Track By Tracks: Ysilik - Eunoia (2022)

1. A Stranger To Myself:

Musically, it was super fun to combine a wide range of genre shifts, along with odd time signature patterns and key modulation. Pau felt the variety of this song really sets the listener up for "what you can expect" from this album. The play between the bass and guitar during the middle section, using Arabic scales, really shows off the ability of Greg, our Bass player.

The vocals lead into the track (and album) like a ghost or an inner voice coming into clarity. The song has three elements lyrically. There is the story about a man from the far future who has been sentenced to be imprisoned in a robot that travels uninhabited planets to study them and ultimately gets lost in this transformation of self but also gets literally lost on one of the planets they study. The second element is the many empty planets themselves and how they are lost to us. The third element is how we as humanity exile certain people for wrongdoing or ban them from certain existences.

2. The Meat and Thresher:

The musical timber is based almost entirely on Armenian, octatonic, and synthetic scales (scales created for the composition). Synthetic scales are challenging, because you're working with new, unusual patterns and shapes. Plus, you not only have to compose a tune, but you also have to construct a new scale as well!

The only worry Paul had with this song was the 8-string Guitar clashing against the 6-string bass. Greg and Paul came up with the idea of "shifting roles" a bit. When the guitar went low, the bass went high, and vice-versa, it worked out well.

The music was heavy and angry and Chester felt vocally that he should match the energy that the band was providing. It was also an opportunity to dive into emotions that didn’t exist elsewhere on the album. The track is about seeing rage and anger from multiple lenses and how over time we can experience the same anger but to us it happens to feel different.

3. Paleblood:

The track title came from the video game Bloodborne. It’s a memoir about holding onto grief, pain, agony, etc and working through it all to where one can (hopefully) let these emotions go before it’s too late.

This was the first song Ysilik composed together. It started out as a tune Aaron and Paul wrote for their previous band, but it just didn't fit the feeling of that group. It's one of our more straightforward pieces, focusing on pedal tone riffs, and mostly in Harmonic Phrygian.

When Greg joined the band the bass parts he wrote really changed the feeling of the track, adding a new texture that really brought the song up and out. The intro, also composed by Greg, was originally going to have a slow guitar melody, but the more Paul tried, the more he felt that it should be purely bass.

4. Laurentian Divided:

This song was just a pure joy to write! The whole point for Paul was to compose something fun to play. He pretty much threw everything in, from chugs to harmonized sweep arpeggios. Paul’s favorite part to record was the Flamenco break-down over Greg's elegant Bassline. Aaron's additional percussion is brilliant, and Chester's VOX really reached new heights!

When Chester was writing the lyrics for this song, he was going through the loss of his father. It was also around the time George Floyd was murdered and our streets were protesting the unjust death and police brutality. The lyrics became an amalgamation of both situations in his life. We end up with some war stories that his father told him, some moments seen in the protests, and how we all deserve solidarity with one another through even the toughest times. Else death is right there and she is hungry.

5. Your Sorrow Pins You To This Place:

This song is the unofficial sequel to Vanity Wounds lyrically. It’s about cutting the ties of the painful or toxic relationship and seeing the aftermath that it created. Then moving forward. This track was originally called ‘Cursing the Empaths’ and as you see in the lyrics, there is that thought around how when you feel for someone, depending on that exchange, it can feel like a curse to you (or to them).

Musically, Paul wrote the guitar parts as an ode to Satoshi Miyashita, a huge influence in his youth. Written almost completely in Harmonic Phrygian, Ysilik wanted to use chordal movements you usually never hear in metal, especially in the bass (given its unique texture firmly rooted in thrash traditions).

6. Vanity Wounds:

Being our first song released into the world, it was important for the piece to clearly represent what Ysilik’s "sound" was going to be. Using Hungarian scales, modal mixtures, and a mid section with complex time signatures and accents, this was both a fun, and incredibly technical piece to play.

The lyrics are about staying in toxic relationships solely for the reason that you’ve determined the other person is worth being around. So you deal with the shit of being around that person because it “is worth it”. We do so much for people when we appreciate them, from turning ourselves into monsters, making ourselves feel awful, or even avoiding events or other people in life just to keep this painful connection in place. The painful connection that is established is what the title ‘Vanity Wounds’ refers to.

7. Reptile Intelligence:

Now this is a composition that technically speaking, is the most complex of the album. Time signature shifts throughout the entire work make this one of our favorites to play, but one that demands the most practice. Multiple key and scale changes happen mid-melody on the regular. Japanese, synthetic, Harmonic and double Harmonic Phrygian is the main make-up of this composition. You also get a little taste of Ysilik’s music-nerd humor at the final measure!

The vocals for this song consist of a conversation between several parties. That is why the vocals jump a lot during the verses. Chester is being multiple people and each person has a conflicting opinion but still contributes to the conversation that is being had. Lots of judgments going on, without having the full story.

8. Midnight Hour:

Midnight Hour started with two unusual motifs: the bent harmonics at the intro, and the "what a car sounds like trying to start in the cold tundra of Minnesota winters" breaks between the verses. The other riffs were built around those. This is also the only piece on the record with a guitar rhythm track under the solo. It simply felt right, where generally Ysilik would prefer to let the bass step up during those moments. This was also the final track written, and may have taken the longest time to complete (especially vocally).

The lyrics are a story about an old priest who spent their entire life dedicated to their faith and as they are coming towards the end of their life, they reflect on their decisions to stay in their faith and was it worth it. Was dedicating their life to God really what they were meant to do? You don’t see it in the lyrics but they’ve determined that it was all for nothing and commit suicide.

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