influence on ∆AIMON. Can you tell us what first sparked your interest in magickal thinking?
Brant: Both of us are very ritualistic in nature. This particular trait leads easily into an interest in the way unconscious and archetypal influences affect our perceptive reality. Patterns, symbolism, and ceremonial rote feed off our obsessive nature pretty easily; to the point that we just eventually developed a very strong association with the use of it in psychological and occult traditions. Balance of light and dark energies has always been an important subject for us as well. Having both grown up in the Midwest as part of fairly religious communities, we independently developed a keen sense of Self and an understanding of the destructive consequences resultant from the willful repression of inner darkness that is inherent in dogmatic structures. Our desire to find a balance and appreciation for light and dark equally is a reflection of our breaking away from those structures.
Texture: Tell us about the artists on the deluxe Flatliner EP – who did you pick to remix the tracks and why?
Brant: For the CD release of Flatliner through Artoffact Records we really wanted to create a package that evoked the crossover aesthetic between the Witch House and Industrial/EBM artists that are deliberately pushing the boundaries of their seemingly limited genre definitions. We chose the artists UNISON, The Ceremonial Dagger, Textbeak, and ▲NDRΛS from the more Witch-House side of things and Haujobb, Dead When I Found Her, Encephalon, Chrysalide, and v01d to represent the Industrial/EBM approach. We feel there’s a lot of grey area tying these styles together that is definitely worth exploring. We’ve recently witnessed a growing aspiration in both scenes as mutual respect for similar inspirations and ideologies begins to break through the obstructions of imposed constraints. We find this movement extremely progressive (even necessary for these genre’s continuation) and absolutely want to facilitate it in any way we can.
Texture: You’ve created a special pendant and t-shirt for the deluxe pack – tell us about the designs, and what they mean to you.
Brant: The t-shirt design is a variation of the Flatliner cover art. Our use of symbolism in that artwork and the magickal festishism of the bone talisman is all concurrent with our interest in the transmutative abilities of the Will. We wanted to express a strong connection with our listeners by sharing actual objective representations of our magickal aspirations.
Bone represents a strong connection to the properties of materialism and mortality. By re-appropriating it into an object of transcendent opportunity we hope to extend a bit of the sincerity of our intent to our friends and fans. We hope to explore this concept of a ritualized energy current connecting between us and our listeners with further releases.
“The entire building was crackling with a sweaty, occult fever… A peaked darkness manifested in pure strobe-light ritualism.”
- Brant Showers
Texture: ∆AIMON have a reputation as a thrilling live band – what is the best show you’ve played and why?
Brant: Honestly we’re not certain that we’ve reached the level yet where we can consider ourselves “thrilling”… however, we certainly hope to include more visual and artistic performance aspects into our live-shows in the future (and [this] is something we are very specifically working towards at the moment). Of our previous shows though, we’ve had quite a few great experiences such as opening for Suicide Commando with Douglas McCarthy in Los Angeles and doing the Pale Noir showcase with I††, Channel 4Four, Textbeak and Preteen Pornstar in Madison, WI.
Otherwise one of the most perfect examples of the intense sexual and dark energy we like to immerse ourselves in happened at a house party in Austin during SXSW earlier this year. The entire building was crackling with a sweaty, occult fever that just permeated the entire performance. It’s almost impossible to describe what happened but the attendees from that night will know exactly what we are talking about. A peaked darkness manifested in pure strobe-light ritualism that we all experienced. That night completely changed our expectations on how effective a live show setting can be.
Texture: What is next for ∆AIMON?
Brant: We’re completing a lot of our own remix projects with the effort of tapering them off by the end of the year so that we can put all our attention into recording our first full length album. We’ll still continue to do paid remix work but it will be severely reduced from the continuous onslaught of mixes we did this past year (over 20 remixes produced in 2012).
Texture: Are you playing any music festivals or major gigs in the next 6 months?
Brant: We’ve been debating a few plans but currently nothing is solid. Our number one priority, based on requests and our own interests, is to tour the East and West Coasts so that will almost certainly happen early next year. Other than that, we will most likely continue to play steadily in the Los Angeles area while focusing on writing and recording new material. We’d love to be involved in festivals as well, but haven’t received any invitations as of yet. We’re just excited to see what new opportunities this coming year may bring.
Flatliner Limited Edition CDs and Deluxe Package:
Video: Mirrors Fade video directed and animated by The Ceremonial Dagger
Band press shot: photography by Kim Lostroscio