In what is without question, the interview with the most rich amount of content, we bring you a conversation with Alexander Julien, the sole creator of VISION ETERNEL (and yes, it’s spelled like that on purpose. ) VISION ETERNEL bears the qualities of several genres and none at all in the same breath. The project is truly defiant of the somewhat necessary evil called categorization. For Farewell Of Nostalgia is the new 4 track EP (albeit a longer one). Four years went into the creation of this EP. “It is a narrative of how emotionally devastating falling in love too fast can be and the aftermath of a heartbreak.” We’d like to thank VISION ETERNEL for the interview.
Hello and thanks for the interview.
1. Could you start off by giving us a bit of a background on Vision Eternel?
I began Vision Eternel in January 2007. At the time, I was living in Edison, New Jersey, United States and playing in a couple of black metal bands: Throne Of Mortality, which broke up that very month, and Vision Lunar, which was on the rise. I was also playing in the dark ambient project Soufferance and the dark folk project Vision Solitude.
But Vision Eternel was completely different and separate from those other bands. From its inception, it was used to document and help me process the pain of a breakup from which I had been unable to recover. Not that the music that I composed with my other bands lacked emotions; more so that the songs that made up Vision Eternel’s catalog gave me a way to bottle up the ache in my heart, the clinginess, and move on from it knowing that it was there to revisit when I felt lonely. The theme that ensconced the songs was reflected into the band’s name: Vision Eternel; being eternally obsessed by a past love.
Vision Eternel’s debut concept extended play, Seul Dans L’obsession, was released on February 14, 2007, on Valentine’s Day. It was promoted with a music video for the single Love Within Narcosis. Seul Dans L’obsession had six songs, titled appropriately in a chronology that recounted the phases that I went through, from meeting the girl, through the breakup, and into the isolation and depression. That concept was established from the start and it is one that I continue to utilize with every single Vision Eternel extended play. Extended plays are a medium that work especially well for Vision Eternel and I treat them as other bands approach full-length albums; they are major releases for Vision Eternel, not gap-fillers on off-years.
After releasing Seul Dans L’obsession, I attempted to expand Vision Eternel into a band. The first person that I invited to join was guitarist Philip Altobelli. At the time, he was performing as a solo musician under the pseudonym Darklink; he joined both Vision Eternel and Vision Lunar at the same time, but only lasted briefly. I then composed and recorded Vision Eternel’s sophomore extended play, Un Automne En Solitude, by myself during the summer of 2007, shortly before moving to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Once in Canada, I attempted to rebuild the band a second time. In early 2008, guitarists Nidal Mourad and Adam Kennedy joined, but this too was also not meant to be. Vision Eternel has since then become a one-man band, and I have come to understand that this is for the best; the works of Vision Eternel are so personal and intimate that I could not successfully work with a partner.
Un Automne En Solitude was eventually released on March 14, 2008 and promoted with two music videos for the single Season In Absence. That was followed by Abondance De Périls on March 9, 2010 and The Last Great Torch Song on March 14, 2012. Each of those concept extended plays picked up where the previous one had left off and told the story of another failed relationship. It is a continuous story-line. I believed that The Last Great Torch Song was going to be Vision Eternel’s swansong, so I asked several of my close friends to appear as guests on the release. Garry Brents performed keyboards, Alexander Fawcett provided additional guitar and bass, and Howard Change and Eiman Iranenejad contributed spoken word poetry.
In the summer of 2014, I was approached to compose the soundtrack for a short film. The director/screenwriter/producer of that short film absconded with the funds and left the short film unfinished. I was unwilling to let my soundtrack be unheard because I was so proud of it, so I went back into my studio to edit, partly re-record and fully re-mix the soundtrack into an extended play. That was released as Vision Eternel’s fifth concept extended play, Echoes From Forgotten Hearts, on February 14, 2015.
This brings us up to Vision Eternel’s sixth concept extended play, For Farewell Of Nostalgia, which was released on September 14, 2020 after four years of work.
2. The new EP is “For Farewell Of Nostalgia.” Let’s start with the cover art, inspired by Frank Sinatra. Can you talk about the importance of Frank in your music and specifically the album from which this inspiration came?
