14.12.2012

Solefald interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)




Absolutely Vital

Interview: Kuronen

In art, politics, entertainment and religion, among many smaller sects of human interaction, there are innumerable depressing tokens resonating the steep intolerance that lies at the root of our current culture. One minuscule sign of this championing of self-made restrictions, the mentally fascist manuals we cipher without end, is the commonly held reservation against the frontierless music of Solefald. Celebrated by those who understand it as a creative and impressive win over tedium, the Norwegian sunset duo’s non-traditionalist art has accumulated scorn, antipathy and unappreciative bewilderment in numbers that far outweigh the positive response it has gathered, thus proving that in our minds it is still fear that encircles things that we don’t know, things we do not understand. Hence we need restraints, norms of sanity and, indeed, ‘normality’ to familiarise ourselves with that which is foreign and alien. Oftentimes we cannot make ourselves acquainted with the unfamiliar because the blocks in eyeshot are too heavy—unmovable in all their conformism. This is when music like Solefald, adventurous and heterogeneous by nature, is deemed homosexual, unworthy, even downright destroyable, as has been demonstrated by the death threats the band have received from black metal purists. While not perhaps as grave as the fatwa once imposed by Imam Khomeini on the writer Salman Rushdie, such actions show there are people (and not just a few of them) in the world who think more highly of regulations, strict codes of behaviour and totalitarian stalemate than freedom, which is a thoroughly sad state of affairs. What says Solefald?

“We have one basic rule—we don’t rules very much, but we have one basic rule—and that is that we shouldn’t let ourselves be limited in our work,” says Lazare, who with Cornelius makes up the twosome. “If we feel like making a flamenco song, then we’ll make a flamenco song, or a reggae song for that matter. I think you should never set musical boundaries for yourself, at least not being in a band that’s striving so much for the untamed creativity. We always try to nurture the creativity and take care of it when it occurs, without pushing it into some concept form or some aesthetic expression.

“We never let ourselves lead anywhere or another. The way things have always worked with Solefald is that we have made the music because we have something to say, and what people expect from us will never change what we have to say. We never really sit down and think about these things. If you sit down and let yourself be dictated by what people expect or what people think you’re going to make, I don’t think you’ll be able to create good music or art the way we always hope that we’re doing.”

The cross-musical act’s 2003 effort, In Harmonia Universali, shows a more friction-inducing face of the band than 2001’s Pills Against the Ageless Ills did, which must be a welcome development to many of those who originally fell in love with Cornelius and Lazare’s unregimented, no-limits approach to music. Employing four languages in the oral presentation and a whole lot of more instruments on the musical front, the labyrinthine In Harmonia Universali arrives like a fever through the clear. It’s certainly an imaginative leap from the nondescript extreme metal morale of Pills…

“At least a part of the expression of one album is usually a reaction to the forthgoing,” Lazare notes. “When we came out with Neonism, that was a big experience and when we sat down and started to write new music, we felt some sort of need to do something a bit opposed to what we did on Neonism so that’s why we released an album like Pills Against the Ageless Ills. When we sat down writing again we again felt the need to contrast what we did. In order to contrast Pills…, we wanted to push the sort of Neonism envelope even further and try to also incorporate some of the basic heavy metal ideas that we had on Pills… into one and that’s how In Harmonia Universali came about. It’s in many ways the mixture of the musical expression on Neonism and the musical expression on Pills Against the Ageless Ills.”

For Lazare and Cornelius, Solefald is not just the average heavy metal youth activity, a convenient path-paver for socialising with the exteriors of the world. The way Solefald has persisted even through its members’ living in different countries (the Cornelius residence is located in Paris, while Lazare challenges the everyday in Oslo) tells heaps about the perseverance and determination these men have for the child of labour they’ve cultivated and nursed for the last thirteen years. For the two Norwegians, Solefald offers a passageway via which to express themselves musically.

“We go around with things inside us that have to come out one way or another,” Lazare recounts. “We try to reach our harmonia universali and Solefald is in many ways our tool. Some people try to be at harmony with themselves by painting pictures, we do it by making music. That’s our blood, that’s what flows in our veins. We have to do this, it’s absolutely vital to us.”

“I can give you Wisdom, Beauty and Power
Turn you into a robot or make you a flower
But I prefer you just the way you are
A smartly dressed criminal, a singing monkey star” 
– Solefald, “Mont Blanc Providence Crow” 

24.9.2012

Weltschmerz interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)




Apocalyptic Forebodings


Interview: Kuronen

“WELTSCHMERZ owes its very existence and meaning to the worldly conditions of current life, which are not good at all. The world is so deteriorated; nature and art are both in agony, suffering from increasing levels of entropy and decadence. According to tradition, we are now living the ‘Kali-Yuga’ age, the last age before Armageddon.

