#190 | Interview | Insanity Check

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You may recall an album review podcast dating a couple of months back where Connor and I endeavored to dissect a rather peculiar electronic record. I use the word “peculiar” as it harbors a unique amalgamation of timbres we seldom come across. It coalesces fissuring electronic beats, wisps of chiptune-flavored synths, twinges of acerbic black metal, and a palpably bleak yet adventurous atmosphere within every track. Moreover, its sequencing impressed upon me a cinematic momentum that one may experience within an 8- or 16-bit platformer from the NES/SNES era, and it’s from this viewpoint where a multitude of questions regarding this work began to stack. The record in question is Unrecoverable Reality, and the mind behind it is Topias Svärd, better known as Insanity Check.

Insanity Check came into existence sometime in 2014, though the moniker would not be created until 2018. In its earliest days, the tunes that would eventually formulate his 2020 debut, Unrecoverable Reality, originally rested in the vein of hip-hop. However, after Topias experimented with lyrics and their delivery, he abandoned them as he found it difficult to communicate his thoughts and ideas without sounding overtly sappy. Some time passed and he would re-envision the record as a metal-heavy piece, though he struck yet another hurdle: he lacked the equipment necessary to execute this concept properly. Thus, he transmuted his metallic ideas into electronic ones, effectively replacing would be traditional instruments with grotty synths to retain a tonal bite and dour edge.

Perhaps most fascinating, beyond the distinct synthesis of virulent electronic textures, are the personal experiences underpinning Unrecoverable Reality. Much of its production occurred during a span of several years where alcohol was imbibed daily and Topias was in and out of mental health institutions regularly. This renders his memory of the record’s construction rather hazy as so much personal strife transpired throughout that period, though he does not shy away from detailing the raw ordeals he underwent as his creative process unfurled all those years ago.

Much of this conversation focuses on the creation of Unrecoverable Reality. Before descending into that rabbit hole, however, we spend a chunk of time discussing Topias’s musical upbringing, his interest in Finnish hip-hop, as well as his love for old-school videogames. He also illuminates some of the timbres we can expect to hear on his sophomore record (release date TBD), which he notes will be brighter and more hopeful than what is heard on his debut. There is much more to unpack in this exchange and I sincerely hope you enjoy the various turns it takes. Thank you so much for tuning in.

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You can follow Insanity Check on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date on new album developments. If you’re keen on listening to Unrecoverable Reality, you can do so by streaming it on the Hiraeth Records label Bandcamp page or over on Spotify.

If you’d like to support us beyond listening to our podcast, you can do so by becoming a patron on our Patreon page. There you can read all of our notes for each album review episode we publish and gain early access to every episode before its official release. Also, if you’re interested in chatting music, shooting us some album recommendations, or talking about other forms of media (videogames, films, etc.), please feel free to join us on our Discord server (open to all)!

This upcoming Thursday, we’ll release an album review podcast of the debut LP, Wander. Defy. Relent. Decay., from the Lowell-based hardcore punk outfit, Stoploss. Then next Monday, we’ll drop a review of Gulch’s Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress.

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