MARE COGNITUM | Aristocrazia Webzine


Band: Mare Cognitum
Line Up:

  • Jacob Buczarski – All instruments and vocals

One of my favorite projects in the recent black metal scene, I eventually had the chance to ask Mare Cognitum mastermind Jacob Buczarski a few comments on his work and his influences. Here's what came out of it…

Hi Jacob, thank you very much for taking your time to introduce your project to our readers. We have been following Mare Cognitum for several years now, since you landed on I, Voidhanger Records, and I personally have become a die hard fan of your art. First of all: your music deals with great cosmic events and the helpless role of man, what are the main inspirations for the concepts behind your music?

Hello and thanks for taking the time to interview me. I suppose cosmic themes are just a perfect way for me to express my ideas musically. I have always had an affinity for space sci-fi that predates my interest in metal, whether it be "Star Trek" or "2001: A Space Odyssey", so this theme excited me much more than traditional black metal topics. I believe this type of interest was triggered when I was very young after I saw the movie "Contact", actually. I have also had a cursory interest in astronomy since then, and although I do not study this area extensively (I am a computer programmer by trade), it has always been inspiring to read about, and to keep up with the developments of the space exploration community. The combination of the beauty as well as what the sheer scale of it means to humanity as a whole is a fantastic mechanism for me to illustrate the kind of crushing experience that I want to create musically. 

Your music is often called cosmic black metal, a style becoming more and more popular thanks to two Italian labels, Avantgarde Music (Darkspace, Battle Dagorath, Mesarthim and many others) and I, Voidhanger Records (Midnight Odyssey, Lorn and of course Mare Cognitum, just to name some). Moreover, you personally released splits with Spectral Lore and Aureole, shall we assume that there is a consistent scene of cosmic explorers and philosophers in black metal? Where did it all start from?

I don’t really think so actually. When I started Mare Cognitum I didn’t know any of those bands, and I don’t think that many of them knew about each other when they started either. I met Spectral Lore and Aureole through Mare Cognitum, not before it. Cosmic themes have always been semipresent theme in black metal since the second wave (for example: Emperor, Thorns, etc.) and I think some folks simply picked up on this and ran with it in a more direct way. It really makes sense that it is something that would be focused on since romantic and esoteric views of nature are so common in black metal, and space is merely one aspect of nature. Simply replace the snowy northern forests with desolate nebulas and we’re really illustrating the same kind of thing.

A very important common link between all these bands is that they are mostly one-man projects and never play live. Even Darkspace, the only full band, performs very rarely. Do you think space contemplation is something too personal to be shared by a classic lineup or is it just a coincidence?

This is an interesting phenomenon indeed. I started working as a solo project only out of necessity, I had the itch to make music but I didn’t know anyone to start the kind of band I wanted to. So I simply started working on my own. I wouldn’t completely turn down the idea of working in a band again, but I can’t speak for others. I think in the age of the internet, one man bands of all genres have a much greater chance to succeed and get noticed than in years previous since promotion has shifted so heavily towards social media, which one man bands can handle. On top of that, the stigma of a one man band seems to have faded over time. For example, Bathory in the early days had trouble convincing folks that they were not a one man recording project, it was a real issue for them. Now people don’t seem to care. On top of that, black metal has an extremely high concentration of one man bands of all styles, not just cosmic bands. Further still, I think the cosmic style does appeal more to solitary types of people who are more likely to take to working on their own more easily than with others. Add all these factors together and it is obvious why there is an explosion of these kinds of bands in the present day. I think we will see the number of one man recording projects of all styles continue to grow in the coming years. 

Focusing on your latest effort now: "Luminiferous Aether" continues to develop the typical Mare Cognitum atmospheric black metal. To my ears, it's even more layered, contemplative and less immediate than your previous works. Moving from the success of "Phobos Monolith", what was your goal when you started working on the new material?

"Phobos Monolith" was a bit tough to follow up because people liked it quite a bit. There were certain aspects to it that I thought were imperfections, and I thought there were a few more areas to explore in that particular style. So I wanted to explore those and clean up those imperfections as well. But when I actually set out to do it, I ended up with something a little bit different than I expected, it was a little more layered and less riffy like you said. But in the end, I think I covered what I thought I missed on "Phobos Monolith", it was just something different than I thought it was. A bit tricky to explain. Anyways, that was really my goal, to expand on those ideas. I think now that this happened, the next album will probably be a little bit different, that is, if I want to not be rehashing old ideas.

Moving to the man behind the music, I read in a recent interview that you consider listening to a physical album some kind of ritual and that yourself are a collector. As you might know, we refuse any digital promotion, sticking to the old tradition. Do you have any idea why metal music is so deeply bound to the hard support?

Metalheads in general are extremely loyal fans and have diehard respect for the old guard musicians as well as tradition and reverence for the past. I think this correlates with the reverence for physical media as well, especially older analog formats. Some of it is older guys reminiscing of the old days and some of it is younger guys wishing they were part of something resembling a tape trading scene that is no more. But all in all, there is something way more special about unpacking a meticulously crafted album, observing the artwork and booklets accompanying it, and really immersing yourself in the craft as a whole rather than just listening to the music alone. It is indeed ritualistic to pull an old record off the shelf that you forgot you had, appreciate the artwork you forgot about, and absorb some of the feelings that the band had when they created that record. It’s like dusting off a worn out tome from an old library and looking at a forgotten piece of history. That magic is sort of lost when you click through Spotify and get instant gratification. Personally, I do buy some music online, especially from up and comers who can’t afford to create physical media, but a bulk of my support for bands comes from buying physical merchandise and appreciating what I think is the truest level of their artistic expression, which is translated best in a physical work.

Again on physical: will you ever reissue your debut album? Your cooperation with I, Voidhanger looks quite fruitful, but "The Sea Which Has Become Known" is still missing from their catalogue, why?

I am working on plans to have that album issued this year. Well, that was an easy question!

Ok, I could ask you a ton more questions, but I will stop here and keep some of them for next time. I usually ask the artist a shortlist of main influences and favorite records, but I know that's a question you already answered to many times, naming Emperor, Agalloch, Dissection, Deathspell Omega and the alike, so… Would you like to add something off your own free will to conclude the interview?

Thanks for not asking me that, I get tired of listing those same bands over and over. For that I will quickly dive a little deeper into my other musical influences which are video game and film score music. As a huge nerd, video game music certainly exposed me to many different ideas from an early age. I have recognized that such great dramatic compositions in role playing games like "Final Fantasy" (Nobuo Uematsu) and "Zelda" (Koji Kondo) as well as sci-fi soundscapes in games like "Starcraft" are at least partly responsible for whatever sense of melody and tonal structure I might have. Additionally, film scores helped me understand layers and expressing emotion through dynamics. Obvious names like Hans Zimmer and John Williams come to mind. I really believe that my musical expression is a blend of these types of background music with the type of extreme metal that demands your attention. This combination has helped me unlock a style that I am extremely proud of. Thanks again for taking the time to listen to me ramble!