Southern California is known for a great many things. Beautiful weather, a host of tourist hotspots, and lately… the grim, borderline-industrial undertones of the Los Angeles club scene. It’s a bit of a contrast, but hey, it can’t be beaches and sunshine all the time.
The Mantra Discord, one of the area’s latest progressive instrumental acts, aren’t exactly churning out smoggy underground bangers, but they do slip in a subtle nod to the ambient club scene every now and again, and it adds a unique atmosphere to the band’s formidable shred.
Like a darkened Polyphia or menacing CHON, the two-piece slay their guitar and drum parts with impressive dexterity. The production surrounding these parts however, is part of what makes the band unique. Check out the video for the album’s title track below to see what we mean.
After featuring one of their tracks on a recent Tuesday Music Dump, we were happy to chat with the drummer/programmer Jeremy Arcibal about the inception of the band, the process behind the band’s layers of sound, and whether or not the band cares to be called math rock or not.
FB: When did the band start, and how?
Jeremy: The band started around a year and a half ago. Russ had the idea to start the band and do an instrumental album. We played in bands together throughout high school and always worked well together, so I was immediately down and excited to start something new with him.
FB: Who would you say are some of the band’s strongest influences?
Jeremy: Leading into this album, I was listening to a lot of Polyphia, CHON, Jason Richardson/Luke Holland and Covet. Russ’s influences were all over the place haha. Lots of Ichika, CHON, and Plini though. The track “Overture of October” was his little homage to Jimi Hendrix and Plini.
FB: Your newest album pulls from a number of genres. How would you describe the Mantra Discord’s sound?
Jeremy: It’s very chill and laid back, but also has a dark feel to it. At times can be a bit chaotic as well.
FB: There’s a lot of ambience built into the band’s songs but they never lose any drive or momentum – is it ever hard to strike a balance between the background synths and melodic guitar lines?
Jeremy: It usually all comes naturally when Russ is tracking. At the very end each track is layered like a painting, just putting the finishing touches to the song. That is where the backgrounds like the piano and strings usually come in.
FB: The band has a pretty expansive sound for being a two-piece – how do you divide the writing process between you?
Jeremy: Russ did a lot of the heavy lifting on this album. I wrote all the drums though and also did the finalizing on all the tracks, making sure they sounded good before being put out.
FB: How would you describe the Southern California music scene? Would you say that Mantra Discord fits into it, or is the band more of an outlier?
Jeremy: I’m honestly not too sure what the scene is like now. I haven’t taken the time to check out any shows in the area since before the pandemic. I would like to think we would fit in but our sound and style are pretty different from anything I’ve heard out here before.
FB: Do either of you have a favorite song from the new record?
Jeremy: Man, this one is tough, but I think it’s “Villainous Bliss.” It’s the funnest and most challenging one for me on drums. Russ’s is definitely the title track “Relapse Into Silence” and “Seraphic Entities.” The first 25 seconds of the title track is definitely his favorite piece he has ever written. He based the whole album off the song, hence the title.
FB: “The Evening Aftermath” is sort of like a nightmarish CHON, especially with that dissonant intro, who are pretty routinely lumped into math rock despite having a lot more prog in their DNA – not that it’s necessarily a bad thing either way. Do you guys ever notice the same thing happening to you?
Jeremy: Yes, I have noticed this happening a bit. When we put out our debut single “Impressions” last year I was pretty interested to see what genre we would fall under and it was mostly math rock. However, I think with “Evening Aftermath” we were paying sort of an homage to the math rock elites but also keeping it very much us, a little proggy and jazzy. Artem Subichev of SHREZZERS totally nailed that sax and gave it much more flavor!
FB: Have people started asking you if they can sing for the band yet?
Jeremy: No one has asked me if they can sing for the band, but people have definitely been asking if we are interested in finding a singer or maybe have vocal features. I think a vocal feature for a track is definitely possible in the future but in terms of having an actual singer we are very happy just keeping it instrumental!
FB: Relapse into Silence is laid back at times, but it’s anything but quiet – what does the title of the album represent to you?
Jeremy: For me it’s kind of a statement to people that thought we couldn’t get back into music. For people that thought that we would stay silent or that we couldn’t do something new and different. It had been awhile since we had done music but Russ and I definitely wanted to try something fresh and give ourselves a brand new challenge and do a completely different sound than previous bands we had done in the past together. We both come from a metalcore/deathcore background so this was also another one of those challenges of facing a new audience head on, especially with our close friends that are mostly metalheads. This was kind of our way of telling everyone that we are here and to listen and to finally show the world our different spectrums of overall sound and music. Plus it’s a pretty rad sounding album name! Haha
We totally agree – also, it’s cool to see how many people in the progressive and math rock scenes have a metal background. We’ve got a doozy for you next week if you find yourself with similar history, but mum is the word for now. Metal mum. Anywho, coming up we’ve got the spook-fest that is SKiN Graft’s upcoming Halloween compilation, Millo, At Home with Monsters, and more! Check out more Mantra Discord on Bandcamp here, and send us a cup of coffee here if you’re feeling nice and/or rich. Thanks for reading!