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Manes

Audio-esploration

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFabrizio Garau (FG): It’s nice to listen to a new Manes record, even if it’s only an Extended Play: congratulations. What’s happened between 2003 and 2005?

“Cern” Thor Helge Skei (C): Hello. We played a few live shows here in Norway, and have worked on some new stuff, sorting ideas, preparing for a new assault, some compilation album appearances, re-releasing ancient stuff….

Torstein Parelius (TP): Wow man, we’re off to a flying start I see. We’ve kept ourselves busy doing a little of this and a little of that. First of all we’ve been doing a lot of gigs, I guess (compared to none at all), as Cern mentions. We’ve had the chance to play with some bands we really respect and enjoy, like Isis and Katatonia, and we’ve also done a few festivals. Some old stuff has been re-released, some new stuff has been released and some even newer stuff has been conceived and assembled. Where will it end?

FG: On this recording we have a cover of “Cinder Alley” by 16 Horsepower: these guys play country music, but dark/punk people like them; the lyrics are something written by an imaginary son of Nick Cave raised by a Lutheran preacher. It’s funny, because a long time ago you were the terrible black metal band with the skeleton of an angel as cover artwork, but I suppose that’s not only a question of fun. Could you explain this choice to our readers?

TP: The choice was easy. We narrowed down our options, when we figured we’d do a coversong for the [view] EP, to land on “Cinder Alley”. This has nothing to do with the past of Manes, nor the “dark/punk” people that may or may not enjoy the music of 16 Horsepower. We like’em, and there’s not much more to it than that. We found that this song had a lot of potential to become an OK version by us, so there you have it. Prior to landing on this particular song we were contemplating songs by Albino Slug, Joy Division, Amon Düül II, Darkthrone, Hawkwind etc.

C: It has a great dark and negative vibe, so it suited us fine, and we felt we could something in our style with it. We considered a few others (Joy Division, Albino Slug, Aphex Twin…), but found that “Cinder Alley” had an atmosphere we could build upon. I know 16hp is considered more or less a Christian band, but manes is neither black or white, but both, at the same time, without being grey… nonsense (laughs)

Immagine articolo Fucine Mute

FG: Another “cover” (you say “somewhat inspired”) is your particular version of “A View to a kill” (or should I write “A [View] to a kill”?) by Duran Duran. As Nine Inch Nails, Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein, you have metal roots, but you are exploring electronic music. The bands mentioned above have paid their tribute to some electro/pop godfathers (to name a few: Gary Numan, Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Kraftwerk) with a cover song. Are you doing the same?

C: Not really. I kind of have a laugh at the expense of most 80-ish synth-pop bands. Plastic and nylon. Fake and too clean. I like some of the bands you mentioned, like NIN and Depeche Mode, not because they are “synth-bands”, but the vibes and moods they create. Eivind came up with the Duran idea some time ago. We didn’t really seriously consider it at first, but decided to try it out in the studio. It became quite interesting, so…

TP: I don’t think any of us are “exploring electronic music”, by your definition. We all listen to all kinds of music, be it electronic or analogue. Personally, I don’t feel that any “electro/pop” bands could be qualified to be called my godfathers in any way, but we acknowledge their existance. And another thing; I don’t like Duran Duran at all, maybe apart from a childish nod of nostalgia to some of their songs like “Wild Boys”. The reason for going through with this “inspired song” had more to do with the whole concept of the cover and some of the lyrical passages, and later fueled by the creative layering that happened during the recording-sessions. It turned out cool in spite of the original, I would say.

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFG: Talking about electro/pop: the new songs, “The neoflagellata revision” and “Kinfe and kleenex”, have really catchy rhythms. Did you ever played them live? I think you must do it…

C: Yes, we do/did. After Vilosophe, we wanted to try something different when playing live, instead of just repeating what we did in the studio. So, we did a few more up-beat, adrenaline tracks, and with this EP, we “just” wanted to give them a proper studio dressing.