I discovered Frank Sinatra in my mid-teenage years. By discover I mean that I found out who he was and began to recognize him, rather than perhaps having only heard of him as a child or inattentively overheard one of his songs on the radio. I discovered Frank Sinatra not through his music but through his films. I believe that the first two films of his that I watched were The Manchurian Candidate and The Man With The Golden Arm. I adored both films immediately, not only because I was already a fan of their directors, John Frankenheimer and Otto Preminger, but because Frank Sinatra’s performances were so incredible. I watched nearly all of Frank Sinatra’s films over the next few years but was still ignorant of his musical career. I thought that he was an incredible actor, but for a long time, I saw his musical career as an upbeat swing and pop jazz thing; music for which I was rarely in the mood. I always had a leaning for sad and melancholic songs; I simply did not know that he had a vast repertoire in that style.
In my very late teens, I finally heard a Frank Sinatra song that struck just the right timber and tone for me. It was his rendition of It Was A Very Good Year from his album September Of My Years. I will never forget where I heard it; it was on Myspace, a profile which claimed to be the official Frank Sinatra page. It seemed dubious at the time but I never did find out if his estate ventured into Myspace promotion or not. I also remember liking the artwork for September Of My Years. That led me to searching for other sad Frank Sinatra songs, and I was delighted when I discovered that he had recorded entire full-lengths themed around broken hearts.
When I first heard In The Wee Small Hours, I was immediately hooked on it. It seems like, in retrospect, I did not listen to anything else for weeks; not even another Frank Sinatra album. It coincided with a breakup that I was going through so the timing was perfect. It kept me company on those endless lonely nights. That album kind of became my best friend during that time. I later also grew extremely attached to Only The Lonely, and for a while, that album became my favourite of Frank Sinatra’s. I now adore both of those albums equally.
When I was re-recording Vision Eternel’s For Farewell Of Nostalgia in 2019 (the EP was recorded twice), I was looking for a way to contain my mood, so that I would maintain the same level of emotions and sadness throughout the entire recording session. I immediately thought of In The Wee Small Hours. It was an album that brought me somewhere and kept me there, in safety and comfort, until it finished playing. It had taught me how to befriend absence; how to put up with being alone and embrace the sadness. But I did not listen to In The Wee Small Hours during the recording session; I instead placed the record sleeve next to my computer in my studio so that I could admire it and connect with it while I recorded and mixed For Farewell Of Nostalgia.
I deliberately did not listen to music during the recording and early mixing sessions of For Farewell Of Nostalgia because I wanted the sound and atmosphere of my songs to be organic to my instinct, to my subconscious. But I did watch a lot of movies. Vision Eternel’s compositions have always been more influenced by films rather than music. During the entire re-recording session of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, which lasted from early October to mid-November 2019, I solely watched Frank Sinatra films. That was also part of containing my mood because Frank Sinatra appeared in so many incredible melodramas. I was never a fan of his musical films (nor of the musical film genre) but I did repeatedly watch The Manchurian Candidate, The Man With The Golden Arm, From Here To Eternity, Some Came Running, The Detective and Pal Joey; as well as nearly his entire acting filmography. Frank Sinatra has a calmness and a sincerity in his acting; he is very natural. And that really helped to keep me on the edge of sadness and depression; not enough to deprive me of motivation but just enough to keep me on a roll of creativity.
When the audio production of For Farewell Of Nostalgia was completed, it seemed obvious that I should pay homage to Frank Sinatra. I decided to base the artwork on In The Wee Small Hours’; Tom Waits had already done it with his sophone album The Heart Of Saturday Night, so I figured that I could too. But I did not want my cover art to be an exact duplicate. I wanted it to be very similar but I did not want it to be as simple as my face superimposed over Frank Sinatra’s cover; that would have been cheap. So I spent a long time working on a composite image that represented me, Vision Eternel and some of the themes that are covered in the concept of the release.
For example, Frank Sinatra’s artwork has a nondescript street scene behind him, he is the sole focus. But in my artwork, it is a representation of Old Montreal and its harbour with the Saint Lawrence River, the Montreal Harbour Bridge, the Sailors’ Memorial Clock Tower on Victoria Pier and Windsor Station. There were many more landmarks that are very dear to my heart and which I really wanted to include within the artwork but it would have bloated it and made it too busy.
