THE MOLOSSER STORY
- extended version -
When Molosser started with their concept of two downtuned acoustic guitars, it was originally as a convenient way to make songs for what was supposed to be an electrical project. It soon turned out, though, that the tonal and dynamic spectrum offered by the acoustic instruments made way for a new way to use the riffs and licks. It also became obvious that there really wasn’t any need for a bass guitar, since the two guitars could share that role between them. Instead of using the acoustic guitars in the traditional way, by strumming or fingerpicking chords, Molosser build their music by weaving together riffs, basslines and melodies, at times in a way similar to how piano players use their left and right hands.
As this new way of making music started to find its feet, Tess went on with crafting lyrics and vocal melodies to fit the emerging songs, adding a third voice to the sound. An important aspect of Molosser’s music is that each of these voices – the two guitars and the vocals – tell their own story in an ongoing conversation with each other. You can enjoy the songs just like any other music, but to get the full experience you might want to pay attention to what’s going on behind and around the vocals.
When Tess and Jahn realized they had an interesting thing going with the acoustic guitars, they started recording the songs on a Zoom 16-track portastudio. It turned out that, using multiple microphones on each guitar, playing around with the panning for the different tracks and adding drums to the mix – Tess is an experienced drummer – it was possible to create a full, vivid tonal landscape without adding any more instruments. In the final production, there are a few overdubbed (acoustic) guitars, but mostly it is the minimalistic, dynamic interplay of the two original guitar takes that build the base of the music.
Molosser made extensive pre-production using the portastudio, so when they finally went into the studio to record the album, they had a pretty clear picture of what they were trying to achieve. It goes without saying that it’s a challenging prospect to make two acoustic guitars – that often don’t play more than one or two notes each – sound like a full band, but considering, we must say that it went pretty well in the end. The result is a unique sound that might take a little while to get used to, but when you do, you want to come back for more.
For those who are curious about how much of Appear that is pure playing power and how much is studio magic, it will be enlightening to listen to the Barebones/Live video series, where we seated Molosser in a cozy corner of Evil Ear Studio to record raw, gritty versions of the songs straight into the microphones, live without overdubs. These takes are certainly enjoyable in their own right and gives a hint of in which direction Molosser are moving now.
One thing that might set Molosser apart from many other examples of acoustic guitar music is that the vocals often have a nerve and intensity that you associate more with electric rock and a freedom of phrasing that’s inspired by jazz and soul. This is no wonder, since Tess and Jahn have a background more in these worlds than in folk, Americana or similar genres. Not to say that this is obvious at all times, but it makes it hard to put the duo squarely into any one genre.
If you bear this in mind, you’ll hopefully be ready to enter the word of Molosser and make yourself at home there!