30.3.2011

Ulver interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)


Relation

Interview: Kuronen

The question of relation is an important one in the world of mathematics, ethics, physics and metaphysics, among other scholarly corners. In the matter of relation, one has to substantiate whether things happen according to something or are individually floating entities. Whether there are absolutes and essences to which everything can be compared—or not. All aspects of relation are frequently infinite and undecided in their nature; Einstein’s theory of relativity dabbles with ideas about as fathomable as absolute ethic universality. When we look at a unit such as Ulver, relation is conceptually vital in more ways than one. First of all, the common links between the group’s releases are often slim if not severed altogether. They are doing that, pulling out products that have little to do with each other, in an age that craves for swift musical identification and stylistic permanence. This is one interesting field of relation. Another opens via the philosophical phenomenon of relativism. Y’see, Mr. Kristoffer Trickster G. Garm Rygg is one fine relativist.

What does this entail? Well, for one, an abundant use of irony and elusive, ever-transforming perspectives. A bunch of empty words as well, similar to Pessoa’s ‘God’. A great amount of grey ambivalence concerning ideologies. It feels as though Ulver, and Rygg with it, believes in nothing.

“I’m not going to be specific about what we believe in,” the singer retorts, chuckling, “but you’re quite right about that it may seem extremely nihilistic and tongue-in-cheek. At the same time I think we do believe in some or the other thing. But it changes. It’s too big a question, mister.”

A sort of frontier-setting individualism is a theme that, from an outsider’s perspective, has always seemed to revolve around Ulver and Kris Rygg as a person. At least within the tight envelope of black metal, that is. They have refused to adhere to ideas and practices created and structured by someone else. It has seemed altogether difficult for the group to signify themselves through any direct meanings at all, instead wallowing in a Derrida-like state of signification done by noting what you are not. Distancing yourself from elements that you feel are alien to yourself, hence producing meaning through différance and a sense of otherness.

Rygg cuts in, “Yes, to conclude that with a punch line, one thing we do believe in is that we are utterly and completely fucking lost. To answer this question and the previous question, it’s just something we believe that we’re just lost, somehow. We try to, in some sort of way, explain how that feels sometimes and also demonstrate how that feels in terms of making music that really belongs nowhere, in no scene, in no time-limited movement. Stuff like that. So we both demonstrate it and try to describe it. That’s all I can say.”

That would make for a good headline: “Ulver is fucking lost.”

“…Or that we feel lost. That’s one thing: you feel lost. But at the same time you’re lost with an awareness of being lost. A lot of people are lost without being aware of the big black void. So there is an awareness there as well, I think, that enables us to do something about it.”

Rygg still identifies himself with the Faustian spirit, always willing to try to achieve his goals despite the many setbacks and moments of disillusionment the never-ending quest projects.

“I’ve always felt at odds with the—how can I put it—the mighty, powerful hand of society and whatever is kind of the governor of all things that are supposed to be wholesome for you. In that sense I still take a rebellious stance or a somewhat dangerous stance which would be more the Faustian spirit. Just continue this
Las Vegas stance to the whole thing. Just lose all your fucking money. Radiohead put it, “If you try the best you can, the best you can is good enough” whereas Trickster G. would say, “You can try the best you can, you’re doomed to get fucked over anyway”.”

Is Ulver about the instigation of rebellion in any forms at present?

“I don’t think as much but I think rebellion comes in different forms as well. I think sometimes the most explicit rebellion is non-substantial rebellion. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s more revolt than rebellion, and I think our current rebellious stance is a different one. It’s not necessarily an external rebellion, it’s just as much an internal kind of rebellion. Somewhat struggling with forces within. I guess you get what I’m talking about.”

You’re not of the James Dean type of rebels without a cause.

“No, I think that’s quite cheap and at some point you have to stop pointing your finger at everything and everyone else and start taking pride in yourself and try to build something yourself, if that’s what you mean. I definitely think that’s what we’re doing. I’m not 18 years old anymore. I guess that’s a force of getting older as well, that you’re not so concerned with tearing things down as you are perhaps taking more intellectual stance, detecting how things work and trying to explain more than saying that this is wrong and tearing down,” the Jim Goad reading family man considers.

A BEAUTIFUL LIMB WITHOUT A BODY

There is Ulver’s music as well, of course. From the dewy ominous sprinklings of the acoustic Kveldssanger to the languid EPs of the early 2000s, from the almost overburdened Blood Inside to the fresh piano and string section splashes of Shadows of the Sun, there is obviously no norm at play when thinking of the amount of groundwork and pre-meditation an Ulver release requires in the creative process. Much is about improvisation and haphazardly trying out different solutions. The combinations and associations of different sounds, if you will.

“It’s usually no preparation, just like a mental image, but a lot of improvisation and playing around,” affirms Rygg. “And it’s a lot of after-thinking. To explain it very easily. It’s a lot of thinking afterwards about what you put to tape and what you’ve put on paper or what kind of ideas you have in general. That’s the process. Sometimes you can have some really, really appealing pieces of music or writing that you just can’t seem to find a way to put into a song or to create a body. It’s like a beautiful limb without a body. That’s sometimes extremely frustrating; that you have some really solid pieces but you just can’t find the fucking way to put it into an album or whatever.”

Questions of a/symmetry, balance, cohesion and inner logic are naturally important in the phase of writing new material, but when something has found its complete, undeniable form, its existence no longer entertains the somewhat cynically-minded Norwegian futurologist. It needs to be put against the context of nouveau horizons, whose arousal is about as inevitable as the monthly arrival of waxing crescent. Disorder!

“I’m recording new music now and that’s always the way with me. I can’t bear the thought of going out and playing this stuff. I just have to get it the fuck away from me and do something else. Cause they’re finished. Okay, then you’ve failed one more time. You know it in your heart that you’ve pulled out something and it might be good in some places but ultimately in a couple of years you’re going to have a new album. What an ordinary musician would do would be the whole new bragging, saying ‘Ah, our last album was full of bad ideas and our new album is much better’. It’s all a part of one big failure. It’s up to guys like you to dissect that body and kind of give us feedback in terms of how successful we were at what we were trying to do. In the end I’m of course sitting at my end of the phone, realising that this is just one step in the stairway. We have things to do and places to go.”