Another aspect that I considered greatly is with regards to the figure itself. Frank Sinatra is very much himself on In The Wee Small Hours’ cover art, so I wanted to be respectful of that and be myself as well. I spent a lot of time perfecting the pose and facial expression, but I wore my own clothes for the photo shoot. Frank Sinatra’s album cover has him wearing a suit and tie but I wore a winter overcoat and scarf. I also wore one of my own hats, a medium-grey, wide-brimmed, ribbon-edged fedora, as opposed to Frank Sinatra’s dark grey, narrow-brimmed, raw edge fedora (Frank Sinatra had a skinnier face so narrow-brimmed hats suited him; I have a rounder face so I tend to go for wide-brimmed hats). Frank Sinatra is also clean-shaven but I wear a horseshoe mustache. Finally, I smoke a pipe, and not cigarettes like Frank Sinatra did, so that is represented on the artwork as well.
Once the photo shoots were completed, I assembled a collage of what I wanted the artwork to look like. The most difficult part was finding an illustrator who was able to paint a pulp-style artwork, once popular during the 1930s-1960s. That style has made a come-back in paperbacks and film posters but not so much for music albums. I dealt with a handful of artists until I finally landed on American illustrator Michael Koelsch. I discovered him because he had done a couple of DVD and Blu-ray covers for The Criterion Collection. As it turned out, Michael Koelsch was also a big fan of In The Wee Small Hours so he was able to incorporate elements of his own feelings from the album on top of the emotions that are evoked from For Farewell Of Nostalgia. He was really excited to work on this project and it was an immense pleasure to have the opportunity to work with such an established painter. It is by far the nicest artwork that I have had on any of my releases. I am eager to work with him again for Vision Eternel’s next extended play.
3. Why did the new EP take four years to create?
It not only took four years to bring this release to completion, but it has also been six years since new Vision Eternel material was ready for release. It might also take the readers of this interview another few years to read it through!
I completed Echoes From Forgotten Hearts, Vision Eternel’s fifth concept extended play, in December 2014. I then spent the next year working with my bands Vision Lunar, Citadel Swamp and Éphémère; by the autumn of 2015, I was dried up. I suffered from writer’s block (or technically composer’s block) for nearly two years. During that time I worked on compiling a Various Artists compilation titled Billowing Tempestus for my record label Abridged Pause Recordings, and on the official biographies of several bands and Hollywood personalities.
There were a number of things that made it difficult for me to compose but the principal reason was the stress of having to contribute to six different active bands and musical projects: Vision Eternel, Vision Lunar, Soufferance, Citadel Swamp, Éphémère and my record label Abridged Pause Recordings. In December 2016, I made the decision to focus all of my energy solely into Vision Eternel. Several factors motivated this verdict. To begin with, I noticed that I had missed out on the ten-year anniversary of two of my bands, Soufferance and Vision Lunar, which had both been founded in the fall of 2006. I had anticipated highlighting those events with new releases but the dates had flown by and it was too late. Since Vision Eternel had always been my most intimate and personal band, I was determined to celebrate its ten-year anniversary properly. Some of my other bands were partly inactive, or struggling with maintaining members, so it made sense to put them to rest or on an indefinite hiatus.
The second turning point happened more by luck. While I was posting on social media and promoting Vision Eternel’s ten-year anniversary in early 2017, JJ Koczan of The Obelisk stumbled on Vision Eternel’s EP Echoes For Forgotten Hearts. It was his first exposure to Vision Eternel and he liked it immediately. He wrote an extremely favourable review, added the EP to his streaming radio The Obelisk Radio, and ended his article by expressing his hope for new material shortly. It had been years since Vision Eternel had received any press coverage and that proved to be an incredibly motivating factor in breaking my writer’s block. Within weeks I was composing new Vision Eternel songs, re-arranging older ones and recording rough demos of the progress.
