Covert Concepts

Inside the intellectual mystery metal of Isis

"I feel like our music has a much more gentle, feminine side to it, as well as the more primal, animalistic, male-testosterone trip," Turner says. "I guess it's partially about achieving and maintaining some level of balance."

The most overt reference to a female character on Isis' latest disc is the track "Dulcinea." The fictional obsession of Don Quixote, Dulcinea is a homely peasant woman elevated to the role of the feminine ideal by what Turner calls "Quixote's dementia."

"That is just toying with the idea of perception, and the very thin line between illusion and reality," Turner says.

Isis: It's all in their heads.
Robin Laananen
Isis: It's all in their heads.


scheduled to perform on Friday, February 23
The Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe

And what about the album art Turner created, which resembles a bunch of bandages coming unraveled? "The drawings themselves are somewhat representational, in that you can see it's some sort of gauze or similar material, but it doesn't necessarily indicate one specific object or another. I think that's sort of at the heart of what I was writing about," Turner says. "And also, there's a progression of ideas from this very tightly bound, opaque mass into something that eventually starts to split up and open up and evolve into nothingness."

In further trying to uncover the concept behind In the Absence of Truth, listeners will have to explore more of Turner's admitted influences, which include Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Jeremy Bentham, and the philosophies of Islamic cult leader Hassan-I Sabbah (the album takes its title from a quote often attributed to Sabbah: "Nothing is true, everything is permitted").

Turner sidesteps an inquiry into how this quote relates to the album's concept. "I'll just say that much of working on this record, for me, was about the power and nature of perception, and the ways in which it affects our behavior and the way we see the world," he says. "I'll just leave it at that, and people can draw their own conclusions."

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