BLOOD INSIDE | INTERVIEWS | REVIEWS | PRESS RELEASE|
THE HOSPITAL DOOR IS AJAR...
Written by Martijn Busink
Musique Machine August 2005
Light seeps through. Yours truly has been patient, doctor G. has answered my call to tell us what it is all about.
m[m] All the writers whose words you resorted to seem to have gnostic and mystical leanings (to put it mildly), does art need this foundation in your eyes?
G. Of course not. We like to fuck up in the dark. Others fuck out in the sunshine. Matters of predilection.
m[m] Do you speak Portuguese? I wonder because I read a different, more literal English translation of "Christmas" and the inner sense seemed to be more vivid to me than on the one used on Blood Inside, which on the other hand is more poetic. Have you considered singing the original poem in Portuguese?
G. Nah. English is hard enough, especially when Samuel Beckett is your touchstone. Our version of "Christmas" combines two different English translations. As you might know, I did live in Portugal during childhood, but I attended English preliminary and secondary school. And my Portugese is... well, not exactly silver. These days I'm involved in this band, SinDRomE, from said country. It's a ball to recall words from my childhood. Daniel certainly has a lot of fun.
m[m] SinDRomE, I assume, involves a lot of datatraffic between Norway and Portugal? How did it come about?
G. Yeah, the physical world is out of date. I'm sending nanoagents. Anyway, this guy, Daniel Cardoso, bombed my mail box until he got my attention. I gave him a finger, he took the hand. He's charming that way.
m[m] As far as I can tell, you called yourself a Satanist until Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell, do you still consider yourself such?
G. I think I lost the label somewhere. Satanist? That's hollow. A mask. I have many masks. They look good on the wall and all, but there's no face behind.
m[m] You recently posted a Céline quote on the Jesterboard which seemed to have a similar idea behind it as the Rimbaud lyric you used on the Metamorphosis album and it might also connect a bit to "It Is Not Sound". Do you feel you have insights that the masses don't see and do you feel you have to educate them?
G. Nah, it's just altruism. I am a very concerned citizen. And hey, I have another quote for you: "A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the — not always greatly hopeful — belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps." (Paul Célan) That, I think, is akin to my own "humble" disposition toward this subject.
m[m] On the last two releases (A Quick Fix of Melancholy and Blood Inside) Scott Walker's Tilt seems an inspiration.
G. Fuck, I've been a fan of Scott Walker ever since Lars Pedersen of When introduced me to him and Tilt is a beauty. Now that you say it, I see. Something. You know, I might just have a guilty subconscious.
m[m] A Quick Fix of Melancholy also seemed a direct tribute to Coil. m[m]-writer François already pointed out in his review that "Doomsticks" refers to "Original Chaostrophy" and that "Red Birds will Fly out of the East and Destroy Paris in a Night" is pseudo-quoted in "Vowels"; and also thinks that the third track might be connected to another Coil tune that he is unfamiliar with.
G. You know that François is a dweeb don't you? He's seeing things that aren't.
m[m] Have there ever been plans to collaborate with Coil [beyond posing together for a picture], or have such things actually happened? Would you like to say anything about the loss of Balance?
G. Well, he finally lost it, Balance, and wound up dead. Not a very promising condition. It is really sad. Things happen. Unluckily. Nothing between Coil and Ulver. The ship has sailed.
m[m] While the Norwegian black metal scene seems to have transformed into more electronic and industrial sounding post-black realms, the world seems more 'necro' than ever. Black metal has even garnered some recognition from the 'beardscratchers', probably thanks to the propaganda of Steve O'Malley (Sunn0))), Khanate). What are your thoughts on that?
G. I really don't have any strong feelings about it. I've noticed it's in vogue, that British music magazine The Wire is reviewing albums they'd never touch a couple of years ago. But keep in mind that Merzbow, Kevin Drumm and Kid 606 and other heroes have been very publicly loving hateful black metal lately and I'm sure you've noticed how they are all... well, at the risk of never ever getting another write-up there myself, unashamed hipsters. Campy camp. It is hardly surprising.
m[m] This album's title has changed a few times. Why did it eventually become what it is?
G. Utopian Enterprises is a title we all like and it goes back to Perdition City and some ideas stemming from that period, but as the lyrics took form it did not fit anymore. Then there was the Heart Album. Even we thought that was a bit pretentious. So Jørn and I are walking/talking outside one night trying to figure out what it is all about. Thinking only in key words: heart, blood, red, rose, beauty, violence, body, life, death, ambulance, hospital and so forth. Then it struck us: Blood Inside.
m[m] The other Ulver members Tore Ylwizaker and Jørn H. Sværen remain somewhat hidden, with you always as spokesman on top of being the singer. Are you the leader or is the work situation much different?
G. For various reasons public relations is my cross to bear, but we are three at the height. In it together, hands folded. We believe that who did what is not important. Ulver is. 3 or 33. It wouldn't make a difference.
m[m] Guestmusicians are an important part of Ulver. Are they following instruction, or do they sometimes have a bigger say in the creative process?
G. Well, none of us are instrumentalists per se. We need help, but we are the sick making the calls.
m[m] The barcode seems to stress Ulver's music as product, what's your view on 'the arts' as a commercial item?
G. What can I say? The soul is on sale! For further proof go to eBay.
I'm not sure there's any real dichotomy between culture and commerce. Andy Warhol corresponds from beyond the grave: "Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art of all."
m[m] What aural pleasures will be turned into marketable items in the near future? Either for Ulver products as well as Jester releases.
G. Kåre João's 2 is next. An excellent "rock" album. Kinda like Black Sabbath, Stooges, Kraftwerk and Can in one. Ulver is planning to edit some CD versions of filmscores we did recently. A DVD. Otherwise it's quiet. In the dark.
m[m] A DVD?
G. Yeah, an assemblage of the music videos, some live footage and interviews, Jester recording artists ridiculing themselves, you know. I'm hoping for it to be ready by the end of the year.
m[m] "Loud howls the eternal Wolf! The eternal Lion lashed his tail!" Does the ulv have the solar aspiration to become a løve or is it at ease playing its lunar role?
G. Good one. I'd contend your Norwegian superior to my Portugese. Been reading Amerika too? Never easy.
m[m] Your relationship with William Blake seems a steady one. Can you describe what fascinates you in his works?
G. You know, I've wanted to write my Trickster's degree on that for some time now. There is a lot to Blake. Too much for here and now. A gargantuan artist. Rebel, child and old sage. His work has meant a lot to me. More than anyone and/or anything else.
As a bonus, m[m] has been granted the honour to publish a lyric that has not been used (yet):
a seared red sea
dead history is
delivered and divided
in the line of the nile
raised the house
of hades and the dead
opened the book
in sinai sin is a
a limnal animal
existing in exile
for forty years
the desert rests
let the letters tell
imagine the enigma