I had anticipated completing and releasing Vision Eternel’s sixth concept extended play by the end of 2017 but I was delayed by several ten-year anniversary projects that had priority. The retrospective boxed set An Anthology Of Past Misfortunes, the production of new merchandise (stickers and t-shirts) and the production of a music video for the single Pièce No. Trois all took far longer to complete than planned, so I had to put this new EP on hold.
Once the retrospective boxed set was released, on April 14, 2018, I immediately resumed work on For Farewell Of Nostalgia. Only a portion of the material demoed in 2017 was to my liking, so I spent the next seven months, until October 2018, composing and recording the rest of For Farewell Of Nostalgia. But I had a lot of difficulty during this lengthy recording session. I had issues with my instruments, I had issues with my studio equipment, and I had issues with the mixing. I was not focused and my mood changed often from the composing and recording of one song to another, and even more so during the lengthy mixing stage. I also had a lot of songs, and pieces of songs, which I was unsure of how to incorporate into the release. At one point, I was considering releasing a double-EP.
When I started the mixing of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, during the summer of 2018, I was going for a wall of sound type of production. But by the time that the release was nearly completed in the fall, I was no longer enjoying what I heard. The songs all sounded very different from each other. It did not feel like a concept extended play; it sounded more like a compilation of random songs. I also noticed that a lot of the raw tracks had permanent distortion, pops and bits of noise that I was unable to correct. So much had to be re-recorded and that meant having to revise my gear. I was considering shelving the release but I was in a difficult position because I had already secured releasing deals through a handful of record labels. On one hand, these record labels were eager to release what I had, and I might be losing those opportunities if I did not follow through. But more importantly, I was not proud of what I heard and I would have regretted releasing it. So I made the decision to put For Farewell Of Nostalgia aside for a while.
I spent most of 2019 getting my gear back into action and upgrading my studio equipment. I was very well-prepared when I started re-recording For Farewell Of Nostalgia in October 2019; that second time around, I accomplished it in just a month and a half. I had already selected which songs were going to appear on the release and the arrangements for those songs were mostly completed as well. I was containing my mood (with the help of Frank Sinatra) so the songs all had the same level of emotion and depth. It finally sounded like a concept extended play! Once the principal production was completed in mid-November 2019, I sat on the mixes and sequencing for a little over a month; I wanted to be sure that I was happy with the final mix before it was mastered. I wound up tweaking a few mixes and doing minor editing, but for the most part, the release was completed within a month and a half, which was much quicker than I had anticipated.
Since I wanted to take my time with the re-recording of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, I purposely did not book a mastering engineer, nor a graphic designer, until the principal production was completed. So that meant that once I contacted these people, in late 2019, there was to be a delay until early 2020 when they were able to work it into their schedules. I took the month of December 2019 to write a short story which accompanies For Farewell Of Nostalgia in place of lyrics.
The original version of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, the one recorded in 2018, was intended to be mastered by Adam Kennedy; he had previously mastered Abondance De Périls in 2010. But he had become unavailable during the period when I needed to regroup. Once For Farewell Of Nostalgia was re-recorded in 2019, there was only one person that I had in mind for the mastering; there was only one person that I asked: Carl Saff at Saff Mastering. I immediately thought of Carl Saff because I am a very big fan of the Chicago emo band Castevet; he mastered all of their releases. I had never worked with such a professional mastering engineer before, and financially speaking, it was a little difficult for me to take that leap. But the result was incredible and fully worth the investment.
Carl Saff and I spent about an hour talking over the phone, finding out what I wanted, what I did not want and how I saw my release. He was so responsive to all of my questions and emails, usually responding within fifteen minutes. Carl then did a first pass mastering job on my release, which sounded amazing. I took the chance of asking him for a few corrections, which he did on a second pass mastering; but I wound up going for his first pass. I learned quickly to trust the judgement of an established mastering engineer; Carl really knew what was best for my sound. I plan on working exclusively with Carl Saff for the mastering of all of my future releases. I really enjoy long-term collaborations and appreciate it when bands (or film directors) return to the same people, like Faith No More with Matt Wallace or Alfred Hitchock with Bernard Herrmann.
