The Terminally Whored
SEEING AS there are never too many decent bands around to interview, we might as well start here. Not unlike numerous other entourages in this issue, Babylon Whores, Helsinki Finland death rockers extraordinaire, are currently resting in a parallel time-space-continuum that spells meth (מת) until proven otherwise.
Reading thoughts that were pushed out many moons ago should not frighten you, should it?
You are not a whore for time, are you?
So rewind. Prior to absorbing heavy untranslated German philosophy en masse, selling shirts for Nightwish at their US tour and translating artefacts of American pop culture of the more dodgy order, Ike Vil had some interesting points to make. This story concerns some of them, and while doing so, dries you up with a run of quasi-muso talk about Death of the West and other topics about as eternal. It is certainly something to stir your mind from the stupor, if only for a short while. So Ilkka, get ready to speak up.
First of all, the question that is perhaps the most basic of all: is Death of the West a hit?
“No. Neither is it a stab; maybe it’s a… slag.”
Whatever it is, it’s a slow album. You’ve grown old.
“Was noticed too. Roses and bitterness; tributes to old age. Too bad these stupid CD’s can’t be played on 45. As always, these things are part of a process that we only have limited control of.”
I’ve always liked to associate Babylon Whores with all kinds of stone materials—is this advisable or inadvisable? Exactly how durable are you?
“Always preferred Simon Magus over Simon Petrus. Sown in the wind, lost among ruins; the bad seed. Of Babylon Whores and its works, the parts thereof that are connected to tradition and transcendence will continue to live in one form or another, and be told again in another time and place. That which does not weather the storm will be washed away. Maybe that is good and proper. Favorite rock formations include gravestones, cairns and weathered statues.”
What of the acoustics and the tree of silence?
“Our old guitarist Ewo got really mad at me when I suddenly felt the essence, meaning and nature of a tree revealed to me and told him all about it; too much about it. As for its implications in this context, it could perhaps be said that this tree was made up of used toilet rolls that we painted green. Yet occasionally strange fruit appeared on its branches. Though many things could be done about it, the main and sole purpose in itself is to have the tree stand between the sky and the ground (roots down), something which we partly succeeded in.
“As conductors go, acoustics unfortunately too often takes a second priority in a long list of logistical requests at the end of a wrong rail-width railway. Natural resonance conquered by heavy metal. As always, I would want to explore other avenues so much.”
I suppose that’s so much. Do you think the level of far-fetchedness in the analogy between the golem as a robot and Death of the West as a constituent of the modern world correlates much?
“I guess not. In the wintertime of the west, the robot will care little of what is written on its forehead, its truth and death maybe spelled in the on/off switch. Quite a few things on the album monger some revolt against the modern world in between their lines, if you want to look into it that way. Then again it’s nothing new under the sun, and I should think it quite easy to submerge into the meaningful harmony of the Cycle, content in the safe passage of its eternal return. I do hope that not much of it is limited to its own isolated discourse. There has been a definite and growing ambition for the mentioned transcendence in what I write (since Cold Heaven I guess) to make it all worthwhile, especially as the albums seem to sell iron records in Shamballah.”
Listener-based interpretation is not a question of interpretation but a weak endeavour to propose vague answers. What absolute facts can you share about Death of the West?
“I do object to the nature of the question. Detached and dissected, maybe I could be pushed to acknowledge Cloakina as the goddess of the night stool and sewer, and thus a patroness of a branch of alchemy called black for a reason. Maybe she watches over Babylon Whores, too. Hell, everybody pays homage to her daily if their system runs smoothly. As for the physical conditions during the recording, I want most everything changed the next time.”
Two days ago perkele denoted the god of thunder in Lithuanian, yesterday it was an anti-god and today it’s a plain swear word. Have we lost something along the way?
“Yesterday’s gods sadly almost never fail to become the demons of today. And the trivialities of the day after. But when it comes to those words, they’re maybe not the most important things that have been robbed from us as pillars of a meaningful existence. People still do see black and white, though the ethics and belief systems governing that vision have basically no color at all anymore.”
It is said that one is at leisure when one invests time in signs or literature. How does one potentially feel when investing time in the absorption of Babylon Whores?
