Messages from the stars: interview with Space Mirrors
Interview by Davide Arecco
Space Mirrors are today, for many reviewers, a true space metal column. Their last Stella Polaris album is a sort of masterpiece. We have talked about this with Alisa Coral, keyboards-player and founder of the band.
Alisa, the Space Mirrors musical story moved up from electronic ambient to occult space metal; can you tell us more about this artistical process?
A very good question. For me it was a natural progression. I liked electronic ambient but I also liked heavy metal. I was playing power metal before I formed Space Mirrors. So some reviewers are correct when they hear the glimpses of power metal in modern Space Mirrors music here and there. My first instrument was bass. When I started to play synthesizers I wanted to record some cosmic ambient, then some space rock. But already on the debut SM album there were heavy guitar riffs. Our second album “Memories of the Future” was called the heaviest space rock ever. After that I think we became space metal actually. A combination of space rock, 80’s heavy metal and hard rock. This progression of music styles we play brought the numerous line-up changes. With the help of singer Martyr Lucifer, who is now the longest serving member of SM from 2007, I found our Italian part of collective, for example, our drummer Claudio Tirincanti. He played with Blaze Bayley and Ripper Owens. When I heard his playing I knew I wanted him in Space Mirrors. And through my American connections I found new bassist – Gabriel Monticello and guitarist Sparky Simmons. Actually Sparky offered himself when I was looking for a new permanent guitarist, I listened to his band Acid FM, he liked SM music and here we are. Gabriel is playing bass with Spaceseed – the band I have my own long time connections with. So the second and third parts of Lovecraftian trilogy have the same line-up. And mighty Nik Turner is an honourable guest since MJ-12 album on every recording put out on CD. His sax and flute are always something special and really spice up our sound.
Your keyboards, in particular the use you make of synthesizers, may demonstrate all the possibilities of keys-oriented sound, in certain occasions more progressive and related to classical symphonic tradition, in other ones more electronic and technological…
Space Mirrors is not about one dimension. It’s multidimensional. It’s not Ying or Yang. It’s both or even more. That’s because we all listen to a vast variety of music forms. As you know space rock itself can be very electronic and also very sympnonic. Compare Hawkwind albums like “It is the business of the future to be dangerous” and “Hall of the Mountain Grill”. They are different but both are space rock. Add different types of heavy metal to that. Let’s take for example the extreme electronic forms like The Kovenant “Animatronic” and symphonics of Virgin Steele’s “Invictus”. I listen to all of that. So I think some bits of everything take place in the music I create. And now it’s not only me who is involved in song writing process but all the musicians. And they also have their own music tastes. So when I record keyboards I use different types of styles I’ve learned and heard for each particular song.
Space Mirrors are Science fiction in music. Do you prefer analog or digital sounds?
That depends on what effect I want to achieve. New technologies allow to get very nice results. I like old analog sounds but let’s be truthful here. Everything analogue can be achieved in digital these days. Algorithms are written and programmes are made. There is no turning back. Digital synthesizers can emulate analogue sounds easily and there are no problems like in old analogue synthesizers. I have lots of different keyboards, old and new. My favourite right now is KingKorg, the king of analog modelling synthesizers. I used it a lot on Stella Polaris album. It’s a great tool for creating sounds and it also has a very nice tube driver circuit which adds more old analog feeling. So here we have a great combination of digital and analogue, old and modern. And this what Space Mirrors is about: take the best from old, retro and bring it to the future in new modern form.
The new Cosmic Horror is the third chapter of the trilogy dedicated to the world and writings of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. How was born your love and passion for the master from Providence and his alien mythology?
It’s all thanks to Dr. Blackfyre who brought me the books of HP Lovecraft. That was years ago. The same Dr. Blackfyre who wrote lyrics for three tracks on Stella Polaris album. He also co-wrote music for “Celephais” song. He also urged me to make the third part of the trilogy because at the beginning I didn’t plan it. There were going to be only 2 parts. But he insisted there had to be a trilogy. I agreed and Martyr also wanted it to be a trilogy. But I asked every member of the band to contribute more to the song writing process. So almost everyone wrote something. And our graphics designer Kevin Sommers also wrote lyrics for two songs. His art is always inspiring for me and his lyrics fitted really well too. So Stella Polaris became our truly collective tribute to HP Lovecraft.
In your past and present, you have worked with Hawkwind members as Nik Turner and the British spatial blacksters Meads of Asphodel. What means to you the space rock?
I also worked with Alan Davey. Who was both in Hawkwind and The Meads of Asphodel. By the way he releases now new very interesting sci-fi solo album on which I also took some small part. I think his style really influenced my song writing – both in ambient and rock days. I think I share the same music philosophy. The same goes for Nik Turner. He is never afraid of trying something new in his musical adventures and he releases excellent new music. For me space rock is a music genre which inspires and gives the opportunity to explore various music horizons but in my opinion it should have the healthy dose of cosmic synth sounds with rock backing. There a lot of bands who call themselves space rock now. But actually they play psychedelic Pink Floydian themes. There is nothing wrong with that. Just not my cup of tea. I always liked Hawkwind’esque version of space rock. Just that. And I love 80’s Hawkwind when they were not afraid to mix it with good heavy metal. Recently I was told that Space Mirrors don’t play space rock or space metal, that we play some straight foward pop sounding heavy metal, nothing spacey. Well, if we played that type of music we would probably be very famous by now. (Laughing) I guess that person just knows nothing about Space Rock genre and note that he works for the big record label which releases space rock music! That shows the poor state of the modern music industry.
Your music is obscure and cold, as the stars and the universe of HPL, but also full of melodical research…
But darkness, coldness and melody can go together hand by hand, why not? Yes, I often was told that my music is cold. Personally I don’t feel it but probably it’s something in my character. So I don’t have to feel it myself. Maybe that’s why I was attracted by Cthulhu Mythos. They share the same coldness of the universe. I don’t think that Lovecraft inspired music should be necessarily brutal or extreme. Lovecraft tales are more delicate than that. So nice melody should be there too. How a story of White Ship can be brutal? Or Silver Key? Some tales are full of sorrow, some are epic and some are cold as stars. Dream quest of Unknown Kadath, Celephais… I think year after year I wrote more melodic tunes. As you said reserching melodic side. Very good description.
How will be your next project?
Right now I think it may become the most extreme Space Mirrors album so far. But you never know… I can say it won’t be strictly concept. Songs will be inspired by different aspects of… life, cosmos, books. I think extreme vocals may return if Martyr agrees. I hope everyone will contribute again and we will have great combination of songs again. I already composed couple of demos and many guitar riffs. Some song titles may be: Empire of Evil, White Prophet, Fallen Angels, The Futurological Congress, Soul Hunting, Siddhartha. You can try to guess what the inspiration was. But no, Siddhartha is not based on Hermann Hesse novel. So I have many ideas but I don’t know when we start the recordings.