Out April 10 via Consouling Sounds, IIVII’s Grinding Teeth / Zero Sleep is solo artist Josh Graham’s crowning achievement so far.
IIVII is Josh Graham (former member of Red Sparrows, Neurosis, and Battle of Mice; guitarist/keys/vocals for A Storm of Light) is a visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, and electro-acoustic composer focusing on enigmatic, cinematic atmospheres and exploring elements of electronica, classical, ambient, drone and vaporwave.
2020 will bring Josh Graham’s most ambitious IIVII album to date. The release spans not one album, but two albums at the same time! Where Zero Sleep explores the balance of living and sleeping, Grinding Teeth will lead you through a nightmare. The ugly, dark, and disorienting sounds are in direct opposition with the themes and tropes of Zero Sleep, making it a complementary release.
Rather than releasing it separately, it is presented as a double release. Both albums tell their own story, but the dialogue between Zero Sleep and Grinding Teeth also tells a bleak tale. The albums have an impressive dynamic range. From subtle and fragile, ambient vibes, to fierce, metallic drones, Graham tapped into the whole of his own back catalogue in order to have this story told.
It’s a bold and daring yet captivating effort, where Graham enlisted the help from a myriad of friends to conjure up this elaborate and complex world, including Sarah Pendleton (SubRosa), Mathilde Smessaert (BARST), Jo Quail, Gregory Simons (Vonnis), Dana Schechter (Insect Ark), Billy Graves (A Storm of Light), Shane Ocell (Sorxe), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), and Ben Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan).
Grinding Teeth – the inspired soundtrack to the true-life love story of Duane and Debra Johnson. Battling multiple health and mental illness issues, Debra Johnson asked her husband, Duane, to remove her from a medical facility so she could die at home. Over the next five days, they had an extended “death party,” smoking methamphetamine, listening to Quiet Riot, and having sex.
After Debra died in Duane’s arms, he wrapped her in linen and called the police. When they arrived on scene, Duane was standing naked near the front door, screaming that his wife was dead. The words “Death Parde God Hell” were spray-painted across the door.
Touching on themes of love, death, drug use, sex and criminality, Grinding Teeth features guitars, drums, electric violin and cello, lap steel, and electronic instrumentation.
The album cover for Grinding Teeth uses “crystal meth” arranged in the form of Lucifer’s sigil. This imagery plays off of Duane’s spray-painted door and works as a contrast to Zero Sleep’s cross while also referencing the surreal darkness of this story.
Zero Sleep– the adapted score from Thomas D. Rotenberg’s sci-fi short film, Don’t Forget to Remember.
After humanity loses its ability to sleep, mass displacement ensues. Unnamed black pills are distributed to the people by governments at camps around the world. Highly controlled and coveted, these pills provide the only possibility of sleep, while an overdose of the pills opens up an unexpected path to salvation.
Touching on themes of hope, despair, love, and liberation, Zero Sleep features a live string trio, live vocals, and electronic instrumentation.
The album cover for Zero Sleep uses black capsules arranged to form a surrounded cross. The pills symbolize a path to sanity and salvation huddled around their symbol of hope.
1. Crystalline Beasts
2. Disappearing Self
3. Bell Ringer
4. Sing Your Death Song
5. Coda. Ascending Ardor
6. Wrapped in Linen
7. Afterglow (Little Black and White Things)
Interpretations of a meth-fueled death party. Songs for Duane Arden Johnson and Debra Lynn Johnson.
Mastered by James Plotkin
Mixed by Josh Graham
Composed by Josh Graham with Special guests.
Kim Thayil – Guitar on Disappearing Self
Sarah Pendleton – Violin on Crystalline Beasts and Afterglow
Jo Quail – Cello on Disappearing Self, Sing Your Death Song and Ascending Ardor
Dana Schechter – Lap steel guitar on Sing Your Death Song
Gregory Simons – Drums on Crystalline Beasts. Percussion on Bell Ringer and Afterglow. Keys on Afterglow.
Billy Graves – Drums on Sing Your Death Song
Shane Ocell – Drums on Afterglow
Benjamin Weinman – Guitar on Afterglow
1. All of Us Refugees
3. This Chrysalis
4. Sun and Solace
5. White Light
7. Sleeping Dreaming
8. Coalescing Bodies
Adaptations from the original score for Don’t Forget to Remember.
Directed by Thomas D. Rotenberg.
Mastered by James Plotkin
Mixed by Matt Labozza
Composed by Josh Graham
Vocals – Mathilde Smessaert
Orchestrated by Hannes Vanlancker
Recorded at Amann Studios, Vienna, Austria.
Engineered by Christoph Amann.
Produced by Alfredo Ovalles
Violin – Dalina Ugarte
Cello – Loukia Loulaki
Contrabass – Rubén Sánchez