Thursday, May 8, 2014

Morko Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band since the  recording and release of the new album?

- Well, the current situation might be best described as deadpan stasis. The two other members of the band left during the final stage of production and release of "Itsensänimeävä" and I'm also quite unkeen on continuing to work under the name Mörkö. So at the moment the actions are narrowed to promoting our albums, hoping to find new listeners.

 2.In October the band released a new album, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical direction of the new recording and also how does it differ from your past releases?

- "Itsensänimeävä" is by far our most complex and multilayered release. That is not to say that it is a particularly complex piece of work in any other sense than in comparison to a more primitive edged "III" (2001) and the downright minimalistic "IV"(2008). The direction in which the new album headed early on sprung from an interest towards deeper structures through basic compositional techniques. This awakened a new interest in metal riffing, which had been absent for some while back in 2009 when the making of the album started. "IV" was seemingly a deadend. It would have been difficult, and potentially pretentious, to try and go further in that direction. So, after a year of digestion of ideas an entirely different approach began to form. Basically it was the very original idea of having riffs. Talking about re-inventing the wheel.

 3.The band has been around since the 90's, but so far has only released 3 albums and 2 demo's, can you tell us a little bit more about the gap between releases?

- I think the primary reason for the gaps is that we never wanted to repeat ourselves. We wanted to avoid doing the same album over and over again. This had its pros and cons. Some ideas might have been worth improving or re-exploring. On the other hand there is a sense of a fresh discovery in each album. After all, black metal has always been - in one point of view - a way of stepping outside boundaries of the status quo, being it personal reality or cultural norms. In the time of their making all the albums were genuinely interesting to us. Apparently it took years for new ideas to come. But, there was also other bands in which each of us were involved, exploring other ideas and channeling different aspects.

4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?

- The underlying theme of the new album, in one word, is death. Not only fetishizing over the final stages of the organism, but more on an archetypal level. Death as a function of the wheel of life.
Yet it is much more concrete and even carnal in its approach if paired with the quite abstract "horror vacui"-themed "IV", which was mirroring the horrors of the mind at gaze with the absolute. There seems to be some sort of lurking at the threshold going on in these themes. All our thoughts, the on-going stream of words in our head, are already dead, defined. With the relatively recently contacted possibilities of the neocortex we are basically scavenger monkeys in a space ship fighting over the chance of who gets to scratch his ass on the control board instead of learning any of its functions. So, every now and then the monkey gets a glimpse of something from beyond its narrow mechanical perception. To somehow recover from the shock and organize the new areas suddenly opened it may engage in creative activity and digest its experiences into a piece of some cultural formation. But, unfortunately, the "traditional" way is to seek the fastest way back to the mechanic routine and despise everything that reminds of the hideous experience of non-omni-control.

 5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Morko'?

- Mörkö is an ancient Finnish word. It refers to dark, unspoken things in a community. Also often used as a name for vague childhood fears, something oppressive hiding in the dark. Also the bear, the king of the forest, is in some parts of Finland called mörkö. I cannot recall the precise inspiration for the name, we took it to ourselves by the suggestion of H.Talvenmäki in 1999. It seemed proper, even though the word is perhaps most famously used by Tove Jansson in her children's books, which actually have quite a strong atmosphere, by the way. I think this caused some people to hold an attitude against the band. But, it's a shame how shallow taste of their own language many people have. But anyway, the logic behind that attitude has always been a peculiar mystery to me. After all, we are talking about a scene which basically looks up on bands which took their names from Tolkien. And are perhaps one of the most eager marketers of the christian tradition nowadays.

 6.Has the band done any live shows or is this a studio project?

- We haven not done any live shows. I have always sensed some sort of dull dissonance between the rock gig culture and black metal.

7.The new album was distributed by  Ahdistuksen Productions, can you tell us  a little bit more about it?

- Well, Ilkka at Ahdistuksen Aihio kindly offered to distribute and promote the album. And for this, I believe I can speak on behalf of the whole band, we are very thankful to him. 

