Symphonic tea on the diabolical LAWN with Christian Cosentino
Symphonic tea on the diabolical LAWN
with Christian Cosentino
By Ian Browne Shamrock News
I have known Christian Cosentino for two years now. He is a considerate man with a calm, thoughtful way of going about things. When one hears how intense his music is, it probably takes them by surprise! A talented artist, even if metal isn’t your cup of chai, the quaint charm of his classical symphonics is beautiful - the air suddenly churning to chaos - erupting into blood curdling metal mayhem! Just today he described his pleasure in exploring the dark charms of The Cure, and how he feels the popular 80’s number Forest, is very close in structure to dark metal. Good to hear the young still have taste!
Christian Cosentino’s splendid album LAWN is currently on Bandcamp
and will soon be available on Apple Music, Spotify & Youtube.
What is it about this sound that fits into your life? You suggest that it is the soundtrack to your final year at high school. In what way?
I think the style of the album combines the sounds that resonate with me most. I love beautiful strings and pianos, but I also love brutal music, not that I’d call Lawn overly brutal.
To answer the high school bit: albums are essentially units of time to me and should capture the "emotional state" of a particular time. All of the music for Lawn was written during my last year of high school and in the few months afterwards. I like to half-jokingly refer to it as an overly melodramatic high school album as that context certainly demythologises it.
The title?... so far removed from such an intense wall of sound. How did the name for this album come about?
It’s a weird story. Somehow “Lawn” ended up becoming the working-title for the first track which ended up sticking. The song does sound like a Lawn or field somehow to me.
When it came to naming the album, I was completely lost. I didn’t actually have the title ready until probably a night or two before the album released. It never really occurred to me to name the album after one of the songs but when somebody suggested it to me, I realised that the song Lawn was central to the rest of the album. It was the only thing that “felt right” when referring to the album itself. Hours and hours were spent trying to come up with a title, but every attempt was fruitless. Sometimes a title will sound good on paper but when you try referring to the album using that title it just doesn’t feel right. So, Lawn it eventually became.
Even though at times the album can be fairly heavy, to me it almost always evokes images of flowers in some natural setting or in a garden as depicted on the cover. It's also very childish and dreamlike to me even when it gets heavy. So, the title felt justified in the sense that it represents the album visually and mood wise for me.
….Lawn is full of constantly novel ideas.”
With such a colourful yin & yang sound, where did you borrow ideas from? Who do you listen to?
The whole yin/yang quality isn’t totally unique in the world of weird, niche metal. There are bands who were doing kinda similar things in the late 90s even. That being said what I’ve created is stylistically unique in its specific approach I believe. I’ve been told by people into this sorta music that Lawn is full of constantly novel ideas, which is always nice to hear.
The band that got me into metal in my early teens was Wintersun who’s album “Time I” is a highly orchestrated metal album. I think that opened a lot of doors for me. Another album I must bring up is “Griseus” by Aquilus. Griseus is completely different atheistically to my work but somewhat superficial similarities can be drawn as the music has the same heavy peaks and orchestral, piano driven soft sections, it was definitely an influence. Also, when I was writing Lawn, I was in the process of discovering Emperor (and black metal as a whole) which was life changing music for me. And though these artists might not come across in my own music as much I must mention Devin Townsend and Ween in particular who are my favourite artists…along with Beethoven.
Off the top of my head, I was also listening to a lot of Imogen Heap, early Metallica, Daft Punk, Beatles, Queen, Lorde and Rachmaninoff at the time. I’m sure all of these had an effect on me and my music in one way or another.
What is so appealing that inspired you to produce such tranquil classical accompanied by metal mayhem?
I have to preface these next paragraphs by saying they will definitely sound pretentious, but this is simply how the process works for me.
The style came about unintentionally, I don’t really try coming up with a style I just roll with whatever happens. Usually, the beginning of a song will be written and then I get some abstract “form” or “shape” of the song in my head. During the writing process which happens over a long span of time I will go back to a track when I’m in the mood and write something that “fills in” the abstract form of the song whether it is heavy or not. There are a lot of times where I thought a song needed to become heavy or stay soft at points, but if I impose my own will onto the structure of a piece it ends up irritating me and so I scrap whatever I had written and wait until the right thing reveals itself. So, to try to put it concisely: the stylistic duality just came naturally from figuring out “where the songs should go” so to speak.
….really, I just crap stuff out and judge it as a listener.”
Describe the process of recording in layers. Where does it start?
It just starts. I can’t control when something good will come which I think a lot of people can relate to. I sit down and write fairly regularly, mostly either on guitar or by drawing on the midi piano roll. Most of the time I have no interest in pursuing whatever it is I create so I have folders of files ranging from little ideas to full tracks sitting around. But if I create something that I emote with I pursue it…really, I just crap stuff out and judge it as a listener. When I pursue something, it then snowballs. When the first bit of a good idea comes usually the rest follows very quickly as I get obsessive over it.
Who is your audience, where would you like to see Lawn being played?
I think the main audience will be the people who experience music in an emotionally similar way to me. Ultimately, I don’t think musical style/genre or anything like that matters quite as much, just whether an emotional state is transferred from the artist to the listener. I don’t know exactly where I can see it being played but I just hope that it is listened to attentively.
Is there a sequel to what you have created here?
There is a second album that is very close to being done in terms of writing. It defines the next period of my life. Most of it was written in the era of my depressive foray into university but really it is just a document of the years that followed high school in general. It’s very different aesthetically from Lawn with much more prominent vocals, catchy hooks and a more electronic, modern sound and atmosphere. The dreamlike childish feeling I get from Lawn is replaced on the second album by a very potent yet emotive cynicism and even sarcasm, I think. There is still constant orchestration and weird, sprawling song structures but it’s definitely a new thing. I see it as a sequel to Lawn because in a lot of ways Lawn was anticipating the future, and the second album responds with what the future ended up being.
I’m very excited to get it done.