“We are overwhelmed with information. Our society feeds our brains with tons of useless information and we are privileged to communicate via metaphors and allegories, which enable concise, meaningful and emotional communications.

“The silence is golden.”

Everyone has his graven images; what they are to Antonio “Anthony” Leanza of Weltschmerz ought not to be all unclear. Calm and deadpan, he speaks with the mind of a prophet.

THE PARADIGM OF PSYCHODRAMA


The inevitable advent of Armageddon can be anticipated in many ways, yet it was the definitiveness of Weltschmerz that played a significant part in making their message palatable on a personal level. The damp incense of a million candles blown out on the last anniversary of earth: what a chic idea. Beats the ‘save the planet’ patches of hysterical ecologists any given day of infinity. In the end it is a personal Armageddon—and rescue—Weltschmerz exhibit: each time I hear Weltschmerz I die, etc. Even if their intricate poetic sensibility and artistic flair is admirable, it is the simple monumentalism and inverted heroism one most attaches to; the oneness of to mega therion in their sorrow, in their city of pain, in their death.

It didn’t say Monumentumism, did it? You can never be sure where reality ends and imagination begins. In Weltschmerz’ case the reality is an album called Capitale de la Douleur, and the imagination any low-lying association one will draw from it. The all too plausible idea of Capitale de la Douleur being dark wave music much in the direction of Monumentum’s In Absentia Christi is not half as relevant as what the album really is. A beast whose wistfulness distinctly surmounts In Absentia Christi’s distant Middle-East pulsations.

What makes Capitale de la Douleur difficult to describe is that you need more than self-evidently immense words to lift it off the ground. You need decaying, moribund words, in the search of which it is always more than easy to experience a thousand suffocations of pomp. You lose (yourself). With Capitale de la Douleur on your side, it is so delightful to lose. Appropriately enough, some of Weltschmerz’ personal characteristics are inherently at one with negativity.

“As far as I am concerned, I do only play to discharge negativity,” says Mauro Berchi, Antonio’s partner in crimes of ill-advised nature. “I have no particular aim, save for ‘protecting’ myself as much as possible from the assault of external influences. Processing the stimuli. Analyzing it. Trying to build a shield to become hardly reachable. Don’t know if this approach can really be considered a ‘constructive’ one, but it’s surely important to understand my role in the band.”

Lyrics are a firm manifestation of the looming nihilism and decadence of Weltschmerz. Full of genuine elegiac sense, manifold allusions and mythical metaphors, the words are refreshingly expressive. One truly wishes one was the author of such monuments of resignation.

“Monument of resignation? Yes, it really does make sense,” Anthony reflects. “Something inside me is convinced the world is ruined and the only chance we have for escape is inside ourselves, through a better self-consciousness.”

Mauro offers his, as he says, ‘two cents’ on the topic: “I see nothing particularly good in what’s surrounding me. I see nothing particularly good to strive for, to desire for, to live for. Weltschmerz’ music is a kind of mirror for this discouraging and discouraged way of thinking, in both music and lyrics.”

As Weltschmerz aim at restoring the original interest in music in lieu of the by-product, image or any other secondary matter, it would seem they are a fertile platform for pro-music movements. Yet they use the band also as a megaphone for the basic questions, concepts and modes of existence. Do Mauro and Anthony then see that the undeniable importance of their musical output supports the indispensable interest they take in voicing their thoughts on many highly important themes of the human body, mind and spirit?

“I think coexistence between lyrics and music is difficult,” briefs Anthony, rejecting the thought of outright indivisible wholeness. “However, I can’t imagine different lyrics for this music… Maybe we should try producing more ‘musical’ lyrics? In ultimate analysis, Weltschmerz makes sense for Weltschmerz members first. It’s not so nice to tell this, but our first aim when playing is to produce something that is meaningful and helpful for us. It is a cathartic experience.

“Weltschmerz tries hard to be a psychodrama for all of the members. In all likelihood, the Weltschmerz experience is more meaningful to the members than to the listeners,” he states with finely measured stresses.

Mauro’s mind is in accord with his band mate’s. “I perfectly agree. We do not play with a fixed conception or idea that our music should have a meaning to those who eventually listen to what we do. Under this point of view, we do not pay attention to the complications hidden in our music. Weltschmerz is like a nail on a wall. The shadow projected depends solely upon the direction of the light investigating it…”

Even when you’re paraphrasing Virginia Woolf’s ideas, context does denote everything.

