Prog powerhouse TesseracT details one of the 'most intense periods of their careers' with P O R T A L S

Prog powerhouse TesseracT details one of the 'most intense periods of their careers' with P O R T A L S

- By Stephen Reeder

Bassist Amos Williams details massive undertaking of the production and how the plan was always to make a film, not just stream a concert.

Words by Yvonne Villasenor

Progressive metal powerhouse TesseracT stunned fans across the world with their cinematic live experience, P O R T A L S, in December 2020. The five-part livestreaming performance was an amalgamation of raw talent, captivating visuals, unmatchable sound and a 14-song setlist that encompassed their entire catalogue.

Serving as a form of escapism during a period of isolation for viewers, the one-of-a-kind livestream received an outpour of love and support—with fans eagerly anticipating news regarding a release and others petitioning for it to be released as a live album.

The band recently announced the P O R T A L S film and soundtrack will be released on multiple formats including Blu-Ray, triple LP soundtrack and a limited edition deluxe 4-disc book edition on August 27.

“We were really pleased with the hard work that went into P O R T A L S. I do actually believe it’s probably one of the most intense periods of our careers,” bassist Amos Williams tells KNOTFEST. “We put so much into it, so it's fantastic to get that energy back from everybody and to get encouragement not just from fans, but from management and our label and from a business point of view. It really gave us enthusiasm to continue further down that path.”

With members scattered across the globe, TesseracT were no strangers to rehearsing separately and coming together for live performances. That was the plan for their scheduled Latin America tour last year. However, that, of course, got put on hold once COVID-19 struck.

“As with most of the people in the music industry, nobody knew what was going on. Everything was kind of falling apart week by week or something would get pushed back,” Williams says. “As the weeks went on and the different countries closed down, it became apparent that there was no way we could .”

TesseracT noticed other bands putting on livestream performances as the year progressed, which sparked their excitement about all of the possibilities of streaming online and what they could achieve, Williams says.

“We decided to push it further than just an intimate sort of show,” Williams says. “We really wanted to see how far we could take it, especially with turning it into more of a film and less of a video of a concert.”

The trying times brought on by the pandemic allowed creators of all sorts to push the boundaries of their creativity. And that’s exactly what TesseracT did.

Being a progressive metal quintet, it seems only natural that the out-of-the-box thinkers set out to put on a progressive pandemic performance. TesseracT’s creative direction called for a tremendous amount of time and effort into producing a work of art like P O R T A L S—from brainstorming how they wanted the show to look and sound to rehearsing to perfection.

The band took a different approach to their livestream by focusing on (and appreciating) the limitations of a screen—whether television, laptop, or phone—as well as the limitations of a camera. As a result, they came to the realization they could create a unique livestream experience with the use of six cameras, shutter speed effects and lasers.

“Because everything was going into a digital, virtual world, it made sense to play around with the artifacts of that and how those sorts of things could only be created within the camera rather than within reality,” Williams says.

A team of over 50 talented professionals, including Richard Oakes (Dark Fable Media), Tom Campbell (MIRRAD) and Dan Briggs (AC-Lasers), were “vital to making P O R T A L S> all happen,” Williams says. TesseracT and the team spent about six weeks planning the production before the actual show.

Additionally, Monuments drummer Mike Malyan filled in to take the throne for Jay Postones, who was unable to make it due to travel restrictions. Malyan learned 19 songs within those six weeks and added a phenomenal flair to the performance. “He really helped save that for sure. It was fantastic,” Williams says.

With an ambitious concept and aim to give viewers a completely new and special experience, TesseracT took the opportunity to mix things up on P O R T A L S.

“There's one track in the third act where—for some reason—it just felt better to cut three 16th notes from one bar. I don't know why; it was just something that happened. At the time, we felt it was cooler to do this, and it was,” Williams says. “It was interesting to allow those things to happen in a recorded fashion because they're now going to be their own versions.”

Because TesseracT have an ever-evolving musical personality, recording captures the spontaneous direction they come up with for a song and may later forget.

“We quite enjoy keeping things a little bit fluid and just messing around with ,” Williams says. “It’s not just that it keeps it fresh for us, but also, your perspective on a song changes, particularly with the older ones. So, it’s nice to let them grow as you grow as well.”

Even with giving the aural and visual cinematic live experience their absolute all, the band was nervous about how everything would play out. And to no surprise, they received the highest praise from fans and media worldwide.

“We're really happy that everything that we did seemed to go above and beyond what was expected and kind of surprised people,” Williams says. “We're quite encouraged by the reaction to us being a little bit arty, and it's interesting because I'm hoping that it's opened a door for us to go and explore that. Certainly, it's more progressive in the artistic production, and it'll be nice to see how far we can take that.”

The band hopes to implement some of the livestream’s concepts to their live sets to create not just audio calling cards, but visual calling cards as well.

For Williams, the most rewarding part of releasing P O R T A L S was simply the amount of effort the whole team put in, he says.

“It just really felt fantastic because we'd all been separated for such a long time. I've been quite isolated in the middle of France and out in the countryside, so it was really cool to see that even though I'd spent quite a large part of the year feeling like I was on my own—in fact, everybody had been— working to make this happen,” Williams says. “The element of camaraderie when we all came together and worked—not just the band, but the team as well—it was like going on one of the best tours of your life. It just felt like, ‘Yes, this is what I should be doing. This is correct. This is my place.’”

P O R T A L S will be released on August 27. In addition to the release of the livestream event, TesseracT will be playing their first live shows in nearly two years beginning this November. The band will also be launching a new Twitch channel in the upcoming weeks and have plans to release a new album sometime next year.

P O R T A L S arrives August 27th via Kscope and can be pre-ordered – HERE.

1. "Of Matter" (P O R T A L S)
2. "King" (P O R T A L S)
3. "Concealing Fate Parts 1, 2 & 3" (P O R T A L S)
4. "Tourniquet" (P O R T A L S)
5. "Beneath My Skin/Mirror Image" (P O R T A L S)
6. "Orbital" (P O R T A L S)
7. "Juno" (P O R T A L S)
8. "Cages" (P O R T A L S)
9. "Dystopia" (P O R T A L S)
10. "Phoenix" (P O R T A L S)
11. "Nocturne" (P O R T A L S)
12. "Eden" (P O R T A L S)
13. "Of Energy" (P O R T A L S)
14. "Seven Names" (P O R T A L S)

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