Collapse Under The Empire is an instrumental post-rock band from Hamburg (Germany), which was founded in 2008. The duo, consisting of Chris Burda and Martin Grimm have released seven studio albums and a number of EPs and singles.
The Origins of Collapse Under The Empire
The Collaborative Efforts of Martin Grimm And Chris Burda
In the summer of 2008, we met while looking for bands to collaborate with to keep our creative juices flowing. We had both relocated to Hamburg, Germany for work and because of the move we had to give up our former bands from home. We both found working with several band members at a time in a traditional band setup restricted our vision and creativity, we both needed the space to explore creatively, we seemed to have a unified creativity and vision and a year later Collapse Under the Empire was born.
At first, we didn’t know exactly where we were going musically, but we started with a sort of deconstruction of Post Rock fundamentals and reconstructed them into our unique sound and conceptualisation. In the beginning, we used traditional vocal accompaniment but soon realised that the focus of a song centred on the vocals. We wanted the focus to be on the music itself. Creating a story through sound and connecting with epic and expansive concepts that describe the human condition were important to us. We wanted the music to tell the story and to leave our music open to the interpretation of our listeners. Some of our tracks have some choir vocals, but they are added to enhance the experience of the music rather than as a focal point of the song. There are times when vocals aid in the feelings of hope and progressiveness within our songs.
Our Unique soundscapes come from evoking the tension and release of human emotional experience through resonating bass lines, electronic music, dark, despairing guitar chords and dystopian industrial drum beats. We often experiment with and express feelings of isolation, abandonment, and death but offset those expressions with uplifting joy and hope. These concepts encapsulate the enduring human experience and are relatable to so many different listeners by enabling a personal connection to the work we do. Our work is often described as soundtrack music, and that makes a lot of sense because soundtracks within films encourage the viewer’s emotions to help them experience what the characters in a movie are going through and that is exactly what our music aspires to, telling a story that all of us can relate to. We create music that gives an outlet and a musical description of these emotions we all feel.
Our Style and Influences as Post Rock band
With our melancholic melody constructions, we resemble Post Rock, but our style goes way beyond the usual Post Rock instrumental band. Drawing influences from Trip Hop, Shoegazing, Synthpop and Progressive rock we are really about pushing the boundaries of Post Rock by creating interpretive soundscapes that inspire listeners and fans to construct a personal narrative. We use aspects of film music, instrumental rock, dark and electronic rock to produce tracks that tell a story and tie into an overall larger concept. These concepts are relatable to fans because they speak of the trials of human existence.
The Origin of our band name
We get a lot of questions about our name Collapse Under the Empire, and we love how fans interpret the name in ways we never thought of as it gives listeners another narrative to personalise along with our sounds. The name Collapse Under the Empire was born from the acronym C.U.T.E. Post rock bands aren’t exactly synonymous with the word cute, Post Rock is hard, and the word cute is soft. We loved the irony. We set about giving the group a title that used the irony of C.U.T.E. In 2008, the world was in a financial crisis affecting millions of ordinary people and Collapse Under the Empire just fell into place and felt right. The name Collapse Under the Empire conjured up dystopian imagery and felt prophetic about the fate of the world and our place in it.
Every Album Has a Story
We find inspiration from many sources and all of the albums tell a story of the human condition. Orwellian in nature, the sounds of Find a Place to Be Safe connect to feelings of the weight of oppression and paint a future under authoritarianism. The intense keyboard and string instrumentals inspire you to look deep within and explore perceptions of isolation and fear. All of our albums delve deeply into the extremes of human emotion. Shoulders and Giants envelopes you in feelings of isolation, fear, and death but with an underlying enduring hopefulness. These concepts are given life through our combination of dissonant sounds and uplifting crescendos.
The 9 Tracks on The Fallen Ones conjures a dystopian journey through societal negativity and will inspire fans to travel through and explore the landscapes of a dark, pessimistic future. Highly interpretive, The Fallen Ones will take listeners into the depths of their inner struggles. Dark and emotional charged The Fallen Ones evoke images of desolation and fear and give fans an opportunity to explore these emotions and relate them to their own lives.
