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Green Carnation    
Green Carnation

Certain songs are possessed of such intensity of sonic stimuli that the single best way to appreciate them is to shut off all sources of light, lay on your back, and simply allow the music to paint pictures across a receptive imagination. Green Carnation's "Light of Day, Day of Darkness" is one such song, although those intending to engage the song in such a manner should ensure that a solid hour of one's schedule is left completely blank for this period. Otherwise, experiencing "Light of Day, Day of Darkness" in its entirety risks being tragically interrupted, the progression of soundscapes that constitutes the 60-minute, single-track epic placed in jeopardy of being ruptured at unintended and premature points in its sequence.

A panoramic soundscape of epic proportions, 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' (also the name of the album, available on The End Records) moves with a lavishly progressive grandeur fettered by an enigmatic, doomy melodicism. While Green Carnation's previous album was more fixed in its doom metal orientation, 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' is a much different vessel, one that navigates between the poles of atmospheric / progressive doom metal and deep, Pink Floydian psychedelic rock with the self-assurance and splendour that such an ambitious project demands. Each passage, to the extent that the song can be arbitrarily segmented, represents a new and distinctive phase in the movement of the song. Bolstering the guitar-bass-drums-vocal core of Green Carnation, from which most of the progressive doom heaviness emanates, are poignant string arrangements, opulent keyboard atmospheres, and both an opera choir and a children's choir. Their expert deployment allows 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' to hold the mind enthralled for its formidable length, as the song fluidly develops in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Edge of Sanity's revered single-song opus 'Crimson', despite the entirely different musical approach and emotional vibes.

Green Carnation

Releasing the album as a single track, rather than dividing it up according to breaks or shifts in the natural movement of the song (as with Fates Warning's 'A Pleasant Shade of Gray') fundamentally affects the listening experience; it confers a certain organic unity upon the track, making it that much more imposing and grandiose in its scope and conception by virtue of the special demands that it places both upon the song's arrangements and upon its audience.

For the creative agent behind the album, Tchort (ex-Emperor, currently dividing his duties between Green Carnation, Blood Red Throne, and Carpathian Forest), the decision to craft a single-song album was a reflection of his own determination to compose a musical piece that transcends many of the constraints imposed by a more orthodox song length.

"The album was written as a single track," he says, "and I think that the effort and extra time which I spent arranging the song so that it would be something special throughout is appreciated best by the listener if they listen to the whole album in one [session]. I compare this album with a book or a film - you don't skip the three first chapters and then a few chapters in the middle of a book and still expect to get the whole story and all of its points. The same with a movie - you don't fast forward for 20 minutes in the middle of a film or skip to the ending and still expect to get all that the story has to offer. I don't see a reason why I have to make anything about this album standard when it's not a standard album for me to make in the first place."

While there are obviously some natural breaks and transitions in the flow of the song, they are just that - natural. Tchort recalls how he initially determined the ambitious format which Green Carnation's second full-length album would assume: "I decided to make a one-song album when we were working on the first album, which consisted of four songs lasting 72 minutes. When we did the first album, it was the first time I had ever written a long song [20 minutes], and I liked the challenge of writing such a long song and still making it interesting and good. I knew early on that this second album would be an album I had to write alone, so I wanted to do things with it that I would never do with another band or do again later."

Unlike Green Carnation's previous album, which was a collaborative effort, Tchort was the sole creative force behind the current album, leading him to describe 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' as a solo album reflective not only of his life, but the realization of his own desires as a composer.

"You know, a solo album should be about what the composer wants and to do stuff that you don't want to do in your regular band. With this album, I knew I was the only songwriter, so I wanted to do stuff that the others would not necessarily like." From the outset, he states, "This was going to be my album." As the multitalented composer and guitarist affirms, "If anything I have done musically so far should be representative for me as a musician and as a composer, it has to be this album. It has everything I have done and is everything that I am as a musician and person."

