Puerto Rico's Fantasmes introduced themselves to us last year, and join us again today with a listen to, “The Shadow Self” followed by a discussion. From their Thralls To Strange Witchcraft EP via Last Bummer Records and LOOSE Recordings, listen close as voices, pianos, and guitars and chain gang percussion roll by drifting tumbleweeds in a dust bowl town.
On “The Shadow Self”, the percussion moves like the heavy boots and weighted horse shoes of salty and weathered strangers strolling through a strange town. The organ moves with a ghost-like presence in the background to the strumming walks of guitars as the song points toward a confrontation between the shadow versus the self. The entire mixing of the song gives a feel of an old wild-west saloon haunt, where bar piano plinks ring off the percussion's motor clang of steel works. The song slowly fades out into the sunset, like a loner outlaw paying up his tab before moving on to a new town after shedding the skin of a former identity in a game of shadows and endless, vast, and wide wandering.
Once again, Mario Negron and Darío Morales join us to talk to western film music influences, witchcraft in the modern age, and the building of their new studio, Casa Fantasmes.
Tell us about recording your EP. What kind of behind the scenes-sorcery was at work?
By the beginning of 2013, we were already working out of our second studio space, Casa Fantasmes, and for this EP, we arranged the environment in a way that would benefit our creative process. Long nights of work, sleep deprivation, and extended periods of time in a confined space had its effects on us. We worked late and went very deep into this process. Visions of snakes, blurred silhouettes and totemic spiders gently lapped our house’s walls.
What are Fantasmes thoughts about witchcraft and ghost in the modern age?
Superstition allows one to make sense of existence. It can allow one to perceive a certain rhythm within life, the shapes hidden behind chaos, explanations to the haphazard. Yet we all have very personal views on the matter. More important to us is the act of the ritual. We understand it as something essential to the process of creation. The process of this record coming into being was closely tied to the ritualistic -the corporeal, the physical object, summons the immaterial into its realm.
Your single “The Shadow Self “ moves like a weary spirit across a dusty western trail. What inspired this shadowy, organ lead, guitar strummer?
The song explores the feeling of disembodiment, of constantly weaving in and out of worlds while accepting one’s position as an inhabitant of neither.
Your tunes reminds me of music for nineteenth century western parlors and saloons, are you all fans of those wild west films at all?
We are to some extent. Desolate and barren landscapes are sceneries that we are not only inclined towards but we are subjected to in our daily lives. Using imagery as a source of inspiration was a constant thread throughout the making of this record and a lot of it was probably drawn from our own immediate surroundings. Perhaps the biggest connection might be how this record explores the idea of the individual venturing — be it physically or spiritually — into the unknown.