With our forthcoming album “Everything We Will Leave Beyond Us” we set to music a dark world that has got out of control. Hotspots everywhere, above all the corona virus, environmental destruction, the greed of mankind, injustice, exploitation, poverty, war and resistance. The 8 new titles show this development in dark soundscapes, apocalyptic guitars and epic synth sounds, piling up the tracks to huge mountains of sound. Thematically, Everything We Will Leave Beyond Us is no longer a utopia, but a bitter reality.
We get so many emails from people from around the world from so many cultures telling us about how our music has acted as a soundtrack to their struggles and about how our Post Rock sound touches and profoundly affects their lives. We frequently hear fans stories and how our music helps them explore what is happening in their lives. Some of our fans describe climbing mountains and feeling a great sense of freedom through our music and how in times of illness our music helped them feel better emotionally and mentally. In the midst of self- exploration or crisis fans tell us that Collapse Under the Empire has inspired them and helped them through the most difficult times and some of the best of times. These stories and our fans connection and interpretation of our music speak to what we try to accomplish with every album release. We also see many fans using our music for their artistic expression. It is hugely gratifying to know that we inspire so many people in such diverse ways.
Our music videos are a collaboration of some incredible talent from around the world. These artists, producers, and directors help us give a powerful visual element to our Post Rock soundscapes. Each music video brings to life the concepts we deal with in our music such as isolation, desolation, fear and death. Some of the videos are film vignettes, and others are entirely animated, and while they all tell a unique story, they all have an underlying connection to the larger concepts that we explore in all of our albums. Here you can watch a selection of our overall 12 official videos. All videos you can find here.
‘Beyond Us’- Our latest music video was directed and created by Maxime Tiberghien:
‘Dark Water’ was directed and created by animation artist Murat Kılıç:
‘Closer’- Brought to life by a team of young film makers of the Savanah College of Art and Design tell the story of mental illness with distinct sci-fi elements:
‘Great Silence’- This video was a collaborative effort by the Luzern School in Switzerland. The animation in this video is incredible:
‘There’s No Sky’- This video has some amazing story telling and gives the music a stunning and compelling visual narrative that draws fans closer to the music. Sung J. Kim is responsible for the animation, texturing and modelling. Sung J. Kim’s talent can also be seen in ‘Anthem of 44’ from 2010:
Collapse Under The Empire – The Fallen Ones
18.10.17 | ALEX
AlbumThe Fallen Ones
For Fans OfWe Lost The Sea, Caspian, God Is An Astronaut.
Rating88 / 100
Like all great instrumental post-rock records, Collapse Under The Empire’s newest LP crushes your heart and soul with tidal wave after tidal wave of sounds and emotions. From the dense and the layered to the minimal and the simple; from these angelic, victorious heights to these brooding low-key moments of anxiety, loss and failure, to all manner of in-between musical and emotional dynamics – ‘The Fallen Ones‘ is a touching, heart-warming, yet also gut-wrenching release. But it is also one that’s consistently beautifully bleak throughout, something that instrumental music like this can be so adept in creating.
On their latest full-length, from its magnificent start to its bone-chilling finish, Germany’s Collapse Under The Empire wonderfully recapture what made their 2011 magnum opus ‘Shoulders & Giants‘ – one of my all-time favourite records – so goddamn special in the first place. This album brightly rekindles what 2014’s ‘Sacrifice & Isolation‘ sadly let grow cold and die out and it invigorates not just the band’s sound but also their wider genre. Not by being overly original or different, mind you, but just by simply being really fuckin’ good at the job at hand! The band’s confluence of driving fuzzy bass lines, vast and spacious guitar melodies, pumping drum beats that are more tribalistic than anything, well-done moments of electronica, both subtle and screaming synths, mass crescendo’s, and widescreen atmospherics all help to make the terrific, immensely layered compositions found on LP #6.