Despite the cohesion of the album as a whole, the lyrics for 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' were composed independently of the process of musical creation. "The lyrics were written without the thought of fitting them with the actual music or the different parts of the album. I mean," he clarifies, "I wrote the lyrics in a mood that would fit the album, but I didn't plan where the words should be on what parts. That was something I worked on [while] in the studio - changing lines, words, and structure to make them fit the music. This was something I couldn't prepare prior to the recordings because we didn't rehearse the album with any of the vocalists. . . but obviously I would have a sense of what type of lyrics would fit with the music."

Given the scope of the album and the attendant logistical nightmares that inevitably afflict an enterprise of this magnitude, Tchort notes that the songwriting process came easily to him and was intimately linked to events in his personal life. "It was written during a two-month period around the time that my son was born, and I was feeling very creative at this time. I spent a longer time arranging the song though. I spent a lot of time connecting the various parts together and also honing the more dynamic parts of the album. I couldn't make the whole song into hard metal nor could I write an acoustic album, so making a mix of these two styles was something I spent time on as well."

Green Carnation

Unlike Green Carnation's previous album, which was written around a time of particular tragedy in Tchort's life - the death of his daughter - 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' was composed under much happier circumstances. "I think that 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' reflects a more positive vibe than the first album. I am happy with my life situation now, and my son brings a lot of happiness to me as well. But at the same time, the album also reflects the different and even opposite feelings that I have gone through and still face every day, from losing my daughter to gaining a son. I think the album title also reflects that - opposites, a key word that is representative of the album in its entirety, musically, lyrically and visually."

While the name Green Carnation does seem to fit well with the band's current direction, it struck me as a rather odd choice for the band given that it was selected in 1990 during the band's original incarnation as an out-and-out death metal group. As Tchort reveals, the intended meaning behind the band name was not quite as floral as it might appear.

"We read somewhere that carnation could also mean flesh - like carnage - and, if you add that with a young teenager imagination, putting the word 'green' in front of it would end up with the meaning of 'rotten flesh,' or something similar to that. Anyways, it sounded so strange and non-metal that we were pretty sure that no other band had chosen this name before us - and that was a problem back then, finding an unused band name. We knew carnation was also the name of a flower, but we had never heard about a green kind, so that made us absolutely sure that no other band had this name. It was pretty safe to use, and even original, we thought. It was during an interview for the first album that we were asked about the name, and if we thought about the green carnation that [Ernest] Hemingway was carrying to a party. So obviously there are green carnations somewhere in the world, but up until this day, we have never heard of another band that has this name, so at least we achieved our goal: to have a unique band name."

As a final point of interest, one of the characteristics of Tchort's creative work is his tendency to link his various musical endeavours together, such as how "Blood Red Throne," the last song from Green Carnation 's early-1990s demo, was reconstituted as the name of Tchort's new(er) death metal group of the same name. While an artist obviously does not want to reveal all of his secrets, I cannot help but inquire as to some of the continuities which Tchort has consciously embedded into 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness'. He proves to be quite forthcoming.

"Well, the title is a line from one of the lyrics for the Journey. . . album, so I have linked those two albums together. And I will probably use a melody from 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' as a main [theme] on the third album, but I don't know how yet. I thought it would be a cool thing for those who like our albums to look for links themselves, but no one discovered the link between the lyrics on the first album and the title on the second one." He pauses and then, revealing a rather sardonic wit, suggests, "Maybe I have to enclose a sticker on future albums to make them aware of any links?"

With that, Tchort concludes with a wry laugh, leaving the listener to ponder yet another dimension of an album already densely layered with a complex network of thought-provoking musical and lyrical elements. Again, I find myself returning to the ideal setting for contemplating the album. Curtains pulled tight. Light sources extinguished. Forcing darkness upon an otherwise bright day. And, suddenly, I begin to take a new understanding of the album title, 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness'.


review of Green Carnation 'Light of Day, Day of Darkness'

'Light of Day, Day of Darkness' (seven minute excerpt)






c/o Adam Wasylyk
3150 Spring Creek Crescent
Mississauga, Ontario

Interview: Tate Bengtson [ ]

MU Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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