Interview with Jacob Buczarski - Mare Cognitum's astronaut

I reached out to Jacob Buczarski, after I heard and enjoyed 'Phobos Monolith'. He is the astronaut inside the Mare Cognitum space shuttle and everything that surrounds this musical expression is done with a love for the universe, the unexplainable and the unattainable. 

Jacob was kind enough to take his time and put his mind in answering my questions and the rewards can be seen below. There is one specific line that made a beautiful imression to me, because it shows a healthy mind and an approach to the ideas explored that is not that common. 

"What more beautiful concept is there to consider artistically?" J.B.

M.N.: Hello Jacob. “Phobos Monolith” was welcomed by the internet media and I read really good opinions about your album. Though, I have to apologize on my behalf because I didn’t use my “propaganda mechanisms”, meaning my blog, to its full extent and make “Phobos Monolith” reach the widest possible audience. It seems that you have a tendency to explore ideas with space imagery. You are connecting the universe with consciousness. Do you see a correlation between these two? Is it the universe that contains consciousness or is it the other way around? Do ‘I’ contain ‘it’ or does ‘it’ contain ‘I’?

J.B.: Hello! No worries about that, you seem to be making up for it now! I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. 

There is of course a correlation between focusing on the two major themes of human consciousness and the universe lyrically. The most basic reason stems from the fact that pondering the universe is a way to expand one’s consciousness and self-awareness in a way not possible otherwise. Having a mindset constantly aware of its place in the cosmos is a means of having a well-balanced outlook as a human being, aware of its relatively miniscule position as well as its extreme significance and applying that knowledge accordingly.

This fact sort of leads into the more broad idea of consciousness’s significance in the cosmos. In regards to your particular question, the cosmos and the “I” are one in the same – we are the cosmos’ method of observing itself. As such, I can write about the consciousness of the “I” as well as the consciousness of great celestial objects usually referred to as inanimate, and they will nonetheless remain one in the same. The image of the conscious universe shifting and fretting, coping with its own existence is the image I wish to portray musically. 

M.N.: Your music is a perfect and matching vehicle with this kind of observations. But, what I find intriguing is the background. Your background. What brought you to having this esoteric need for exploration? Is it your cultural background? The way you were brought up? Or was it something that you never had a choice about? Is everything determined? Meaning that playing the way you play music, and writing thematic lyrics about space is something that feels familiar and very close to your perception of life?

J.B.: I have played many different styles of music with many different lyrical themes and have never felt a connection in such a way as when I decided to shift thematically towards consciousness and the cosmos. When I initially started writing the tracks that would become my first full-length album I wrote much more stereotypical black metal appropriate lyrics surrounding anti-religion. This felt wholly unnatural as I didn’t truly have much of a draw to this type of thing. I was merely mimicking typical black metal aesthetic and upon realizing that I chose to find something else more meaningful to me.

I did indeed remember when I was young and filled with wonder at the universe, the vastness and beauty of it. I remembered getting lost in the very thought of what my place could be in it. I also thought of how black metal held nature aloft and praised it, and how it could praise cosmic nature as well. I realized how much could be explored of it even in just your mind, just pondering it, and since our knowledge is so limited, imagining what the answer could be. Thus, the cosmos became my muse. This was a great spur to my creativity and gave me something real and personal to express. 

M.N.: Though I tend to negate the concept of tagging music, it is a useful way to communicate verbally about the type of music that a band plays. I have seen that Mare Cognitum is filed under the ‘Progressive and/or Atmospheric black metal’. I can accept that. It is a good way of explaining Mare Cognitum’s music. How would you describe it? It is not necessary to tag it, just describe it.

J.B.: Mare Cognitum is designed to pull the listener’s consciousness deep into the unknown edges of the cosmos. Thickly layered guitars and synthesizers, rasping cries, and steady, prominent percussion form sonic landscapes that are the perfect soundtrack for drifting past your favorite nebula. 