Designing the cover art was another lengthy process and I spoke to dozens of artists over the span of six months. Once I landed on Michael Koelsch, things moved very quickly because he was extremely professional. By this time, it was mid-April and I had thankfully secured a couple of record label releasing deals, which itself had taken a couple of months of shopping the release around. Somewherecold Records agreed to release the Compact Disc Edition while Geertruida agreed to release the Compact Cassette Edition. For Farewell Of Nostalgia could have been released in the early summer of 2020, but I held it back by several months, hoping to secure a vinyl edition releasing deal. I also took the summer to design the layouts for the various physical editions, and put together a handful of b-sides for a compilation. The releases were finally sent off to the presses in August of 2020 and were ready just barely in time for the release date of September 14, 2020. It was a total of three years and eight months from the moment that I began working on Vision Eternel’s sixth concept extended play, to the release date.
4. Your Bandcamp page states that the EP is “a narrative of how emotionally devastating falling in love too fast can be and the aftermath of a heartbreak.” But could you talk specifically about how the individual tracks relate to this theme?
All Vision Eternel extended plays revolve around the same concept: documenting a heartbreak. The extended plays also follow a single story-line which is more or less a progression of my failed relationships; each dedicated to, and documenting, a past relationship. The beginning of a Vision Eternel extended play picks up where the end of the former release left off in the story-line. This theme was greatly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo, my favourite film, which has a sub-plot of “boy gets girl, boy loses girl; boy gets girl again, boy loses girl again”. That is carried on through each Vision Eternel concept extended play.
For Farewell Of Nostalgia is no exception. But the concept on this release was expanded upon greatly and also incorporates a Dear John letter to Montreal. I once considered that great metropolis my home but it was time to move on. For Farewell Of Nostalgia is partly my way of saying “Thanks for the memories, the wonderful and the miserable, now good-bye.” The title of the release is also meant to be taken, with a slight poetic liberty, as “for the well-being of nostalgia”, since nostalgia is an incredibly personal and important emotion in my life. I am in no way forgetting the events and memories that I documented on this release; I will be cherishing them, nostalgically, for the rest of my life. That was a motivational factor in re-recording the release, working with a professional mastering engineer, and getting the best possible artwork; I wanted to represent nostalgia as respectfully and honestly as possible, because it meant so much to me. The release had to hold up to its title.
I mentioned before that the beginning of a Vision Eternel extended play picks up where the end of the former release left off in the story-line. The only release in exception is Echoes From Forgotten Hearts, which was originally composed as a soundtrack. So For Farewell Of Nostalgia actually picks up where The Last Great Torch Song left off. For Farewell Of Nostalgia’s opener, Moments Of Rain, depicts the autumn season following a late-summer break-up at the end of The Last Great Torch Song.
But it is a little bit more complex than that because all of the songs on For Farewell Of Nostalgia have several parts and segues, pieces of songs that make up a whole song, which in turn make up the EP, which in turn fits into Vision Eternel’s story-line.
Moments Of Rain is sub-divided into three parts:
-Moments Of Anticipation is the symbolic bridge between The Last Great Torch Song and For Farewell Of Nostalgia. This is where the story starts off. A heartbreak was recently dealt with; boy recently lost girl.
-Moments Of Bloom is the symbolic spring in emotions; not necessarily the season as this portion takes place at the end of summer. Rather, it is in the sense that the character has moved on from the past relationship and is starting to feel better about himself again. He has rejuvenated, like a perennial.
-Moments Of Rain is the more obviously symbolic autumn, in both season and emotions. With a lonely winter approaching, there is a feeling of an oncoming depression.
Moments Of Absence is sub-divided into four parts:
-Moments Of Renewed Absence symbolizes the renewed feelings of depression, getting accustomed once again to being alone and dealing with those feelings. This is caused by the realization that another lonely winter is coming up and there will be no one with whom to cuddle; the realization that absence is now a renewed emotion.
– Moments Of Endeared Absence symbolizes the finding of beauty in absence. Having lived with depression for most of my life, I have grown to enjoy and cherish absence. To treat it as a friend. This part of the song is very moving and beautiful.
-Moments Of Utter Absence symbolizes the realization, or rather the breaking point, of no longer wanting to be alone. Absence, which was previously beautiful and enjoyable, has turned ugly and bitter. This part of the song becomes more dissonant.