In one of the many tense yet insightful Ulver interviews, Rygg has stated that there are no blueprints for creating music for this band; that it is one constant heaving metamorphosis sporadically culminating in different positions. Surely ambiguity of this kind must also be a notable disadvantage, a perilous hinge of volatility and altogether a stressful test for one’s creative capacity.

“It’s no dance on top of roses. Your feet get stung by thorns doing that dance. It has its disadvantages and its advantages. I’m pissed off by myself being so relative all the time but I guess you understand that I just have to be. It’s not very fun… I kind of give off the impression sometimes that you don’t have any fixed ideas about anything, but… Heh!  It’s just the way it’s got to be! It’s a relative world.”

Disorder!

SMACKING LOBES

Originally, Ulver were nested in a house painted starkly with the colours of black and white, if you accept such a misplaced metaphor. In spite of this, they were never quite fully-subscribing members to the Norwegian codes of black metal conduct. Unlike Immortal, who were sneered at for not living up to a Satanic ideology, Ulver were willing innovators of that curious and thankfully seldom-used genre tag, ‘grey metal’. Rygg admits to not having a very polarised outlook on the world—as if that was not obvious to begin with. Yet, quite interestingly, it is the strictly regulated OTT aspects of black metal he longs for, and not in an entirely ironic fashion.

“There is one thing about black metal in particular that I like and that’s the extremity of it. The theatricality. It’s very self-convincing. Do you know what I mean? You take these pictures and it’s very in your face. It has to sound like this and it has to be pounding and TUFF! And there’s absolutely no irony in it. It’s just kind of pure heart behind it. It may not be all that pure but in the way that it’s presented as something very, very pure and free from all kinds of relativity and ideas of relativity—this is our world and this is how we’re having it and if you don’t like it, fuck you! That whole attitude is something I like about metal even though in the end it is really fucking ignorant. From a more sentimental perspective, it’s something I really appreciate. Since we weren’t really into rave music in the beginning of the 90s, we were into black metal, it’s kind of still there. We’re very much aware of the fact that certain hipsters think we’re way too pompous or pretentious—which to me by the way is a very positively charged word—and take ourselves very seriously. That’s the thing I like about it. The theatrics. The very aesthetical kind of approach to things. I can like music by average-Joe people who take their press pictures sitting in a chair with every-day outfits and being very down-to-earth about everything, I can like that but it doesn’t really give much to imagination, so the kind of self-mythological take on both oneself and the environment about black metal is something I like even though it’s at certain times extremely ridiculous. It’s also something that’s pretty fucking cool at other times.

“Since I’m somewhat an insider, I know that a lot of the black metal musicians here in Norway have for several years had a more dynamic outlook on the world than what it seems but that’s my point: it’s like, this is how it’s supposed to be—if you don’t like it, then go off. I think the whole tendency you see towards black metal and maybe more so black metal aesthetics being incorporated into some sort of high art movement these days is a result of that. They’re so fed up with all the irony and all the sarcasm and all the relativeness that they want something that’s just a smack into your frontal lobe.

“In the beginning [Norwegian black metal] was pure aesthetics I think. Within a year or something it quickly developed into a very subversive social culture. When you’re a bit younger you’re more prone to being suaved by strong imageries, very strong perspectives on things. Whereas when you get a bit older—you don’t necessarily change so much but you take a more complex point of view, or you get more confused I guess you could say, heh. And of course when you’re younger you haven’t really had the time to put yourself in too many different situations. So it often starts with a certain environment or a certain, specific interest and all those things develop overtime. Still, you retain something of what you were when you were younger. It’s hard to say. I guess that’s different from individual to individual how it all works.

“Some people tend to grow older and they then realise that their social status or whatever depends upon what they’ve established themselves as at some point in time, and then kind of go all regressive. Take Metalion, he’s the ultimate example. He’s obviously someone who felt he had to go back to being an ignorant metal head to keep some sense of self-worth in a scene or whatever. He obviously realised at some point that without all that old school metal stuff nothing was happening to him. Again, it’s not to be mean, it’s just a tendency I see. Not that I’m an avid reader of Slayer magazine anymore but I just noticed that whereas in the mid-90s Slayer was kind of opening up and embracing a lot of different ideas and music, then a couple of issues went by and now it’s all Sadistik Exekution, Bathory and Destruction, and all those stupid avant-garde metal people, fuck them. It’s just so easy to see through all that.”

Is there anything that’s sacred to you about Ulver?

“Nothing. Nothing is sacred.”

29.3.2011

Alan Averill Nemtheanga Speaks, Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)


Article: Averill
(Pic: Antti Klemi)

Well boys and girls, if you have been avid readers of Mikko’s most lovely magazine then I guess you may know that I also waste my time playing in Primordial. And Mikko also wasted space of his magazine with me in his last journalistic debacle.

So this time round I was asked to contribute something, or other, and for months I put it on the long finger and with my hectic schedule… as you can imagine, boys and girls, made it hard for me to pull my finger out of my ass and write something. Then the offer of contributing some poetry came nicely along via this wonderful electronic mail and we all thought that this may be the answer we had been searching for. So here I am attempting to write something of an article based around the intermittent scribbling of words in my little black book. When in actuality I am writing an article about nothing in particular at all. I just like to see my name in print, if you understand…?

I must say that the writing of lyrics, after all these years, can be a painful process. Not being one of those people who regret the things they wrote years ago, I am still in fact quite proud of the lyrics I wrote in
1992, such as To the Ends of the Earth from our demo and first album Imrama. Not exactly painful in the emotional sense but simply after penning more that a few the well can run dry and your natural evolution as a person can alter your writing process. So right now, with a new Primordial album looming, the lyrics are not coming in a way they may have before. Taking something artistic and making it a discipline is one of the most difficult things you can do, and making yourself write can mean many long blank half hours staring at an empty page, that is until you take to drawing a little pentagram or perhaps even venturing the outline of the Venom logo… or if you are feeling really ambitious then you might even try the Morbid Angel logo...

The life of a scholarly waster, huh?

However, what I have done is to take, let’s say four things I have written over the last few years, and make a little comment on what they meant at the time and how I view them now. So with your excitement level reaching an all time high, prepare to be pushed over the edge, my friends.

The first one is actually from our first album Imrama and a charming little ditty called Infernal Summer.

