Kistvaen is named after a kind of ancient, granite tomb found in the UK. Specifically, Roly centred on the Neolithic tombs of Dartmoor – in South Devon, England – which are unique in the fact that nearly all these tombs are oriented along the NW/SE direction so the dead could face the sun. Visiting these memorials, Roly and visual artist Marcel Weber (MFO) took on the task of reflecting the duties and sensibilities these tombs reveal through the audio-visual experience, as shown at events including Berlin Atonal and MIRA Festival, Barcelona last year. Their collaboration comprised the six pieces on Roly’s new record, that attempt to express how this forgotten, pagan era and the technologically abundant present are inextricably interwoven.
In keeping with previous releases, Kistvaen occupies a space not easily categorised through his use of field recording, folk instrumentation, and digital processing that signal fleeting moments of his past dubstep routes, drone, and even classical. The dense, electronic quivers that span Kistvaen provide an ominous atmosphere that make sound design perhaps the most apt terminology. Vocal performances from Bragod’s Mary-Anne Roberts, Dead Space Chamber Music’s Ellen Southern and vocalist Phil Owen are heavily embedded into the mix to compound the spectral theme of the record – as if the once dormant dead are wailing into the present, but only occasionally being understood. We spoke to Roly about concept albums, the non-linearity of time and music as an answer to the importance of rituals.