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InterviewsMastord Unveil Trail of Consequence

Posted on Sunday, April 14 2019 @ 00:00:21 CDT by Pete Pardo
Progressive Metal

Mastord is a project conceived and written by Finnish guitarist Kari Syvela. He enlisted a number of talented volunteers, bassist Pasi Hakuli, drummer Toni Paananen and vocalist Markku Pihlaja to complete the project through complicated scheduling and remote recording. Kari is responsible for graciously answering the questions from Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Mark Antony Rossi for this interview.

SoT: This is the first album I ever reviewed where it’s virtually a one-man orchestrated project where you continue to add players to parts and put together piece by piece. Can you tell us more about how this project came to daylight?

Kari: Thank You Mark for making this interview!

I´ve been playing guitar since 2000. From the beginning it was clear to me that I wanted to compose my own stuff and sounds. I´ve never been into regular training or any organized system. This has been a road of trial and error for me. This album contains bits and pieces of my compositions from the last few years. All the songs have been written to be separate songs, but when I was writing the lyrics that wound up on this album, I found the most of the music to this long story from the songs I have written already. I think that the last song is the only one that is completely written just for this album. Of course, there are some new parts in the other songs as well.

Every note and word was written before I started to look for right musicians for co-operation. I recorded a demo of the album and sang it too. That was the foundation of this album. I have always had a clear vision in music of what I want to do and how I want it to sound. I´ve been trying to do the same kind of collaboration-based project a couple times before and it has always crashed to the difficulty of finding the right vocalist. This time it was the same story again. I felt that Markku would be a perfect vocalist, but he just didn´t have time to participate. I was preparing myself to let go this again or do the vocals by myself, but in the very last minute Markku found some free spots from his busy schedule. Gladly so! Huge respect to Markku that he did this album the way he did. It´s not that easy to take this kind of story and music to control and master it completely. Drummer Toni Paananen and bassist Pasi Hakuli both fit perfectly for this project also. Their contribution as well as Markkus’ vocals was a huge improvement to the whole sound and depth of the album. Every one of them is a huge talent and very highly skilled musician. I´m honored to have them on board!

The original idea for me was to do this album and put it in the You Tube and maybe, with some luck, get it to the Spotify. It was late autumn 2018 when everything was recorded and producer Teemu Aalto was mixing the album when I contacted Inverse Music. Each day as it was mixed the album was getting bigger and better and I felt, that this might be something that someone could take interest. I sentf some unfinished version of the album to Jaakko Tarvainen@Inverse Records and we agreed to proceed for an international release. The rest is history. This is the story behind this project.

SoT: This project is billed as progressive metal but there are parts of symphonic metal flowing through it. Is that a consequence (no pun intended) of the way the album was created or do you have leanings in that direction as well?

Kari: I´m not so much into symphonic metal and have never really listened that genre; therefore it must be the way the album was created. Although there is a lot of symphonic style of things in progressive music within at many bands. Thinking back I did spend a lot of time composing those orchestral parts and tried many different styles of sounds to get the right mood and feel. Those string sections and choirs just delivered what I wanted it to be and sounded right by delivering to the music the “drama” it needed.

SoT: The vocalist you picked couldn’t be any better for this album. Perfect choice. With that in mind how do you go forward? Is this project a prelude to a more formal band? Or is it an experiment among many?

Kari: Markku sure is the right vocalist for Mastord! At the moment I´m composing and demoing new stuff and there will be another album in the near future with these guys. In fact, the music is almost composed already! Now there is the real challenge ahead with the lyrics. With some luck we hope to find a real keyboardist too. To the question of more formal band, we think that this is the right way for us at least at this point. Everybody has a lot going on in their lives and as this is a project-based band, I don´t want this to give anybody any kind of pressure or rush. We did good with loose and relaxed style of working, so why change that? We have all the time in the world!

SoT: There are three epics songs on this album of five tracks. The track “Oceans of Hate” is a more traditional length cut and definitely radio ready. Totally love how it came out. You are capable of short and much longer songs. In the marketing of the project how do you choose to present it to the public?

Kari: I did not consider any strategy at all. Because there were absolutely none expectations what so ever to release this with any kind of partner. We didn´t make any noise or promotion about this till two weeks before release. Many of our closest friends were surprised! And what comes to presenting the music to the people, for a long time I felt that this is just one complete song and the different “songs” are just the chapters of the story that carry thru the whole album. However; it would have not been wise to release it as one song. The main reason is, that just few people knew about the album till we released it. I don't believe that many random listeners would continue listening if they didn't know what to expect. It was necessary that listeners could search and listen to whatever song they liked the most. The next release will probably be done very differently and with some strategic thought.

SoT: I have had the pleasure of reviewing a number of concept albums. Your work is the foundation of a serious concept album. Yet I am not sure if there has been a more formal band that introduced themselves with a concept project before. Have you given thought to a full-fledged concept album?

Kari: Thank you for your kind words. It really means a lot to me and I believe to all of us.

I can´t either recall is there any other band that has come out with this kind of release. Any way I hope there would be more bands with their own sound and style of making music. And yes, for a long time I´ve been thinking about composing a full concept album. This one was a good start towards that and I´m sure that someday that will be done. I do have some ideas and visions of what it would be like, but right now I don´t have the time to get into that.

SoT: Has technology of today which is dramatically different than the 80’s & 90’s allowed you to pursue this project is such an unorthodox fashion? Or are there other interesting reasons?

Kari: Yes, modern technology made this type of workflow possible. With these new possibilities in mind, I´m challenging myself what is a formal band at this time and what is not. For example, Pasi´s work with bass tracks for the album. Within a few minutes I bounced and send the latest version of the album´s music to Pasi, so he could rehearse the songs and create his bass parts to the album. It was the same day late afternoon when Pasi send me the first suggestions for bass lines and some of those ended up to the album. If there were something I would want to be played differently, it would have been easy to communicate during his recordings even when I´m not physically present. It´ll take just few minutes to bounce and send mp3 files to each other. In fact, I wasn´t even in the same country with Pasi when we changed opinions about the bass lines he had just recorded. Easy and fast. If we are going to play these songs live someday, I´m sure we can master these songs with a little rehearsing.

The other thing is that some of us are family men. When you have your day job, family, children´s hobbies and your daily routine forms around those things, you just don´t have the time and the energy to rehearse as a formal band regularly. Not to mention that we live in three differed cities. Today´s reasonably-priced equipment is of very good quality that you can record professional studio sound in your own facility when ever you have time and inspiration. The only instrument we did record at studio was drums. Markku recorded his vocals at his own place when ever he had time, Pasi recorded basses the same way and I recorded guitars and keyboards with the same way.

SoT: Please share with us your major musical influences.

Kari: I love progressive rock and metal in all of its forms. I really enjoy listen the music that have time to grow and evolve. I have a lot of different moods and sometimes can surprise you totally. I have to say that my major influence is Dream Theater and specially Scenes From a Memory and Images and Words. I do listen a wide range of different kind of music, so the influences of my music stems from many diverse sources. Steven Wilson stuff, Muse, Spock´s Beard, Neal Morse stuff, Old Genesis stuff, Peter Gabriel, Pain of Salvation etc.

Mark Antony Rossi

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