An Interview with SCIOLENT

Sciolent is a one-man art rock band based in Germany who recently launched a new album entitled “Chiaroscuro.” The 11-track release sees the young musician delving deep into a unique blend of alternative music, progressive rock, and even shoegaze.

Speaking for Progarchy, Sciolent talks about what it took for him to come up with the release. Find out more below.

You launched an album with Sciolent entitled “Chiaroscuro” back in December. How do you feel about the release? 

I was and still am very proud of it. It’s been in the making for a long time and finally releasing it into the world was a strange but rewarding feeling. I received some lovely positive feedback for it and that makes me happy of course. What’s great as well is that I’m still really content with it myself – it’s already my fifth album, but it might be the first one that I still enjoy listening to even after it’s put out. I spent a lot of attention to the compositions and arrangements down to the details and it seems to pay off.

How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?

Quite a big one, to be honest. I started teaching myself how to play guitar and bass during the making so that I could record all instruments except the drums on my own. Doing that, writing and recording the songs, producing, mixing and mastering it all would have already been a challenge, but to do it all while going to university and working on my Bachelor’s thesis and other projects was a wild ride as you can probably imagine. I don’t regret any of it though, it was a lot of fun and especially during lockdown it helped me cope with what was going on and find some meaning and inspiration.

Speaking of challenges, have you set any in the early phase of what has become the final result?

I simply wanted to reach my current potential in composing and arranging and I think I managed to do that. The advantage of taking your time with such a project instead of racing towards a deadline is that by the end you have a much bigger collection of songs to choose from, so you can pick the very best out of them and don’t have to include fillers.

Tell me about the different instrumental aspects that you explore on these new songs.

Well, a lot of it is centered around the interplay of neo-romantic piano figures and spacey guitars. You can hear that combination on songs like Balliamo Sott’Acqua, Our Worst Fears Realized or Slowing Down Time for example. From time to time there are also heavier passages where everything sort of erupts to counteract that melancholic dreamy vibe of the softer parts of the album. With the basslines underneath I tried to play quite melodically (without being too flashy) and weaved in some counterpoints here and there. And for the drums I wanted to find a good compromise between compelling groove and creative drumming – I’m not a drummer so I had to play that on my MIDI keyboard and I don’t know how playable these rhythms would actually be, but I think they feel good in context with the other instruments.

What is your opinion about the progressive rock scene today? 

That’s a tough question for me because I haven’t been too invested in that scene over the last couple of years. I love that Porcupine Tree got back together, Closure / Continuation was a great album and seeing them live was a huge highlight and bucket list experience for me. It’s also great to see what some of the young British bands like Black Country, New Road or black midi are doing. I think there’s a lot of progressive or avantgarde spirit in there, even if some people see them more in the post-punk field. Those genre boundaries seem to become obsolete anyway though, it’s just good to know that exciting new music is being made and – even better – people are actually listening to it!

Let me know about your influences—the artists that in a way shaped and continue to shape your music.

Some of my longstanding influences include bands like Muse, Radiohead, Oceansize, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Talk Talk. Muse for example were the band that became my introduction to the world of ambitious rock music when I was a kid so they will always have a special place in my heart. For this new album, I think especially Oceansize were a big influence – when I discovered them three years ago, I couldn’t stop listening to them for months. Effloresce and Frames are two of my favourite albums of all time, they just click with me on so many levels and some passages on “Chiaroscuro” are referencing them a little bit.

As of lately, I’ve also been listening to a lot of shoegaze which found its way into “Chiaroscuro” in terms of sound design and dream-like atmosphere. My favourites in that genre are Slowdive and Curve, but there has been and still is loads of talent across so many bands and artists.

Other bands I’ve been digging recently are Wolf Alice, the aforementioned Black Country, New Road, Jockstrap and Just Mustard.

And then there’s also bands and artists that belong more to the pop spectrum like Depeche Mode or Lana Del Rey that I admire. Developing a sensibility for a really good pop song is an extremely important skill to have as a songwriter in my opinion.

What are your top 5 records of all time?

The list changes from time to time, but at the moment it probably looks like that:

  1. Oceansize – Effloresce
  2. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.
  3. Muse – Origin of Symmetry
  4. Radiohead – OK Computer
  5. Oceansize – Frames or Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon (can’t decide, both deserve a top 5 spot!)

Besides the release of “Chiaroscuro” are there any other plans for the future?

I’m looking forward to potentially play some of my music live, although solid plans about that have yet to be made. Also I’m pretty much constantly coming up with new music, so maybe there will be more of that as well. I don’t think there will be another full album this year, but an EP or some singles are possible. Stay tuned!

“Chiaroscuro” is available from Bandcamp.

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