Her skin so pale… shrouded in black
I drew down the veil, I wanted her back
I am at one with what never lived
I’ll draw down the veil, and offer up what I have to give

Shall you try and poison my every word
At a Summers Funeral, I woke to the light
Shall you lay my bed with thorns
and clutch at me like you have done to life…?

Shall I be the chief mourner, in your procession
No stone lays unturned…(rest in your grave)
I can no longer hear, the silence calling your name
or the choirs of ruin lamenting your pain.

May 1994

Now when I look back on my older lyrics, as I said before, I don’t feel embarrassed, or what have you, as many people seem to, I just mainly wonder what it is that I am talking about. The use of cryptic, almost clandestine imagery practically goes into overload with for example Infernal Summer, and that habit is something I have somewhat dropped or lost over the years. The imagery of women seems to haunt the early Primordial albums and when once accosted by a drunken member of the Belgian black metal band Enthroned, he remarked (perhaps even mumbled!) that we wrote the first ever black metal love song… The Darkest Flame, well actually he said The Eternal Flame and then realised that was a Bangles track, boy did he have mud on his face, or perhaps on his denim patched vest! Not very black metal really. Yet at the time he had a point, seeing as Cradle of Filth for example was using some female imagery as well, although more gothic and with considerably more tits. Yet not many bands in the black metal scene were toying with anything close to feminine at the time…
- strange? As for Infernal Summer, I seem to get this vague memory of being in a forest somewhere and being inspired by the setting sun and making some analogy between that and the changing of seasons and the passing of life… hey, it was in 1994. Remember black metal? - the good old days when we all walked in the forest with our hair in front of our faces and sweated in our leather pants at the height of Summer. An Infernally hot fucking Summer.

Hey whom am I kidding in live in
Ireland?

The second one is one I am particularly proud of, although once I had written it I knew it could never really make a Primordial track. The idea was to create something that adhered to a certain metre and rhythm… or onomatopoeia… So at the time I was reading a lot of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, for example, and tried my hand at a little of the French ‘Satanic school’…

‘no name…’

Father who dwells in the most arcane of light
with a sweep of whose hand
yields a divine gesture of grace.
Per chance a fair maiden may take
leave of her life in a beauteous effort
to try and keep face…
No sad songs, nor mourner’s lament
Funeral orations, nor enchanting hymns
for death is a joy, and joy indeed death
When life can be short, yet so beautifully spent.

Satan, lest thou not hide
in the recesses of this world
Where black is as white…
and day is as night, so many
songs have yet to be sung,
and so many hearts yet to break
The night has many hands to seize
…and it’s words so many souls to wake.
Through the desperate heaving of earth
Voids of glorious pain, come
it is time to Spirit the Earth Aflame…

March 1996

Still reads to a certain metre I think, the lyric may be surprising to those who have always viewed the band as a Pagan or Heathen one, but there is often Occult and, yes, even Satanic or Luciferian references here and there, never the usual clichés but the odd clandestine references. This little lyric however was pretty directly inspired by the French ‘Satanic school’ of poets and a healthy portion of the flounce and pomp of Oscar Wilde, particularly The Picture of Dorian Gray, that romanticising of the devil has always been something that fascinates me. Even in something like Milton’s Paradise Lost one cannot but feel empathy with the more human element of the devil, despite Milton being a Christian and in reality trying to impart something of a warning so to speak. However, the Devil is just more human at the end of the day, partially for me because he is simply the amalgamation of all the old Gods, and they were simply our natural relation to the elements… the Devil, he’s the real deal, my friends! Anyway, with this little ditty I was simply aping some literary greats and trying to make the Devil seem the romantic character and of course impress the black metal chicks…

Is it working?

Are there any black metal chicks left…?

Please write I’m lonely?

Now here is something I wrote at what must have been a pretty low ebb, minimalist really isn’t the word here. Around the time before we did our second album A Journey’s End the band was going through what we can call hard times, and now we weren’t dealing with our homies being shot in da ghetto, but coming to terms with how much we thought we disliked each other among other things, and then we did the album and things worked themselves out, as they usually do. And this charming little ode to the noose was written before that…Try it on for size.

“Hanged man
noose so tight
cold shadows call
to my skin

empty moments
moving slow
fading light
growing dim

the
white of your eyes
and the slumbering pains
harsh words
open veins…”

April 1997

Not even sure what to call that, it may appear sometime in Primordial, it does have a certain melancholic malice of forethought to it, kind of tasty. Quote this to your ex-loved one inside a nice card with perhaps nice flowers on the front, now repeat the exercise until they break…!

And the last one is one of the last things I have written. I choose these four things, as they are as far apart as the four elements could be, all represent me in very different ways, all very different. This one has a few more relevant modern day overtones, or rather undertones, while not being in any way political it has a whiff of
Europe and Ancient Culture in there. A whiff of many things… See what you think.

‘untitled…’

Soiled hands at work to pit a nations fall
Skeletal hands upon the coffers of the old world
Ghosts of men, re-writing history
Red Ink, from the well of martyrdom

Words to drip from the traitors tongues
Waging a War between the crimson lines
The Old Heart of the Earth
Divided, poisoned, ready for the fall

Valiant men, made to wear the Devils mask
The Scapegoats for a new age
Such words will bear the fruit of flesh
today’s innocence, tomorrows finger on the trigger

So, who heralds the Grace of Fallen Empires
Hymns to the Ruination of Majesty
He who inherits the Dark Crown of ill will
and the scorn of those deemed righteous men

The Gauntlet thrown, the baton tossed
By statute, by law, by divine decree
impositions as kindling to the Fire
The Old Heart is beating, with Ancient Blood
June 2000

I guess you can see a difference here, over the years our culture has become more and more important to us within the band, and the newer lyrics and the message behind Sprit the Earth Aflame also reflect that. The shadowy clandestine half spoken world of the older lyrics has been replaced by, quite simply, often rage. The melancholy is still there but this time evened out by the more Mighty aspects. Just another example of personal evolution in many ways. I know people will read things into, for example, this lyric that are not there but I would find it interesting to see what people actually read into this…

Especially the black metal chicks…?

