We are pleased to have met singer and bass player Albert Batlle, better known as Ngldogma, after a concert with one of his bands, Perennial Isolation, a band on which we will focus our interview, but without forgetting that he is also a member of other bands like Erzsébet, Cauldron or Evnar. Perennial Isolation is a band from Catalonia with a very consolidated style in its almost 10-year history with four full-length albums and an EP. Specialists in Atmospheric Black Metal, in 2021 they premiered their new work with Non Servian Records. Also, Ngldogma is a well known guttural singing teacher at Metal Academy.
OBNUBIL: How has been the premiere of "Portraits" past January 21 in Barcelona and June 10 in Madrid?
Ngldogma: The truth is that very well. We had a very good reception and it is appreciated that the public continues to bet for us and our way of understanding Black Metal. We really would have liked to do many more concerts, but just a few weeks after the presentation concert of "Portraits" in Barcelona, there were again capacity restrictions in venues and this led to an "overbooking" of programming closure. We can understand it, everyone wants to play live and the venues have to reschedule previously reserved dates before and during the pandemic. We are all in the same situation. You generate activity expectations that have gone to hell and now you have to make up for lost time. It is not easy. So we take it as if we are starting to present it, even though the record came out in March 2021.
OBNUBIL: How was the signing with Non Serviam Records, your brand new label?
Ngldogma: It was quite a surprise. A fact that has marked an important point in the history of the band. You never know when something like this will happen. As we have explained on several occasions, we are not "sponsored" by anyone. You can imagine how things go. You have the Mastered project and you want to get it out in the best possible way. We were at a point of need for change and we wanted to be on a label that could help us expand our music. So, during the spring and summer of 2020, in the midst of the Covid era, under the uncertainty of a difficult time, I began to make an "Excel" of record labels of different categories where we wanted to be. Once it was made, in the middle of the hot month of August, I started sending collaboration requests and… boom, the flute sounded. A reputable label such as Non Serviam Records took an interest in us. It was a matter of luck. We throw the letter and there you play everything. Many say it's because of the quality of the new album and we appreciate the words about it, but for a label signing you need much more than quality on the album.
OBNUBIL: You have trusted in us, Obnubil (Obnubil Studio), for the realization of the Layout, both the vinyl record and the "Portraits" Digipack, with an illustration by Mark Thompson that in our opinion is magnificent. You may tell us more about the entire edition of it?
Ngldogma: We wanted a change in every way, not only in the musical theme but also in the artistic one. We have considered "Portraits" as the most important album of our career and we did not want to offer a cover based on a multilayer digital design. Our music has a purer meaning then before and we wanted to integrate something organic. And what can be more pure or organic than the ideas and thoughts of the artist interpreted from his mind to a canvas? We were looking for that. Mark Thompson plays a lot with nature and with autumnal, winter and cold environments in his paintings. His paintings seem like one more extension of our music. We were already fascinated by his way of creating like this that we do not hesitate to contact him to set up a collaboration. Then, of course, we wanted to contact Obnubil. We do not consider another person more ideal than Santi for the creation of the layout. For us it is very important to work with people who know what they are doing, who know their work, and with whom it is easy to understand each other, because they know what you want; in addition to offering a personal vision to be able to improve the work. No doubt, the work you did is magnificent.
OBNUBIL: What inspired you to make the music for your albums and more especially for this latest album? And what about the lyrics?
Ngldogma: Autumn, neither more nor less. We have a huge spiritual connection with this season of the year. It is our main muse. And curiously, it is the most productive time of the band at a compositional level. The lyrics are an ode to the border stage between autumn and winter, when the cold of the year returns and embraces the bark of the trees dying before the bed of crimson leaves that cover the skin of Mother Earth.
OBNUBIL: Your previous works had a much shorter continuity of releases between them. Why "Portraits" has dilated more in time?
Ngldogma: It is a question that we are asked very often and I must insist that we did not stopped during those 5 years. When we wanted to start composing again, we were joined by a few tours and the return of our guitarist Ivan. Once we finished to play live, we gave rise to start composing, but this is not an easy task. We like to take things slowly and be sure of where we want to go. We are a band that likes to have everything tied together and make sure that what we are creating absolutely expresses what we are looking for. If it's not so we don't give up, even if that means delaying the start of the studio recording, which was also one of the reasons for the delay of the album. We are lucky that our record label does not pressure us and gives us peace of mind to be able to create as we please without time or haste.
OBNUBIL: Not only do you play in Perennial Isolation, you also play in bands like Cauldron and Evnar and more recently Erzsébet. How do you manage to combine your work with all of them?
Ngldogma: When I decide to get involved in more projects, it is because I can have time and I can integrate 100%. If I'm not going to give it my all, I won't even consider it. What I usually do is organize ahead of time and prioritize by stages. During the spring I have been linked more to Erzsébet due to the release of the new album and surely by the end of the year it will be the same with Perennial Isolation. I am lucky that my job as a singing teacher allows me to have time for the bands.
OBNUBIL: In Obnubil we have always considered you one of the greatest vocalists of Spain, but also, in Perennial Isolation, you play the bass. Have you ever thought of putting aside the string instrument to get more dynamism live?
Ngldogma: It's the first time I've been asked this question; and yes, I have thought about it. A few months ago I presented to my colleagues the possibility of abandoning the bass and dedicating myself to singing, but finding a fifth member is something we are reluctant to do. We like to be a foursome. But also, the option of losing the figure of the bassist was not seen. I abandoned this option and worked more to improve the dynamics and my vocal resources. I don't know if I will bring it up again in the future.
