Keeping up with their trend of monthly releases, Ludovico Technique have just dropped their latest single, “Dreaming.” And in case you felt compelled to sleep on it (sorry, not sorry), we’re here to warn you—with maximum ominous cyborg energy—that doing so would be a grave mistake.
Ludovico Technique have amassed a cult following with the distinct, industrial goth essence that exudes from each of their iterations. Where many artists may be prone to stagnate in comfortable confines, though, they’ve sown a world ripe with nuance. Now with ten singles out under their current, prolonged release cycle, they’re showing just how far they can stretch sonic boundaries without sacrificing an ounce of stylistic integrity.
“Dreaming” is perhaps the most divergent of these releases so far. Aberrant songwriting techniques drive this riff-heavy track, cumulating in a captivating experience that vocalist/songwriter Ben V affectionately coins as the weird little brother of the oh-so-strapping, “Haunted.” It’s an amalgamation that’s as elegant as it is uncanny, sitting unassumingly on the periphery of its creator’s already-eclectic repertoire… And it only gets richer with each listen.
Ben V spoke to All The Alt Things about “Dreaming” ahead of the release. Read on below the lyric video for everything he has to say about the development of the track’s experimental sonic style, the art of curating a thematic journey, and the anticipation leading up to Ludovico Technique’s upcoming full-length album.
You’ve been developing an extensively dynamic sonic realm with your single releases over the past couple of years. How do you feel “Dreaming” fits into that profile?
BEN V: It comes from the same well of consciousness. Classically, I actually think it is far different than a lot of the other material. It’s one of those songs where you’re like, “Wow, this is off the beaten path from what they normally do, or what he normally writes.”
I would say that it fits in because it’s coming from the same artist. Your earlobe looks nothing like your knee but they’re both part of the same person. “Dreaming” fits in with “Haunted,” “Noise Is Gone,” “Live As Myself,” and “Becoming Numb” because it comes from the same source. Aside from that, if you put it up against any of those other singles, you’d be like, “Hey, these are far different.”
That’s the benefit of releasing singles. You can delve into different aspects of yourself and express things that you couldn’t in a concept album wherein everything totally intertwines. It’s like a writer firing off short stories without having to worldbuild. They can build this place where every single thing fits. You can have your sci-fi story and the next one can be Victorian.
When it comes to “Dreaming,” I’ve introduced vocoder and odd time signatures into this world of music. Someone who just listened to “Burn Everything” would be like, “Whoa, what is this really stark contrast?” We know that in life, in whatever it is you do, it’s the contrast that makes things interesting. When people put together their outfits, they contrast [colors]. When you make food, you’ll contrast this flavor with that.
When you sat down to write it, were you aware of how far you were going to jump stylistically? Or was that just something that developed along with the song?
“Dreaming” is one of those instances of [a song writing itself]. I was experimenting with odd time signatures while writing that drum beat. And when I write lyrics, I’ll sort of hum something and then flesh it out. It’s like a skeleton of sounds and what would be your meter. So, when I started singing the words, it all just kind of appeared.
I think that, as a musician, half your time is really spent editing your thoughts and feelings into something that can be presented to the world. A lot of us who write music are artistic by nature. It’s not the creating that’s the challenge, it’s organizing that creativity into a cohesive presentation. We might have a random gobbledygook of creativity existing off in the background, which can create quite a hindrance to our daily lives. So, our job becomes cultivating that into something that you can show someone and have them be like, “Okay, cool. There’s a whole thought.”
I’m basically just trying to self-edit something down from this wash of thoughts and spacey dreamscapes. Sometimes they’re terrifying things, sometimes they’re beautiful things.
On that note, if you were to fashion a sort of mood board of inspirations for “Dreaming,” who or what would be on it?
I would say that the guitar riff is very classic rock. Late 60s or early 70s rock music is a part of the sonic fingerprint, at least in the musical aspect. The lyrical aspect is very interesting because it’s progressive. Modern metal is very progressive. That might be a problem for some people or something that other people love. While this song doesn’t have a lot of other modern metal elements, the time signature changes and the vocal call and response technique have that wiring.
Then it goes off into this other weird world where the whole song stops and this cybernetic robot comes and lets you know that there is no way to avoid being subjective in life. That line is, “You don’t see things the way they are. You see them how you are.” It could be your best friend or it’s there to rip you to shreds, who knows?
This song sort of defies traditional song structure in that it’s composed primarily of one very prominent riff, which is broken up by a single, very dynamic bridge. What went into developing this striking contrast between the instrumental parts?
There’s this really intense, odd drum timing. The song also starts out a lot slower, so there’s this dreamy, clean guitar and then the tempo ramps up very quickly. You’ll hear this off-in-the-distance, spacey, reverberated guitar in the intro. Then, all of a sudden, it comes in and it’s much quicker. It’s playing the same riff but now it’s totally blasting your face off with distortion and stuff.
So, I thought, “Well, where do I go from there? What would be the most disturbing or soothing?” What happens in the middle of the bridge is a normal time signature. I go from this very intense, grooving guitar riff to an acoustic bass. And then the bizarre cyborg comes down from some weird, tentacle heaven to let you know that you can’t escape yourself. I don’t know if the bed of music that I’ve created for this monster is even more terrifying because it has a normal time signature. When you hear that bridge, I think it’s truly bizarre in some some sort of David Lynch way. It would be disturbing to me if I had not written it.
When you’re trying to create contrast and you have a certain flavor, you don’t just add more of the same flavor. It has to be complimentary. For the artists out there, it’s like the color wheel. The bridge would be the orange to the teal that’s going on in the verses. And what would be the contrast on top of that? Some terrifying robot weirdo that’s saying the most human thing with an absence of humanity.