So with that parting display of pathetic grovelling I will take my leave and thank my cruel mentor Mr Kuronen for forcing me to actually do something for once, don’t wake me from my slumber next time alright, I need my beauty sleep.

28.3.2011

Fleurety interview from Qvadrivivm #3 (2000)


The Court Trial

Interview: Arkadin

Our next case is the case of Fleurety vs. The People. Having been charged with the heinous crime of »musical progression and innovation,» the defendant, Svein Egil Hatlevik, standing in for Alexander Nordgaren and the rest of the criminals in the band Fleurety, enters the court room and is instructed by Bailiff Roady Skein to take the Hypocritic Oath. After placing his hands on the Satanic Bible and declaring, »I profess to speak the truth, the whole truth, or something very close to the truth, so help me Satan,» Mr. Hatlevik is instructed to sit down and await the beginning of the trial.

After several moments of silence, the honourable Judge Arkadin enters in fine robe and lofty wig. Following him are Mother Superior, dressed in a seductive garter belt, the court jester Jocundus Superiorus, and Frou Frou the dancing orang-utan. Court is now officially in session…

Mr. Hatlevik, in 1991 you and your accomplice, Mr. Nordgaren, had reportedly formed the musical entity Fleurety. Can you explain to the members of our jury why you have chosen this suspicious name and what it could mean to you? How can this Fleurety be described? Or can it be described at all?

»It was perhaps a little bit careless to choose that name,» Hatlevik begins. »However, having for a long time thought that the only charming property of the name Fleurety was its ability to make people think of names of cheap perfumes, I have managed to find out that Fleurety, at least according to less trustworthy sources, is the master of poisonous drinks and hallucinogens. Among other things.»

Was the original motive of this co-operation one of communal or personal interest? What distinct modus operandi facilitated the operation? And was there a specific »reward» to be sought for at the beginning of your tenure as criminal musicians? Remember, Mr. Hatlevik… you’re under the Hypocritical Oath.

»At that time we thought that what we did was in the best interest of mankind and all species of invertebrates. We did expect do be rewarded with not only the Nobel peace prize, but also the Nobel award for an outstanding achievement in the field of chemistry. And one of those nice Norwegian Grammy Awards that Covenant and the Kovenant received.»

The best interest of mankind?! Explain then what was going through your benevolent mind as you decided to propagandise your musical output in the form of the Black Snow demo back in May of 1993, the demo many had found offensive and controversial…


»First of all, let me correct you about the time of this alleged crime. I will not say this act was actually a crime, no matter how unconstitutional it may seem to release a demo which will give any man with a sane mind a serious (and lethal in patients with a weak stamina) case of tinnitus. Now my mind is drifting… I was about to correct you on the time of the act. The investigation of the distinguished Dept. of Apocalyptic Affairs agent Shellshock Lhomes has provided undeniable proof that the demo was actually mixed on the 6th of July of 1993.»

The members of the jury, sensing the tone of self-satisfaction in Hatlevik's voice, begin to talk amongst one another and give suspicious looks.


»This excludes,» he continues, »the possibility of a May release. Not only is this date symbolic in the eyes of the criminal black metal head, a description which can not be used to denominate the members of Fleurety at any time, past or present, but it also leads suspicion in the direction of the so-called Black Metal Mafia. The members of Fleurety cannot be blamed for this time blur/warp.»


Frou Frou, sensing the humour of the situation, throws a banana at Hatlevik and hits him on the head.

Mr. Hatlevik, going on after recovering his calm:
»Now – let’s return to the motive for releasing this demo. We had the best of intentions, I assure you. We wanted to gain the attention of a record label so that we might release an album and thus spread our music to even more people.»

Oooahs and ahhhs are at once heard from the crowd.. »Order! Order in the court!» Judge Superior repeats while hitting his gavel against his desk frantically. The jury is finally pacified.


So… you had come in contact with Misanthropy and Aesthetic Death Records to release a complete album’s worth of this questionable music. How did it happen that you came in touch with these devious entities, and what could you have possibly hoped to prove through this later complicity? Have you any scruples, Mr. Hatlevik?


»Contact with these two labels was achieved through sending tapes with our music in the mail. We thought that we thereby could get our music released in the form of CD’s. I admit this is a bit naïve…»

At this point the audience goes absolutely berserk. Judge Superior whacks his mallet violently to stifle the noise and shouting. After a few moments, he succeeds in hushing the public and the serious tone of the courtroom trial resumes.


From reports that I have here, your reign of terror was yet to end after this release and the hiatus that followed. In the periods between 1996 and 1997 you shocked the public once again after recording three tracks for a mini-CD, this time with the aid of Ayna Johansen, Mari Solberg and Karianne Horn. Were these three women key players in your diabolical scheme all along, or were they enlisted later on? Describe each of these ladies for the members of our jury.


»These women’s involvement has been purely professional. We have in no way whatsoever taken advantage of them. I know you didn’t ask for that information, but I feel quite sure that that was the question you originally wanted to ask. These women have all contributed significantly to the rate of success for our enterprises. Ayna Johansen joined us very briefly in June 1996 while we were working on the Vortex case, a very intriguing mystery that has yet to be solved. She now lives in exile, and rumour has it that she is in the United States and that she is about to marry a fitness instructor who trains Hollywood stars. Karianne Horn helped us crack both the Facets case and the I Saw Claws case that we worked very hard to solve during some very hectic autumn months in 1997. She still lives in Norway, presumably still in Oslo. Among her most distinguishing traits are her everlasting energy and enthusiasm towards everything going on in her surroundings. Mari Solberg offered her expertise in the field of forensics and saxophone in all the above mentioned cases. She lives a peaceful life, and is perhaps one of the individuals involved with the Department of Apocalyptic Affairs that has managed to combine her involvement with a perfectly ordinary life,» the defendant states in complete earnestness.

The period also included your signing with the English Mafia Kingpin, Alex Kurtagic and his squad of evil-doers who pass under the dubious name of Supernal Music. Has this relationship proved successful to your ends?

»Sometimes,» Hatlevik begins, wiping the sweat away from his brow, »it is hard to keep one’s mouth shut when it comes to your fellow accomplices. I eagerly await his testimony in front of this court. I might also wish to press charges against him for making himself guilty of the act of criminal negligence. I hope that we’ll be able to conspire more successfully as the album hits the streets and the word of its coming has spread across the neighbourhoods inhabited the apocalypse-minded.»


