"I guess in general it's one of our shorter, concise, more to the point records," mused TesseracT rhythm guitarist James Monteith ahead of the band's fourth album, Sonder, which will be released on April 20. "It only clocks in at 37 minutes and eight songs. There's a slightly more progressive approach on this one whereas on the last one there was lots of pieces of music that evolved from one section to the other rather than more traditional song structures."
In keeping with the mystery created by TesseracT's music, the title of the album is another obscure and almost magical experience, with Monteith explaining that the actual name is something which could pioneer an album on its own.
"It's actually a made-up word taken from a book called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and it is basically made up by this guy who is kind of like... he's not a real philosopher, more a thinker about communication and social interaction, that kind of thing... and the definition given is the realisation that every random person is living as full and complex and vivid a life as your own in population with your own friends, ambitions, and craziness. So basically it's almost like a message of modern self-centredness and awareness with our surroundings and I guess the wide world."
It is a theme which, although permeating through the album, is not necessarily the main focus of the material.
"It is a little bit," Monteith shrugged. "I guess that's the overall concept of the record and the songs delve into different aspects of that. The next single 'King' has quite an interesting story. It basically in the video follows four people's journey's through tragedy and almost coming to the end of their road if you like - their tether - but something helps them get through it and that something is ambiguous and something that they can eventually gain from looking outside their own bubbles and worlds. Lots of the other songs have various relating concepts but that one springs to mind."
Sonder is also being released in a unique and groundbreaking 2 CD binaural version, a revolutionary concept that if successful could revolutionalize the way we listen to music in the future.
"It's a mix that Acle (Alec Kahney, lead guitar) did with some software made by a company called Klang," Monteith explained, "which essentially creates 3D spaces within a 2D mix so the idea is the recording is a much more lively, spacious sound. So, in theory, you should be able to put the headphones on and imagine in your head where the instruments are around you. I've not actually heard it yet so whether it does that or not I don't know (laughs) but that's what it's supposed to do and you can use it on any headphones as well which is a nice bonus."
The press release for Sonder states that the album combines elements of all of TesseracT's previous releases, a bold statement that Monteith agrees has substance.
"Yeah I guess so," he measured. "There's a nod back to some of the heavier stuff on the first record and as I said earlier there are more progressive elements on the album that goes back to the second record but we more focus on good songwriting and accessibility which the last record had and when you put all of that together that's kind of what we've got not, so yeah, it is accurate."
Monteith didn't join TesseracT until 2006, three years and one album into the band's career. Although TesseracT were still a band in their relative infancy Monteith recalls there was a buzz and excitement around the band even then that spiked his creative interest.
"At the time the demo's I had heard just blew me away," he enthused. "It was so exciting and I was really desperate to become a part of it. I don't think we had any real vision back then but I think we all knew that we were doing something different, something... virtually every band back then was doing something either that had that early metalcore sound like Killswitch Engage or they were straight up heavy metal. Even back then Messhugah weren't a huge band. They were very much underground so we were all doing something that was different. Whether people were going to like it or not we weren't to know but at the time we were just trying to do something that we thought was fresh and exciting and fun and a challenge to do it well."
As such there was not yet a market for the signature polyrhythmic riffs and odd time signatures that propel the progressive movement today and there were times that Monteith admits the band felt they didn't fit anywhere in the musical scheme of things.
"We didn't fit in at all," he laughed, "which was quite funny. I remember because Acle had been working on the project for a few years prior to the band coming together. He'd already built up a bit of an online fan base and basically we didn't get any gigs so we just booked our own and within the first couple of shows people started turning up because they knew Acle from the internet and were into the demos he had posted on there and the first time we aligned with a band they were doing something similar in about 2008 and it was a band called The Arusha Accord and they were super ahead of their time. They were a very crazy, complex tech metal band, it was actually ridiculous (laughs). They were also very young at the time - like in their late teens - and I remember they were rehearsing at the same place we did and we became friends with them and did some shows with them. We booked a five or six-date tour around the U.K and I'm guessing it was probably one of the first ever tech metal tours in the U.K because there was nobody else doing that kind of thing back then. I'm not including Sikth in that because obviously, they were around prior to all that stuff so we kind of forged our own scene a little bit. By that time Sikth had split up so I guess there was a void which us and The Arusha Accord nicely fit in to. There was also a band called Textures that came over in 2008 and we managed to get those support slots but we were basically all just carving our own niche because the scene just didn't exist."
The style of music played by TesseracT is intricate, technical, and complex. It is difficult at times to digest as a listener which begs the question is it difficult to play?
"Some of it," Montieth laughed. "Some of it is difficult but then because we've been doing it for so long we're used to the style of playing so it comes to us quite easy. I could imagine it being difficult to someone who is not practiced in it and playing these cross-rhythms and weird rhythms. That stuff I guess is quite tricky but I guess because we've done it forever it's quite natural to us. There are occasionally some tricky things we have to pick up and learn. We've just started jamming the new single 'Illuminary' and in the main bridge, there's some really crazy bends that need to be accurate so things like that we have to sit down and learn how to play properly. I guess it is quite difficult but then when you learn it it isn't (laughs)."
TesseracT have just announced an Australian Tour in support of Sonder in September!
Tuesday, September 11: Capitol, Perth
Thursday, September 13: The Gov, Adelaide
Friday, September 14: Melbourne 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, September 15: The Metro, Sydney
Sunday, September 16: The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets on sale 10.00am Tuesday, April 10.
Pre order’s for Sonder are available now