Normally when a robot is talking to you, it’s telling you the weather or something. But in this scenario, it’s deeply philosophical. It’s bizarre and intellectually off-putting to say something that’s so human and remove the human element from its delivery.
How would you say that the technical approach supports the broader theme of the song?
Look at the reason that people do anything that they do. They’re chasing pleasure. And, obviously, what brings you pleasure might be different from the next person. We all understand that [our actions] should be constructive—at least not destructive.
If you put on The Cure, someone might walk in and be like, “Hey, this is the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard. Why are you listening to this?” And you might go, “Oh it’s making me feel great.” They’ll think that’s backwards. What the hell are you talking about? There’s a criticism in that, when your weird uncle comes in and is like, “Hey, why would you listen to that? Doesn’t that make you even more sad?”
But there’s a pleasure in the company of someone who’s in charge of their craft, taking me on a journey of those feelings. I feel like I’m wrapped in this blanket of expertise. I’ll go along with Robert Smith taking me down a journey of sadness because I know he’s an expert in sadness. We can have fun together in that realm.
This song lives in a ghostly world. It’s got supernatural vibes, but not it’s too supernatural. You don’t have to be a crystal person to understand it. A person that wants to experience something different—in the way that people eat different foods for fun—can give three minutes of their life to this song. It’ll take them on a journey that will be interesting to those who are receptive to opening themselves up to art like that.
I was going to say, even on the most surface level, it just sounds really neat. You can listen to it multiple times and still pick up on different nuances. Going back to the riff, that was the most prominent part that stood out to me during my first listen. But when I listened the second time, the bridge was suddenly the whole experience. And then on the third, the fluctuations between the two became the highlight.
I really appreciate how much energy is being devoted to this particular song. The benefit of releasing singles is that each song gets a moment. You can obsess over them in those little ways. Normally, when you release an album, people might not even remember song number seven. Things just get glossed over. In single form, even a song like “Dreaming” gets the spa treatment, so to speak. People care and pay attention in the moment.
It’s a beautiful thing. When I was writing “Dreaming,” I wouldn’t have ever thought that someone would be so in tune with the particular details. If it was an album song, it would be one that a fan might bring up every once in a while. I’d have a connection with them for that moment like, “Oh, ‘Dreaming,’ you actually paid attention to that one…” That’s always cool but, if it weren’t for the single form, a lot of the things that we’ve gotten a chance to speak about here—the intricate details, the nuances, all of what goes into the artistry and craft—would be overlooked.
I can’t undervalue the experience of an album, but I think it pales in comparison to having consistent releases to look forward to and time to digest them. Looking a bit more broadly, what would you like to carry forward from the process of experimentation behind this track? Are there any sonic or thematic approaches that you’d like to continue incorporating into future releases?
My immediate reaction has more to do with people being accepting of the contrasts between material. That’s the [lesson] that I want to keep with me. You can go off and express yourself in the way that you want and you’ll still have a caring and supportive audience for that.
Sonically, those things all live inside of me forever. It’s not so much like, “Hey, now that you’ve presented certain dreams, thoughts, or ideas to the world, how are you going to dream that dream again tomorrow?” The ticker is always running regardless of if it happens to be presented to the world. What I’ll do again is know that I can be expressively unshackled and know that there’s a place for it.
Eventually this current series of singles will culminate into a full-length record. Can you tell us a bit about that?
“Dreaming” is the tenth single and then I have two more left—one for March and one for April. Then, the full-length album will come out in May. It’s going to contain an extra song that wasn’t released as a single, so there are thirteen altogether. The cool thing is that it will be on physical media. That’s sort of the completion of it all, in that fans can get it on vinyl or CD.
It’s interesting because the Ludovico fandom and I have been on this sort of pandemic journey. When the album is released, I think it’ll bring back memories. Singles are an interesting thing [in that way]. Anyone that hears “Dreaming” is experiencing a February 2022 kind of existence, whatever that means for any individual. “Burn Everything” came out last summer and [will be associated with] what everyone was up to then.
Some people haven’t heard any of these songs yet, so these experiences will be different for them. But for those who have been listening to the songs as they’ve come out, I think the album will be a collection of experiences and memories that they shared over the past year to a certain extent.
I’m always interested to hear what artists are most excited about ahead of their releases. Obviously, it’s a little bit different for this album since you’ve already gotten most of it out there. But is there anything about the arrangement that you’re looking forward to having people hear?
The album is important in its own right because it’s a collection of work. If every one of these songs is a knee or elbow or ear, then the album is the entire body. I know it’ll be cohesive because it comes from the source of that spiritual soul. To me, music is an almost religious experience to me. On a transcendent spiritual level, it’s the closest thing that I’ll achieve to entering some sort of church and feeling some level of elevation from existence.
So, being able to complete an entire album of these expressions, thirteen years into a body of work, is exciting. I feel very accomplished. In a very streamlined package, you have a complete array of the cross section of my hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, feelings, the things that matter to me, and the things that matter to a person who goes through those experiences with me as they’re listening to them. It’s beautiful to me because the singles work together as this cohesive unit that becomes larger than any one of them. Then it just blasts off into the stratosphere.
It just makes you feel like, “There it is. There’s the body of work. I’ve expressed that and now there’s a part of me that exists out there forever. That can never be taken away. Even when I’m gone, it’ll be there. I was here, I existed, and I mattered, if only for a blink of an eye in the sea of existence.”
Swimming in an ever-rising sea of 2000s emo nostalgia, music journalist Mala Mortensa only surfaces to dig into the depths of the modern alternative underground. Soundtracked by a neverending Spotify queue, she spends most of her free time perfecting heavy eyeliner looks, chilling with her two insane-o dogs, and anxiously waiting for the next AFI tour.