There are number of “bands” trying to “shock” with masks or make-up. But to truly surprise, excite and challenge a listener on a metal scene, with original concept and great musicianship – that’s something unique. Manuel Gagneux and his crew Zeal & Ardor are combining in their sound black spiritual music and extreme avant-garde metal. His collection of favorite albums is not less interesting, as you would see. Next to it we also spoke about gear and challenges on a tour.
Portishead – Dummy (1994)
What I love about this record is, apart from how beautiful it is, is how uncompromising it is. Everything it sets out to do was done with such precision and so much care it must have taken forever. The mix and soundscaping here is simply unparalleled. A master class in melancholy. This made me want to experiment with unusual sounds.
Inara George – All Rise (2004)
Inara has an incredible sense of harmony. Most of these songs were also recorded with an orchestral accompaniment by Van Dyke Parks. Here they are produced by a still relatively unknown Greg Kurstin. They later formed the fabulous The Bird and the Bee together. I learned a lot about playfulness in music through this. The song Turn On/Off is a great example of this.
SebastiAn – Total (2011)
Simply great electronic music with experimentation of bringing heavier elements into it. A lovely record for excessive parties. Check out Doggg for the heavier parts.
Necrophagist – Epitath (2004)
Just brutal and relentless Death Metal. No frills, no compromise. Only Brutality.
Tom Waits’ music is great for singing along when the bartender wants to close, but you’re louder than him
Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)
Tom has the ability to transport the listener into his world in only one second’s time. It’s unmistakably unique and unmistakably Tom Waits. Lyrically this is the first record that really completes the window into his world. I could go on for ages about this record and I have. Multiple times. Great for singing along when the bartender wants to close, but you’re louder than him.
Sweek – The Unbelievable Cinematic Crash (2005)
This was one of my first post rock albums. Lovingly crafted compositions and a real sense of pacing makes this one of my favorites. It owes a lot to having a cello and violin join in the fun. Nighttime and thinking music. Well worth everyone’s time.
Prefuse 73 – One Word Extinguisher (2003)
Experimental, but still very enjoyable electronic music featuring masterful beat making and almost prophetic sampling work. The only Hip Hop album also labeled IDM. Great stuff.
Brian Eno – Music for Airports (1978)
I can’t say anything about this album, that hasn’t been said already. The first proper ambient album happens to have been made by a genius. It sounds the part.
Evelyn Davis – The Wit of the Stair (2017)
Evelyn has an incredible grasp on melody and pitch. What impressed me most on this record was the use of space between pitches to direct the listener’s attention to the focal point. Prepared piano and emotive and clear vocals make this an experience enjoyed best without distractions.
Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind (1983)
This is the first vinyl I bought and will always have a special place for me. Also it has The Trooper on it. Who doesn’t like The Trooper?!
More for the servants
Would you also like to mention some surprising pieces in your albums collection which didn’t end up in your top ten list?
Sophie – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides and Iglooghost’s Neo Wax Bloom come to mind.
What was the first album you bought for your own money?
I think it was Americana by the Offspring.
Any recent discoveries regarding gear?
I’m such a non-gear head that I just use old stuff lying around in weird ways and rely heavily on plugins. I know, terrible. I really love Vulfpeck’s plugins they made with Goodhertz if that counts.
Could you please mention some challenges you faced on the recent tours within gear and what have you learned from those experiences for upcoming tours?
We didn’t have too many problems with gear, (We use AxeFx on stage, because it’s so much easier to fly with and set up quickly) but flight cases can be a nightmare. Even the expensive ones are no match for the people working at airports, who I assume use swords and shotguns to move luggage.
People working at airports use swords and shotguns to move luggage I assume
When we saw each other in Prague, you were all in the band dealing with a cold. What tricks are you going to use for autumn tour?
We’ve learned a lot since then. Getting enough sleep is a big one. As soon as you are a little tired and in a bus with other people a cold can spread super quickly to lay waste to the entire crew. It’s super boring, but eating well and sleeping enough make a huge difference.
Have you developed for yourself some vocal preparations and trainings?
I just do a short warm up before shows. So far so good.