Barrens: “We’re still exploring the darkness for whatever we might bump into.”

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“Penumbra” is a great album!
One of the best post rock albums of the year, for sure.
A few months ago, the Swedish band Barrens, offered us a unique trip from light, to darkness and back again!
Could we miss a chance for a chat with them?
Of course not!

Hello there guys and thank you for your time! How you doing these days?

Hey! We’re all doing fine, all of us and our families are healthy and since Sweden hasn’t been doing a big lockdown like other countries our lives have not been too dissimilar from before, except for not playing/going to concerts and things like that.
We’re trying to make use of this time as best we can and use it to prepare new demos and music. We’re also trying to plan for the future as much as we can and make up for the shows we lost this spring. We’re itching to get out and play live and tour.

Please tell us the history of Barrens and by the way why Barrens?

The idea for BARRENS started during 2018 when Markku joined Johan and Kentas other band Scraps Of Tape on tour, filling in on drums for a couple of tours in Europe and Asia. We talked about music and what ideas we would like to explore and things more or less developed on their own. When we got back home and had some time on our hands we started writing and rehearsing what became “Penumbra”.

The band name BARRENS was chosen by our friend Erik Toresson after he heard our first demos and saw a short list of bandname suggestions we were kicking around. It felt right immediately, and gave us a vision of this landscape (inner/outer/real/imagined) that we could fill with our music.

To me, “Penumbra” is one of the best post rock albums so far for 2020.
But, how’s the feedback beside me? (hahaha!)

That’s pretty much it! Everyone has agreed that this is the case, so who are we to argue?

No but seriously, “Penumbra” has gotten a great reception so far. Since we are such a new band and this is our debut album we weren’t expecting too much, but we’ve gotten so many positive reviews and comments. We couldn’t be happier and now we just wish we could bring it on the road.

How’ was the writing procession? How would you describe band’s methodology?

Most of the raw material for the tracks were written by Johan, and then we all arranged and put the pieces together in the rehearsal space and even some parts in the studio during the recording. We are still experimenting with our “formula” and we tried out several methods of writing, and several versions of a couple of the pieces for the album. All in all we had more than 15 demos/ideas that we then cut down to what became “Penumbra”. We are trying out new formulas for our new material as well. We’re still exploring the darkness for whatever we might bump into.

What did you listen to when you were in the studio?

Michael Rother “Sterntaler”
Cult Of Luna “A Dawn To Fear”
Zombi “Shape Shift”
Stiu Nu Stiu “Blodmyra”

Atomos sounds like the perfect end of the world soundtrack to me! But if you had to choose one, which from “Penumbra” would be?

That’s a good choice actually! Either “Atomos” or “The Passing”. We also have a new song that would actually be a perfect end of the world soundtrack.


Any concept behind “Penumbra”?

If you had lyrics to your compositions, what would be the meaning?

“Penumbra” deals with the subject of change and transformation, of being “in between”, liminality or the bardo. Seeking the shadows and the unknown, in both healthy and unhealthy ways.
Interestingly but not unexpectedly the ideas we started out with concerning the concept of the album has also changed, as we have thought about these things and explored them deeper. As in real life, change is one of the true constants. Everything changes all the time, transforms and morphs into both expected and unexpected forms. The current state of the world is a good example of this.
We chose to work without lyrics for a myriad of reasons, one being to open up the music for personal interpretation, so we would not want to try to “explain” any of our pieces meanings. Stare into the void!

Do you feel that the freedom of no lyrics means you can push harder to obtain an emotional response from your sound?

Yes. As mentioned before; there are many reasons for us choosing to be instrumental. Some are very mundane and simple, others have more thought behind them.
All music isn’t and doesn’t have to be for everyone, and keeping your music instrumental is a pretty easy way to ensure another level of attentiveness from the listener who actually chooses to listen to your music.

What influences you to create music?

All of us in BARRENS have in common that we have a difficult relationship to creating music. It’s not as much something we choose to do as much as we have to do it. We all have had longer periods in our lives without being part of a band or without creating, but we’re pretty unanimous concerning the fact that these times have not been too great. And that we as persons have actually been worse people during them.
We’re influenced by dedication, hope, persistence and many other things. Great people doing great things, dedicating themselves. Also by loud amps and crashing drums, of being carried away into bliss. Afloat in blinding light, suspended in darkness.

Which bands are your main influences?

Neurosis, John Carpenter, Mogwai!

How’s working with a label such Pelagic?

It’s been amazing so far! We were so happy that they picked us up and took a chance on us despite being such a new constellation. Honestly Pelagic were the label we were hoping to end up with so we couldn’t be happier. Great people, dedicated to their craft 100%.

In which movie could your music be the soundtrack?

If there is a movie adaptation of Alejandro Jodorowskys Metabarons trilogy, that would be something we could see our music being a part of.

MONO or GY!BE?

Oh, tough question! Both bands have been very influential in certain members lives, but for BARRENS in particular, Mono is a bigger influence for sure. There is DNA from both bands running through our veins though.

Sunshine or overcast?

You need light to create shadows, so without sunshine we would be pretty boring and flat. However in our everyday lives here in Sweden we live with mainly overcast weather for most of the year, so it’s definitely something that is ever present and influences us. But sunshine please.

Four words to describe Barrens?

Introspection, transcendence, multilayered, visceral!

Thank you for your time guys!

Thank you very much!
Take care!