TEGMENTUM’s MICHAEL BALL Talks Evolvement – “This Record Is What It Feels Like To Be Caught Up In A Manic Episode”
August 25, 2023, a month ago
Depression. When it takes form, sometimes it can’t be properly explained why, especially when one’s life is moving in a positive direction. As bad as the monster can be, it can also be a creative fuel used as an outlet of one’s inner torment.
This was the approach taken by Michael Ball – leader and founder of Tegmentum and the band’s second album Evolvement, out now via M-Theory Audio. Evolvement is a cosmic horror journey of progressive metal with tinges of extreme metal. There’s a chaos in the music with huge shifts in mood – from the light to the dark.
“What I’m essentially trying to express with this record is what it feels like to be caught up in a manic episode,” explains Ball about the personal reason for writing Evolvement. “Mania is the most misleading symptom of depression because it affects your perception. It causes you to experience very euphoric highs, without realizing that perhaps you’ve been triggered in some way that, that perhaps this is like the beginning of like a deep depressive episode. But it doesn’t feel that way [because] you get caught up in the manic high of the euphoria.”
“It’s a tough tug of war to live with,” reflects the soft spoken, introspective musician. “In a lot of ways, you could listen to the album on a loop and it would give you a good idea of what it’s like to experience these episodes. That’s the scariest thing about it is that when you recover from a depressive episode, it’s not like there’s anyone to like, give you a pat on the back, you know? You don’t get any kind of like real acknowledgement. And when you get out on the other side of an emotional dip, you have brief moment of relief, which is quickly replaced with the fear of it happening again.”
Ball is now in much better place mentally since the writing of the record. He found out that despite all the good things happening in his life – a past trauma from his previous environment was afflicting him and did not go away.
That trauma and tormenting inner experiences came out in Evolvement. Ball sums it up, “The record on the whole is a very dark experience. The positive and negative elements are all one and the same. As far as how the record served me, it is a safe way to explore these emotional challenges and these deeper issues.”
With Ball on this musical exploration is an impressive cast of characters – former Fallujah member Andrew Baird on drums, Ontogeny, Narcotic Wasteland’s Kenji Tsunami on bass, and Dawn Of Ouroboros’ Chelsea Murphy on vocals.
“That was always my goal,” answers Ball if he intended for his one man act to become a full band. “I was really inspired by Misha Mansoor and Tosin Abasi, who essentially produced their own records.”
“Well, actually Misha produced Tosin’s record. Misha then produced his own record with Periphery, wrote all the music, and everything,” Ball corrects himself. “And they were able to make bands out of that, to attract other musicians to help realize their vision. I was really inspired by that. I wanted the same thing and to emulate that success.”
While his self-released, 2015 full-length and all-instrumental debut Passage did not achieve the same success like Mansoor’s and Abasi’s; it did open new doors to him. He was able to secure Tsunami on bass and a drummer that was a friend of Tsunami’s, and while the initial plans weren’t to have a vocalist; his new band members wanted one.
“I had written this guitar driven instrumental record, and that’s what I brought to the table,” reveals Ball. “The rest of the band voiced their opinion saying that’s essentially not what they wanted. If they were going to be in a band, they wanted a vocalist. In the spirit of creating a collaborative environment, I did start putting feelers out there for a vocalist. That’s always been the main idea behind Tegmentum – it’s not really about me, my hope was to plant the seed to create an opportunity to have a proper band.”
This is how Murphy became part of Tegmentum with the final piece, Baird being added in late 2022. While Ball handled all the writing and lyrics for Evolvement, the future plan is for Murphy to handle lyrical ideas from here on out.
“I wrote all the lyrics for this record,” says Ball. “Going forward that won’t be the case. That’s going to be Chelsea’s domain completely.”
The first single “Accolades” dates back to 2017 and was a song Ball wanted to use for the record.
“I knew that for a follow-up record, I wanted to revisit it and use it on here. I was able to use it well in terms of the story I was trying to tell. Where it happens in the record is really great. It’s a very victorious kind of song,” he relates.
Order Evolvement on Bandcamp.