At a time when the definition of “heavy” music seems to get narrower and narrower, LA quartet Intronaut continues to push forward, continually redefining its own sound and challenging genre conventions. One could call it “post-rock” or “prog/fusion metal,” but labels only serve to limit its sound.
Now on its fourth LP, Intronaut has long drawn from musical influences as varied as sludge and acid jazz, and Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones) continues solidifying a signature sound. From the epic “Killing Birds with Stones,” which slowly builds to a noodly guitar breakdown, to the swirling, trippy “Milk Leg,” each of Habitual Levitations’ sprawling compositions (most are six or eight minutes) juxtapose thick but nimble prog riffs with soaring vocal harmonies (absolutely no screaming to be found). The album never abandons a sense of completeness — or heaviness — from track to track, and as a result, Habitual Levitations is much greater than the sum of its parts.
We spoke with guitarist/vocalist Sacha Dunable about the band’s latest.
“Clean vocals” often get a bad rap in metal, but yours are used hypnotically. What keeps you coming back to melodic vocals?
I guess at this point, pitched or “melodic” vocals just feel more natural and honest to me. I still love our old music and all kinds of music with brutal metal screaming, but it just doesn’t feel natural for me to get up and bark at people anymore.
What’s the story behind the album title, Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones)?
We’d like to leave it up to the audience to interpret that for themselves. I’m sure there are a few different ways to take it, none of which would be wrong, and if you listen to our music and read the lyrics, and maybe just think about it for a minute, you could probably figure something out.
Why did you record drums with a different producer on this album?
John Haddad, the guy who recorded drums, actually produced our first three recordings but moved out of LA around 2007. We decided to travel to him to get drums tracked since we always liked him and the sounds he gets. Danny [Walker] has recorded drums with him for a ton of bands too, so it just felt right. From there we went to our friend Derek Donley, who I have worked with before in my side projects Bereft and Graviton, and to mix we went with Josh Newell, who produced our last two full-length albums.
Intronaut is musically complex but always rooted in the rhythm section. Do you usually build songs “from the ground up”?
Not sure what you mean by that, but there is always a deliberate rhythmic concept happening underneath everything. We spend a lot of time working these songs out, down to every last minor detail.
What did you want to accomplish, musically, with Habitual Levitations?
Personally, I was hoping to get a little bit “weirder,” for lack of a better word. On our last record, we tried to make the songs a bit more concise, so for this we wanted to experiment a bit more. We did a lot of active music listening together while on tour before writing this record, so we were kind of on the same page as far as influences and inspiration. The course always changes halfway through, but I think the record is a bit heavier and more technical than Valley of Smoke.