What were the circumstances that led to the dismissal of the other two record labels your band Fleurety were involved with?

»Aesthetic Death didn’t have the funds to support us, and Misanthropy, at the time claiming to be »the conformist’s worst nightmare» decided that, after having heard the demo version of the song Vortex (which later appeared on our mini-CD Last-Minute Lies), our music wasn’t conformist enough for their label.»

Understandable, understandable. Let me ask you now, Mr. Hatlevik. Will it be chess or checkers? The jury can’t decide.

»I’d go for Mastermind. I’ll beat your ass in Yatzy.»


Court will now adjourn for a ten-minute rest to facilitate the jury’s needs for rest, quelling of appetite and the imminent release of sexual tensions. Members of the jury are encouraged to bounce on the trampoline located in the back of the Court Room and make the necessary phone calls to pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. The children and women of the courtroom are inspired to approach Justice Arkadin’s desk to test the density of their skulls with the judge’s gavel. After ten minutes of noise and bedlam, the chaos and hollering slowly subsides and the court is again held in session…


Ahem? Mr. Hatlevik, where were you on the night of Tuesday, January 27th, 1998?

»It’s a bit strange that you should ask about that particular date, as I personally have no recollection of even getting out of bed that day. I know that my original plans for that day was to meet Mr. Nordgaren and that we together were going to attach Department of Apocalyptic Affairs propaganda to the heels of the shoes of Hillary Clinton. And I mean all of her shoes. You might wonder how this was going to work? Well, I won’t tell you. But this never happened. There are eye witness reports saying that I have been sighted in Tangier, Rome, Zagreb and Montevideo, reportedly all sightings were at noon, and all the witnesses claimed that I was wearing a grey suit with a lotus flower in the button hole.»

In the summer of 1998 you and many other infamous members of your entourage had set forward to record a second full-length release, this time under the name of Department of Apocalyptic Affairs. Would you explain to the public what they can reasonably expect? And what precisely led to such a long delay in its coming to surface?

»Our chemists have continued the legacy of the notorious Albert Hofmann and developed an antidote against the virus called »metalatrix standardi». This antidote can be ingested as a pill or as a drink. It is made out of several mutations of the metal molecule in the sense that individual atoms of the molecule are replaced with atoms of the recently discovered chemical elements jazzinum, electronium and contemporarium (no. 137, 143 and 128 in the periodical table). Contemporarium is highly radioactive, but electronium is more active on a compact disc, and therefore more fit for this medium. The delay is due to bureaucracy. We have had great trouble founding our scientific research, which is probably due to the less popular results that our science leads to. The international court of musical ethics describe our methods like this: Imagine that the German »scientist» Joseph Mengele was an experimental musician. (Mengele, known for experiments like, for instance, trying to sew a pair of twins together in an attempt to find out whether they would become Siamese twins.) The result of his experiments would be the music of Fleurety.»

The following people have been implicated in working with you in the Department of Apocalyptic Affairs. I will mention each and would like you to give me a short summary of their involvement and relevance to our case. Now remember that you are under the Hypocritical Oath, Mr. Hatlevik, and that you are obliged to feign honesty to the best of your ability. The list is as follows:

Einar Sjursø: »He was hired because of his extreme efficiency and accuracy as a sniper. And he played the drums on one song.»

Carl Michael: »Also a sniper, but less efficient and accurate than Einar Sjursø. But what he lacks in accuracy and efficiency he compensates for in humorous killing patterns. And he played the drums on one song.»

»Maniac»: »Was engaged in this mission because of his skills as a public speaker with dishonest and immoral propaganda as his field of expertise.»

»Hellhammer»: »The third sniper hired for this project. His unique technical skills combined with a good grasp on the chemical properties of jazzinum made him an obvious choice when we needed one more sniper to complete our crew. And he played the drums on one song.»


»Sverd»: »His involvement with the project is purely coincidental. He just dropped by one of the days while we were planning the direction our project was going to follow from that point. In spite of himself he was persuaded to do dirty tasks that we didn’t want to do ourselves. What is meant here is that he played an improvised solo.»

»Garm»: »Along with Knut he played an important role in the co-ordination of the project. He also made one public appearance in our absence. Of course, all he said was a lie.»

Carl August Tideman: »He was hired to perform random acts of violence. His weapon: an axe.»

»Knut»: »Not only was he one of the chief co-ordinators, he was also the manager of the chemical laboratories during the project. And he played a very nice guitar solo.»

»Vilde»: »Another propagandise of ours. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she did it extremely well. She did some singing as well.»

The incognito bass player of the band Ephemera: »His name is Per Amund Solberg. He has been involved with our work since our 7” EP that we released in 1994.

»By the way, you are forgetting some of our other assistants. We have Heidi Gjermundsen, James Morgan, Tore Ylvisaker, Mari Solberg and Karianne Horn as well. However I am not obliged to fail honesty in their cases, so I won’t.»

The court has handed over the evidence to our leading investigators and scientists, and our suspicions have been confirmed. Hatlevik and his entourage, on their Department of Apocalyptic Affairs CD (Supernal Music 2000), have taken what they have done on their prior item, Last-Minute Lies, and twisted and stretched it to criminally absurd proportions. This time the songs are scattered into 7 pieces of what one may call a »progressive» and sometimes even »psychedelic» nature. As Hatlevik, whose vocals are this time kept exclusive to spoken word and sardonic howls, had spoken, the elements of jazzinium, electronium and contemporarium were found in gross abundance. But according to our scientists, there were other odd entities involved as well, for which we are still in the process of discovery. There is even, for instance, an electronica track called Barb Wire Smile, something unheard of for Fleurety, and we found Maniac’s vocal performance on the dangerously titled Shot Gun Blast was especially amusing.

But to continue…
 

Literature, television, avant-garde film – is there something that influences Mr. Hatlevik predominantly in the actualisation of his creativity, an artist or form of film making? Is there some ideal that he is searching to make concrete through his visions, some kind of destructive and subversive goal?

»I am of course inspired by words and images, but I do not have the psychological insight to determine whether the music we make is inspired by visual impressions or sensory deceptions. However the ideal of something completely logically coherent has of course been implanted in my mind via the written word. And it is this ideal that controls the structures of the songs that we make. At least when I’m in charge.»

