This week, we delve deep into the chasms of instrumental metal and come back up for air with a real treat. Behold Robots Against Entropy, the well-crafted creation of Ukrainian musician and producer Yuriy Sazonets. In some parts, it’s heavy, others funky, and all of it with a distinct vibe of 70s prog and 80s industrial. The music is relentlessly exciting from start to finish, and Yuriy recently took the time to talk to us about his inspirations and creative processes.
You may also notice the super-sci-fi album artwork. It’s no surprise then that Yuriy is a sci-fi fan. ‘I absolutely love Dune by Frank Herbert,’ he tells us, ‘And the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Neal Stephenson has amazing stuff. I’m also totally into quantum mechanics and modern physics, so reading ‘hard science fiction’ novels by Greg Egan is also very fun.‘
So is there a fictitious back story to Robots Against Entropy?
‘There’s no story told. At least consciously. I think it is the beauty of purely instrumental music that you don’t have to impose any kind of verbal narrative to a listener, and it helps you to shift the focus into “less thinking, more feeling” territory. Also, it’s cool to have the imagination freely doing its own thing and maybe coming up with your own story or your own personal images in relation to the music while you’re listening. In that sense, music is the most abstract form of art, and it is really unique in its abilities to communicate very powerful emotions without any words or explicit stories or pictures whatsoever.’
‘There was no particular initial concept except for “I wanna write some instrumental songs inspired by the music I love”. The name of the project actually hadn’t been settled almost until the mixing was done. I knew that the name 1) had to not make any sense, 2) had to be available among billions of music band names and 3) had something to do with sci-fi because yeah, I love sci-fi, and the music turned out to intuitively have that sci-fi vibe. So, Robots Against Entropy was the name I was comfortable with. And then, when the mixing was almost done, I found on the internet the great artwork done by the young and talented Spanish artist Maider Benzal. The painting felt very right to me in the context of the music. Maider loved the songs, and it made the whole package complete.’
And Maider Benzal was not the only collaborator on the RAE project. An entire wealth of musicians were brought in to contribute to the overall spectacle, with Yuriy consistently at the creative helm.
‘I composed all the music and produced the record. But there is a very important thing I learned: Each time you let go of some of the control and let people do their thing, it adds a whole new dimension to the music. It gives it more depth and vibrancy in some often unexpected ways. Luckily, I was able to get all these amazing and extremely professional musicians to play on the album, and it’s so great to hear their personalities come through in their playing!
And sometimes you’re lucky to have superstars like Derek Sherinian to contribute, and his presence and his personality just brings the music to a whole new level, like ‘Mount Everest’ level. The sound is immensely important, and that’s what Max Morton does, he’s the best metal audio engineer in Ukraine. So, having the right team for all these 55 prog genres is essential. The music suffers when you do everything yourself .
Robots Against Entropy has an intense fusion of musical influences. Play the record and you will hear them, with Newman-esque industrial and classic prog rock being at the forefront. A merging of such a vast stockpile of well-covered sounds is surely no mean feat…
‘It would have been very hard for me if I had some kind of plan beforehand, like “OK, here we’ll have prog part, there we’ll have industrial part and then we’ll have a metal part”. The way it usually works is that you’re sitting there in a certain mood, you become inspired with something, you get an idea in whatever genre you’re into right now, and then you try to figure out where you want to take and develop this idea. And the most basic and primary thing to think about is the emotional flow of how ideas develop. When you feel the emotion which you want to translate into music in this particular part, it suggests to you all the genres you need. Genres become just tools to express certain emotional messages. For example, if you think that it makes sense to add a bit of aggression in contrast to a mellow symphonic relaxed part, then it becomes very natural to put a downtuned metal riff over there…‘
As one can already gather throughout these explanations, Robots Against Entropy is a true labor of love, with Yuriy spending many years honing its sound.
‘It was very long, mostly because I have a full-time job not related to music, and it was more about learning and enjoying the process of modern professional music production rather than rushing a record out to meet some business needs, or whatnot. All the demos were 90% ready in 2015 when drum tracking began, and some songs are really old, like “Seven” which was written in 2006. Luckily, many elements of this kind of music were “outdated” business-wise in 1975, so ten plus-or-minus years doesn’t matter much when you release this stuff nowadays.’
And it this point in time, one can only imagine what this music may sound like on the live stage.
‘It would be a whole new challenge of putting together a live band, rehearsing, finding the right places to play, attracting people to show up, etc. So, I don’t have a definitive plan for live shows yet. I’m more focused on spreading the word about the record right now and looking at what could come out of all of this.’
And the future? ‘I already have some demos for like, half of an album, so maybe I’ll start working on them sometime.’
Hopefully then, the word ‘Entropy’ will not apply to this fantastic musical project.