OBNUBIL: You have always been a guide for many people who either want to start in guttural singing or perfect their technique. Is it comforting that there are so many people who take you into account as a teacher?
Ngldogma: I will always have words of thanks to all those followers and students who trusted and trust me. Yes it is, especially when you give them a little light, support and hope to achieve their goals. I'm glad to be a reference and guide in the complex world of guttural, It's going to be a very good year for me in this regard because I'm going to offer many learning alternatives.
OBNUBIL: You currently work at Metal Academy as a singing teacher. Do you think there is more and more interest in learning the vocal techniques of the guttural type of singing?
Ngldogma: Yes there is. There are many students enrolled in the school. And many have spent years with me working, improving and perfecting. There is an interest and there is demand. There is too much confusion and too many myths in guttural singing and students are looking for someone who is 100% dedicated, someone with knowledge of the facts who knows what to do and how to do it. Thousands of YouTube videos no longer serve people. They look for someone who is there for them and teaches them everything.
OBNUBIL: Many times it has been said that metal in Spain moves fewer and fewer people. With your experience having toured Europe, do you think there is much difference in the reception of metal, between Spain and other European countries?
Ngldogma: Partly yes and partly no. There are countries with a lot of activity and a lot of scene. Those countries support their small gangs. The bands that we all admire from Scandinavian and Central European countries were small, but they supported them and bet on them. Spain has a lot of problems when it comes to Metal music; and it's not because of the lack of quality, believe me, but there are many mediocre bands, which only harm and hinder other bands from having opportunities that they really deserve. We support what we should not support and leave aside what is far from the typical and topical. If I have 10 copies of Slayer, why should I support the one that doesn't want to look like it? I don't see this outside. There is support for emerging bands and you see them grow from one year to the next. Later we ask ourselves why such a Spanish band or another barely play here... Normally, they are more welcome and better received outside our border. Also, the problem lies in the fact that the bands abuse too much to play in small kilometric portions. If you play in Barcelona, don't play the week after 70 km away. They won't come to see you. You will blame the people but the fault is yours for not setting things up with your head (another case is festivals, that is another story). On the other hand, there are excessive bands and as I say, many of low quality without their own identity. They are copies of copies. We already come from a culture that despises Metal and that the "great" bands of the genre that have occupied the rusty rotten throne of Heavy do not allow, under any circumstances, to cede it to others who deserve it more. But apart from not giving it up, the rotten Spanish Metal industry does everything possible so that X expired bands cling to that increasingly unstable throne. This system bores me, that's why we've always had eyes on Europe and we've been very well received. We are very grateful to them. Each country will have its things, good or bad, within their own scenes; but the main differentiating factor is the treatment and consideration they have towards a musician. We still have a lot to learn and the problem, like many other aspects of Spanish society and culture, is that we look the other way and go our own way as usual.
OBNUBIL: You and your partner Victor from Perennial Isolation are very active on social media. How do you think social networks influence the promotion of a band like yours?
Ngldogma: I think they have a positive influence as long as you use it with your head. I understand that many "underground" bands don't want to use them because exposing themselves "so publicly" breaks the standards of the image they want to give. I believe that you can use the networks in order to provide up-to-date information about what is happening in your project without acting like a clown. Now, I don't know if you think the same as me, but I do see many bands that didn't have Facebook but now have Instagram; and it is that with the lack of means that can supply the World Metal news and with an increase in bands and genres at the International level, I understand that the bands need their bit of self-promotion to have a direct connection with the viewer. I invite bands to make use of their networks, but always with elegance and professionalism.
OBNUBIL: We recently had the pleasure of seeing you live and we were surprised by the high level you have and the intensity with which you unfold your songs. Is it difficult to maintain that intensity on a tour with more than a dozen concerts practically in a row?
Ngldogma: It is not easy. You must change the approach of many things. Like a simple concert, what matters is the public and what you offer them, so for us that is the first premise. The public has paid for you and is dedicating their time to you. You have to maintain that intensity and professionalism, as you rightly comment; so for this you have to have a serious attitude because at that time you are working, at least we consider it that way. It is important to rest and eat, stay active but control parties and excesses. Perhaps the most risky, at least from my point of view, is the voice. Well, I have to be very careful with the hours of rest and silence, food and hydration. It's not really easy, but if you maintain some routines and good practices, you can hit a very good tour and endure perfectly.
OBNUBIL: What future plans do you have? What is to come in Perennial Isolation? And with your newly released band Erzsébet?
Ngldogma: Presenting "Portraits" right now; in Spain and Europe. This is our priority. The pandemic screwed up our plans and now we are only interested in playing and picking up where we left off. We have to take the new album live now that the opportunities start to appear again. We have started with some shots and ideas for the new album but we don't plan to stop for writing. We will focus on playing. And regarding to Erzsébet quite the opposite. We will spend the rest of the year immersed in the composition and pre-production of the new work. I will have news very soon!
OBNUBIL: Thank you very much for taking all this time and answering our questions. Is there anything you would like to say to The Covenant readers and your fans?
Ngldogma: Yes. Just thank you all for supporting us for almost 10 years. Thank you all for supporting Portraits" and to you for being interested in everything that encompasses our project. It's going to be a great year!
Photos taken by Obnubil Studio.
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