authors: VITRIOL & stark
This Canadian ritual black ambient project has been our guest already twice (reviews of “Fragments from the Aethyr” and “Nightside Emanations”), so it’s quite obvious that we hold Funerary Call in high esteem, and the interview is just a matter of time. So here it is, have a nice reading.
Why did you choose music to express your feelings instead of any other form of art?
I make my living painting and sculpting so I felt the need to vent and extend my creativity through other forms of media.
Funerary Call always seemed to me as a respected project, but also distanced, standing aside, focused entirely on its music. Tell me honestly, is it by any means important to you, what people say about Funerary Call, and the so-called “fans”?
Ultimately, I make music for myself. It is always encouraging though when you receive positive feedback from your listeners or accolades from your peers. I especially appreciate it when someone takes the time to express how it affected them physically or emotionally. There are many subtle and subconscious layers to my music so it takes a perceptive listener to appreciate the true intent.
One of your albums, “The Black Root” has been released by the Polish label Fluttering Dragon, which by this time is long gone and isn’t remembered in a good way by some people. How do you recall your cooperation with Xak?
I remember it taking him a long time to release this… Probably a year or two longer than promised but it did finally surface and I was happy to see it produced on vinyl. Perhaps not the best business person but Fluttering Dragon did release some memorable titles back in its day.
Every other Funerary Call album is released in a different label (not counting “The Black Root” reissue). Is it coincidental or intentional action? Is it hard to find the perfect label for Funerary Call?
No, it’s not intentional. I like to work with folks who are honorable and truly devoted to their work. Karl at Fall of Nature has been extremely supportive so I will continue to work with him as long as he’s interested in releasing my work. Malignant and Crucial Blast have both been great to work with as well.
Your music is closely linked to the “dark side” of magickal practice, and to my understanding is the product of personal occupation with the occult. What is the path you follow, and what has been the deciding factor that has led you to choose it?
I do not follow or practice any one predetermined set of religious rites or philosophies. My interest in the occult leans towards the darker side because it’s what I’m naturally drawn to. I have always been attracted to the classic dark archetypes and supernatural entities that rule the chthonic realms in myth and religion. I find great inspiration in the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft so it makes sense that I also have a great appreciation for the work of Kenneth Grant. My personal practices are rooted in a very practical, hands in the earth approach. Although I recognize that there is no true darkness without light, I currently continue to focus my energy on exploring the dark inner pathways that work towards my own spiritual illumination.
How does this path represent you as a person and as a musician?
As a person it represents and reflects the nature of what motivates and compels my creative being. As a musician it represents the output or product of this creativity. My drive to create music is more of an obsession at this point… I often feel that it’s beyond my control!
The occult aura which is characteristic for your music was trivialized by many metal and dark ambient/industrial bands over the years, don’t you think? Any thoughts about this general attitude?
It seems very fashionable these days to use esoteric imagery randomly without purpose or true interest. To do so just for the sake of dramatic effect, cheapens the art and detracts from its potency.
During the recordings what kind of ritual items, instruments and equipment do you normally use, or do they vary from recording to recording? Would you say the ritual aspect is dominant in the recording process, or the technical one?
Instruments used in the recording process range from found objects such as rocks, wood, metal, and bones, to an assortment of ritual implements; chimes, bells, gongs, rattles and kangling. These instruments are then manipulated further through the use of various effects boxes, analog and digital hardware, etc. Synth layers are also added for greater depth and atmosphere, in addition to chanting and vocal effects. Although some of the instruments used are considered traditional ritual instruments, I would say that the “ritual” aspect is more dominant in the recording process. For myself, the whole process is a form of ritual.
The music can be created as a devotional hymn in honor of a specific force or deity. Glorification through sonic frequencies, or invocation via a specific tone or pitch.
Since the project’s beginning in 1994, Funerary Call has been a constantly evolving process that never strictly adheres to a specific genre. To confirm that you have presented two very different releases this year, “Fragments from the Aethyr”, which contains a lot of experimental elements, and “Nightside Emanations”, which brings the Funerary Call black ambient sound closer to its organic, ritual roots so to speak. Is this a direction that you intend to further explore in the future?
I’m very happy with the way both of these releases turned out so I imagine I will continue to explore these sorts of soundscapes again in the future. But as you mentioned, Funerary Call is project that is always evolving. We will have to wait and see what the next recordings have in store…
Are you interested in what’s going on in ambient/experimental scene? Perhaps there is some artist or album that has particularly impressed you lately?
It’s not something I follow closely but I do keep an ear out for new and interesting artists. Lately, I’ve been revisiting the work of Conrad Schnitzler, early Tangerine Dream and The Taj Mahal Travellers. Not new by any means but it’s what I’ve been listening to.
You have chosen a painting (“The Praetorian”) by the excellent Russian artist Denis Forkas Kostromitin, for the cover of “Nightside Emanations”. Why this particular painting and how is it linked to the album’s concept?
The exterior Praetorian image was Denis’s interpretation of, or what was inspired by, the advance tracks I had sent him from the album. After seeing his initial sketches, I felt that he had captured the album’s subject matter perfectly! The quote from Virgil (“Obscuris vera involvens / Truth is enveloped by obscurity”) is something Denis had mentioned he recalled while listening to the album… “The ghostly guardian represents brief vigil of the day, the protector of terror and nightmare, the “white shield” of waking world, the conscious mind. Still, he is nothing but a curious manifestation of night’s breath and will always be overshadowed by the unconscious Emperor who shrouds every step we take”, to quote Denis directly.
How do you feel about live performances, and are there, in your opinion, certain limitations with presenting your music to the public? What would be the ideal conditions for a Funerary Call live performance?
Yes, I definitely feel as though there are limitations when it comes to presenting this type of music to a live audience. Especially when it comes to recreating what one might hear on record vs what one person can physically achieve live. I have few musician friends that I call upon from time to time to help with live shows but generally I prefer to work alone. The challenge with being a solo performer is that I have to rely on using more sample based material so that I can focus on the vocals or other real time instrumentation. There is also the issue of where you play, who you play with, and what sort of audience is in attendance. I generally prefer to play with artists, and to an audience, that share similar interests; philosophically and spiritually. Unfortunately, this is something that cannot always be controlled. Positive or negative, every live performance is an experiment and a new learning experience.
I suppose an ideal Funerary Call live performance would take place on a moonlit night in Autumn, secluded deep in the woods, or near the ocean.
Any future plans for Funerary Call?
Currently recording tracks for a new release on Cyclic Law.