“Eclipsed rationality and metanoia / D i s i n t e g r a t i o n / Eskatos—exquisite corpse / Eskatos—incipit tragedia / Eskatos—il pudore della sofferenza / Eskatos—unveiling chimera / Eskatos—el-jarq / Eskatos—jade eclipse // Humanity has been buried already / An imperceptible glimpse of light / Vanishes / As cities are consumed by locusts” – Weltschmerz, “Jade Eclipse”

EXPRESSION EMOTION EXPERIMENTATION


Before approaching any more lastness, it might be good to unravel the strings of the past a bit. Weltschmerz originally began as Anthony’s personal endeavour in the early 1990s. After struggling in the marginal with his set of ideas for a number of solitary years, he found likeminded spirits at the turn of the millennium to help him out on his quest for the true emotion.

“Solitary years is a very good definition of those years,” the man notes. “I decided to start alone, mostly because I was tremendously frustrated of my earlier musical experiences and I just wanted to get rid of it over my very first work. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about my destiny, because I don’t really know what it could be, and it’s really difficult to describe what pushes me forward in my expression. However, Weltschmerz started as and is an experimental initiative, focused on a pure and simple need for expression of the deepest emotions of the self, conjugated with a certain ‘vision’ of the world. Some people I’ve met in my life have a similar vision; current Weltschmerz members Mauro, Alberto, Andrea and Arianna are some of these.

“I prefer Weltschmerz to be a band rather than a one-man project. It is a much richer experience, for us and for the listeners, too. Capitale de la Douleur is the product of hours and hours of rehearsing, all together. It is a collective product of the band members. We just meet and start rehearsing and then let our hearts decide.”

“The process of composition is a very instinctive one,” Mauro fills in when we jump over to Weltschmerz’ songwriting methods. “We just start playing over a sparse backbone (one riff, one melody, one idea), and then see what happens. The lyrics are usually crafted once the music is done, but this doesn’t mean they’re less important. They just come later on a temporal scale.”

Under what conditions, mental and otherwise, would Capitale de la Douleur in Anthony’s and Mauro’s opinion most favourably be enjoyed?

“In my personal vision,” Anthony voices, “all Weltschmerz music is imagined for a lonesome autumnal landscape.”

Mauro does not agree one hundred percent with the philosophy of the question. “Music is a completely free form of art whose enjoyment is detached from external stimuli. I don’t know what’s the best situation to enjoy a Weltschmerz song, nor do I know the worst situation… Once the music reaches its goal, and once I am fine with what I did, nothing else matters…”

When it comes to the Weltschmerz members’ influences and interests outside of music, they live up to the manifold scale of shades and thoughts their music reflects. From surreal art and esotericism to difference-making film (Jodorowsky, Kubrick, Gilliam etc.) and literature (Blake, Burroughs, Baudelaire), there is a strong stream of conscious artistic pulse to everything Weltschmerz deal with. Then, what of their country of origin, Italy? Are Weltschmerz proud bearers of the Italian lineage of exquisite artistic achievements, and, on the whole, what does being Italian mean to them?

“In my honest opinion, we should be proud of having so many good ‘dark music’ bands,” words Anthony. “Paul Chain, Death SS, Canaan,
Monumentum, Camerata Mediolanense, Kirlian Camera, Weimar Gesang, Ain Soph, Sigillum S, Ordeal, The Dead Relatives, Rosemary’s Baby, Neon, Colloquio to name a few.”

To name an endless few.

“Besides music, Italy is a strange place to live in,” the founding member continues. “It currently lacks national identity and illegal immigration is an increasing plague. However, Italy has formidable beauties concealed, unfortunately all of them in downfall.”

“I think Italian people do not have any kind of national identity,” reckons Mauro, “and as such it’s pretty hard to be proud of our place of birth. We are aware of our glorious past in many artistic fields, but today’s situation in our country is a pretty awful one, similar to any other so called ‘civilized’ place. The plague of commercial domination and of mass media control over the masses is very strong here right now.”

AMPLIFIED ENDING


It’s endtyme. Partly for dramatic reasons, partly for others, I ask Anthony and Mauro what it could be that gives Weltschmerz its thoroughly melancholic features. Where is the joie de vivre to be found, if anywhere.

“Joie de vivre is to be found in the current moment, whatever it is,” Anthony envisions. “Everything else in life is so illusory and short! Weltschmerz portraits strong, true emotions.”

Mauro accounts: “Joie de vivre? Not for me. Not now. Not in this life. Not here.”