Karl Sanders, the driving force behind South Carolina's Egyptian-themed death metal titans NILE, has inked a solo deal with The End Records. Sanders' second full-length solo album, entitled "Saurian Exorcisms", will be released on April 14. The CD — which was recorded at Serpent Headed Studios, mixed by Bob Moore at the Soundlab in Columbia, South Carolina, and mastered by Juan Punchy Gonzalez at D.O.W. Studios in Tampa, Florida — contains nine carefully constructed dark cinematic songs that work in harmony to create a uniquely moving emotional experience.
"Saurian Exorcisms" track listing:
01. Preliminary Purification Before the Calling of Inanna
02. Rapture of the Empty Spaces
03. Contemplate this On the Tree of Woe
04. A Most Effective Excorcism against Azagthoth and his Emissaries
05. Slavery to Nitokris
06. Shira Gula Pazu
07. Kali Ma
08. Curse the Sun
09. Dying Embers of the Aga Mass SSSratu
* Karl Sanders - Baglama Saz, Glissentar, Acoustic Guitars, Guitar Synth, Keyboards, Drums, Percussion, Vocals
* Mike Breazeale - Vocals and Chants
Sanders, who has been playing guitar for the better part of four decades, certainly knows his way around the instrument. But for his solo work, Sanders opts for more diverse instrumentation. "I love the baglama saz, for example," he admits. "It's a really cool instrument because there are half step frets. If you put the quarter tone in the right place you can add a lot of dark mystery to a melody," he explains.
"While I do have a natural ease of technique with just about any stringed instrument, which could easily lend itself to miles and miles of would-be saz spaghetti shredfest, I use the instrument in a more compositional and thematic way — playing evocative melodies and song-oriented riffs.
"I have immense respect for the Eastern musicians who are accomplished in playing the instrument in its traditional style. Most of my musical training, however, is Western-oriented, so no matter what I do I'm not going to sound completely authentic with the saz. So rather than get caught up in merely attempting to emulate the great Turkish players like Orhan Gencebay, which would never be realistically achievable anyway, I get more enjoyment out of approaching the saz in a non-traditional, uniquely musical, and personal way."
The baglama saz, a traditional Turkish lute, is just one of many instruments Sanders employs to create lush imagery and stirring emotion in his solo work. Glissentar (a sort of east/west hybrid instrument), acoustic guitars, guitar synth, keyboards, and various drums and percussion instruments are employed as well on Sanders' forthcoming follow-up to 2004's "Saurian Meditation" (Relapse Records). "Saurian Exorcisms" is Sanders' magnum opus and every instrument present, including percussion, was performed by Sanders himself.
"I'm a big fan of Arabic rhythms and middle eastern percussion instruments," Sanders explains. "But since I'm not a drummer by trade, it takes a bit longer to do all the drums myself. The upside is that I don't have to wait on anybody else, and I don't have to spend my energy needlessly debating drum arrangements or endlessly trying to explain unusual song concepts."
"Since percussion is not my forte," he continues, "the drum parts end up being a little less cluttered and more custom tailored to the song. The drums aren't necessarily the prime thrust of the record, but they're thematically appropriate and they're interesting as they function to help set the right mood and keep a nice compositional focus."
Besides Sanders, the only other musician appearing on "Saurian Exorcisms" is Mike Breazeale, who contributes chants and some vocals. "Between the two of us we did everything on the album, even the stuff that sounds like female vocals," Sanders chuckles. Sanders' influences are more varied and far-reaching than NILE fans may suspect. "What I've been trying to do is move away from strict Egyptian kind of influences and incorporate a broader range of inspiration. The music I'm making is not strictly traditional Egyptian music. I borrow and steal from the traditional music of many different cultures. There's some Tibetan stuff, some Indian stuff, some Arabic stuff, and so forth."
He concludes by saying, "I hope that people find 'Saurian Exorcisms' relaxing and imaginative. A lot of times when I'm listening to this music it makes my mind wander adrift and my imagination go places. And I like music like that. Like cinematic music, you listen to it and see little movies in your head. It takes you to a different place."