-Moments Of Forgotten Absence symbolizes a brief recovery after the painful episode expressed in the last segue; the awakening of a new day.
Moments Of Intimacy is sub-divided into five parts:
-Moments Of Pursuance and Moments Of Seduction are very dark and brooding, but incredibly emotional parts. They reminisce wandering through a thick, ensconcing fog, in the old parts of the city, desperate to find someone to share the night with. The whole movement is very sad, but very romantic.
-Moments Of Intimacy and Moments Of Consummation depict the finding of a love partner. It is about love at first sight, passion and intimacy.
-Moments Of Radiance symbolizes completion and the deepest kind of happiness. The hope for a long-term relationship.
Moments Of Nostalgia is sub-divided into five parts:
-Moments Of Melancholia is closely linked to the previous Moments Of Radiance; the two songs fade into each other as night becomes dawn. This part recounts waking up the next morning, in a somewhat dream-like state, when the consciousness starts to overtake the subconscious. The girl is gone.
-Moments Of Nostalgia (Overture, Suite and Closure) documents the mourning in nostalgia, forever cherishing the memory of a night which was never established as real or dreamt up.
–Moments Of Desideria closes For Farewell Of Nostalgia and is about hoping that the girl will someday return.
Boy gets girl; boy loses girl. Vision Eternel releases are always very emotional and dark but always hopeful. Because you always hope that the girl will come back.
5. It is virtually impossible to put a style label on “For Farewell Of Nostalgia.” It’s a combination of styles and yet its own. Were the elements of post-metal, shoegaze and ambient accidents or do you take inspiration from those styles?
I have always had great difficulty narrowing down Vision Eternel’s music into a genre or style. If I am forced to, I normally say that the music is ambient. But I know that this is not entirely true. The ambient community has made that very clear with the argument that it lacks keyboards. Just as the post-rock community has done because it lacks drums; the shoegaze and dream pop/dream rock communities stated that it lacks vocals; the ethereal and darkwave communities said that it lacks electronics; the space rock community said that it lacks a psychedelic element; the drone community thought that the songs had too much structure; the dark ambient community saw it as too hopeful in nature; and the emo revival community argued that real emo was something that existed in the 1990s (and I do not entirely disagree with that last statement because I am a big fan of emo). Vision Eternel certainly has a little bit of each of those genres, yet it is not any one of them.
In 2010, I coined the term melogaze, which stood for “melodramatic shoegaze”. Since Vision Eternel is very influenced by moods evoked by melodramatic films, I thought that it was appropriate. The word shoegaze was chosen because it was known as an introverted and introspective genre and I could relate with that. I later found out that the etymology of the word melodrama actually means dramatic music, so in its purest form, Vision Eternel could simply be labeled melodrama.
My influences and inspirations for Vision Eternel are probably not what one expects. I do not actually listen to ambient; I never have. I have heard ambient music here and there, but I do not ever put it on when I feel like listening to music. I actually make it a point not to listen to music when I am composing or recording Vision Eternel material so that everything comes out naturally, from my subconscious. I do not like to be directly influenced by anything. I prefer it when my emotions take the lead.
My favourite band is Faith No More. I know that it would be absurd to claim that Vision Eternel sounds anything like them, but their influence is nevertheless definitely present in my subconscious. I often refer back to Billy Gould’s bass playing style when I record my bass parts. He is an incredible musician, possibly my favourite bassist. I am also a very big fan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Limp Bizkit, Elton John, Eliminator, and obviously the previously mentioned Castevet and Frank Sinatra. They all likely have a strong subconscious influence on Vision Eternel’s compositions.
Any comparison to post-metal or post-black metal (which is becoming more and more frequent over the last few years) is most definitely appropriate. A few people have recently called Vision Eternel post-post-black metal. I am much more happy being affiliated with the metal scene because I am a metalhead. I might not look the part, but I do listen to an awful lot of metal. When Vision Eternel started, I was predominantly playing and listening to black metal. Some of my favourite metal bands and artists, which very probably influenced my subconscious and seeped into my compositions, include Burzum, Bathory, Dissection, Immortal, King Diamond and Ozzy Osbourne.