Hatlevik looks around at the jury staring at him open eyed and continues again,
»I know that Mr. Nordgaren is less concerned with this than I am, but at least he understands what I’m talking about. And that’s more than I can say about most other musicians around. We have developed unique musical vocabulary, as do everyone who plays together for a while.»

The scarcity of Fleurety’s early products makes them fairly difficult to evaluate for our jury. What is the defendant’s opinion on the matter of refurbishing old material? What does he feel of nostalgia in music?

»I used to have an aversion against re-releasing old recordings but I found out that if people want to buy it, there’s no reason to not make it available. I am personally very glad that most of Elvis Presley’s music has been re-released, otherwise I would have to listen to his records using a record player that I haven’t got. Now I can just put the CD in the player and everything is pure bliss.

»Nostalgia? If people want to be nostalgic, it’s fine by me. I very rarely feel nostalgic in any context, but I guess I will when I get old and my life gets boring.»

Have there ever been any live performances to date, or will there ever be? What is the band’s view of playing live?

»There has been something like ten live performances in the history of Fleurety. These took place from 1992 to 1996. After that we have not been able to play live, as we are not a band; we are a bunch of people. And the composition of the bunch of people varies all the time. The only thing constant is the dynamic duo Nordgaren/Hatlevik. I do not know any longer what would be the ideal conditions for a Fleurety concert. I had strong opinions about that several years ago, but as the idea of Fleurety standing on a stage slips further and further away, it’s getting harder to imagine what it could and should be like.»

It would appear to us that the lyrics of Fleurety’s latest two releases are written in what some may call »post-modern» fashion. Is Mr. Hatlevik or Mr. Nordgaren students of the Dadaist School of Linguistics? Are you familiar with the technique of individuals like Tristan Tzara and Kurt Schwitters?

»No. A lot of people insinuate that our lyrics are influenced by Dadaism. I deny any knowledge of this direction and any relationship to it. I swear on the lives of any children I might have that I have never heard the names that you mention.»

Now, now, Mr. Hatlevik, was it a conscious decision to no longer write lyrics in Norwegian?

»Yes. The meaning was to start writing lyrics in English so that everyone would understand that they were incomprehensible.»

Bailiff Roady suddenly interjects and adds some words of his own: »The conversation between Gil-Gilad and Goat Herder in the rumour section on the Fleurety Internet site is especially amusing. I can’t help but ask if there really is some kind of exigency of joining the military in Norway? Are certain people exempt while others aren’t?»

Roady is obviously a very ignorant individual, as he refuses to read anything but the most abstruse literature on metaphysics he can find and thus has absolutely no practical knowledge whatsoever. He cannot even brush his teeth without first reasoning the existential validity of the toothbrush he is using. How would you answer his question, and what suggestions would you have for Roady?

Hatlevik: »The rumours that I managed to find on the Internet seemed to have something to do with my cutting my hair, I think. Anyway, I have not done military service, I never will, and as far as I know joining the army is something very rarely done by people connected to the black metal scene. My advice for Mr. Roady would be to start watching television. It will rid you of any questions. Or you can do like me: You can have a delete button installed on your neck, just behind your ear. Just mark whatever troublesome thoughts you have in your head for deletion and press the button. But I do watch television more than occasionally.»


Bailiff Roady, enchanted with the fact that he is being overheard: »Could objectivism somehow be reconciled with the transcendentalist philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller?»

»If you insist – I’m not a philosopher. By the way, is this a question from a university exam?

»I once had a question on an exam going like this: Can the linguistic theories of D. Lewis be seen as a synthesis between the theories of H. P. Grice and J. Searle. Could you please comment that, Mr Roady? Or are you maybe just an armchair philosopher?»


Roady shrugs his shoulders and goes back to his armchair to rest.


Tell the jury Mr. Hatlevik, would it be safe to call Fleurety »hippies»?

»Ehm. I would prefer being called »extremely long-kneed person who has sex with such invertebrates as molluscs, earth worms and cockroaches» to being called a hippie.»

What final words do the defendants have before the verdict is declared? Do you plead insanity?

»I would like to remind the jury and of course the judges of the universal law of deceased band members: When a member of a band dies the number of records sold (N) is increased by the following formula:

N=3D10x101x1001xNumber of records sold before the death of the band member.

Therefore I should be given a capital punishment.»


Session is adjourned for the members of the jury to make their decisions. After several hours of deliberation, Alexander Nordgaren and Svein Egil Hatlevik have both been found guilty by a majority vote of 665 to 1 of innovation and disrupting the otherwise healthy stagnation of a musical genre. Later that very same evening, the court trampoline is found torn apart, the judge’s gavel is stolen, and the perpetrators, Nordgaren and Hatlevik, are found missing from their cell chambers. Both are presumably still at large, armed with impenetrable lyrics and an inexorable desire to disrupt conventional patterns of predictability… they are dangerous criminals. I repeat, dangerous criminals. Exercise extreme caution if found!

21.3.2011

Einherjer interview from Qvadrivivm #3 (2000)


Interview: Kuronen

Ragnar Vikse, the vocalist of Einherjer and the head of Native North Records thinks he is far too fresh to answer question number one (in my Einherjer inquisition, March 2000) which he says is »far too mature» for him, being the new kid in the Norwegian band. What I asked was if he thought the Viking stomp Einherjer perform had already run dry for recycling activities, and does he believe Einherjer are only hailed nowadays because some say they were some kind of grandfathers of this Viking poop.

The
amalgam of Norwegian Native Art (Native North Records 2000) can’t really be called sour grapes, but doesn’t it, Ragnar, kind of seem that there really is no way for you to go on anymore? Because you cannot play this same quasi-heavy metal oriented music until the very end, can you? It’s merely rational that some of your fans are bound to leave you eventually, will everything be the same with the next album, the one after that…, no? Would it not be sensible to consider taking some of the old norms back in again?

»Well, our cliché-album Norwegian Native Art has set the standard for what Einherjer will sound like the next ten years, so hopefully at the end of the decade we’ll only sell two albums. One for my grandmother (since we are the grandfathers) and one for my deaf neighbour who loves watching George Michael videos while he stuffs thick candlelights up his ass.»

