FRACTAL UNIVERSE – Across The Universe
Despite being 30 minutes late at my very first interview ever, Vince Wilquin, singer from Fractal Universe, still managed to be patient and kindly answered a few question about the new record The Impassable Horizon.
Let’s start from the beginning: what is the meaning of the title?
The Impassable Horizon is a concept album with a dense and involved lyrical theme that though complex, has deeply relatable aspects to it, exploring the concept of death, and the relationship that we humans have with it. To me, art is what give life meanings and set goals for basically everyday actions.
Your first album Engram Of Decline had a blue artwork while the second one, Rhizomes of Insanity had a red artwork. The Impassable Horizon has instead a green artwork. Is there a reason for this chromatic progression?
The first thing we had in mind was that we wanted every record to be distinguishable, to have artworks that stands out from the previous one and in the case of The Impassable Horizon we have decided for the color green because it’s often associated to (something like) poison and we thought it would have been a good choice.
When did you write the new songs for the record? Has the pandemic had some sort of influence on the lyrics and themes?
The first ideas started to emerge in late 2018, before Rhizomes (of insanity) was released. Usually when I write I like to take time, even some months before I come back and listen to the songs with fresh mind, so the whole process could require some time. It (T.I.H) was finished before the pandemic started so during that time we just had to finish some pre-production, some solos and writings. We usually work on remote so we were not affected too much by the situation.
Talking more in details about the composition method, how do you approach the writings of new songs? Do you start with a riff, a chord progression or maybe something else?
For us the music always comes first and it’s only when the whole record is completed in terms of music that we start with the lyrics. The songs writing usually begins with, as you said, a chord progression or a riff, but many times it starts with a rhythmical idea, starting with a rhythm on the drums or maybe on the guitar and that is the basis for the whole song. It could always depend but the important thing is to have a good starting point: when you have a good idea the most of the job is done and you can add other elements then.
With respect to the previous records, the sax is more present now. How did you come up with the idea of Sax and why it is more important in the new songs?
This is the first time I’m doing the saxophone myself, before that was guests, for example Jorgen Munkeby (Shining). I was excited because I have not played it for a long time, just one year and a half, but I wanted to add it to the record and this is why it’s more present, I had the liberty to experiment different things in different songs and where there is the saxophone it would have been places with guitar solos, so we simply decided to try new things.
You have realized a very particular video for the single A Clockwork Expectation. Can you tell us something about it?
Yes, sure! It was shot in the largest cave in France in Gouffre De Poudrey and it was quite an amazing experience because we where 70 meters underground for two days and it was very cold and humid inside, but apart from that it was a beautiful occasion. I visited the place when I was a teenager and coming back 10 years later to play some metal down there was incredible. It was also difficult because of many little problems: for example, when our drummer (Clément Denys) hit the instrument the reverb exploded for 15 seconds and it was quite hard to hear what was going on and the saxophone had the keys stick so in the end it was challenging even if we were just pretending to play.
I remember when shooting the very end part of the video that we had to stand still for half and a hour and redo the shot 15-20 times because the director wanted very specific images and we were freezing (Vince ride).
Fractal universe are very active on social network, especially on instagram. How Is your relationship with the fan base? You have also launched a contest for Symmetrical Masquerade. Was it Succesful?
We try to be as active as possible on social media, especially in time like these (covid 19) where it is important to remain connected with all our fan base and keep growing it, so we put a lot of emphasis on that. We also opened a twitch channel where we stream regularly with our music or just answer people questions. I think the contests really served the purpose, because the idea was to invite people to play our songs and have fun with them and I think it was successful, both the one for symmetrical Masquerade and A Clockwork Expectation and we received over 30 entries which were very good. It was succesful because it’s always nice to see other persons jamming through your songs.
How will you promote The Impassable Horizon in the near future?
