It's hard to believe that it's been just over three years since Soft Tissue, Lament Cityscape's superb collaborative album with Theologian, made its way onto my list of 2016 Year-End Favorites. While there have been smatterings of output since that time—the "A Series of Warnings" single/video in 2017, a remixed/remastered/expanded re-release of The Torn in 2018—at long last a more substantial offering of all-new material has arrived in the form of three-song, 16-minute EP The New Wet.
The first of three EPs planned for release throughout 2020, The New Wet represents the next level in Lament Cityscape's continually evolving industrial maelstrom. As far as I'm concerned, the band ranks as one of the single most underrated industrial outfits running right now, 'cause this shit sounds super pro and is all about nuanced detail and intricacy—from the Nine Inch Nails-esque energy and melodic attributes of "Running Out of Decay," "Seepage" transitioning through a segment of borderline blasting/blackened grind, and the industrialized Godflesh/Neurosis hybrid (musically, at least) of epic closer "Borer." I could also go on at length about the project's superior visual aesthetic, but... let's get to the music, shall we?
Stream The New Wet below (or on Spotify, but note that purchases through Bandcamp are a mere $3 and include a six-page PDF with lyrics and artwork), followed by some additional insight from Mike McClatchey:
As a fan thinking about things primarily in terms of new music, it feels like Lament Cityscape has been somewhat quiet since the Soft Tissue collaboration with Theologian in 2016. That being said, it's also clear that you really put a lot of time and care into everything that you do under the banner of Lament Cityscape, so.. the film and video output, The Torn remix... from your end, do the past few years feel just as busy as the years prior, or would you agree that to some degree a certain pace has slowed?
I had started writing a new record as soon as Soft Tissue was released. David [Small] and Seánan [McCullough] then moved to Denver, so Lament Cityscape turned into a studio project until I could find out what I wanted to do with it as a live band. I knew that I wanted to release The Torn (Release) movie before any new music was released, so the new record—even though it was essentially finished being written—took a back seat. I get easily sidetracked, so Lee (Theologian) and I started working on an updated mix of Soft Tissue. We got other artists to remix songs from that album. We recorded a new song and another cover song together. I'm sure all of that will end up being released eventually. I got married and we had a wonderful baby. Lament Cityscape hasn't played a show since 2016, but it does feel like I get a creative outlet. There will be shows based around the upcoming EPs, though.
The latest EP, The New Wet, heads in some diverse directions. As a whole, the material feels more textured and industrial-leaning than ever. How would you outline the way these tracks fit into the holistic (and ongoing) progression of Lament Cityscape?
I'm definitely bored of the purely heavy sound that our early releases had. I love those songs, but when they were written I thought they would come across more subtle than they ended up being. Some version of heaviness will always be there, but when I see "doom" in every review, I just get bummed. I must have really fucked something up somewhere. With the newer songs, I had no plans of trying to replicate them live in the way that they sound on record. I'll deal with that shit later. Maybe these will be way heavier live, but maybe they will be a lot lighter and electronic-based. I feel like there are enough aspects to tie the older music to the newer music.
The New Wet was mixed by Ben Hirschfield at Nu-Tone Recording, and this was apparently your first experience surrendering that responsibility to an outside engineer. What was the process like for you, and how do you feel it impacted the end result? As a listener, it definitely feels like a denser, clearer (despite loads of grit and distortion) wall of sound...
I love what Ben brought to The New Wet. He has a really interesting mind. Ben doesn't usually work with such ugly music, so I was curious if he could make what I gave him more listenable. What he did was actually make it more noisy and meaner than its original intention. It took me by surprise and I had to wrap my head around the idea of it being as fucked-up-sounding as it is. But I love it. Letting go of that control was difficult, because I hold this project so close to my heart that I didn't think it would work to have someone else mix it, but I worked with Ben in Mountaineer and he seemed like the perfect person to work on a Lament Cityscape release. His live drum and bass tones are perfect. We had recorded live drums and about half of the vocals at his studio. He is the easiest engineer to work with.
I believe you were looking for labels to work with at one point, but it seems like this is going to be a digital-only release, at least for now. I'd imagine there could be a certain aesthetic standard that needs to be met in terms of the presentation of your work in tangible form, so has it been a struggle to find interested parties to work with on proper releases?
Yeah, I had been talking to a label for far too long and it pushed the timeline of everything back for nothing to come of it. The experience definitely burned me out of going that route for a while. Annihilvs Power Electronix (Lee/Theologian) is currently planning to work with us on the physical version of this, but the plan is for something around December of 2020. Unless a relationship with a label happens organically, I'll just keep releasing music myself.
Apparently The New Wet is the first of three EPs in lieu of a full-length, so I'm guessing there's already more new material in the can. Any insight as to what/when listeners might expect as far as next steps?
The New Wet came out on January 31. I'm aiming to have the second EP come out in June and the third in December. They were originally written as a full-length, but the more I played with them as being three sets of three songs it made a lot more sense. The Torn was more obsessed with duality. These songs—individually and as a whole—seemed to have themes based in three. Lyrically and in structure.
Going back to that "time and care" factor, I've been quite impressed not only by the music and its film/video accompaniment, but the artwork (even for singles and digital releases), and even the vast majority of the photography on your Instagram account... it all just fits and matters. Primarily a band, I'm curious if on any level you think of Lament Cityscape as sort of a "multimedia" entity?
It's a project of expression and release. Sometimes I have stupid ideas, like releasing an expensive coffee table book, or bringing a bunch of framed photos on tour to sell, but I do it. I waste a bunch of money, but it seems to connect with a handful of people and it always feels worth it in the long run. We are still going to make some VHS tapes for The Torn (Release) when the time is right, and maybe it makes a couple of people happy. It's hard to ride that line of using things like Instagram as tools to release creativity and as shitty promotional platforms. I really don't like that aspect of this whole thing. The irony of complaining about having to promote in an interview used to promote isn't lost on me. I genuinely appreciate anyone who gives a shit enough to listen to Lament Cityscape, or look at a pretty picture and have it connect with them for just a moment.