James Romig & Mike Scheidt - The Complexity of Distance

24 Jun 2022 - Thorsten

Neoclassical, Doom | New World Records | Release date: 24 Jun 2022

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Whenever two genres are brought together by artists and musicians from very different backgrounds that will create a certain tension and friction. Listen to this mighty record by James Romig and Mike Scheidt and you can witness the friction crawl through the speakers or headphones and form that blurry oscillation that will create grainy dark pictures before your very eyes.

James Romig is an American composer who was already nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his piece ”Still” which works in some way as a counter-part to this one called The Complexity of Distance. That piece of music was written by James and for Mike Scheidt, whom most of us should know as the driving force behind mighty Doom-institution YOB whose records have been blowing minds for decades.

When James and Mike got to know each other they sound found out that they shared a lot of ideas about music and several years ago – pre-Pandemic actually – they decided to work on a collaboration, thus James set about to write a piece for Mike and an electric guitar. The first major difference to regular rock-music-songwriting of a band was the fact that James lives in the Midwest and Mike in the Pacific Northwest, so doing this together was not a regular possibility and thus James wrote the thing by himself at first and then sent Mike the drafts. The second one was that Mike didn’t how to read music by the time they began. It becomes clear, both had to make compromises, James got to know the doom and rock side of music more and Mike learnt how to read notation.

But then, man, this record is surely something different. The song starts with a metal powerchord and then the whole piece develops with James using a trifold-structure, as there are three threads of chords going through the nearly hour-long epic, and each thread holding a different length for which it lasts. Hence the three threads meet at some moments throughout the piece, making each of these intersections one major point for the piece. The distance between the three threads plays a major role for the track, so that this is the second meaning of The Complexity of Distance. So much for the theoretical aspects of the purely instrumental piece, now to its effect.

The piece evokes the picture of a desolate wasteland with us being right in the center of it all, the center of attention in some way, which implies that this center also deals with the complexities of distance between the three threads. The image is a blurry, grainy picture of a gravel-filled desert, but that gravel is not any kind but rather the result of a volcanic eruption. We are trying to find the horizon where water is supposed to be, but we never find it. Another ”Complexity of Distance”. Never mind the pure despair that the picture might evoke in one’s head, it also gives us a silver lining on said horizon, and with it comes hope.

The music is a mix of drone and doom, and hence all those who are in love with Sunn O))) will love this record as it plays in the same realms and is also highly constructed but never in an inhumane, industrial way, but always very organic. While listening to the piece one can imagine Mike having loads of fun, experimenting with his tuning in order to change the complete character of the track. One can feel the very foundations of the earth shudder beneath every gentle gigantic riff or chord that Mike wrings from the depths of his instrument. But the most important thing might be added last: This all sounds very theoretical and lacking emotions, but the song itself is enchanting and pulling one into this cosmos with every section! Every single audible and palpable chord is another mesmerizing turn for The Complexity of Distance and simultaneously another step towards the blurry and grainy horizon.