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Interview with Caustic Reverie

Caustic Reverie, from Key Largo, Florida, is releasing today a new album with dark ambient and drone soundscapes.

We had the chance to ask him a few questions.

Check out the interview!

Headphones For Robots: Who is Caustic Reverie? Where do you come from? Where do you live?

Caustic Reverie: My name is Bryn Schurman and I’m a musician, writer, and sound designer. I was born in Ontario Canada and I’ve lived in Key Largo, Florida for about thirty years.

Caustic Reverie is the name I picked for my spacy ambient, soundscape, and drone output. Partially because I like the image of serenely burning, but also because I used to zone out and stare at the reflected patterns of light thrown by water in swimming pools, which I later learned are called caustics.  

HFR: How did you start making music? Could you tell us a bit about your influences?

CR: I’ve always been banging on stuff, scraping household objects together, trying to make cool rhythms and odd sounds, playing with tape recorders. In 6th grade, I got some drumsticks and joined the school band. I dabbled with guitar and bass through high school and college but drumming has been my main musical output through college. I graduated from the University of Miami’s Music Engineering program and while there, I was exposed to the wild, weird world of experimental electronic music. I got the bug for synthesis and sound design there.

Music influences… Steven Wilson, Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, Dan Swanö, Devin Townsend, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Steve Roach, Robert Rich, and Brian Williams and are the big ones. Some days, I’m all about psychedelic and progressive rock, others I’m obsessed with death metal and doom. For Caustic Reverie, Lustmord and Steven Wilson’s Bass Communion albums were some of the main points of inspiration for creating drones and dark ambient.

HFR: You have just released The Analog Condition, with mysterious and dreamy soundscapes. Where did you get the inspiration from?

CR: I often take inspiration from documentaries, nature programs, and stuff like that. Weird fiction, horror, and comics as well. A few of the recordings came early morning or late at night, so maybe I captured some naturally occurring dreaminess, via sleep deprivation.

HFR: How did you approach writing the tracks for your new album? What tools and instruments have you used?

CR: All the sounds on The Analog Condition originated from a desktop analog synthesizer, a Behringer Deepmind 12. I recorded a series of improvisations while messing around with my latest gear acquisition and then went back to try and shape it together into something more coherent. I used some VST effects in the mixing and production stage, including CamelSpace, Soundtoys EffectRack, Guitar Rig 5, and a bunch of different delay and reverb plugins. I wanted to try and write some more serene material on this album as well. We live in uncertain times and it’s way easier to lean into the dissonance and anxiety from the world at large.

HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What do you use when writing a song and which are your favorite instruments? Do you prefer Software or Hardware ?

CR: I’ve mostly been a software guy and my DAW of choice is Reaper. I’ll record keyboard parts from MIDI with a Novation 61SL, sometimes going back to tweak knobs. I also draw automation curves by hand. I’ll often add tracks of stretched and warped field recordings, guitar feedback, and processed vocals, though on some songs, I’ll try to challenge myself by imposing limits, like recording everything from one instrument. The Decadent Nemesis album was all cymbal swells, scrapes, and crashes, for instance.   

One of my main workhorses has been a vst instrument called Alchemy. I love synths with morphing capabilities, or that I can visually sculpt sound with, like Iris 2. Having a preset randomizer helps take things in unexpected directions as well. For mixing and mastering, Izotope stuff like Neutron and Ozone are what I’ve been using the past few years.

HFR: Let’s talk about drones. What do they mean to you?

CR: Part of it is capturing an atmosphere. The place where I live is a beautiful, tropical paradise with a major highway running through it. Pretty much anywhere you go, there is the sound of traffic, sometimes mixing with surf from the ocean or bay. I’ve made songs from field recordings to incorporate this into my music.
I like listening to drones and deep ambient when I’m reading or working on writing. Music with beats or vocals can draw me out of my headspace but a good drone album can focus me for hours.

HFR: Do you have other projects?

CR: I have a metal band called Sumptus Ignis that blends progressive metal, melodic death, doom, power metal, tons of different feels and ideas. We have an EP, one album, and are working on some new songs to release as singles. I sing, play drums, synths, and a bit of guitar and bass.

I also release music as Bryn Schurman, which tends to be more electronic and beat-oriented. I have put out several game soundtrack albums from the survival horror game No More Room In Hell, as well as a more-chiptune flavored one called Facewound. I used to release music as TheForgotton, a musical handle that seems to exist to be autocorrected away into nothingness. I’m going to be reworking some of those tunes and spiffing them up for release later this year.

Outside of music, I’ve got a short story in the works and I’m editing my second novel.

HFR: Last words?

CR: I’m going to be remastering and reissuing some more of the CR back catalog in the coming months, starting with Themes for Guitar and Voice – Volume 1 and Word Salad Surgery. You can keep up to date on Caustic Reverie, Sumptus Ignis, and more on my blog.

Thanks for featuring me!

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