M.N.: In the first track, there is a specific moment that brings to mind Psychotic Waltz’s ‘Ashes’. To be specific, it’s the solo/lead at 11:11 to 11:33. Maybe it’s just my subjective memories that made this correlation. But since we dived into it, let’s go a bit further with that. You create multi layered orchestrations, with a basic riff and melodies building unto each other, creating intense emotional space for the listener. Is that what ‘transcendence’ is? Is it limited to one’s experience, both emotional and logical, or is it the means that carries one’s mind beyond the limited and out to the infinite?

J.B.: I view transcendence as the complete disassociation of the conscious mind from emotional viewpoints – a brief insight into an existence where human needs are irrelevant. It is a universal mindset in which value is placed on all things in equal measure, a place in which a chaotic universe is just as it should be, and is perfectly at peace. As one views the universe in such a manner, the person can also be at peace. 

M.N.: In "Noumenon" you begin with a description of an outer image and you move towards the inner images created by your mind. I consider this to be a successful metaphor and a welcoming journey for the listener. You do have a love for space and you might also have some knowledge on astronomy. What is it about space that inspires you? Is it only the space out there or an interconnection between the outer space and the inner space that you write about? Themes of time, parallel universes, singularity. All of them have been a matter of study by scientists and philosophers. Where does art come into place within these ideas and concepts? Do you feel like a child filled with curiosity about the world and the wonders that it has hidden for us?

J.B.: The universe is the current final limit to our understanding. Outside of it, there is no knowledge. It is the absolute edge of what there is to conceptualize. It fascinates me to approach this edge. What more beautiful concept is there to consider artistically? Although there is no chance we will explore it in our lifetimes, I can explore it and express it musically which is the best I can muster myself, and it is how I understand it best. As I mentioned before, my childhood curiosity is the spur to this, and although my understanding of it from a scientific standpoint is, in my opinion, not terribly sophisticated, I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I am demonstrating at least some sense of my own wonder to others. It is my way of exploring the cosmos, and I think this sort of artistic exploration is something that many people can understand and relate to. 

M.N.: What is “Phobos Monolith”? And where is it placed? Inside us or in our surroundings? Does this symbol express something specific that you had in mind, and you felt was perfect to be used as a name for the album?

J.B.: “Phobos Monolith”, while an actual place on Mars’ moon, represents the overwhelming feeling of stumbling upon a great mystery. While not fully understanding the secret of it, it swirls around you and envelops you and gives you the uncontrollable drive to delve deeper and discover more. That is the feeling I felt when I read the name for the first time and I cannot really explain why. I imagined a place not much unlike the cover you see on the album and the feeling it would fill you with, and that feeling is what I wanted to illustrate with the album.

M.N.: It was released about five months ago and I’ve seen that you are quite productive. Should we expect something in 2015? You are the band. This is a common phenomenon these days, especially in black metal. What lead you on this path? I am certain that you have absolute control over the creation process, but what I was thinking is that, there might be some other factors in play here, maybe a lack of communication with other musicians that you have collaborated with. Will we see Mare Cognitum perform live or is this experience solely for our home?

J.B.: Absolutely. In 2015, we will see a split release with Aureole on both CD and vinyl LP. There will also be reissues of all my previous work in various formats – most of which I cannot yet announce. One which I can is the “Phobos Monolith” vinyl LP which is already at the pressing plant.

As for why I fly solo, I simply found it the most productive. I spent years in a number of groups which ultimately fizzled out without as much as a release, sometimes not even a performance. Although enjoyable for what it’s worth, not very productive. I would pour my energy into these projects only to watch them fail for reasons outside my control. So I decided to take everything into my own hands which resulted in working at a pace I feel happy with, while also allowing me the ability to produce my own exact vision.

I don’t have a huge drive to play in bands now, but I do miss live performance. While I get the question regarding a Mare Cognitum live performance quite a bit, and like the idea of it, I can’t see it happening in the near future. If it ever did, the effort involved would mean a long period of no new Mare Cognitum music, and I think the creation of new music means more to me than live performance for the time being.

M.N.: Jacob, thank you for your time in answering these questions and, most of all, thank you for your music. Sky agape be upon you.

J.B.: Thank you for the opportunity. You as well!

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