The members of New Jersey’s Massa Nera (Aeryn Santillan, Allen Nuñez, Chris Rodriguez, and Mark Boulanger) equally contribute vocals, lyrics, and musical ideas to their upcoming sophomore album, Derramar | Querer | Borrar. Adhering to the maxim “the personal is political,” each member explores subjects such as racism, cisnormativity, and the interrelationship between capitalist realism and mental health through the prism of their own experience. Taking inspiration from various musical, artistic, and theoretical movements (hauntology, techno, contemporary classical), the band pushes their sound beyond the boundaries of hardcore and screamo without betraying the core of their musical identity or sacrificing emotional directness.
Though certain ideas date as far back as 2017, DQB ultimately took shape during the first year of the pandemic, which only served to magnify the members’ connection to both these songs and each other. Like a 4-headed hydra, the members of Massa Nera found themselves in a state of synchronization that allowed for the fluid, spontaneous development of sonic and lyrical throughlines. The record begins and ends with a drone that turns the album into a loop. Recurring images (endlessness; water), lines (“We dare to invent the future”), and sonic elements (strings; an interview with Aeryn’s grandfather; seamless song transitions) form a web that connects each song. With its thematic cohesion, DQB is both the fulfillment of Massa Nera’s artistic ambitions and an honest reflection of the members’ experiences navigating the terrain of late capitalism.
DQB’s thematic cohesion extends to its artwork. The art direction was the result of a close collaboration with Fulgencio Bermejo III, whose dialogue with the band was integral in shaping the visual components of the album. Every design choice and piece of imagery reflects and expands upon the album’s preoccupations. Each format (cd, tape, vinyl) was given a unique look. The cd label is evocative of an electronic music release. The vinyl jacket takes a mixed media approach, layering a surreal digital hellscape (by Fulgencio Bermejo, who also designed the booklet), hand-drawn, quasi-organic brutalist imagery (by Myles Karr), and cyanotype images of structures local to the band (by Chris and Mark). The booklet makes explicit the record’s hauntological bent, with its mix of industrial decay and photovisual autobiography (all of the images having been taken by or under the direction of band members).
To support this release, Massa Nera is currently working on an album-length video that utilizes documentary footage of the band, fictional imagery, and a wall of 12 CRT TVs (collected by the band during the pandemic and featured in the promo pictures). They’ve also
planned a remix album as a companion project of sorts, which is set to include contributions from numerous artists (including members of Infant Island and Soul Glo). Additionally, they’ve scheduled numerous shows including an upcoming weekender in Quebec with Frail Body, a 10-day tour in June featuring a stop at ZBR Fest, and a 10-day tour of the West Coast with Quiet Fear, with more shows to come.