Excipio – 2013
The story of the album
Excipio was Kardashev’s first EP with a focused effort in writing narrative around the second tier of the Kardashev Scale. The EP is titled, “Excipio” which is Latin for “I rescue” or “I capture” and is lyrically based on the concept of a “Progress Trap“. The reason for this name is that it poetically means, “Sometimes we think we rescue ourselves with technology, but really we’re being captured by it.”
A progress trap is the condition human societies experience when, in pursuing progress through human ingenuity, they inadvertently introduce problems they do not have the resources or political will to solve, for fear of short-term losses in status, stability or quality of life.
The Progress Trap illustration that Kardashev discussed was Buffalo Jumps:
Consider native tribes hunting for food and the resources invested into taking down a single buffalo. Multiple hunters, lots of caloric energy consumption to keep up with the animal and to attack it with melee weapons.
Then, this hypothetical tribe develops spears, and now they can hunt multiple buffalo with ranged efforts reducing the caloric investment for a much greater return in food and materials.
Finally, the tribe learns that they can drive a whole herd of buffalo off of a cliff with organized tactics and then they’d have vastly more food and resources than if they took down only a few buffalo. However, now there are no buffalo left to procreate and thus the food source is gone.
These concepts were the foundation of what this album would be about, but through the lens of Science Fiction.
The album’s narrative takes place in a Tier 2 reality and was lyrically written as a Science Fiction story about a space station titled, “DS-Alpha 12389” which was short for “Dyson Station – Alpha Ring – Position 12389”. In this universe that the band had created, human civilization has reached beyond their own planet for energy from the local star and now they’ve begun building and living on a super structure called a Dyson Sphere which encompasses that star.
Near this space station, a research team finds a single-cell floating in space and after retrieving it, and against their better judgement, cultivating the cell, it grew into a fully formed being over a matter of hours. This creature, humanoid in appearance but short in stature, uses immensely advanced, genetically coded knowledge to create a “Time-Space Machine” for the humans as a gift in return for helping it become fully realized.
This being would come to be known as “The Traveler” in future Kardashev lore.
The humans give the Time-Space machine a name, “The Chiliagon”. Just as the completion of the device is finalized, the Traveler abandons humanity as his capabilities far outgrew that of humans, leaving them to learn and use this new device on their own. Not knowing how to use the machine the humans create an unintended exchange of beings from one plane of existence to another in the lens of a multi-verse theory which destroyed the space station.
Leaping forward thousands of years and finally ready to use The Chiliagon for it’s intended purpose, Humanity uses this leap in technology to develop the “Pathfinder” initiative and spread human memory and genetics into the cosmos.
Structurally broken down the story follows a common Sci-Fi arc.
Humans are awesome, they’re arrogant, they do something stupid, they learn from that mistake and prosper.
The narrative was broken down and applied to different songs based on their composition and mood.
- The space station exists and mankind have finally left the earth for colonization of the stars.
- Multitudes of Life
- The cell is found and brought to cultivated life.
- The Chiliagon
- The super-being takes form and creates a super device. This device is created as an infinite source of energy.
- The being abandons humanity and “The Chiliagon” device is used with ignorance by humans causing a fold in reality which destroys the space station by displacing all humans with unimaginable creatures.
- Leap forward thousands of years and humanity has developed the “Pathfinder” program to infuse new worlds with human DNA through bio-robotic engineering, by way of The Chiliagon, therefore advancing their culture into a Tier 3 civilization.
- This instrumental song was written by Kardashev’s mixing/mastering engineer, Miah as a request from the band. This track represents another variation of the cosmos and the background noise of the universe. A sort of homage to “Pillars of Creation” on their demo, Progression.
The Recording Process
The overall mindset for how Kardashev records music was something like, “We have the tools to create modern sounding, high quality audio and we are willing to afford the price of a professional to mix and master it, so why change that formula?”
This album was written and recorded at Nico’s father’s house while they lived together shortly before Nico moved in with Mark. In the smallest room in the house, on the second floor, Chris, Mark and James would arrive weekly to continue working with Nico on the album. They invited Zach Beam over to document part of the process as their principle photographer/videographer.
The “studio” was really just a simple gaming computer with some boom box speakers setup to playback audio. The real brain of the process was their Fractal Audio Axe FX Ultra which they had purchased from Cory West in A Distant Calm (Game of Tones tour!).
The recording gear and software was the same on Progression as it was for this album.
- Custom Gaming PC
- M-Audio Fast track PRO
- Propellerhead Reason DAW
- Reaper DAW
- Toontrack Superior Drummer
- Shure SM7b
- Agile 725 PRO 7 String Guitar
- Fractal Axe FX Ultra
- Warwick Thumb 5 string bass
- DI box
- Generic Laptop
The album artwork was decided on by Kardashev’s bass player Chris as he was taking a modern approach to Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man by creating “schematic-like” pieces to show abstract plans for The Chiliagon. These were a blend of sacred geometry, planetary orbit patterns, and a sort of astral compass all layered in to create a fictitious design for a doorway through space-time.
Kardashev began to understand the importance of including music videos and other types of videos to accompany their album release. As such, they planned on not only a music video, but also instrumental play through videos for many of the songs on the album. This would broaden their reach and help them understand public interest.
Zach Beam would stay onboard to film a music video and four instrumental play through videos and two behind the scenes studio videos for their new album.
All VFX in The Chiliagon were created by Luis Dazy of Alaska.
In 2013, Kardashev released Excipio on all digital platforms through CDBaby. This album was their first to release in physical formats and they wanted to make it a little more unique than just jewel cases en masse.
While listening to 1940’s jazz music on a tiny phonograph in Chris’ tiny condo, they placed each of the incomplete digipaks on the carpeted floor and began a sort of assembly line process of picking one up, handing it to Chris whom was stationed at his kitchen counter top with transparencies, ink, silver leafing and screen printing tools and as he processed each one they’d take it and replace it on the carpeted floor in the living room.
Each copy is silver leafed, screen printed, hand numbered and signed by Chris.
In total, they produced 200 CD’s as jewel cases and 100 special edition handmade digipak format through Subliminal Groove Records.
Having been their second release and now signed to a record label, Kardashev reached out to some musicians they admired to get their feedback and insights on the album experience.
Ambiance washes in and out of these tracks, and atmospheric electronics compliment a pleasant listening experience. A sense of hope generated by synthesis lies underneath these songs otherwise filled with chunky, thick deathcore riffage. This gives Kardashev a refreshing uniqueness in a crowded genre. Keep an ear on them.Jerry Grannan, Aegaeon
Kardashev takes notes from some superior metal icons. I immediately hear influences from TesseracT, The Faceless, & Opeth. A great group of prog influences. This band however, instead of attempting to be those bands, has brought on their own sound. I hear a heavy lean towards the old school melodic death metal side of In Flames. I’m interested to see which road this up and coming metal band takes. Flawless production and an acute sense of all musical genres is making for an awesome new band….Kardashev!!Adam Cody, Wretched