What I do know has consciously and directly influenced and inspired Vision Eternel are films. I almost exclusively watch films spanning from the 1930s to the 1970s, with a preference of American films of the 1940s and 1950s. Film noir especially. My favourite director is Alfred Hitchcock; I also adore Douglas Sirk, Billy Wilder, John Frankenheimer, Orson Welles, F. W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jacques Deray, Henri Verneuil, Alan J. Pakula, Woody Allen and Cameron Crowe. I often watch films, then immediately begin composing or recording material to capture my emotions. That was a structure that I once used considerably for my band Soufferance, but it has been helpful at times for Vision Eternel. I expect to explore this theme further on the following Vision Eternel concept extended play.
6. In what ways does the style of “For Farewell Of Nostalgia” differ from your earlier releases?
When I decided to put all of my other bands and projects on hold in December 2016, in order to focus solely on Vision Eternel, that opened up a lot of potential. A lot of the compositional and playing styles that I had previously limited to other bands were suddenly free to use for Vision Eternel. I was not planning on re-inventing Vision Eternel, but rather, I wanted to incorporate the best of what I liked from each of my other bands into my favourite band. Vision Eternel was still going to sound like Vision Eternel; it would just have more to it.
The most obvious difference between older Vision Eternel songs and the new ones is the length. Vision Eternel used to record very short, one to two minute songs; a completed extended play normally lasted between ten to fifteen minutes. Some of the songs are much longer now and this is an element that I brought over from my former dark ambient band Soufferance. Soufferance had a tendency towards lengthy, hypnotic and repetitive codas; that is what I liked best about that band. I began incorporating that element with Vision Eternel’s beauty and melodicity when I composed the song Sometimes In Absolute Togetherness (released on The Last Great Torch Song in 2012). I also used it to a certain degree on Echoes From Forgotten Hearts, but it was with For Farewell Of Nostalgia that the recipe was perfected.
Those repetitive codas were very important during the composition of For Farewell Of Nostalgia. Perhaps the most famous example of that style is the four-minute ending of The Beatles’ Hey Jude. Many other artists have accomplished songs to that effect, like David Bowie’s Memory Of A Free Festival, Elton John’s All The Nasties, Harmonium’s Vieilles Courroies, Un Musicien Parmi Tant D’Autres, Depuis L’Automne and Comme Un Sage, Rammstein’s Das Alte Leid, Montgomery 21’s A December’s Tale, Louis Mistreated’s Tricycle and $avior, Mineral’s &Serenading, As Friends Rust’s The First Song On The Tape You Make Her, Dead Season’s To A Close, Ellington’s Sound Of Victory, It’s Easy Being Nothing and The Killers, Hopesfall’s The End Of An Era and Taking Back Sunday’s One-Eighty By Summer. All of these were influential to me, again, perhaps more subconsciously, when I composed and arranged Vision Eternel’s new songs.
Another aspect that I brought over from Soufferance was the extended track listing; having several parts and segues within a song. This was something somewhat popular with concept albums of the 1970s, as well as with classical recordings. I had utilized it to some degree on past Soufferance extended plays and albums, but never as extensively and successfully as I finally did with For Farewell Of Nostalgia. I was able to achieve a concept within a concept, within another concept; yet none are necessarily needed to be understood to enjoy the extended play as whole. They simply make it more meaningful and interesting once discovered.
7. Were the four tracks on the EP created one at a time or did you return to any of them whenever the inspiration drove you? Did they change significantly from the original demos?
I wrote a total of eleven new songs, and re-arranged four older songs, during the pre-production of For Farewell Of Nostalgia which spanned from April 2017 to October 2018. Only about half of them appeared on the release. Some were combined to make longer songs and this resulted with four principal songs: Moments Of Rain, Moments Of Absence, Moments Of Intimacy and Moments Of Nostalgia.
Moments Of Absence and Moments Of Intimacy changed considerably from their demo recordings through extensive arranging, but Moments Of Rain and Moments Of Nostalgia remained very close to their original states.