I might think there’s need for substance worthy of more than that so did the recording of the new album serve the band with any fresh ideas for the next one?

»No, we tried out some new ideas, but suddenly everything sounded new and original, so we decided to stick to our old clichés.»

All glimpses of underlying beauty put on Norwegian Native Art seem to have gone to the concluding two songs, Draconian Umpire and Regicide. Was that a matter upon decision or did you simply not come up with material more of the lovely side?

»We decided to save all our love song material for our next album, which will be called Romantic Ballads of Love. It will contain 6 new Einherjer love songs and cover versions of 16 old Nazareth and Scorpions ballads.»

Sounds rather tasty. I have been told that you’re fond of George Lucas, the film-mogul. How much of an inspiration was he concerning Norwegian Native Art? Would you, Ragnar, change your label’s monicker to Native George Lucas Records if a substantial reward of fast-and-easy money were held above for you to do so?

»I’m in love with George Lucas. He has such a cute ass. I would change the company name immediately, and then I would re-release Norwegian Native Art with the new title Smell George Lucas’ Fart

Now, now… The movies of Mr. Lucas – what’s the best thing about them? Do you fancy more the pre-1977 stuff or…?

»The best thing in his movies are all the helmets. I love helmets. Mr. Lucas is actually a very metal person. He is known between his friends as Mr.G ‘the black metal bunny.»

Ah, someone’s turning green with envy on this side of the interview… (how can one become a friend of George Lucas?!) That left for tomorrow’s sorrows, a theme that has bothered Einherjer already previously is the production and sound of the albums. Especially the two latest incarnations. Was Los Angered equipped with Andy La Rocque the right choice after all?

»The only reason we went to Los Angered in the first place was to get our King Diamond albums signed, but since the soundscape turned out as crappy as it did we decided to return for another crappy recording, and hip hurra, crappy it became.»

Well, the bio still includes gemstones such as »Einherjer have with their new album moved to a more different musical landscape where the dismal and agressive atmosphere are conspicious.» (sic), so basically it should be no effort at all for you to attract some more »dark-adorned» population to cover all the people who get bored of the »heavy metal» sound and cosmetics employed now… Have you written the bio by yourself, by any chance? Could you tell me more about the so-called »dismal» character of Einherjer?

»Actually, we paid a five-year-old to write it for us. He is now our manager. Every decision regarding Einherjer is done by him. He is a very dismal guy. The character of Einherjer is now exclusively based on this kid. We’ve actually stopped rehearsing for an indefinite period. We only eat candy and ice cream.»

Aha. I had no idea that you rehearsed even prior to Norwegian Native Art, based on the musical evidence. By the way, what’s the story behind Native North Records? Is it only created to release Einherjer and if not, who are some other artists that you are planning to release or have released through Native North?

Ragnar: »Native North Records was originally formed in 1922 by my great-great grandpap. His intention and goal was to spread the message of love and the true Viking culture in Finland. Good ol’ Charlie didn’t manage to do that, so unfortunately Nazareth and Scorpions decided to sign to bigger labels. Good ol’ Charlie’s heart was broken. But now we’re here to maintain his dream.»

Actually, I went on the Native North Internet-page later on to find praises on Qvadrivivm that weren’t there, and apparently at the time of being, also Tyrant are on the label’s roster. Which one of the four Tyrants it is, I can only guess… Ragnar, you’re a liar liar with your greasy pants on fire… Anyway, what exactly were the problems dealt with Napalm Records that made Einherjer abandon the label?

»There were no problems at all. Napalm are our blood brothers in Valhall-lia 8, 3266 Nedre Kolbotn.»

The split up of three members of »the old Einherjer» is explained in the recent biography as indifferences within the band regarding how much effort should have been put into Far Far North, if I’m correct – so any further explanations on how they were not satisfied with the projection of Far Far North?

»They weren’t in love with us anymore.»

And who could judge them for that. But Mr. Vikse, any parting words before we leave you enjoying yourselves and let you ride on the supposedly on-going Viking/folk/heavy metal bandwagon success alongside Norwegian Native Art?

»Your mag is the greatest. Thanx a lot for your outstanding support. We love you. Kiss, kiss, kiss from Einherjer.»

19.3.2011

Eye to Hand Corruption


Some people have the eye, some have the hand and others yet have the mind. Very few can coordinate the three like Leonardo or those Rats that design touchpads for Nokia phones. We're very glad to have received a collaborative nod of agreement from an illustrator who, to our understanding, excels all these dimensions. We'll not give away the identity of said visual artist yet because, after all, it's much nicer to keep an element of surprise to the proceedings. What we can say is that this illustrator has a distinct style that has not been used much in the field of music or fanzinery yet. Yet.

Whereas many have considered certain previous issues of Qvadrivivm to be marred by a dry and academic graphical approach, expect very little of the naïve minimalism to make it to the pages of Hell. If all goes according to plan, the issue will be as visually aggressive, cacophonous and dark as its prevalent thematics. To appreciate the outcome, you do have to understand that horse skulls, streams of eyes, golden moons and tulips of evil are Symbols that surpass their worldly templates. Nothing is quite what it seems at first sight, right?

Since the following issue will be quite the archive of texts, we're always searching for additional illustrators that could contribute with fitting imagery. Key qualities for the issue include: ability to work with the polars of black and white (no grayscale mildness, please), twisted crookery, individuality, heaviness as in drops-yer-eyelids-down-your-cheeks heaviness, roughness, and obedience to the lawless laws of chaos. If you have someone in mind who could work within these boundaries and have the fanzine ethics of not charging per hour for bestial goat commissions, do drop us a line in the comment section.

17.3.2011

Aube interview from Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)


In the Head the Aural Is Born


Interview: Arkadin

It is certainly a rare opportunity when someone has the privilege of interviewing one of his favorite artists. Akifumi Nakajima, otherwise known as Aube, has been recording noise and ambient works for over twenty years now. What started mainly with water experiments, soundtrack material for contemporary art exhibits, had progressed in recent years to something unprecedented. Since those early years, Akifumi has manipulated a panoply of source materials, including, and not confined to: Water, Kyoto, 1 Voltage Controlled Oscillator, Steel Wire, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, 1 Monophonic Analogue Synthesizer, Metal, Heartbeat, Glow & Fluorescent Lamp, Small Speaker, Brain Wave-Electroencephalogram, Bible, Fire, Bell, Glass, Earth, and Air. Obviously, not just anyone can take a brain wave electroencephalogram, for example, and process it to produce a fascinating sonic result. It takes an imagination, a sensitivity to sound, and, above all, an ability that very few possess. For my part, and for many others, it is Akifumi Nakajima who is one of the few in the world today that does in fact possess that said skill, and he has proved this again and again over the years.

