Interview: Isochronous

2010-06-04 15:05
 
Isochronous
 

All you need to do to enjoy their music is to face the sky. To truly appreciate it I would recommend telescoping your mind to see beyond the borders of the Earth. But to understand it completely, you will have to travel there, to meet them in the place where time and tone meets. Richard Brokensha, Franco Schoeman, Alex Parker and Marko Benini reckon though that if you can play C harmonic minor, you're sorted. Wait, is that him? It is at this stage that a bubble might get released from your spine to project images of a crazy man killing it on the keyboard. Yes it is. Guitarist and lead vocalist, Richard, plays keyboard, - "which is a bit gay, but he does", Alex (keyboardist) comments - for that other band whose name starts with a K and rhymes with idofdoom. Know it, grasp it, and forget about it. It was just a flashback.

"Iso" is the Latin word for "the same" while "chronous" means time. Literally, this linguistic challenge of a name means "At the same time". A physicist friend suggested the name to the band (musicians have physicist friends?). Alex grins: "We were actually just fooling around with a lot of different time signatures when we first started out". Marko explains that it’s a play on words: "Everything in Life works to a time. Essentially music evolves through time. It's all relative, the music being out of time, the audience moving to the same time as the music..." Marko is proof that a drummer isn’t always just what you call someone who hangs out with musicians. Having dropped out of high school at a young age to pursue his passion for music, the self-taught multi-instrumentalist writes most of the band's songs too.

“You see the thing is now with bands and with music nowadays is that people are losing touch with the spiritual aspect. The internal world is losing touch… and I believe, like a lot of artists out there, that the art comes from within”.

To Isochronous, music is so much more than just, well, music and it is impossible to delve into the realms of their music without considering the spiritual aspect. To them music is sacred sounds in time illuminated by a cluster of converged talent. Every member of the band has received formal Jazz training and they're all enrolled for Btech in music at Tshwane University of Technology. That is, besides Marko of course.

Franco, the bassist and at twenty the youngest member of the band, took me onto a balcony in Lynnwood one night: "Those are the stars of Pretoria. If you look at them you can see how many there actually are. Then you think to yourself... sometimes you feel small. But that's not what you should feel; it should only motivate you to take yourself further and to hold on till you're able to get what you love. That's the reason why I make music. And I was lucky enough to find likeminded individuals who understand that and who are on the same mission".

That mutual mission for Isochronous is to find their creative centers and to change the way the world perceives music.

Isochronous's sound has been compared to Tool and Pink Floyd amongst others, but often they're often described as South Africa's Muse. Commenting on this, Richard says: "Nothing is original. You can say we sound like Muse but they just copied Bach.” All band members agree that MEW has been a great source of inspiration but it is impossible to list the band's musical influences without outlining the unique sound that every member brings to their kaleidoscope. When each member is asked what musicians have personally made a great impact on their style, Franco enjoys Vivaldi, Richard Bona and Bella Fleck and the Flecktones, while Marko prefers Tool, Victor Wooten and Dennis Chambers, Alex mentions Ladysmith Black Mambazo, John Williams, Bobby McFerrin and U2 and Richard thanks Jeff Buckley, Debussy and Infected Mushroom.

Isochronous might be releasing their music independently but one thing is for sure; their independence has nothing to do with the musical genre of "indie". "Indie?", Alex asks, "this is what I think and write that down”. He spits. Instead of rebelling against the commercial machine the band rather intends to employ it to work for them. As Marko explains: "We can’t call ourselves purist. Every band we listen to has sold out and that’s why we’ve heard them. We would accept a major record deal if we can still be independent but that rarely happens. Independence is being able to control what you play."

They describe themselves as "A strange and worldly joy" but fans would disagree. Seeing them live transports one to celestial destinations. "Heavenly Joy is what we strive towards and you can never achieve it until you fully understand what music is," Alex explains. "We are all willing to work hard at music”. Even if reality has it that the future for musicians in South Africa looks bleak? “That’s what makes it exciting! Reality is for people with no imagination. Music is awesome."

If Isochronous was a…

Film: Princess Mononoke
Song: Small Ambulance by MEW
Sport: tennis
Colour: Deep Blue
Philosophy: Relativity
Texture: Silk
Drug: Benzene
Chord/Key: F major7
Superhero: Howl
Synonym for Isochronous: Drachine
Religion: Communism
Drink: Treble Cointreau and Aftershock
Country: Argentina
Famous artwork: a Jackson Pollock painting
Element: The fifth element


All you need to do to enjoy their music is to face the sky. To truly appreciate it I would recommend telescoping your mind to see beyond the borders of the Earth. But to understand it completely, you will have to travel there, to meet them in the place where time and tone meets. Richard Brokensha, Franco Schoeman, Alex Parker and Marko Benini reckon though that if you can play C harmonic minor, you're sorted.
Read more on:    isochronous

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