Moments Of Absence is a re-recording of Season In Absence, a song that appeared on Vision Eternel’s sophomore extended play Un Automne En Solitude in 2008. But it has a new arrangement. The first part of Moments Of Absence (Moments Of Renewed Absence) is very similar to its original, Season In Absence, while the second part (Moments Of Endeared Absence) resembles somewhat what Vision Eternel sounded like when it was a three-piece band, with Nidal Mourad on acoustic guitar and Adam Kennedy on lead electric guitar. The main difference is that Adam used to layer the song with Pink Floyd-like solos, while I used the ebow for texture on the new recording. The third and fourth parts of the song (Moments Of Utter Absence and Moments Of Forgotten Absence) were newly composed for this recording.
Moments Of Intimacy started out with different styles of guitar picking and a different tempo and atmosphere. It took a long time to develop and arrange this song and the finished version is hardly recognizable from its rough demos that I recorded in 2017. It is also a little different from the pre-production recordings from 2018.
Another major difference which divides the demos (2017) and pre-production recordings (2018) from the finished and released versions (2019) are the textural guitar leads. Those came together during the re-recording session and really added a great deal of depth and melody to the songs.
Some of the demos and pre-production recordings have appeared on a handful of Various Artists compilations over the last few years (including a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s Killer Of Giants), while others were compiled on Lost Misfortunes: A Selection Of Demos And Rarities (Part Two), which is exclusive to the Compact Cassette Edition on Geertruida’s double-tape release. There are also four exclusive b-sides which are hidden on each of the four physical versions of For Farewell Of Nostalgia. On the Advanced Compact Disc Edition and the Compact Disc Edition, the songs are hidden in the pre-gap track; while on the Compact Cassette Edition, it is hidden at the end of Side A of the tape. The last of these hidden tracks is currently unreleased and is reserved for the forthcoming Phonograph Record Edition.
8. Lyrics are completely out of the picture in the new EP. How do you think, from a purely technical perspective, your emotions were translated into these tracks?
There are no lyrics only because the music is instrumental; but there is a short story. I feel that the short story is just as powerful as any lyric. It recounts the events that inspired the music; a narrative of how emotionally devastating falling in love too fast can be and the aftermath of a heartbreak. The short story is divided into chapters which correspond with the extended track-listing of the extended play. It all ties into the concept.
The short story is included inside a booklet within the physical editions of For Farewell Of Nostalgia. I purposely only included it with the physical editions of the release because I wanted to create an old-fashioned type of listening experience; a time when people used to put on a record, sit down, and admire the cover art, read through the liner notes and follow the songs with the lyrics. People who procure physical releases do so because they appreciate and enjoy the product as a whole.
The artwork for the booklet was painted by Rain Frances. It is incredibly beautiful and it really melds perfectly with the emotions transcribed in the short story, as well as with the cover artwork by Michael Koelsch. The whole thing binds together conceptually.
I think that the music on For Farewell Of Nostalgia is very emotional and incredibly melodic on its own, but reading the short story at the same time adds another level of connection for the listener. A listener can follow along each part and segue of a song by matching it with the chapters of the short story.
9. What further plans do you have for Vision Eternel?
Since I spent so long working on this release, I hope to be able to promote it generously over the next year or so. I tend to work a little slower than a lot of the currents bands do, and I do not pay attention to trends or pressure from the streaming industry model. That mentality appears to stress and point towards quantity over quality. That goes against my most basic beliefs; Vision Eternel is most definitely a quality over quantity type of band.
The Compact Disc Edition, released through Somewherecold Records, and the Compact Cassette Edition, released through Geertruida, deserve a considerate amount of exposure. I am still looking for a record label to release the Phonograph Record Edition (that means the vinyl edition), which will include exclusive bonus audio and physical content.
In the next couple of years, I would also like to re-issue Vision Eternel’s soundtrack/extended play Echoes From Forgotten Hearts on double disc; one with the unreleased soundtrack version, the other with a remaster of the extended play version; along with b-sides and demos. A deluxe version would be a proper way to describe it. I also have ideas for Vision Eternel’s seventh concept extended play, but it will be some time before I begin composing any new music, or recording any demos. My priority is still with For Farewell Of Nostalgia.
Thanks for your time.