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Atypical California girl, Emma Ruth Rundle is the guitarist and singer of The Nocturnes, as well as a member of the instrumental art prog metal band, Red Sparowes. She recently sat down with me to discuss Aokigahara – The Nocturnes’ latest studio effort. The interview took place the day after they played their first show at Pehrspace – an alternative art/music venue in the Silverlake neighborhood in East Los Angeles, California.
It was a searingly hot afternoon when we got together to discus the album. For no intelligible reason we both wore black ensembles. In contrast to the hipster honeys roaming the streets in poom poom shorts, slouchy t-shirts and wedge heels, it must have looked like we were about to attend a funeral. The absurdity of our attire within the context of sunny Silverlake made us laugh. But given the context of the interview, in which we dissected the meaning and intention behind Aokigahara – the namesake of which is a forest in Japan where people go to end their lives, it seemed apropo.
The album has been variously described as a “lullaby sung in a cathedral,” “gothic chamber music” and “sad core” – all of which is apt depending on your mood, and perhaps, cultural view and knowledge of various musical movements. In my estimation the album can best be described as a musical tapestry traversing the emotional landscapes of death, grief, longing, inevitable transformation (for good or bad) and even has some psycho-sexual revenge fantasy thrown in for the ultimate release. It is at once visually provocative yet esoteric, ethereal but visceral. It is a perfect amalgam of the Gothic romance of Kate Bush’s The Sensual World, and the ragged emotion of Neil Young’s On the Beach, both of which deal with similar themes found on Aokigahara.
Interestingly, had it not already been taken, Funeral, would have been a suitable title as well. But unlike Arcade Fire’s Funeral, The Nocturne’s Aokigahara doesn’t readily offer the listener any emotional resolution, nor uplifting rock n roll homilies. Every song is a conflicting and wildly vacillating emotional response to the lifecycle. Julian Rifkin’s vocals on Hello Neighbor and Craving are hauntingly angelic but pack an emotional punch not expected from such a lovely voice, while Rundle’s hint of violence on Love contradicts (and compliments) her airy vocal affect on the title track and London Town.
If you don’t require tidy emotions and enjoy plumbing the depths of death, love and life in general this is the perfect album for you. Download your copy: Here.
Visit The Nocturnes on the Interwebs:
Facebook | Bandcamp
Check out images from the kick off show at Pehrspace: FLABmag Flickr
All photos: Maria Colòn