 8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

- Our two earlier albums are lacking a proper release and distribution, currently only available on cd-r, so yes, we would be very interested in finding a label to put them out in a proper way. Some offerings to release our two first demos were received some years ago, but we didn't take that chance back then. My view on that is a varying one. Also "Itsensänimeävä" is currently only released as a limited vinyl edition, so putting it simply, all our work is waiting for a proper cd release. And also vinyl releases of "III" and "IV" would be a great thing!

 9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of  black and doom metal?

- It has been quite varied, mostly positive which is always a good thing. Quite little of entirely negative feedback. What I have heard from listeners or read from reviews the album seems to have made some sort of interesting impact. It appears to be considered somewhat on the "avant-garde" side of the genre, so it seems that our music opens up more easily to the more broad-minded and exploratory listeners of metal and progressive rock.

10.Can you tell us a little bit more about the other musical projects that some of the band members are involved with?

- The two closest bands to Mörkö are Disorder of Deadeight and Jumalhämärä. Disorder of Deadeight was the band we formed with H.Talvenmäki during the hiatus between "III" and "IV". It is tightly entangled in the same process as Mörkö, they are like the different sides of the same coin, to use a bit worn out metaphor. For interested readers, I would like to suggest listening to the album quartet "Voidkollapse/Tunnelvögel", "IV", "Depthsounder", "Itsensänimeävä". They are all quite different, but form some sort of non-linear whole. Also other combinations should be given a try. But, all not-exceedingly open-minded listeners should avoid "Do Wow That Tilt!" at all causes! All releases can be found from Bandcamp.
Of Jumalhämärä's doings I know not much. They have just released a new ep, for which I haven't yet received a chance to hear. I think one track which quite practically binds these bands together is still waiting for a release. I was collaborating with Jumalhämärä a few years ago and we made this systematic atonal track for a Hammer of Hate compilation which has been quite delayed for some reason. 
H. Kivelä is also creating new sounds in Otavan Veret. Their debut album is an astonishing piece of cosmic scale ritual ambient. H.Talvenmäki has been involved with Sink and Armon Kuilu, but I have no information about his level of participation in any of these projects nowadays. Last autumn me and Heikki were borrowed as session musicians on some of the tracks of Johannes Riisitauti's "Orajyvä" -album. That one is a highly recommended piece of black metal from the more genuinely innovative side of the genre. Meanwhile in the batcave, I am continuing my compositional  adventures with a new band called Order of the Living. We are currently producing a new album. Our first work was a short radio-play entitled "Nyarlathotep" and it can be found in Bandcamp. A proper ep release might be appropriate. I have also released a bunch of minimalistic electronic music in Mindset Archive.

 11.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

- Well, like I mentioned in the beginning the current situation of the band is quite defunctional. At the moment I am very sceptical about this line-up gathering around the same table again, but some of us might pick up the name with new ideas in the future, but that is also quite unlikely in the current light of the situation. I have been slowly developing an idea of composing a black metal "string quartet" for electric guitars. I began the writing for the text today!

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

- The early influences were the quite classic bands like Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Burzum, Darkthrone, Winter, Skepticism. Later also for example Khanate and Toadliquor made a huge impact. During the time "IV" was made my main influence was just listening to differently tuned fifths and other intervals from electronic organs for hours and hours, those recordings can be found from Mindset Archive, or actually there is a link to the place where you can find them, but anyway. The main influences of "Itsensänimeävä" were some 20th century composers like Ligeti and Penderecki, RIO bands, mainly Univers Zero, and Portal.

 13.What are some of your non musical interests?

- Umm, I might be a bit of a monomaniac when it comes to using ones time. I walk quite a lot since I live some seven kilometres away from the nearby town Jyväskylä. The forest is near and I enjoy going there. I simply attend to silence more and more day by day. I do toss around philosohical and theoretical ideas, but quite often they connect back to music. I do read, music theory, philosophy, novels and some esoteric literature and cook food. Of the other fellows, I cannot really speak on their behalf, since our contacts have been few or non-existant. I hope they are well. 

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

- Thank you for the interview! I hope that people will find our albums and give them some of their precious time. For all music makers and listeners I wish they stay true to their deepest essence and that they dare to continue to explore the possibilities of human condition!

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