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The contagious and the invisible

Ihsahn adn Ihriel, the creative duo be’ind “Peccatum”, about their third full length “Lost in Reverie”, an album that simply go further.

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Fabrizio Garau (FG): In an old interview, Ihsahn said: “Peccatum is art for art’s sake”. I think that “Lost in Reverie” is both “art for art’s sake” and some sort of new beginning for the band. Do you feel the same? What are your feelings towards the album?

Peccatum (P): When we initially chose this statement, we simply wanted to claim the freedom of our music. In retrospect, this was a somewhat naive and idealistic thought, as there is no such thing as complete freedom, especially not where the commercial forces are concerned. However, we still find “The Aesthetic Ideal”, which expressed in the commitment to art for the sake of art itself in Early Modernism, valid and appealing. For this album, the hard work that follows such a statement is definitely valid!

FG: A new beginning… I liked the way you experimented with the rhythmic section in some tracks. So, I would like to ask you about the collaboration with the drummer Knut Aalefjær.

P: Ihriel worked with him during the Star of Ash recordings, and as he is such a fantastic drummer, we chose to work with him also on this release. As for the work method, we sent him pre-productions with programmed drums and he interpreted it from there. Needless to say we are very pleased with his contribution to the album.

FG: Related to the previous question: are you fascinated by the new paths of electronic music (trip hop, breakbeat, nu jazz)?

P: I would say we are more fascinated by the sonic potential of the genres mentioned, rather than the musical expression. That’s said, we take great pleasure in acts like Radiohead, Múm, Jaga Jazzist etc.

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FG: Electronica and samples…That buzz of a thousand flies is absolutely fitting with the decaying atmospheres of some songs. How did the idea come out?

P: It is part of our musical interpretation of Theodor Kittelsen’s “Svartedauen” (The Black Plague).

FG: You (both Ihsahn and Ihriel) have collaborated with Kris Rygg. This time Tore Ylvizaker lends his ear in the mixing process. What can you tell me about your friendship, but especially about your artistic relationship with Ulver?

P: We have a great relationship with both, and high regard for their work. Over the years we’ve collaborate on bits and pieces, which is always a pleasure.

FG: In songs like “Parasite my heart” or “Black Star”, the guitar riffing becomes more and more schizoid, baroque (and digital technology plays a role, I suppose). I had the same impression listening to Emperor’s “Prometheus”. Maybe is a naïve question: Ihsahn, how much is difficult today to “invent” a new and effective (black) metal riff?

P: The Black Metal genre has evolved and surfaced during the last decade, and due to that new forms and outlets are increasing. This makes perhaps the creation of original black metal riffs more of a challenge. As for the more black metal oriented parts on “Lost in Reverie” they were actually not written and arranged by me, but by Ihriel.

FG: Someone who doesn’t know Star of Ash will notice a change in the way Heidi sings.
How did your vocal style evolve from the time of “Amor Fati”?

P: The vocals on this album are generally more upfront in the mix, something which in turn singles it out more, bringing the voice closer to the listener. We’ve left the more classical approach for a more experimental pop/rock oriented way of singing. Such vocals are not only easier to perform, but at present more adaptable to the new musical direction of Peccatum.

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FG: In the lyrics we find words like: swim, drown, water, sea, river, mud… Why did you choose “aquatic” metaphors for “Lost in Reverie”?

P: With “Lost in Reverie” we aimed to create a dark album able to whisper as well as shout. By taking the musical themes from their pure, simplistic forms over to their outer boundaries of the extreme, we’ve created songs with huge contrasts like “Black Star”. Lyrically, the dreamy and ruthless movement of both water and the long gone plague underlines the claustrophobic and unpredictable atmosphere we wished to create. In many ways “Lost in Reverie” paints the beauty of the mad, the contagious and the invisible.

FG: Peccatum were always poetic and “philosophical”; out of time, so to speak. Maybe this was slightly beginning in “Amor Fati”, but in “Lost in Reverie” we find something “prosaic” like a phone ringing or words like “polaroid”. Is modern and urban life becoming part of the landscape of your musical paintings?

P: Apart from the obvious contrasts to the more “epic” formulations, these “modern” elements are becoming natural means in our expression. This is also coherent with our implementation of digital and electronic compositional methods.

FG: This album shows often your intimate and “introverted” side, but you have “to spit your perception at the world”. Why does this happen?

P: Despite the fact that most lyrics on this album are told in first person, the narrator throughout this text is not equivalent to us. It is more a general voice that interprets his/her surroundings and his/her place within them. Be’ind the sentence “to spit your perception at the world” lays both resignation and warfare, and as the narrator looks at his/her own reflection he/she finds self contempt as well as contempt towards what lies outside this singular frame.

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FG: Maybe is related to the previous question. It’s written in the booklet:

“There is nothing I don’t dream,
there is nothing I don’t scream,” (Georges Bataille)

Could you comment it?

P: This excerpt was not chosen for its beauty alone, but also for its sweet screams of desire towards the impossible truthfulness. In addition to this we felt that it elaborated the album title in a very fitting way.

FG: The artwork is apparently simple, but superb. A big step forward, if confronted with that of “Amor Fati”. How much is important for you the visual aspect?

P: Thank you. We are very happy with how the artwork turned out this time. The greatest step forward for us was not only to work with the right people, but also to take control of all aspects concerning the final result of “Lost in Reverie”. With music being a very abstract art form, the visuals on an album becomes its clothing and how you’d like to present and elaborate it.

FG: What can you tell me about Mnemosyne Productions? How are you organizing the distribution of the album?

P: We’ve made a deal with the Norwegian company Voices Music & Entertainment, and they are handling the world-wide distribution for all Mnemosyne releases for now. “Lost in Reverie” is also licensed to The End Records in the US, and they will handle the North-American distribution and promotion. Mnemosyne productions is not just an outlet for our own projects, so we look forward to try and find new talent and start working with other artists as well. We believe in working closely with artists, and hopefully do some of the production work here in our studio.

Thank you for an interesting interview and greetings to all fans of dark music in Italy!


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