Interview by Jo Blackened
The Clearing Path is a one man black metal based based in Milan, Italy. We spoke to Gabriele Gramaglia, the guy behind it all, about the history of the project and his aims for the future.
‘The Clearing Path’ is quite a new band with your release of ‘Watershed Between Earth And Firmament’ in 2015. How have things changed since then?
Well, since ‘Watershed Between Earth And Firmament’ and ‘Abyss Constellation’ are both strictly connected and even before ‘Watershed’ release I was already planning this short release, things are changing in order to create this progression among these two releases, that already form a concept, and future releases. ‘Watershed’ consisted mostly of some material coming from my past, so I conceived a curve of changes that is meant to ascend towards what will be my ideal language to express my vision. Actually it is a slow progression because I didn’t want things to shift too abruptly, so basically this short EP is meant to be a little step forward.
I think it’s evident that stylistically they don’t differ too much, but in the other hand if you listen carefully you can notice how some elements are more predominant (more progressive tinges, more dissonant chords) and other elements, like hardcore influences, are fading away. This EP is like a prelude to something is gonna happen in the future.
You’re based in Italy. What is the music scene there like?
I don’t know if I have too many kind words for any scene in particular. There are some bands that I consider worthy despite the scene they come from. Or maybe the fact that some of them are in some ways unrelated to any scene in particular is a surplus value in my eyes. However, a few good examples I can name you are Enisum, Selvans, Hornwood Fell, Nero Di Marte, Lento, Urna, Fuoco Fatuo, Plateau Sigma… oh, Ad Nauseam recently put out a solid album too.
What I can say about me is that I’m not related to anything in particular. It’s tough, but sometimes it’s better to walk alone.
How did ‘The Clearing Path’ begin for you?
It begun because when I used to play in bands, I often had to make compromises with myself to write stuff that could also appeal the other members. In the end I realized that this would have never fulfilled me so, after almost every project I’ve been involved in had disbanded, The Clearing Path was born.
What is the meaning behind the name and the main concept of your music?
The main concept (like the name itself) is all about a spiritual renaissance in a form that evolves from an earthly ascension to an endless voyage through the abyssal paths that scatter the majestic firmament above us.
Where do you draw most of your influences/ideas from?
I’ve found three or four oasis of peace around me in a radius of about 100 km, where I go sometimes to shut down city noises and take a deep breath from the frantic life I live; I think this helps a lot in order to find new inspiration. Recently I’ve been to a mountain place in the northern Alps where you come across a huge clearing among the woods. It was night and pitch black. Stars were clear in the sky. I laid down on the meadow and started watching the sky above my head. What a goddamn beautiful sight. Only thinking about it makes me feel better.
What made you decide to be a solo artist rather than to recruit others to join?
I will gladly share a band/project with some people again when I find someone else with my amount of passion and will. The Clearing Path will remain a solo project though.
What are the benefits & disadvantages of working solo?
Some of the benefits are pretty much evident in what I wrote some paragraphs above. I no longer need to make compromises with myself when I compose new music. Surely some disadvantages occur when you happen to be stuck in some passages and you feel you need some help, lately I’ve thought more and more that I would like to receive some help when I’m recording or mixing my own stuff. I would like to let someone else produce my stuff sometimes, because handling my stuff by my own often drives me insane. But I would demand the best or nothing. I would like to let someone like Colin Marston or James Plotkin produce an album of mine someday, but I surely can’t afford it now.
What other music projects are you apart of?
Lately I’ve been writing music for another project- different genre and everything. We’ll see where this thing is gonna lead me. In the past I’ve had 2 or 3 bands, but for sure some of them are dead.
In December 2015 you released the EP ‘Abyss Constellation’, can you talk us through the concept of this release and how it differs to your previous one?
It’s not that it’s different or it’s the same, Abyss Constellation is more like ‘Watershed Between Earth And Firmament’ Post Scriptum. And the next release as well will be ‘Abyss Constellation’’s direct follow up. I sort of planned a trilogy in which every full length is separated from its next one by bridge EPs.
Will you be releasing another album this year?
As I said for now I’m working on a new release with another project. And among this new release, my job (I’m an audio engineer) and the music academy I’m attending with its exams, well… I really don’t have any break. I also have new material for a future The Clearing Path release, but I don’t know if I’ll make it by this year. You may have heard this sentence a thousand times but it’s true, sometimes I wish the days would consist of at least 40 hours.
Do you have any plans to play live? Or would you rather just stick to studio work?
I can hardly imagine a live performance with The Clearing Path for many reasons. Also I don’t like playing live shows that much.
‘The Clearing Path’ is labelled as ‘atmospheric, progressive black metal. Do you find sub-genres important, or is black metal just black metal?
No, in my opinion everything regarding music-genres doesn’t matter. I think genres are, at the limit, carriers of an idea or its form, but what really matters is content and intent. There are some elements I’m trying to shape as main features of my music, like the way I play arpeggios and chord sequences etc. I’m doing it in order to establish what kind of personality I have as a musician, as a strong substratum for all the elements of my music I’m trying to evolve or mature.
To make it easier, let me make an example: if you consider a personality like Vindsval, he is always recognizable although he’s always made different stuff and different genres even in his main project Blut Aus Nord, and that’s what I consider to be a strong example of a personality to be inspired by.
What is the process like when writing your lyrics and music?
I usually draw my concepts and main themes of the considered release first, then I start writing music most likely by the acoustic guitar often focusing on what will be the main theme of a track itself. Like for example the”Abyss Constellation” title track has been based on a arpeggio that happens in its ending section. Then I’ve built the entire structure as a build up to reach that ‘climax’ point that I consider crucial. In my processes lyrics generally come out in the end.
What are your views on some people referring to ‘solo projects’ as not ‘real’ bands?
Honestly I’ve never heard something like that. Is there anyone out there who thinks this way?
Well, I couldn’t care less.
You have quite a good following on social media sites. How do you feel is the best way to promote your music?
I didn’t know about that good following on social media haha!
Well, honestly I don’t know how to answer your question. I think social media sites are kinda fucked up, cause we are part of a system in which lots of ways to promote our music seem to be anything but meritocratic. How to find out what’s worthy and what’s not? It’s like to find recondite treasures buried in unknown oceans.
What are your favourite bands to listen to at the moment? And what were your favourite releases of 2015?
I don’t know if I have favourite bands, but at the moment I’m listening to a collection of Arvo Part’s choral works. About 2015 I can say that I’ve heard lot of stuff that I liked, I can name you Krallice’s ‘Ygg Hurr’, Akhlys’ ‘The Dreaming’, Cosmic Church’s ‘Vigilia’, Shape Of Despair’s ‘Monotony Fields’, Leviathan’s ‘Scar Sighted’, Echoes Of Yul’s ‘The Healing’ and many others.
By the way, lately I’ve been listening mostly to stuff that is distant from metal though – especially ambient and electronic music – like yesterday for example I was listening to Ryoji Ikeda first and then I switched to Lustmord and Atrium Carceri.
What are your plans for the future?
As I said , about The Clearing Path I already have some new material ready to start working on a new chapter, but since I want to face it with deep dedication I don’t know when I will have the material time I need. All I can say is to expect something darker.
What do you like to do away from the music? Any hobbies?
Sure that I have some hobbies, but always remember that ‘Having fun is no fun’.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks a lot for the interview.
Many thanks for your time!
Abyss Constellation is available NOW through Avantgarde Music .