The brilliant sensuality of Ritual Veil’s “Wolf In The Night”

Last November Portland Oregon trio Ritual Veil released a brilliant debut in their Wolf In The Night EP.  We unfortunately overlooked the record in our best of list from last year—and surely it was one of the best releases of 2017.

The six track ep is full of poppy post-punk and gothic rock imbued with the sensual crooning of A. Alexander Wolfe, the precision hooks of Wolfgang Williams’ guitar, and the melodic frequency modulations from the synthesis of Tim Iserman. The sound of each track comes together with warm nostalgia clothed in leather and lace— suiting the erotic imagery that you would find at a new romantic cabaret, or Fassbinder’s Querelle.

Every track is crafted as if it were a single—with the title track, Gray Filter, All Black, and Favorite Toy all disco dance floor friendly, with the remaining two Surface and Time Again wind the record down with delightful dirge.

We recently asked Ritual Veil about their origins, imagery, and what we can expect from them in the future—such as a full length LP, or touring in Europe:

Background:

WOLFGANG: Aidan and I had just been in band that fell apart before its first show and we were eager to get another project going. I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode, She Past Away, Body Of Light, and Drab Majesty at the time and wanted to do something similar.

We knew little to nothing about synthesizers or how to create electronic music but over the span of almost a year we had managed to write the core parts for 6 songs using the presets on a Microkorg and drum machine I had picked up.

During that time I was being heavily influenced by Dario Argento films like Suspiria and Inferno, the artwork of Tom Of Finland, and the aesthetic of Drab Majesty and I felt very compelled to build an aesthetic around that inspiration. Also at that time I was beginning to embrace my sexuality openly and wanted to carry that feeling of sexual expression over to Ritual Veil.

Aidan and I were getting pretty antsy about playing shows but the minimal approach of the songs left them feeling unfinished and we also didn’t know how to execute the live performance. As we thought of people we could bring into the band to help us, I recalled a comment Tim had left on a video of some music I made saying we should jam sometime and since Aidan had known Tim from work we decided to reach out to him. Tim was a perfect fit for us and added the dimension we desperately needed. We finished up the 6 songs, recorded them, and started playing shows.

TIM: Aidan, Wolf and I have been involved in the DIY punk community in Portland for years; playing in bands such as Steel Chains, Smoke Rings, Petite, Fleshh just to name a few as of recent history.

Wolfgang and Aidan had been tirelessly stitching together the riffs that would accumulate to become the foundation for the Wolf in the Night EP. Knowing that I (Tim) was a synth-wise/elektro nerd, a few of the very early demos of some of the riffs that would become the 6 songs were sent to me and I was able to have a lot of fun populating the songs with synths and sound.

Within 2 months of playing together, we were in the studio recording the EP.

Lyrics:

AIDAN: The song titles and lyrical themes in Wolf In The Night stem from a range of emotions and inspirations: Love, lust, and the pursuit/fulfillment of one’s deepest desires are certainly present and probably the most parallel to the visual/audio aesthetic but we also touch on the darker side of the spectrum: Depression, mental illness, the fog of existential gloom, the presence/absence of god and the futility in acknowledging either.

Graphics:

WOLFGANG: The Logo was designed for us by Louisiana Purchase based off our aesthetics, and my personal interpretation of the symbols is that the glove represents the discipline and work needed to succeed, the lit candle represents the inspiration that motivates and guides us through darkness, and the rose represents the beauty you can create when you combine dedication with inspiration.

TIM: The rose/glove/candle symbol was designed by Austin artist/performer Louisiana Purchase. Please do yourself the service of discovering them, they are a fierce and beautiful performer and artist! We could not have been happier with the design.

The themes the images evoke and capture truly speak directly to the aesthetic we are trying to convey which is the embrace of our dark desires. To find what lies between despair and the divine, to embrace ourselves holistically with all our kinks, passions and persuasions without shame. There is a celebration of sexuality that permeates all we do with this project.

As humyns trapped in the loveless state of capitalism we build our worlds within to celebrate who we are contrary to the system. To be safe and supported. We as individuals have always been dedicated to DIY punk and radicalism and we keep that thread of love within all we do. As Emma Goldman said over a century ago, ‘ it’s not my revolution if i can’t dance.’

Video:

TIM: The ‘wolf in the night’ music video was a labor of love and a joy to make. Filmed by our very dear and creative friend Nestor Valenzuela and directed by our very own Tim Iserman. We filmed in early October of 2017 and premiered it at a show in mid-December.

The theme running through the video that we hoped to convey was the idea of running away from oneself and that one can only do so for so long. We live these lives so fractured, sometimes all one can do is see the full fire of oneself and jump into these flames to forge oneself whole. To embrace our dark passenger. It can be a terrifying process.

Live:

TIM: We are very excited for this summer and year. We are playing a few really fantastic festivals: Verboden in Vancouver BC, Near Dark in Oakland, CA, and Portland’s annual dark wave/postpunk festival Out from the Shadows.

We are also touring California in late March and are especially blissed out to be playing with dark wave legends Skeletal Family for one of our Los Angeles dates. An east coast tour is also currently being booked for October. Granted though I think our hearts are set for touring Europe as soon as possible.

Europe:

TIM: We’ve been really lucky to receive a lot of love and support from folks in Europe. We had the privilege and pleasure of releasing our EP through three different labels in Europe: BFA Records in Spain, Other Voices Records in Russia, and Voice from Inside Tapes Records in Ukraine. All have either sold out or are dwindling in supply, which is so amazing to us! We are very humbled and cannot wait to come over and play.

Currently Accident Prone Records in Portland, OR will be releasing the cassette in perpetuity. We have also been talking about distribution in Indonesia/SE Asia. Fingers crossed.

Future:

TIM: We have been hard at work with new songs and have amassed close to a new EP’s worth of music. We have been in talks with LA’s Riki regarding the possibility of a split release as we LOVE them! Check them out they are absolutely great!

Or, in the event that does not happen, we intend on just continuing to write towards a full length LP release at this point.

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