Who and What is Combat Astronomy?

Combat Astronomy is the primary musical expression of myself, James Huggett. I write nearly all the songs in terms of their core structure/arrangement, handle the production/mixing and overall vision. I also have started releasing the albums on my own label ZOND.

I grew up near Manchester in England and emigrated to the USA in 1998. I trained as a visual artist, and began working with primitive home studios in the early 1990's. I was exploring avant industrial/noise at that time through to about 2002. These roots still inform the music. I didn't really play in other bands.

From about 2004 onwards I had a vision of music formed around a hypnotic and heavy but sophisticated drum/bass core with abstracted guitars/keys/drones. This approach had been partially mapped out by bands like Swans, God, Godflesh, and Ruins. At the time I did not have a bass and had not really been playing guitars for about five years. I had burned my brain out on Japanese noise music; the early CA albums reflected this. The move back into more tonal music intuitively demanded a fretless bass, and that I develop the skills required to play it. I also had to push my composition, production, and programming skills much further than ever before (and continue to try to do so). There was a realization that working alone was inhibiting what was achievable, and so efforts to collaborate with other musicians were initiated, beginning with Martin Archer.

How would you describe the music?
With difficulty. It's a unique and changing approach. Ambient metal? Brutal prog? Avant jazz? Post industrial rock?
A lot of work has been put into developing and hopefully extending a musical language that not many people are exploring. Often there is a presentation of extreme elements in careful balance. Each person in the band and outside reacts and responds differently to the music though.

Is Combat Astronomy a studio band, a live band, or both?
It is primarily a studio band. For the past three or more years there have been active live versions of the band with collaborators. The last incarnation played the Rock In Opposition festival in France in September 2009.

Who else plays in the band?
I have ongoing relationships with Martin Archer and Elaine di Falco as collaborators on studio work. The RIO festival was the first time we played live together. Other live bands have been based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA where I currently live. Martin has various musicians in Sheffield, England such as Mick Beck he can call on to get to involved in recording sessions. With digital recording studios it's easy to swap session files and sync them up from across the world. Martin does not provide just horn work – quite a few of the textures and the electronics present on the albums are his as well.

Do the other musicians on the albums write their own parts?
Most of the time yes. Occasionally I may request a specific part but on the whole they write parts to work with my compositions. Elaine writes all her own lyrics. I then edit and mix them back into my meta-structures.

Do the albums have concepts?
Yes, though they are not necessarily verbal narrative ones. I work very hard at making each album a holistic unit. There is a very conscious effort to take the listener on a journey, and a lot of work and listening goes into making the shifts, changes and pacing as effective as possible. The Dreams No Longer Hesitate album does have a narrative presented through Elaine's lyrics, though she'd be best to explain it.