Metal & Mike: Crafting Emotion From Machines With AUTHOR & PUNISHER
Author & Punisher is a fascinating act, combining the forces of industrial and doom metal alongside electronic music. For Tristan Stone of Author & Punisher, his love for metal began by discovering artists that created unique atmospheres.
“The first heavy band I heard,” he shares, “was Sepultura on the WUNH radio show ‘The Pit’. Then, I think I heard Godflesh, Melvins, and Ministry in high school from my close friends who were in a hardcore band. [Those band’s] music was dark and never cheezy [sic]. These types of musicians are contemporary artists who aren’t just writing songs, they are creating an atmosphere; there is that mysterious ambiguity [in the music] that is powerful, but we can’t quite pin it down. Not many bands have this ‘thing’ that produces that environment.”
In the world of electronic and metal music, Shone brings a more intimate, physical connection to his work. Besides the heavy, chaotic compositions he creates, he also creates his own personal drone machines. His new LP entitled Beastland (released last week via Relapse Records), is an exciting step forward in his career.
Before ever establishing Author & Punisher, however, Shone pursued a career as an engineer. What began as a regular job eventually evolved into a desire to grow and explore the arts. “Working as an engineer in [the telecom] industry,” he shares, “for a company that has financial goals, just isn’t that interesting. I realized that I was an artist through this process since on the side I was working as an assistant to a tech artist, helping him with his installations. [The tech artist] really pushed me to explore my own art and recommended getting an MFA where I had time to develop [my craft]. After two years of working in Boston as an engineer in the telecom world, I headed to California to study art.”
Whether he’s working with metal, wood, rubber, or some other sort of material, Shone’s creative process is extraordinary. His music blends the artistic forms of sound with touch, presenting overwhelming sensory thrills. In sharing part of his process, he says, “I start with a gesture that I relate to a sound; from this gesture, I am able to begin designing a man/machine interface to encode my motions into a hardware or software synth. The logistics side of this is the easy part; engineering is just figuring out which components [to use] and how to get them to work together. Imagining the interface and the ‘feel’ is the key to a good design.”
The record also expresses Shone’s frustrations with the state of our society; the bubbling of violence, bigotry, and hatred fuels the compositions throughout Beastland, allowing him to vent his disgust. “I think we’ve all discovered a lot of negative things about our culture that either we’ve blocked out or we’ve hidden from, [such as]: racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, sexism, fascism, elitism, [and] wage inequality. After many recent experiences with those who tend to take advantage, I just decided that I would not keep quiet about anything anymore. […] I am a quiet, mellow, non-confrontational being; but [by being silent], we are really hurting those who are less fortunate by allowing those in positions of power, the ‘beasts’, to spout off their gibberish. […] ‘Beastland’ is both a condemnation of those who prey on the weak and an expression of anger; [anger in regard to] myself for not stepping up and to us as a people for letting it get this way.”
Beastland is not only a fascinating exploration of our current standing in life, but that of art. Utilizing machine building and music engineering, Shone has continuously crafted material that engages the human mind on multiple levels. His work is that of atmosphere and emotion; the speed of his music drones with tension, the bass thundering, emitting dread and madness. When it comes to everything Beastland is, Shone wants you to take away one thing:
You can purchase Beastland via Bandcamp or the Relapse Records website. You can also check out the track “Nihil Strength” below. If you want to catch up on past Metal & Mike posts you can find those here (and you can follow my other work via Twitter).