Interview: Sebastian Reynolds takes us through his new EP ‘Nihilism Is Pointless’ track by track

There are thousands of people that we’ve crossed paths with over the course of 18 years of making Joyzine, but with some those crossings are more frequent and varied than others – for Sebastian Reynolds, Oxford-based musician, producer, composer, podcaster, promoter and publicist, the map of our convergences must resemble the footwork diagram for an experimental dance composition.

We’ve seen him as a member of bands including Flights of Helios, Keyboard Choir and The Epstein and been introduced to a swathe of artists including Huguenots, Huck and All Diese Gewalt via his Pindrop promotions company, but today we’re focussed on his solo work, and specifically Nihilism Is Pointless, a new EP out now through Faith & Industry Records.

Blending together expansive post-rock with drones, scuttering beats and atmospheric electronica, this sophomore EP is a gently emersive experience that washes over the listener in shimmering digital waves before shaking us out of our reverie with occasional shocks of noise. We asked Sebastian to guide us through the EP track by track.

1) Nihilism is Pointless
This EP, Nihilism is Pointless, is intended as a partner EP to my previous release The Universe Remembers, which came out in May 2020 on Faith & Industry. Both EPs start with tracks based around samples that I took from cassette recordings that I made as a teenager. Both the ‘Nihilism’ track and the other tune ‘Amoniker’ musically reference artists that inspired me during my formative music making years, namely Boards of Canada and Massive Attack particularly, so there’s a thread of nostalgia to the way that the tracks have been shaped as well as the original source material. The vocal sample on ‘Nihilism’ sums up the feeling of excitement and naive optimism that is part and parcel of youthful creativity, contrasted with the jaded view of an older man. 

2) Diving Board
‘Diving Board’ came out of the same creation period as ‘Everest’ from The Universe Remembers EP and they have a similar vibe in terms of both mixing up glacial atmospherics with cacophonous explosions of noise. These quiet/loud, post rock inspired digital crescendos echo the sorts of tunes we used to come up with in my old band Keyboard Choir. 

3) HAL’s Lament
‘HAL’s Lament’ is an invocation of the HAL 9000 computer of  2001AD, A Space Odyssey. I think we’d be wise to exercise some caution when it comes to the ever greater power and influence that AI tech, both in terms of robotics and the social media and search engine algorithms, are continuing to have over our species. There’s a very real danger that these technologies are already carrying many of the worst aspects of humanity, and are being given ever more opportunities to hold dominion over us. When will Skynet come online? 

4) The Silent Majority 
The title is a reference to the dead. I did a lot of foundational work on ‘The Silent Majority’ during and immediately after some time at a meditation retreat centre in Wales in the middle of winter. I’ve found that these kinds of periods of introspection bring one to reflect on the reality of dying. What will it be like? What is waiting for us?

5) Mother’s Day
‘Mother’s Day’ was originally composed as the opening for the Neon Dance production Puzzle Creature – Island Encounter, for which I was commissioned to compose the score. The performances took place on the beach at Teshima Island in Japan, and the atmospheric sounds were designed to blend with the waves and the wind. I developed this version for the EP to include some clarinet lines from Rachel Coombes, who delivered beautifully. 

Nihilism Is Pointless is out now via Faith & Industry Records on vinyl and digital download. Order via Bandcamp.

Introduction by Paul Maps
Cover Photograph by Miles Hart

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