TP: Yeah, they were more-or-less created as “live” songs. We wanted to experiment more with the live-setting, so we arranged two new songs back in early 2004 before we were to play the Inferno festival in Oslo. These two were never recorded, so we had no “blueprint” as to what they “had to be” or anything. We experimented a little with live percussion and two vocals, and they soon became “regulars” in our set, so to speak. As these “live-versions” were their only form and their sole intention really were just as “live-songs”, we never even considered to include them in any full-length album format. We basically just had to get rid of them on an EP or something. And that we did. Thy are not representative for our direction ahead at all.

FG: We have also three remixes of “Terminus a quo/Terminus ad quem” by Cordell Klier and Dj Don Tomaso. Did you ever thought to write a new song with one of them?

C: Why not? Could be interesting. The new album will feature a few “guest” appearances, so it could fit into the concept… Klier approached us about these remixes (or re-makes), and we were really excited about it. They were so different, so fucked up compared to the originals. To have them on the EP kind of shows that we want to break every kind of expectation and hopes people might have from our new stuff. Don’t feel too safe, we might have something much, much less acceptable stuff on new releases… or not… depends on the situation there and then.

TP: …and it depends on the expectations. We would want to break free from all kinds of expectations, really. Everything should be acceptable, only divided by taste. And multiplied by emotions. We’ll be working with many “external sources” on our next output, and maybe also some we’ve worked with earlier. We’ll see.

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFG: I’m not Norwegian, so giving a correct interpretation of the artwork it’s hard for me. Could you help me?

C: We used Norwegian in the artwork so that non-Norwegians would feel a bit alienated, and it would destroy the whole reason if we translated it for you. The mystique and not knowing everything is more important than the proper English meaning, I think… also, if people are trying to interpret it themselves, we have acquired our goals. The things between the lines are just as (if not more) important as the lines themselves… same with “lyrics” and samples. The feeling people have in their mind after listening to the EP, is very interesting. There seems to be two kinds of main reactions, those who like the traditional song structures and hate the weirdness, and those who read between the lines, and do their own interpretation. But please don’t try to put any words in our mouths. Hopefully, people will never really understand Manes, or what we are trying to do: follow us on our journey, or find something else… “the journey is the goal”

TP: If you want a “correct answer” to your personal questions about the cover, you won’t get any. There are no correct interpretations, they are just interpretations. The Norwegian words are Norwegian because only Norwegians or people that has learned Norwegian can read them. We have not written them in Esperanto, nor Mandarin or English, but yeah, Norwegian. If you can’t find out by yourself, I guess you didn’t wanna know. And that’s ok. There definitely is some sort of concept to the cover this time ’round, maybe even more so than on Vilosophe, and we wanted to do that to kinda tie things up a little since the actual music on [view] is rather “multi-directional”…

FG: Could you please explain to our readers something about the line-up? Asgeir (but we can call him Ozzy Bowie or David Osbourne) is the lead singer, but we have also Emil and Tommy…

C: Asgeir is not really the lead-singer… we have no vocalists in the core line-up, but have been using various external people. Current line-up (current means here and now, today, will probably change tomorrow, or yesterday?): cern.th.skei, Eivind Ford, Torstein Parelius, Rune Hoemsnes… Additionally: Asgeir, Emil, Trine. Live: Tor Arne, Tommy. and more…

TP: On [view] I guess we could call Emil the “lead singer”… and Asgeir sing a little on [view] too. We’ll probably work with them both again on upcoming stuff and/or events, but nothing is certain. We’ve got a semi-acoustic gig coming up in about a week where we’ll have a four-piece formation including vocalist Trine, so I wouldn’t call us consistent in anything we do.

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFG: Cern seems to be the responsible of the impressive electronic development of your music: from jungle to trip hop, from ambient to electro/pop. Eivind plays guitar also in Atrox, a metal band with a progressive and anarchist approach to composition. I would like to know something more about their musical background/history.