“I do disagree with the former; idleness is the father of greatness as the ancients knew, our time is unfortunately spent running after secondary, no, tertiary, bullshit to an extent yet unparalleled in history, leaving no time for contemplation at all. I do not know about the mental postures of the listeners; I do wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in any case.”
Are things easy or hard in Babylon?
“This one is easy; and to instantly contradict I really do think that nothing is easy.”
How thick a skin does a Babylon Whore need to have?
“Sloped form reduces the need of armor thickness. Everything is real, but not very much is true.”
IF THERE’S one thing that has reared its three-fold head in the last couple of years, it has to be environmentalism. But let’s talk about globalisation, the preceding sociopolitical contagion, which is also something Death of the West is indirectly connected to. The following is largely based upon some arguments put forth by an article entitled “Lisää globalisaatiota!” (“More Globalisation!” written by Paul Lillrank) that appeared in the local paper Aamulehti in November 2000. I asked Ike what kind of regards Christabel or Lucibel might send to Mr Lillrank.
“Well. Maybe it all boils down to us apparently having a profoundly different point of view—he talks about globalization from the viewpoint of economy. Quite a lot of people see it that way; as if culture is a manifestation of economy, and not the other way around. If they wouldn’t, I guess there wouldn’t be any talk about globalization in the first place.
“Let’s see. First it was local. There used to be a family, a fratria, a clan, a war party, and ultimately a state of sorts. They were bound together by two things, blood and soil, the organic principles of life around which a mystique revolved in religious forms. The kings were the trees between earth and heaven; their sole purpose was to be a bond and pawn of their own blood and soil to the heavens, and it all went hierarchically downwards. From today’s point of view it was static, static as in a cycle, where the meanings were logical echoes of a universal logic that was echoed throughout the seasons of life and beyond it. The world of peasant, soldier, noble and priest; plough forged to sword forged to plough. It has been called the silver age by the ancients.
“With technological development and the division of labor, that order was gradually replaced. The peasants left the country and came to the cities, and changing their loyalties of blood and soil to that of money became the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The economic meanings replace the mystical; blood turns to money, communal to individual, loyalty to contract, duty to self-fulfilment, sacred to profane, spiritual to material. Art no longer imitates life by representing ideals, but turns to an industry of popular culture that imitates life that tries to imitate the popular culture, or alternatively, wallows in the nihilism of the ugly (‘real art’). I can also see why few claim that it’s also solar become lunar and male become female.
“With the promise of infinite upward social mobility and the accompanying thrills in a world broken loose from its anchors, money is spent and made to produce and seek self-gratification, which actually enables a whole new playground and new toys to live your life by. “I want to be everywhere, with everybody, all of the time.” For the last thirty or forty years, people have been trying to study the alienation that comes with it. These times, I believe, have been called Kali-Yuga or Wolf Age. How come the slave is not happy when he is freed, o Horatio? Maybe the next logical step in the evolution is that corporations replace states. Maybe war, too, is finally abolished, for I guess that not very many people are willing to die for, say, Nokia. Suppose they gave a war and nobody came!
“Ultimately, it is a funny thing that the age of individuality greatly advocated by the American consumer culture seems to be actually responsible for the eventual liquidation of all cultural individualism. It is actually quite Oedipal; western culture goes west, returns home, kills own father and marries mom.
“One always has to be careful when talking about blood and soil, for those things were for obvious reasons implicitly demonized after the Second World War. The cowboys and Indians are dead, long live the cowboys and Indians—it is ironic that the people most visibly demonstrating against globalization also seem to have an anti-nationalistic agenda to them, and very often they also seem to sport the ideas derived from a Marxist-materialist economical theory; their opposition to globalization seems to be crystallized in their hate of the big companies as the capitalist exploitators. What’s sung in the International is just the other side of the coin; in this context, the choice between ‘globalization’ as multi-corporational economic liberalism or equalitarian-humanist leftism is not really bigger than that of choosing between a Big Mac and a Whopper.
“Maybe the times that saw Lucibel venerated in Lanquedoc were a bit simpler in their aspirations. I do admire all these people, like the one happy liberalist above, who have achieved the wisdom to pass judgement on the affairs of our brothers and sisters in faraway lands from a global viewpoint. These kinds of people are in dire need, for in current democracy everybody believes that somebody else will take care of it. Blood of the kings, maybe.”