The main duo behind Collapse Under The Empire – Martin Grimm and Chris Burda – are clearly on top of their musical game. If anything, their music isn’t about technical prowess nor that of instrumental wizardry. For it’s more about creating sweeping scores to deep fictional art pieces and these surreal other-worldly events of a dystopian world. Simply put, what this band may lack (or, at least, not really care to show) in terms of jaw-dropping skill and instrumental chops, they more than make up for that tenfold with great composing abilities, pure imagination and stunning vision.
Bolstering this record’s intelligent design and to what also helps makes ‘The Fallen Ones‘ such an endearing experience are the differing moods that it summons throughout. For instance, the opening ‘Prelude‘ is nothing but the soft, serene calm before a violently raging storm with its fluttery ambient elements rising and falling as it’s beautiful piano melodies move the piece forward. Whereas the title track that follows right after is a mixture of warm familiarity as those classic Collapse Under The Empire keys, melodies and songwriting cues stack up and is also one of excitement, as the track develops through its various movements, leaving you wondering just where exactly this German outfit will take your ears over the following forty minutes.
Elsewhere, a sense of fear and foreboding mystery is boldly created by the dark keys and synths, sluggish drums, swelling low-end and tremolo guitars (you can never have too much trem) that predicate ‘Flowers From Exile‘. ‘Dark Water‘ is ominous and fathoms deep, much like the images of vast bodies of water its music weaves in your mind. For just as an expansive sea rises and falls and sucks back and forth on itself, so too does this very track. Like bursting rays of sunshine, ‘The Forbidden Spark‘ breaks through this record’s gloomy tone to create this uplifting, magical piece that burrows deep to the hopeful core of this record’s story; before it descends into a shimmering yet still undeniably eerie back half. ‘Blissful‘ is an urgent, faster-paced song from the get-go and ends in a suitably chaotic manner. It’s also possibly one of the heavily electronic and synth-driven pieces’ that this band have ever written, alongside the dissonant ‘A Place Beyond‘ too. Yet those cold, almost-8-bit electronic moments, minor strings and automated synth pads only add to the melancholic grandeur that this track rains down upon you, ironically enough. ‘The Holy Mountain‘ starts out small and eager, yet as the figurative steep incline grows and the struggles mount, the band persists and scales this mammoth track/mountain by expanding upon the instrumentation and patterns that first began it; culminating in a massive climax as finally reach an imposing summit of grandiose post-rock. And that anxious, doubt-laden feeling of everything crumbling away around you, like your standing upon the very edge of the world, that sense that it has all finally come to an end, is detailed so well in the lasting drum crashes and repeating chords of the final sections in ‘The End Falls‘.
Through all of the highs and lows this album takes, no two people will have the exact same emotional experience with this record, but that’s part of the beauty of ‘The Fallen Ones‘.
I personally don’t feel that this record is quite the benchmark release that ‘Shoulders & Giants’ was six years ago, but even looking at the rose-tinted glasses that I am no doubt wearing, ‘The Fallen Ones’ is still a wonderful, epic release. It’s this theatrical, apocalyptic soundtrack to one’s lonely travels through a long desolate civilization void of all human life; one that the very Earth itself would have reclaimed years prior. This record really is a grand musical odyssey conjured up by one of post-rock’s best yet one of the genres sadly most underrated bands: Collapse Under The Empire. However, this German post-rock ac are no longer the mere dwarfs standing atop the shoulders of towering giants that they once may have been; here they are the giant themselves, forever moving forward and upward. ‘The Fallen Ones’ is living, breathing proof of that.
2. The Fallen Ones
3. Dark Water
4. A Place Beyond
6. The Forbidden Spark
7. The Holy Mountain
8. Flowers From Exile
9. The End Falls
‘The Fallen Ones’ is out Friday, October 20th. Be the envy of all your pretentious, neck-beard looking, post-rock-loving friends and buy it here.
Literally it is a mega band, a vast and fantastic collection, filled with great well-structured melodies, precise chords and a wonderful cadence, alternating systematically from harmonious nuances to an impeccable virtus of this Duo.