29.5.2012

Manes interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)


God Is in the Details

Interview: Kuronen

and how the World Came to an End has them in spades. Details, that is. Manes from Trondheim, now departed from this world and transformed into Kkoagulaa, could not have left with a more radiant album. How the World Came to an End is a more layered and textured, if you will a more “postmodern” work than its predecessor Vilosophe; one that builds up more intensely from fragments and small bits and pieces than the still quite traditional arrangements and instrumentations of its predecessor. It is stylistically more varied and tremendously invigorating as such, traveling from out-and-out hip hop to dub, bumping nuanced electronica on the way and fortifying things with Vilosophe-styled indie melancho rock.

Many of the tracks on the album illustrate a rather abstract and serene approach to making songs and sound. “Abstract with extra detail” is not an oxymoron, mind. The exceptions are “Deeprooted” and “A Cancer in Our Midst” which are of a markedly thumping, bass-oriented and chunky nature. For the most part, the organic and the synthetic seem to have switched places from Vilosophe, the synthetic now enjoying the limelight. It is easy to see that the recording process deviates from the “traditional plug’n’play record-yer-bits-sonny fashion”, as Manes so sharply express it. One particularly admirable nuance in the music is the manner in which speech samples are integrated into the songs.

It is like a work of science. Challenging as it is, How the World… offers a good opportunity to ask, why is being analytical appreciated? The immediate answer is that noticing details brings mental satisfaction. Being capable of smashing something to its particles and building it up again, perhaps with the Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis construction, adds to the understanding of processes. The sum can be a lot more than its parts. If there is any number of details involved, they are there for a reason; as innocent by-product, unnoticed error, jewels for those who seek, or merely for the possibility of having them there.

Comments Cern aka. Tor-Helge Skei: “I always make music and audio, all kinds of stuff, all kinds of styles and genres, from tiny small patterns and loops to sound presets, samples, riffs, short arrangement tests, etc, etc. Additionally I get passed a lot of material from Eivind and Torstein, and this time also a lot from the collaborators. When the time came to start thinking about an album, we listened through all this, sorted them, discussed them, tried to “feel” them… Then started messing around more concretely, like deciding what to keep, and what to discard… Slowly things started to take on some distinct feeling or atmosphere, and we built upon that even more… And at the same time we let collaborators and contributors have their go at their own things on these ideas too. Studio work this time was divided between a few different studios, for testing, for additional vocals, for mixing, and so on… So, any 'band-feeling', line-up considerations, etc, was totally set aside. We didn't have one single rehearsal, no single riff or pattern or loop meant anything, except when put into context with the rest.

“It started not too unlike how we began before, but this time, we decided to let the atmospheres in the original ideas stay for much longer, becoming the major parts in the final versions, and not always replace things with the traditional guitar/voc/bass/drums + extras instrumentation. We decided that who plays what, how much and when etc. was not important at all, not even how many people were involved, or what they did or anything… In one way everything was much more open and free, more radical, more new ways of working, but on the other hand, we wanted to do a more focused, much darker and negative album than the last one, very directional, kind of two opposing interests always fighting for attention.

“I always record a lot of stuff, like documentaries, movies, television, household items, my dog, whatever that makes sound and makes another sample in an already gigantic sample library. Later, we wade through these, when trying out new approaches, or different ways of doing things… Listening to, or creating stuff that I have heard before in some way or another doesn’t interest me at all, so I always kind of try a new way, a new focus or whatever, combining things that I don’t think will fit together, then trying to get them to work anyway. It’s not like we go hunting for a ‘speech sample’ or whatever. Normally things like that is the starting point, and we meddle around it with instruments, sounds, to enhance it even further, and before we know it, a new song/idea is beginning to take shape.”

Adding to the science atmosphere of late conundrums by Manes is that it seems the members often viewed their works in a vacuum that has no relation to the social dimension. They disregarded the reviews Vilosophe got for the reason of feeling that the album led a life of its own. It was the music that mattered. They also knew that a band's cult following has to do with people's opinions on the band, not the actual music (the text) itself. Yet one is inclined to ask, with what technique can you wholly distinguish the text, the opus, the musical work from the social environment in which it is interpreted?

“That social aspect of modern music business is really killing my interest in any ‘scene’ or genre,” says Skei. “For example, I think people going to concerts are doing it more for socializing then the music, de-grading the music. And reviews and critics, thinking they understand what an artist feels or thinks, or why a band does this or that or whatever, going on for ages about the importance of a piece of art… Artificially giving themselves more weight, more importance. Why should others really care about what one single person experiences when listening to music? Is it something like, ‘Listen, I know what I'm talking about, I'm important’, or is it more like, “He thinks it is good, so I need to think that too, or I obviously understand what it's all about’ or something? I don't know, and have stopped caring…

For an end, let’s expand the science thematic with a small questionnaire.

A) What theoretical or pragmatic stance do you personally or Manes collectively have towards the advancement of science? Do you think such an evolution of science actually exists or is it simply one of the fabricated grand narratives Lyotard speaks of?

“I'm not familiar with the Lyotard bloke you mention… Sounds a bit like 'retard', he. But well, ‘evolution’ is more or less an abstract thought or concept, isn't it? Evolve, change, move forward, etc… Just a common name for doing things ‘different than last time’? Is progress and evolution ‘important’? I like to not make a grand, final decision on such subjects, but like to think and consider things that we take for granted, and re-evaluate things. but generally, I think reality exist only inside our heads, that reality is really more or less an illusion, a straw we cling on to, to give our existence meaning.

B) What would you say is the greatest invention of science or technology?

“For mankind? For the earth/universe? Or for me personally? The greatest invention for one might be the most massive disaster for others… And another thing, is the state we are in now that much better than how they lived their lives in the stone age? It's different, of course, but better? I don't know, I haven't tried all variants, only the current one, which, in general, is total shit. You can say that mastering things at the atomic scale was/is a major invention or break-through, but look at what they are doing with it.

C) If Manes was some technological or mental innovation of science, what would that innovation be?

“Napalm, zyklon b, uranium, cancer, silicon.”

D) What would you deem are the most harmful effects the discoveries of science have on the modern Western citizen?

“Being the animals we really are, everything will be used for power and money only, but maybe giving some side-effects so that we believe things are 'good for mankind'. Nobody would 'invent' or make things for anything else than personal prestige, money, fame, power, etc. We are just animals, after all. Mother Theresa guaranteed had some personal reasons for doing what she did, be it a feeling of 'I mean something' or whatever… Same with Gandhi, Hitler, Bush.”

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