TesseracT: We’re Different, We’re The Same

Leave it to a progressive powerhouse to name their album after an esoteric term that doesn’t have an actual dictionary definition. And leave to it TesseracT to grapple with universal human emotion in a way that’s as inviting, exciting, and engrossing as ever in their uniquely magnificent, multifaceted style.

The forthcoming fourth full-length from the British group, Sonder—out April 20 via Kscope and Snapper Music—captures all of TesseracT’s best attributes—massive riffs, bigger hooks, and expansive atmospheric sections—and channels them together into a bold and emotive new chapter. It also proves that the band are continually gaining momentum with original vocalist Daniel Tompkins back in the fold.

“Sonder” is a term coined by John Koenig in his online compendium The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The author reimagines how we communicate by attempting to define our ineffable feelings, much like TesseracT aim to redefine progressive metal with a focus on sonic warmth and contemplative, evocative vocals. Koenig and TesseracT’s aims coalesce with the goal of bringing us all closer together.

Tompkins’ discovery of the term—and the philosophical rabbit hole that followed—was by pure accident. “I actually stumbled on [Koenig] via a tweet,” he explains. “Someone posted the word and the meaning to it, and I had this immediate connection to it. I do know, with a lot of people who I talk with, they have this similar kind of sensation, where they have feelings that they can’t articulate. I’ve had that for many years, even when I wrote the first album with TesseracT, [2011’s One]. A lot of those songs are based around ineffable emotions. I used to dream-write, which was where I would drift off into sleep, and I would listen to the music and be inspired by the first dream-thoughts that I would have.”

“There are different levels to [the term sonder],” he adds. “It’s a very interesting concept to consider that we can be walking down the middle of a very busy street and, suddenly, be struck with a sense of insignificance when you think that everyone around you is living a life that is equally if not more complex and vivid than your own life. People’s dreams, struggles, daily thoughts and aspirations—and then, you look at your own life, because we’re very selfish people, we live in our own heads, so we’re very self-focused. As soon as you take a step back from that and consider that there are billions of people living these complex lives, just like yourself, it can go one of two ways.”

“For me,” Tompkins expounds, “initially, I always get stunned by this initial sense of insignificance. I suddenly feel very inferior to everyone and everything. The things that are important to me suddenly seem less important. Also, I feel like it’s a perspective, because I feel like, in today’s society, all around the world, regardless of country and culture, this new modern age has twisted us. People have been singing about it for years, because they’ve seen it coming: this sense of disconnection, not just from ourselves but from each other. I find that the way that we communicate has changed drastically, that one-to-one conversation skill has been lost. This sense of sonder, this whole concept that humanity is missing.”

Tompkins notes that the record’s theme goes beyond a chance encounter with a neologism. His aim was to explore the need to live life with both eyes wide open and to examine our perspectives and those of everyone around us. So, while Sonder certainly ponders a big question, there’s more at play.

“Throughout the whole album, there is an underpinning sense of hope—at, least I hope there is,” he laughs. “I’m a bit disappointed that when I wasn’t in the band, the band did the Perspective EP, because this whole album is about perspective. I’m very much about wanting to leave a stamp on life, to leave a bit of a light wherever I can. I feel like we all should be doing that: helping people and trying to draw out the best in each other.”

“Music is such a powerful tool,” he continues, “and I know that it reaches far and wide because of the messages I get; it’s overwhelming. That’s a driving factor for me as an artist. I know that sounds a bit pretentious, but I’m very much a grassroots individual; I worked my way from the ground upwards to get to the point where I am. I used to be a police officer, and I’ve had different occupations. I’ve got family and financial commitments. I’m like anybody else in the world. I think there’s a real separation between artists and fans. Most of the time, fans feel like you’re untouchable or like a god-like creation. It’s a bit dangerous territory to go down. I do not endorse idolizing people. I don’t want to be an idol for other people. That being said, I do appreciate that there is a lot of value being in the position I’m in. I’ve seen that the music that I’m a part of does make a difference to people, and I do feel like we’re all given talents. We’re all good at something, and I like to think I’m good at singing and writing about what I feel, so I try very hard to make the songs meaningful.”

All the effort was clearly worth it. As Sonder saunters into the world in April, TesseracT have proven uniquely able to carve a wealth of depth into their sonic exploration of the human condition. No matter your perspective on the band or their style—or the concept of sonder itself—TesseracT’s latest is a masterclass in emotive, evocative prog metal.

Purchase Sonder here

Photo by Steve Brown

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