THIEF reveal video single and details of new album

THIEF return with the horror noire music video ‚Cinderland‘ as the first single taken from their forthcoming album Bleed, Memory„, which is scheduled for release on April 19, 2024.

Thief – Cinderland [Official Music Video] – YouTube

THIEF comment: „Our first single, ‚Cinderland‘, is a dark electronic anthem about finding perseverance and meaning among the rubble of a troubled past and turbulent memories that climaxes with a triumphantly heavy doom metal choral catharsis“, mastermind Dylan Neal explains. „Burnt soil can be the most fertile grounds for life to grow. In this music video, which is illustrated by scenes taken from the 1964 Japanese horror film ‚Onibaba‘, our subjects are struggling to survive in a ‚Cinderland‘ of their own.“

Dementia is a thief. It robs its victims piece by piece of their memory, identity, family and friends, and often enough even their human dignity. On their fourth full-length album, „Bleed, Memory“ Los Angeles-based electronic experimentalists THIEF explore the theme of ‚memory‘ both lyrically and musically, which runs as a bold dotted line throughout the album. The solo project’s mastermind, Dylan Neal, was largely inspired for this album after witnessing his father, who had recently been diagnosed with dementia, transition from bouts of forgetfulness and confusion to acute episodes of false memories, delusions, visions, and strange behaviour.

This makes „Bleed, Memory“ a very personal creation and the experience has led Neal to question his own memories and explore how they shape his identity and reality. Memories are not just the stories we tell ourselves and others and this is evident in Neal’s comparison of them to ghosts. Although they are not physically present and cannot be touched, they still manifest and frighten those who believe in them. These ‚ghosts‘ are also reflected in the music on this album. The cover art also ties into the concept. This re-painting of El Greco’s „The Tears of Saint Peter“ by Joseba Eskubi with a wraith-like, sorrowful saint almost resembling a sepulchral memory.

Once again, the backbone of THIEF is made up of sampled sacred chant music. Some were sampled from crate digging, and some recorded at various orthodox churches. These samples got stretched, cut, mangled, morphed, and pitched to function like its own ethereal instrument. Neal deliberately designed „Bleed, Memory“ to sound haunted. One of the techniques that he used to achieve this effect is ‚granular synthesis‘. The more prominent use of granular synthesis on this record means that samples got split into small blips of audio, barely exceeding 100 milliseconds. These blips – or grains – loop extremely fast and can be layered on top of each other with added manipulation of speed, phase, volume, and frequency, among other parameters.

This unique approach, amalgamating musical elements from ambient, industrial, choral music, black metal, and trip-hop, among other influences, into a new sonic experience, has long granted THIEF a cult status among the initiated. Although the studio project operates strictly on a solo-basis to this day, there is also another incarnation as a live entity with a physical band. Performing live has probably played a role in setting Neal on a more song-based course, which is also audible on „Bleed, Memory“.

Before causing a stir among connoisseurs of fascinating new music with THIEF, Dylan Neal had already made an impact as a musician by playing hammered dulcimer in San Francisco-based experimental black metal outfit BOTANIST to which he continues to contribute even after having parted ways amicably.

Eager to explore new sonic dimensions, Neal composed and released „Thieves Hymn in D Minor“ (2016), „Map of Lost Keys“ (2019), and „The 16 Deaths of My Master“ (2021)  under the banner of THIEF. His music draws inspiration from groundbreaking acts like PORTISHEAD and ULVER. Critics have also detected traces of TOOL, NINE INCH NAILS, and TEARS FOR FEARS in THIEF’s sound. Despite being stylistically on a completely different track, THIEF are comparable to WARDRUNA or HEILUNG – one of the chosen few acts recognized by the metal scene despite the absence of electric guitars. This fact is underscored by features in leading US print magazine Decibel, among others.

There is always much more to explore on a THIEF album than meets the eye. The album title pays homage to Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography, „Speak, Memory,“ while the mention of what the Irish literary giant James Joyce termed ‚Prankquean‘ holds even greater significance. This ‚character‘ from „Finnegans Wake“ makes recurrent appearances on „Bleed, Memory,“ serving as a female entity that imparts mostly painful yet necessary lessons.

Neal once more recorded and mixed most of the album in his apartment. For the mastering he managed to win John Greenham again, whose collaborations include artists ranging from THE LOCUSTS and KATY PERRY to DEATH GRIPS, and who has received three Grammy Awards in 2019 that honoured his mastering for BILLIE EILISH.

With „Bleed, Memory“, THIEF deliver a dark yet beautiful artistic contemplation of a terrible affliction that is at the same time conveying anger, melancholy, sorrow, and loss as a Gesamtkunstwerk (synthesis of all arts) lyrically, musically, and visually. Beware this sonic ghost will haunt the memories of its listeners!