After releasing the Aurora in 2020 there was no doubts ISON would keep going. But I did not know in what form yet. When it was time to start writing the next album I felt a severe writer’s block and it made me doubt my ability to continue with this project. It felt like nothing I wrote sounded good but eventually I would find the spark again and I started to get a vision for what I wanted this album to be. Stars & Embers started to take form!
I used lots of analog synths and analog drum machines this time and it made the workflow very different compared to past recordings. There was less room to edit and move notes around and it forced me to trust what I recorded and it took me back to the feeling I had when I first started to record music in the early 90’s. The result is to me a more organic and warm record and was once again mastered by Karl Daniel Lidén (Katatonia, Breach etc.)
When the music was written and recorded I started to think about the vocals. I reached out to Lisa Cuthbert because she sung on the previous album and I wanted a connection between Stars & Embers and Aurora. However, when she sent me the first draft of the song “Horizons” I knew that she’d be perfect as the new main vocalist. Luckily she accepted. She has a deep understanding of what I am doing musically and we work very well together. Her vocal range and ability to layer her voice like an instrument is out of this world! I first met Lisa in Miami when we both were session members in Draconian on the 70 000 tons of metal cruise and we became instant friends.
There’s still room for guest vocalists in ISON though. It adds a new dimension to the album. This time I asked my friend Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity/The Halo Effect) to duet with Lisa. I haven’t used a male guest vocalist since Neige of Alcest joined on the album Inner-Space. Mikael contributed with beautiful lyrics for “Peregrination” and his gothic vocals fit perfectly together with Lisa’s.
After I’ve spent years in solitude writing and recording the music for Stars & Embers the three of us decided to meet up and record the vocals in my home studio in Sweden. We recorded the vocals in just 3 days and it felt so inspiring to be able to co-create in the same room – we inspired each other in this creative atmosphere!
“Radiant Void” features another familiar voice: circle&wind has really outdone herself this time, not only with the lyrics she wrote but also with the vocal melodies she crafted. Her ways to put emotion into words is astonishing and it’s a great honor for me to work with her again.
I discovered Dimming through the local newspaper last year and instantly fell in love with her voice. I reached out to her and asked if she’d like to sing on the opening track of the album, “Luminiscent Reverie”. Her dreamy voice sets the mood for the album perfectly!
Visually the album is represented by returning artist Carolynn Haffner. She managed to capture the soul of the music in her unique work of art. She has become an important collaborator for the visuals, like cover art, logos and merchandise. The album took me almost two years to complete and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions but I can easily say that it’s the best ISON album to date. I sincerely hope that the listener will find a little bit of peace while spinning the album in these times of turmoil.