As I said before, we keep on playing on twitch all together or just me or other members and we try to offer various streams, but for now we haven’t done a big stream event but we will do that for the release of the record (25 June) where we are going to play the whole record in its entirety for the occasion. For the live shows, we have one in France for the release of the record on 3rd July and it’s going to be our first show in a year and a half so we are very excited and there will be more in the next periods, almost everyone in France because it is the easiest and safest way to play shows in these times but after that we will do the possible to play also in Europe or even in North America where we have a big fan base.
Have you ever played in Italy?
Yes, several times. The last time was during our tour with Obscura right before the pandemic at Locomotiv Club in Bologna and it was one of our best shows. Then we have played other six times in Italy especially in the north, around Milano and Brescia. They were small size venues but it was great, we love the Italian country and audience and we can’t wait to come back there.
The music you play can be labeled in different ways: technical death metal, progressive, heavy metal with jazz/fusion elements. Is there a genre in which you identify the most?
For me it’s hard to put ourselves in just one box because we don’t want to limit ourselves
Because of the many influences we put in the music: there is the saxophone, there are harsh vocals and clean vocals, clean guitar parts and blastbeat, it’s very hard to find a genre in which to fit our music. What we usually call ourselves, because tags are still important for many people, is Progressive death metal because it’s very inclusive: with the word progressive you can prove a lot of things but I’m not a big fan of tags in general.
You have to choose 3 songs from the new record: which ones would you pick up?
A Clockwork Expectation would be first one, this is why we picked it as first single, because is one of which we are most proud of. It was one of the last ones I wrote before entering the studio and I still really enjoy it. Then maybe Black Sails of Melancholia that shows the soft side of the band: ve loved the vibes of this song and especially how it turned out in the production because it has so many layers and this one the sax was added at the very last moment. I’m so happy we did it because this song is very special to me. The third one is Godless Machinist, the last song of the record, because it presents the more progressive side of the band, It’s the longest track of the album, it goes through a lot of different moods
A question that has to be made: are you already working on new stuff?
Yes, we have set the writing for the songs of the new record already, for now these are some unfinished songs here and there but I have a lot of different ideas that I just have to finish before we start discussing or rehearsing , but yes there are things that will be developed in the next months because we want to try to release a new record every two years.
What do you think about the metal scene in France?
Well, I think the scene in France is very good and one thing that helped French metal in general is Gojira and their mainstream success: they opened a lot of doors for other bands also, because now french metal is taken seriously at an international level. Gojira inspired a lot of young musicians to start a band.
So, the scene is extremely good and if I could name some bands that I also appreciate I would say Gorod (tech death), Tripalium (groove death), Hypno5e (Avant-garde). I think it (the scene) will keep on growing and gaining more and more mainstream success.
Do you think The Impassable Horizon to be a maturation point or just a step towards new experiences for Fractal Universe?
It’s really hard to answer because I can also look back to the previous records and say that each of them stand on its own, but there is also room for improvement , we are still practicing our instruments to be better musicians, songwriters and producers but we are completely happy with the achievement on this (T.i.h) record; The aim is not make the next one better but to make it different and that stands out on its own, with maybe different musical approach, comprehending new ideas.
One last question: how would you describe The Impassable Horizon to someone who doesn’t know Fractal Universe at all?
That’s a hard question (ride)! It’s a very diverse metal record with some extreme parts but also some very open and atmospheric ones, there’s also a lot of diversity in the vocals and there is the saxophone which I think is something that immediately caught people attention. These are some elements I would put on the forefront: the diversity between heaviness and softness, both in the vocals and in the instruments.
Thank you for having and I really hope to be able to make it to Italy soon because we know a lot of people from different bands there.
Are there any Italian bands you share some relationship with? Which Italian bands you appreciate the most?
In terms of friends, there are the guys from Hideous Divinity, Ultra Violence and tech death band Integra. Apart from that I’m a huge fan of band Sadist and obviously Godflesh Apocalypse for which we had the pleasure of opening a concert.