All my favourite art deeply unsettles me in some way: the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, John Murphy’s theme for 28 Days Later that’s mostly used on football adverts now for some reason, Sharon Needles’ makeup. There’s something quite scary about being overwhelmed sensorially, which is something that can be said of all of the aforementioned as well as Volt Room – the debut EP from London-based producer Miedo Total.
Miedo Total is a relatively new project from Alex Comana, who's been making music for well over a decade in various incarnations: playing guitar for the Cardiff-based hardcore band Goodtime Boys; fronting the experimental indie-pop group Among Brothers; embarking on collaborative efforts that most recently have seen him create a sound installation and performance revolving around ‘ritual’ and ‘voice’ for the Wales Millennium Centre Hub, and a live improvisation based on personal responses to the First Quarter Moon for the House of Covvens project. Quite simply, the guy loves a concept.
With song titles like “Rot” and “Saraband for Lepers”, you’d expect to see Volt Room performed by someone bent over an eight-string bass on stage at Roadburn but, while there might be blast beats involved, Miedo Total is far from a metal project. Rather, Comana takes elements from the genre and fuses them with experimental electronica to create a sonic landscape that's both emotionally and physically demanding.
Large in scope and tactile in sound, Volt Room sounds like How To Dress Well and Slipknot soundtracking the birth of a new planet in unison. It has more in common with composition than songwriting, really; choral, classical and industrial influences bump up alongside metal – and while many of the instruments are programmed to sound organic, they’re arranged unnaturally, which has the effect of making you feel on edge throughout the duration of the EP but you can’t quite pinpoint why.
Before moving to the UK to study, Comana was raised in Bergamo, Italy, which has two claims to fame: the DJ and producer Gabber Eleganza, and world-famous juggler Enrico Rastelli. One of these individuals has influenced Miedo Total, but I’ll leave you to decide which it is while you find out more below…
‘MIEDO TOTAL’ MEANS ‘TOTAL FEAR IN SPANISH’
“I just picked those words because I liked the way that they sounded, and I wanted something that was kind of removed from anything that had to do with a band name or an artist name. Ages ago, I wanted to call the project ‘ultra violence’ but then Lana Del Rey took it. And what an amazing name for an album, so fair play.”
HIS FORMATIVE INFLUENCES WERE BUBBLEGUM POP AND GABBER
“In school, I remember liking precisely two bands: Spice Girls and Rotterdam Terror Corps, because my friend's older brother used to listen to gabber and go to Number One, which is this big club on the outskirts of the city. When I started making music digitally, gabber was the first obvious reference for me – and whilst I don't claim to make club music, it's energy is present on Volt Room purely because it was my first exposure to electronic music.”
THE EP WAS WRITTEN IN A GARAGE
“I actually had a whole album written beforehand that was meant to come out on another label and didn’t end up happening, so the EP was this semi-frantically written thing over the space of six weeks last summer. The tracks came out pretty much one after another and, because I was writing it essentially in a garage in Italy in 35 degree heat, constantly drenched in a film of sweat, I think that’s why it’s so claustrophobic sounding – because that’s the environment in which it was written.”
AND WAS INSPIRED BY… AN IMAGINARY LYNCHIAN BATHROOM?
“I feel like all the songs exist in this realm of this room, which… all I can do is describe it because it’s an image that was in my mind all the time. It’s basically a tiled room filled with smoke and static and sparks, and everything’s like electric blue lighting. I guess in my head it was a place to put anxieties or affectations or whatever – emotions that couldn’t be really defined because they’re unstable.”
IT COMBINES HIS STYLE OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC WITH HIS HISTORY OF PLAYING IN HARDCORE BANDS
“There was a period where, in my head, the worlds of me playing in a hardcore band and me making electronic music weren’t compatible. I just ignored that whole section of my life and really tried to get into the whole electronic music thing, but now that I’m older I just want to do all my influences. They vary from time to time, but for this specific release I had a palette that I was choosing from. I definitely wanted to include loads of elements of metal and punk, so there’s loads of blast beats and beatdowns and stuff like that. I did still want it to be electronic to a certain extent, rather than just imitating metal – so all the blast beats are impossible to play because they’re too fast, or there’s drum fills that you’d need five arms to do.”
CATHOLICISM IS A CONSTANT PRESENCE
“Growing up in Bergamo was interesting because, even though my parents didn't bring me up a Catholic, the religion permeates everything: the art, the architecture, every monument or landmark is dedicated to a saint. I went to a Catholic high school and every subject had this religious undercurrent to it. The vast majority of my classmates went to church school. Growing up in that environment, you can't help but acquire this idea that there's this larger phenomenon, judging and taking score. I don't strictly have any religious beliefs, even though I have my own ideas about faith, but I think you just need to step into a Catholic church to understand the effect that a space like that can have on someone. I've been interested in that feeling for quite a long time and I think that's something that I always strive to recreate in all my music.”
WHICH MIGHT ALSO EXPLAIN WHY HE HAS A PENCHANT FOR DRAMA
“Scott Walker is definitely an influence, as well as this neo-classical composer called Tom Bents, who’s amazing at arranging things spatially. Nick Cave was a really big influence lyrically and in terms of the vocal style being overly dramatic. Like, I think it’s pretty clear that the vocals are put on to a certain extent. I wanted it to have a strange tone so the sung parts are formed, almost.
The themes that I speak about on the EP have been written from a super personal place, so I think it would be silly to assume that someone would identify with that aspect. But I would love for people to experience it in the way you would experience a dramatic performance more than speaking directly to someone who has experienced something.”