The United States’ space shuttle program may have lurched to an ignominious end, but other brave souls still dare to boldly go where no infinitive has been split before, plying the furthest reaches of the cosmos in search of adventure or enlightenment.
Piloting a craft cobbled together from the remains of grindcore, crust punk, black metal and that meditative space bubble thing from Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, Greek grindonauts Dephosphorus are a three man astro(logy/nomy) seminar in a musical form they call astrogrind.
“The astrogrind philosophy doesn’t have necessarily to do with the definition of a new genre since our music style is not something totally new,” guitarist Thanos Mantas said. “There are obviously influences from other bands and genres, the only thing sure being that the aura of our music is the one that somebody would expect from a band with such a concept. Since we have an astral concept, the term ‘astrogrind’ has popped out naturally as a designation, even though it does not determine something self-luminous, born from scratch.”
In Brightest Day
Combing a unique – for grindcore, anyway – fixation on the mystical with the accustomed aggression we all crave from blastbeat purveyors, Dephosphorus served up something unexpected, unheralded and absolutely enjoyable with debut EP Axiom, which has since been pressed on a 12-inch by 7 Degrees Records and made available as a free download by the band. Along with fellow space cadets PSUDOKU, Dephosphorus ensure 2011 will be the year grindcore left many of its terrestrial concerns behind in favor of swirling new vistas and unexplored horizons. It will all get a fuller expression on pending full length Night Sky Transform, which vocalist Panos Agoros promises will be more “aggressive, memorable and intense” than Axiom.
It can be easy to become burnt out and jaded if you’re constantly gorging on all that grindcore has to offer (by that measure I feel like the Sally Struthers of grind some days). After a few too many Nasum clones, getting intergalactic planetary/planetary intergalactic with astrogrind was exactly what I needed this year. Though Thanos and Panos kept things far more traditional with prior outfit StraightHate, Dephosphorus began mining the same science fiction authors that inspired luminaries such as Jon Chang to bolster the more mystical bent of their latest outfit.
“The Dephosphorus concept is allegorical, inspired by cosmology, astrobiology and science fiction authors like Iain M. Banks,” Panos said. “Somewhere in the universe exists an ancient lifeform ‘that is not God,’ Dephosphorus. It scans the universe for other forms of intelligent life, seeks their alliance and assistance in order to pierce the mysteries of the cosmos. When it manifests itself to civilizations like the earthly, it usually gets in contact with a small group (‘those who look to the sky with the right kind of eyes’ – as go the lyrics of the homonymous track from our debut album Night Sky Transform), which provoke radical change often through turmoil and violence.”
While Dephosphorus may be setting their controls for the heart of the sun, some of the mystical inspirations to their music is far more mundane and uniquely Greek.
“The mystical elements possibly originate from my occupation with the local folk music known as ‘rebetiko’ and the melodies which possess me as a lover of traditional Greek music,” Thanos said. “Many times some of the songs have an aura of old. I incorporate those elements inside the grind philosophy or blend them to produce some more psychedelic themes. Whether the audience perceives it or not is not an end in itself. This is simply how Dephosphorus operate.”
In Blackest Night
Dephosphorus will be throwing the doors of their operation open to Thralldom/Unearthly Trance’s Ryan Lipynsky who chipped in on the new song “Unconscious Excursion.” It’s an absolutely inspired pairing because each outfit approaches the same ritualistic experience through opposite means – Dephosphorus through the power of crusty grind and Unearthly Trance through the power of crusty doom. You can see what the common ground might be, right?
“Listening to [Lipynsky’s] music for a very long time, I realized while playing the guitar that subconsciously he helped me perceive things differently,” Thanos said. “You know, it’s like when you play and sometimes your fingers move independently from your will to some positions that somehow feel familiar. That’s more or less how things turned out for ‘Unconscious Excursion.’”
Panos said he met Lipynsky through his work for Metal Hammer, where he chips in the occasional interview. The journalistic pas de deux turned into an email friendship and eventually a full blown musical collaboration as Dephosphorus began penning tunes for Night Sky Transform.
“Shortly before we entered the studio in order to record the album and being through with rehearsals at that moment of time, Thanos wrote this song with Ryan’s playing in mind since he feels connected to him as a guitarist,” Panos said. “The song was recorded as part of our album session and it was practically a jam, since Thanos and Nikos rehearsed it just a couple of times right before tracking it.”
For his part, Lipynsky said he jumped at the chance to work with the Greek up and comers as a nod to the old school tape trading style, he said.
“This is not just something that I would do for every random person that wrote me,” he said. “I knew Panos and crew were of the same mindset because of the years of friendship through mail and email.”
He took the band’s rough track, penned some lyrics and recorded his vocals at his Brooklyn recording studio, adding his own unique spin to Dephosphorus’ signature sound.
“I’ve yet to hear the final mix, but I’d like to think I brought a slightly different color to the Dephosphorus spirit from Greece,” Lipynsky said.
That “different color” sounds as though it may be bleeding through Dephosphorus’ blackened night permanently, shading Night Sky Transform.
“In general there is more space in the themes, the beats are more compact and the vocals are better too,” Thanos said. “But what really makes the difference is that the album has gone deeper into a blackened psychedelia. That’s what’s most interesting, because except the high velocities and frenetic beats there is some intellectualism going on and the tracks unfold when they are meant to. Another factor is that we have worked intensely on the material over a short period of time and that has contributed in making it sound more professional and complete. You’ll realize for yourself when you’ll listen to it!”