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des Esseintes

Les Diaboliques

Luckily, Magnus Sundström is again on Fucine Mute. This time I tried to understand what’s be’ind his project called des Esseintes, like the protagonist of “A rebours”. On the Fin de Siècle Media website des Esseintes is presented as his “more sinister alter ego”: when the amazing album “Les Diaboliques” will be in the cd player everyone will know why.

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFabrizio Garau (FG): After A Rebours, you continue your journey through decadence, entitling the album Les Diaboliques, like a collection of short stories by Barbey d’Aurevilly. What do you think about this eccentric man, both catholic and blaspheme, both conservative and provocative?

Magnus Sundström (MS): I think d’Aurevilly is a very good example of the duality of the human psyche. As someone said: “It’s up to each one of us to define who we are. The rest will become a self-fulfilling prophecy”.

FG: The artwork is a bit unusual for you: it seems that you have been inspired by Caesar Romero’s style.

MS: The previous des Esseintes releases have had rather abstract artwork, but for Les Diaboliques I wanted something with a more direct approach to the theme of the album. I have received some negative feedback regarding the aesthetics, but I like to think that the music and artwork make sense together. Nothing is deliberately inspired by Caesar Romero, but since I’m a fan of Adrian’s output it’s not impossible that it has influenced me in one way or another.

FG: In my interview with Peter/Negru Voda, he talked about his love for acts like Test Dept. and SPK. It seems that des Esseintes pay attention to old style industrial too. What’s your relationship with the renowned generation of pioneers of this form of expression (Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Test Dept.)?

MS: I grew up listening a lot to both SPK and Test Dept., and I’m still very fond of their work. When I started creating industrial music, I tried to combine the experimental electronic sounds of SPK with the aggressive rhythm of Test Dept. I think that this formula can be applied to my current material too, even if my methodology has changed over the years.

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFG: Peter also told me that the machinelike rhythms of Negru Voda are really important in his music: “The function is to try to re-create the environment I have been impressed by at my work”, he said. What’s the function of rhythm in des Esseintes?

MS: The rhythm is both a way of creating movement in a dramatic course of events as well as accentuating the core of the track. It’s also a rather simple and effective method to maintain the listener’s interest.

FG: Des Esseintes is not only old school industrial: could we say that sometimes is possible to see “The Protagonist” moving in the shadows of these harsh industrial soundscapes (I’m thinking about some neo-classical and cinematic “touches” you add to this album, i.e. “Closure”)?

MS: Both projects are similar in the way I want to explore the beauty in darkness, the biggest difference being the musical palettes used: des Esseintes gives me more freedom as I can use the instruments of a symphonic orchestra when composing, whereas I have chosen not to use “electronic” sounds in the music of The Protagonist. I want to keep it true to form.

FG: In Les Diaboliques my favourite one is “Due”. We can find also two remixes in the “AZ750HD” EP, where appears Darrin Verhagen (Shinjuku Thief). What can you tell me about this obsessive and mesmerising track?

MS: “Due” is one of my favourites too, and that’s why I decided to let Darrin rework it, with a very nice result! The original version is actually someone’s duality put to music. I don’t want to say too much though, as I think the listeners should make their own interpretation.

Immagine articolo Fucine Mute

FG: Who is Katarina Flakierska? In “Discontinued” and “Proclamation”, is she speaking a Slavic language? And what is she saying? Related to this: you toured in Lithuania and published Akala. How could you describe us the Lithuanian musical scene? To tell you the truth, I suppose that this country is totally unknown for Italian people.

MS: Katarina is my girlfriend, and although her last name is Polish the spoken word is in Swedish — excerpts from Baudelaire and Nietzsche about the nature of Woman. Yes I have performed in both Lithuania and Latvia, but I can’t say that I know very much about the music scene in those countries. However, there seems to be a growing interest in experimental electronic music, and I’m sure there are several great artists just waiting to be discovered.

FG: Let’s talk about industrial music and “live” exhibitions. I’ve seen important acts like Raison d’Être, and I noticed that having the constant attention of the audience is hard when you are not a rock band. What do you do in order to capture the attention of your audience?

MS: It’s certainly a problem when you’re just one person and lots of equipment. I try to play as much as possible live, so I play keyboard, percussion and also a theremin-like effect. In addition to this, I have video projections which give the performance an extra dimension.

FG: Fin De Siècle Media is going to re-propose an act called Contrastate. What can you tell us about this particular choice and about this cult project?

MS: Well, Contrastate has been one of my favourite projects since the release of “A Live Coal Under the Ashes”. They are masters of mixing dark abstract sound sculptures with a twisted sense of humor (which might not always be obvious). After I met Jonathan and Stephen in London, I realised that some of their stuff is quite hard to find but definitely worth making accessible to people. I approached them about re-releasing their debut LP as well as putting together a collection of all their compilation contributions as well as single tracks and unreleased material. They happily accepted, and in two weeks from now both albums will arrive from the pressing plant. Unfortunately they split up several years ago, but Stephen is still making music under the monicker “Srmeixner”, and I’m proud to announce his next album on Fin de Siècle Media after the summer.

Immagine articolo Fucine Mute

FG: On the Fin De Siècle Media website you tell us what’s “spinning in the office”.
As a listener, are you into different kind of electronic music?

MS: Yes, I usually have a small list of current favourite albums listed on the website. I guess it’s my way of showing that I listen to a wide range of music, for instance industrial, electronica, post-rock and classical. At the moment I’m into Bronnt Industries Kapital, Plone, Tunng, Inga Liljestrom and Band of Pain. Which reminds me that I need to update the list…

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