C: I started doing music back in 1988 or something in Atrox. In ’93 I left to concentrate on Manes. I have been using computers and digital equipment since before the 1st Manes demo, and it’s all natural evolution and progress (regress?). During the years, the computer have slowly almost completely taken over the role as my main “instrument”, but I still enjoy doing some metal-riffing now and then. Next step could be to get a midi mic/pickup for the guitar, some knob-twiddling equipment, and other audio generators, more realtime audio mangling and fuckups. And, I don’t feel there is any development or progress really, it’s just about trying out things and see/hear what works. If all bands could stop caring about rules, boundaries and what other people expect, things could be looking bright again… mind-fucks for the masses, he…

Eivind has kept Atrox alive for the last 15 years or something now (www.atrox.biz), and it has evolved through a lot of different phases. Death metal, doom, rock, prog, whatever. Also, check out Torsteins other band at www.chton.com.

FG: To tell you the truth, I’m also interested in the role of Rune Hoemsnes, ‘cause he plays in The Third and the Mortal: they were a “gothic” metal band, but now they’re something like the Norwegian Portishead and one of my favourite acts. Does he contribute to the songwriting?

C: He have already contributed extremely much: vibe, style, feeling. His drumming is absolutely marvellous, and suit us extremely well. Hopefully he will do even more actual song-creation within Manes. Currently he is doing his own great “project” called Calmcorder (www.calmcorder.com)

TP: I would never mix the word “gothic” with anything related to 3rd and the Mortal, but that’s just me. Rune is as involved in Manes as he wish to be, and he’s worked a little on some new Manes stuff now also with some programming and sequencing. Right now, however, he’s working hard on getting some feedback on his new stuff with Calmcorder, so go check it out!

Immagine articolo Fucine MuteFG: On your MySpace page, someone wrote that you’re “scientists of unknown music”. I think that’s not a perfect definition, because you’re not scientists (you are anarchists), but it symbolises that you are achieving the status of innovators.

In the Norwegian scene, that was/is the role of a band like Ulver: from this particular point of view (innovation/research), what are the bands you perceive as similar to you?

C: Interesting comment, but, on the other hand, I think “pure crap” is a just as interesting reaction… we are not really anarchists either. We don’t want to break any rules, or destroy any conformity… we just want to avoid it all… Similar bands… don’t know… haven’t been looking around for new bands too much lately…

We have been compared to a lot of different stuff (Katatonia, Aphex Twin, Ulver, Radiohead, etc), but I can’t see the similarities. I feel we are living on the edges, borders between a few musical styles, and some people seem to have a hard time accepting that we are not “pure” this or that.. Music is about audio exploration, not repetition, rules or correctness. I personally change taste from day to day. Some days it’s purely cut-up/glitch/drill/d’n’b, other days it can be Autopsy or Hellhammer. Right now I listen mostly to commercial radio, and some stuff like Brothomtates, Venetian Snares, Mogwai and more.

TP: If I piss a yellow heart in the snow, it doesn’t mean that I love you.

FG: Two albums in the near future: “Invention — or how the world came to an end and why we did it” and “Be all//End all”. What can you tell me about this project?

C: Quite high ambitions, kind of like a crossroad, but instead of just choosing one way, we try all. And it also gives out an opportunity to separate the various abstract musical ideas into two more concrete directions. “Invention” will be more or less a concept/theme album, while “Be All // End All” more direct and hard.

TP: The title “Invention” came as a result of a lengthy discussion Cern and me had about music, art, pop, creativity, ambition and other select topics. The “concept” around the upcoming album “Invention” (and this is still to be considered a working-title) is not based around this discussion, but as I said we were talking about the creation of albums on a very general level. About how each album could be considered a stand-alone work of art, and where to draw the line, let’s say; between the different sections in your local music shop. Do you find the “art” in the “Classical Music” section, or in the “Electronica” section? Is there a difference? Many painters should/must be regarded in light of their era or generation, but should an album be seen as a part of era or part of a (back)catalogue? Well, yeah … quite vague, but still… that was the initial interest in the word “invention” since each and every album is a new invention, so to speak, and has no criteria to fulfil nor any rules that need to be followed. Ok, you get my drift. How the world came to an end can still remain a mystery (laughs). The “why” too. Later alligator.

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