Welcome, everybody, to the psychedelic realms of Immaterial Possession, an Athens, Georgia-based rock band who deal in all things mysterious and imaginative. Their self-titled debut album is a staggering opus that draws from vintage sounds of decades gone by to craft a refreshing range of exuberant feelings and boundless creativity. Everything Is Noise is therefore privileged to catch up with Immaterial Possession band members Cooper and Madeline to talk about the processes and ideas gone into the making of this rich and distinct project.
As regards to the old school psychedelia that resonates strongly in the band’s music, Cooper assures us that these are simply the sounds that want to come out, and Madeline goes on to discuss just how attractive those sounds are:
‘I generally feel drawn to expression in ways that can be ambiguous in time. It’s crystal clear that those sorts of sounds age gracefully. Perhaps they get even better.‘
This cultivation of musical ideas must surely also form a sense of narrative, which begs the question: Is there a theme or a story behind the album? Get ready folks – it’s a rollercoaster!
‘Chapter 1: The gate to the underworld opens… Chapter 2: Oh, it was actually just a garden gate… and so on…‘
On a marginally more serious note, the album could be described as a playful bringing of shadowy worlds into light. In other terms, it could embody the expression of everyday life in these current, turbulent years. On an emotional level, the album is an empty book for people to interpret. Perhaps listeners will feel a little hope, a dash of anger, or perhaps some nostalgia? Madeline hopes that listeners are able to release whatever feelings they happen to be suppressing at the time. Failing that, they can use the record as a canvas to project their emotions onto. With a wealth of feelings to choose from, the idea that Immaterial Possession can potentially spur a healthy release for anyone at any point is the jackpot for Madeline and the band.
‘Nervous excitement for this upcoming doomsday? That feeling when you rip off your face and there’s another one underneath? The ‘duh‘ when you realize that neglected pile of laundry in your room is actually the person that’s been opening the window at night to get some fresh air? The panic when your coveted cycle of self-demise you keep in a fragile glass box gets broken when you take it through the car wash? I hope someone finds something useful in there.‘
From a more technical standpoint, the act of writing and composing this particular style of music is a challenge in itself. For Cooper, it’s all about making sure to record every practice and jam session, to ensure that those juicy spontaneous nuggets of creativity stick around. Alongside this, Madeline has a personal take regarding bringing the energy of her classical acoustic guitar into the electric sounds of the band, the challenge being of course to retain those classical nuances within the more modern, rocking vibe.
It seems their secret to creating such a distinct sound with a notable level of fluidity is to be on a good musical wavelength with one another, strengthened in turn when they are on the road and playing consistently and constantly. As one can imagine, the band communicate in their own unique language; at the same time, each of the four members have their own musical core, certainly with overlap, but also with need to officiate, so that the marriage of sounds is a pleasant one. Each has their own creative boundaries, meaning when something starts to cross into the field of another’s discomfort, they simply veer off into another direction. The vibrancy of individual energy is what makes Immaterial Possession difficult to even catergorize… and that’s a good thing.
Madeline for one is inspired creatively by honing in on the magical spaces of beautiful architecture, psychedelic encounters, costumes, nature, ancestry, and all the other realms that pop out and really help to craft the space of the music. Along with this, the band as a whole draw influence from the creative processes and artistic expressions that existed before the age of hyper-industrialization and commodification. Likewise, they are moved and excited by art, architecture, and films from bygone days, where craft and handmade elements were a great deal more apparent.
Their unique sound and visuals amply reflect this attitude, which is why this album is such a proud achievement for the band, and such a rewarding journey for the listener. Madeline explains this sense of catharsis in more detail:
‘I’m so used to letting things remain in shapeshifting form. I felt the process was very emotional. At some point I realized how every step towards completion was like another nail in the coffin. By that, I mean having this finished product now, in shiny black vinyl, feels almost like it’s the glorious funeral to a forever immutably completed process, from infinite possibility to zero more… which is wonderful.
These songs can now dance into their afterlives in other peoples heads and, I hope, hearts. Though they are stamped in some form, they’re constantly transforming through perspectives across time and space in ways I’ll never know.‘
Such lovely descriptions of their art segue us into an even deeper question: What does music mean to the individual? Cooper describes music as a mysterious language that everyone can understand, one that offers direct emotional and physical communication unhindered by words. Upon listening, a person is somehow moved and changed, and furthermore able to repeat the sensation by simply listening again.
‘Right now, my tape player is dying, so it plays everything about 12% slowed down, giving fantastic, new, and subtly strange versions of songs.‘
Madeline’s own philosophy on the meaning of music is no less enthralling:
‘Music consistently shows itself in the form of an inner dimensional microscope, the handiest tool for peering into the realms of reflection, meaning, healing… I think it’s us who’s down there, dance-squiggling around in the petri-dish. Sometimes if I’m forgetting to feel what I might be needing to feel, then music just zooms me directly to the heart of the matter. That’s really all I know how to describe as my ‘taste‘ in music. I love it so much, I just gauge by: Does it have the lens, the light, the focus to transport you there?
The cicadas this summer have been SO loud… Cooper and I realized the other day that we were practically yelling at each other sitting two feet apart. When you tune your ears to the musical radio, the cicadas become a pretty fucked up symphony of extravagance. You want to lie down for that one, or you might lose your balance. And buckle up cause you’ll probably start levitating! That’s generally the everyday life of making meaning through music…‘
And may this life live long into the future. It’s an understatement to say that Immaterial Possession have plans. For an outfit so eager to fly beyond the shackles of convention, they have a very concise blueprint for where they are headed next:
‘More-more-more music videos. And we are back to making some self-made recordings at the local, somewhat secretly accessible, studio in Athens, after-hours style… aaand of course, we are ITCHING to get our fanny packs back on the tour caboose, whenever it’s safe to do so.‘