But Akifumi considers himself no ‘artist’ in the generic sense of the term. Rather, he tends to consider himself a ‘sound designer’ utilizing, in his words, “only a limited source material per a release or a performance.” As for the sound sources that he has used, those I have listed, though, according to him, many more will come.

In Aube there is no ideology or philosophy. There are no external points of reference, as it were, making for a very exploratory, subjective style in the music, open to a wide, if not unlimited, scope of interpretation.  The listener is pretty much forced to come to his own conclusions about the music; as there is no one absolute conclusion given, if any. I asked Akifumi if this was intentional, and he only said ‘maybe.’ But I think there is more to this story.

What had drawn him to ‘design’ such music in the first place? Why not do something safer, more traditional, less ‘dangerous’? I only receive an elliptical answer at best, but I suppose I had nothing more to expect. In answer to my question asking from where he draws his creations, “in my head,” he tells me, and that’s simply all.

Is there any lineage in his work that can be a traced, a metamorphosis over time?

“In early years, since 1991 to 1994,” he relates, “I was into harsher and louder sound.  Since 1995, I was interested in quiet ambient sound more and more though I had my interest for listen it. Then, I started to shift and make such way also.”

Aube is known mainly for its water experiments, of the ones, particularly, that had been released in his formative years, and the recent ones on Manifold Records, among others. Was there any modus operandi for the early water experiments, I inquire? Was there a reason why so many of his releases have involved water instead of something else? An aim at purity, perhaps, water being one of the most abundant elements on this earth?

“There was some,” he answers in the affirmative, but refuses to speak any more. Again resuming his reticence.

The Aube project has been characterized by many critics and sources, desperate for the ease of constraints, under all sorts of headings, from minimalism, escapism, to just pure noise.  When I ask Akifumi what these words and classifications signify to Akifumi, and whether one could be more accurate than the rest for describing his work, he rather disinterestedly tells me that “maybe minimalism is fair.” But it seems obvious that the question carries little weight. 

As an artist living in Japan, the veritable Kingdom of Noise, where such worldly renowned avant-garde artists as  the Hijokaiden, Keiji Heino, C.C.C.C. and the legendary Merzbow were born, Aube should certainly not seem out of place among the neighboring entities, at least strictly in so far as the ‘scope’ of his work is concerned. I wonder how life in Japan inspires him? Does he find that, for example, a certain environment or state of mind enhances his creativity? 

“I think my life in Japan inspire my work as I’ve never been to live any other country,” he tells me, “but I can’t tell what inspires me exactly. It comes unconsciously.”

In the true spirit of surrealism, apparently, though whether he shares any interest in surrealism, I unfortunately never found out.

If Aube are the ears, I ask, what may be the eyes?

“G.R.O.S.S. is my label’s name as well as my design’s name which is maybe the eye.”

For anyone who might not be aware, Akifumi Nakajima also runs a label, called G.R.O.S.S., which has started in 1992 and has released, according to the head, the following bands: Monde Bruits (Japan), Roughage (Japan/Canada), Dislocation (Japan), Mortal Vision (Japan), Kapotte Muziek (Holland), Allegory Chapel Ltd. (USA), Taint (USA), Shlomo Artzi Orchestra (Israel), Club Skull (Japan), The Black Museum (USA), Small Cruel Party (USA), Trance/Macronympha (USA), Thirdorgan (Japan), Hands To (USA), Princess Dragon-Mom (USA), Maeror Tri (Germany), Shida (Japan), Red Gnein Sextet (USA), Speculum Fight (USA), DMDN (Holland), Daniel Menche (USA), Dead Voices on Air (Canada), Deisel Guitars/SIAN (Japan), THU20 (Holland), Kinkakuji/Ginkakuji/Gokurakuji (Japan), Sshe Retina Stimulants (Italy), Telepheroque (Germany), Near Earth Objects (Australia), Loop Circuit (Japan), Hyper Ventilation (Japan), Crawl Unit (USA), Sympathy Nervous (Japan), Iugula-Thor (Italy), Quest (Holland), Pain Jerk (Japan), Skin Crime (USA), Yellow Cab (Japan), Sudden Infant (Swiss), Mariann Kafer (France), Masonna (Japan), Incapacitants (Japan), Mark Solotroff (USA), Meiji Jingu/Ise Jingu/Heian Jingu/Atsuta Jingu (Japan), MSBR (Japan), Onomatopoeia (UK), and finally, Smegma (USA).

“Officially, G.R.O.S.S. stopped releasing products on December 1997. After that, I’m releasing a few Aube titles in very limited quantities on G.R.O.S.S. with other labels or gallery. So, G.R.O.S.S. is a label for releasing my sounds only - now and in the future,” he finishes.

Not only does Akifumi help distribute and release CD’s, but he does package design as well.  Most of the Aube releases, which have been included in packages as varied as a bag of water to steel plates, have been designed by his hand and his mind only.  According to him: “Almost all…”

What does Akifumi think of the harsh noise artists today and the rest of the scene? Is it heading in any particular direction today, at the turn of the millennium?

“As I’m not listening the harsh noise,” he explains, “ and the rest of the scene already now (since a few years ago), I have no thoughts about them.”

When I questioned him about what we could expect in the future from Aube, if there were any interesting new sound sources he would utilize in the future, his answer left me curious: “I have some,” he said, “but don’t want to tell about it yet, until I could finish it well.”

As for what we could expect soon from Aube in the way of releases on the G.R.O.S.S. label, he did not say anything specific, but only to “expect something new.” Simple words, but perhaps none more appropriate, as, indeed, every Aube release leads one to a new, uncharted place. Be it places as far reaching as the highest reaches of the empyrian to the caverns beneath underneath the earth to the most private recesses of the inner mind, for Aube there are no limits. This artist is definitely one of a kind.