Jammerzine has an exclusive interview with Nero Kane. The dynamically dynamic duo from the origin of originality known as Italy have released a defining album in the form of ‘Of Knowledge and Revelation’ as well as recently gotten off tour.
To say the album is defining would be an under statement. More of a concept, at times, Nero Kane, who you could say is a concept, sets a bar too high for most yet just right for those who care about their music. This is a dark album, but it is is brilliant. Each note speaks a different feeling and every hook is a dive into introspection.
Capped with the beautifully wicked vocals of Samantha Stella, Nero Kane is a sound that is as signature as it is dark and vivid.
How do you define “Of Knowledge and Revelation” as compared to the previous music?
Nero Kane: In my vision it’s a more immersive and somewhat “intellectual” album. It’s full of reminiscences from ancient paintings and books. Also the production is more into a dark ambient mood and basically it is the next step after the previous album “Tales of Faith and Lunacy” (Nasoni Records, Berlin, 2020). I like to see it as a continuum and maybe the last chapter of this trilogy which started back in 2018 with my debut album “Love In A Dying World” (American Primitive, Los Angeles). Actually I feel more connected to the landscapes of “Of Knowledge and Revelation” and I think it’s a beautiful step forward in my career.
If you could choose the most personal track from the album, what would it be and why?
NK: It depends, I think I would choose “The Vale of Rest” because basically it talks about my personal end. I have written this song thinking about my spirit that was leaving my mortal body and the Earth. And after that, I saw it floating in the Elysian Fields together with other spirits and voices. A procession of souls. I also like a lot its arrangement with this crescendo of choirs and mellotron drones, I think it could be the compendium that perfectly represents the full album. Also “The End, The Beginning, The Eternal” is an important one because I put a great effort to find the right and most balanced lyrics in a folk and stripped down song. Its lyrics really speak to me a lot and these type of “easy songs” usually are the most difficult to write.
Samantha Stella: I would say two tracks. “The Pale Kingdom”, as I wrote the lyrics. They depict a kind of gold and silver world inhabited by tired Gods in clear decadence. Ancient reminiscences from the Greek Olympus which is crumbling in an eternal journey into darkness. When the blinding light sleeps, the Pale Kingdom comes. And I would add “Sola Gratia” with its mystic, algid and powerful feeling.
I have always considered your music darkly sweet and introverted soundscapes and, as a musician myself, I find those the most difficult pieces of music to write. Having said that, what is your songwriting process and where do you draw your inspiration from?
NK: Thank you, I take a lot of inspiration from ancient paintings and books, less from music or films. For instance “The End, The Beginning, The Eternal” was written after I discovered this beautiful painting by Hieronymus Bosch called “Ascent of the Blessed” (1505-1515). This painting is part of a polyptych of four panels entitled “Visions of the Hereafter” and is something that truly captivated my heart. “Lacrimi și Sfinți” is the title of this precious and astonishing book of the philosopher Emil M. Cioran (1937). Also the engravings of Gustave Doré for Dante’s “Divine Comedy” (1861 served as a background scenario of the entire record and the artwork itself is from a painting by French artist Abraham Mignon (1670).
If we talk specifically about musical influences I can easily say that the last albums of Nick Cave have been an important listening. My songwriting process usually starts from loops and background synth drones or with some decadent and melancholic guitar arpeggio. I love fingerpicking and blues, acoustic or electric guitar with clean sound and a pinch of reverb and delay. Just the basics.
How would you describe Nero Kane to someone who has never heard your music?
NK: Usually I don’t really like to describe myself and my music, but I could say that Nero Kane is just Nero Kane. It’s something truly particular and visionary which is made from the crossing of many inputs and genres. It’s dark folk but not in its classical way, it’s psychedelic but in a poetic vision of it, it’s obscure but also fulfilled with the attempt to find the redemption and the light. It concerns Beauty and Art and not just the sound itself. Basically it’s music made with real heart and soul that doesn’t care about any classification.
SS: I would quote “Persuasive, seductive, alluring, but above all with great, very great personality. Pure melancholy. Cathartic. Desertic. Unsettling. Ritualistic. Religiously annihilating.” (Grind on the Road).
What are your immediate plans with “Of Knowledge and Revelation” concerning touring, videos, next single, and so on?
NK: We already made a beautiful tour around Europe and UK which ended a few days ago. We also released two single/videos shot by Samantha Stella and me. The first is “Lady of Sorrow” and the second “Burn The Faith”. In 2023 I will continue to present “Of Knowledge and Revelation” live but probably in different contexts from the classic club. Also, I would like to explore new sonic boundaries and type of live acts.
SS: A poetry reading made by myself with Nero Kane live sonification and screening of my experimental films in a beautiful small theater in Milan in February 2023. Excerpts from the writings of female medieval mystics melted with Nero Kane lyrics and songs.
About Nero Kane
Of Knowledge and Revelation is the new album of Italian songwriter Nero Kane, published on September 30th, 2022 via Italian experimental label Subsound Records in double LP 45rpm vinyl – special and black edition, CD and digital formats.
Nero Kane’s psych dark folk world is intimate, minimal and decadent. Both in his vocals and guitar style, his European roots intertwine with America’s desert sound in a project full of emotional vision and cinematic flavour. His music has been defined as a suspended and crepuscular journey particularly concerned with death, religion and love. Nero Kane’s debut album, Love In A Dying World, was produced and recorded in Los Angeles by Joe Cardamone (The Icarus Line, Skeleton Joe) and released in 2018 with American Primitive label/art collective. Tales of Faith and Lunacy, his second album, was produced and recorded near Venice by Matt Bordin (Squadra Omega, Italian Occult Psychedelia), and released in 2020 via Berlin-based psych label Nasoni Records and the Italian labels BloodRock and Anacortes. Both albums achieved amazing international reviews.
Of Knowledge and Revelation, Nero Kane’s third studio album, was created with the same team of the previous one: it was recorded near Venice in a fertile collaboration with producer Matt Bordin of Outside Inside Studio, and features visual artist, performer and filmmaker Samantha Stella, whose voice has been defined as “evoking the ghost of Nico”. In the last five years Kane and Stella performed together for Nero Kane’s concerts in clubs, theaters, churches, museums and art galleries in Italy, Europe, UK and Los Angeles. Their live performances have been described as journeys through darkness and melancholy, with the creation of a morbid beauty and an intensity which make them unique.
The album has been launched by a short film divided in two episodes (Lady of Sorrow and Burn the Faith) shot by Samantha Stella, who directed also the experimental films for Nero Kane’s previous records, where Kane and Stella are the protagonists. A garden of dried flowers full of thorns welcomes the preacher Kane in a visionary and circular journey where love and death are exchanging their roles as in a Dante’s circle between Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. A reference to the incipit that introduces the album, an excerpt from the writings of the mystic Mechthild Von Magdeburg, from which the title of the record is taken.
Nero Kane describes the album with these words: “Of Knowledge and Revelation marks a new path in my constant spiritual pilgrimage through darkness, fog and light. A journey made of solitude, of rise and fall, in a world that recalls Dante’s Limbo. I love feeding myself with visions, literature and painting in particular. Inspirations came from old paintings like “Ascent of the Blessed” (1490) by Hieronymus Bosch, engravings like Dante’s “Divina Commedia” (1861) by Gustave Dorè, and writings like “Tears and Saints” (1937) by Emil M. Cioran, “Hymns to the Night” (1800) by Novalis and “The Flowing Light of the Godhead” (1250-1270) by German mystic Mechthild Von Magdeburg, who also appeared in my previous album Tales of Faith and Lunacy.”