Phobos Monolith from atmospheric black metal project Mare Cognitum was one of the best releases of 2014, it’s spacey feel and great use of layers made it a really brilliant album. And on the back of the release, Mare Cognitum mastermind Jacob Buczarski took the time to answer some questions for Swirls of Noise.
Hey Jacob and thanks for talking to Swirls of Noise. For those who are unfamiliar with Mare Cognitum how would you describe your music?
Mare Cognitum is a space-themed atmospheric black metal band with heavy influence from melodic black metal.
Who would you list as your main influences?
When I began the project I was definitely drawing influence from things like Emperor, Dissection, Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, etc. I also drew from more “brutal” styles of black metal like that of Deathspell Omega and Inquisition. Since then, I’ve surely been influenced by many more, and it has become sort of difficult to pin down exactly who the primary ones might be at this point.
The album is paced really well, with a really good flow between the softer sections, and more brutal black metal parts all with a great atmosphere, how do you approach song writing to make it flow this well?
I always start with one riff as a base idea and let it flow from there. Once I have come up with an idea I like, the rest seems to put itself together. I’m sure in the case of Phobos Monolith it helped that I actually wrote the songs in the order they appear on the record – this helped the flow immensely, and resulted in it sounding like one coherent thought rather than just a collection of songs.
The layering of different textures on Phobos Monolith is also superb, how meticulous are you when it comes to the production?
Absolutely meticulous. I would say that the songwriting and production go hand in hand and that something would be seriously lost if there were flaws in this area. That isn’t to say I expect it to be perfectly produced by modern standards; rather, I expect the production to fit well with the music and enhance it in a way appropriate with the atmosphere.
What can you tell us about the lyrics and themes of Mare Cognitum’s music?
The lyrics are mostly centered (but not limited to) the universe, space, and the consciousness that exists within it. I often depict viewpoints of grand and perhaps catastrophic cosmic events, sometimes from the perspective of man or a being experiencing it, sometimes personifying astral bodies. The idea is to conjure up images of great mystery, things to make the listener consider their own consciousness and their existence in the universe and what it could mean in the grand scheme of nature.
I, Voidhanger is a killer record label, with a lot of great bands putting out forward thinking metal, how was it working with a record label, and one such as this on the newest release and previous split?
I, Voidhanger is an absolute pleasure to work with. Forward-thinking is the perfect way to describe them. They have been nothing but supportive since our initial collaboration with the Sol split and I can see this relationship continuing for many releases. Self-releasing my earlier work was a perfect segue into this relationship and I can’t imagine my releases would have the same presentation without the assistance of such a great label.
You’re a one man project, but would you ever consider putting a band together and playing some shows with Mare Cognitum?
This is a question I get very often! While its something that is fun to imagine, when I think realistically it does not seem likely. With me being the perfectionist that I am, I would be pretty demanding in the standards that I would want before setting foot on stage (especially for my own performance). The composition of the songs also makes it difficult, with some songs requiring, for example, synthesizer or more guitar tracks versus another song which might not. Everything would be possible with the use of backing tracks, but what it really boils down to is the realization that I would not be able to write music at the same rate I currently enjoy if I am constantly rehearsing for live shows. I get the most pleasure from writing music and I would not want to sacrifice the ability to put out roughly one album per year as I have been doing.
And what’s next for Mare Cognitum?
This year has much in store, with work for the Aureole / Mare Cognitum conceptual split album well underway. This will release on Fallen Empire on LP as well as AvantGarde on CD. Also, a remaster of An Extraconscious Lucidity will be released on CD via I, Voidhanger records as well as LP with Fallen Empire later this year. Furthermore, I would like to begin work on a new full-length by summertime. There is also even more in store that I can’t even announce as of yet!
What lesser known bands from your local scene or elsewhere should we all be checking out?
There isn’t much of a local black metal presence in my area, at least to my knowledge. I’ve been enjoying lots of the stuff coming out of Iceland these days, such as Mysthrming, Svartidaudi, and Sinmara. Iceland is a force to be reckoned with and is putting out some of the highest quality black metal in the world. Other various recent discoveries include Earth and Pillars, Grave Miasma, Devouring Star, and Animus Mortis. All top quality music.
Thanks again, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Cheers and thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself and my music!