It takes some serious stones to name your band after what’s arguably the best-known line from David Lynch’s seminal television series Twin Peaks. Even if that’s somehow not the origin of South-Central Pennsylvania ritualistic dark ambient/dark folk outfit The Owls Are Not What They Seem‘s moniker, most people will still assume that’s where they got it. Yet these Owls – Bobby Yagodich (Percussion, Keyboard, Vocals), Casey Brammann (Bass), Brian Magar (Guitar, Vocals, Percussion, Synth), Rebecca Magar (Drums), and Dustin Nispel (Vocals, Percussion, Violin) – make it work because they’re also pretty adept at defying expectations.
Their fourth full-length Feral Blood, which is due out on March 19 from Eleventh Key Records (preorder here), is just over an hour’s worth of powerful, primal-sounding, ritualistic/psychedelic ambient that’s both terrifying and exhilarating. The album notes describe it as a ‘primordial vision quest,’ and it definitely ends up in some incredibly dark places.
We have the pleasure of premiering “Sacred Wheel” here today at the Vault. The heavy percussion and layered vocals that dominate the track make for some of the most hypnotic passages on all of Feral Blood – an almost shamanistic reprieve before the album moves into much darker territory.
When asked about “Sacred Wheel,” the band offered:
There are two very distinct facets to THE OWLS ANWTS. The first being our live sound and performance. Every time we play together we conjure a unique experience for the listener. A great deal of our music relies on improvisation around certain frameworks, so we never play the exact same thing. We rely heavily on feeling and happy accidents. There have been times in the past where we have played shows that were 100% improvised.
The second facet is our recorded works. Our process in the past was to individually record different tracks in solitude and eventually expand upon those ideas. FERAL BLOOD is the first album we recorded together as a band, all in the same room, at the same time. Most of what you will hear on FERAL BLOOD was written and recorded on the fly. It’s a very rapid process.
“Sacred Wheel” is the first THE OWLS ANWTS song that was written around a jaw harp. The meaning and title is left open for interpretation by the listener. Our goal with FERAL BLOOD was to capture the dynamism and atmosphere of our live performances.