Isolation Can Have Its Benefits
Story online since: 01.09.2010 / 15:26:51
Among the ridiculously growing amount of countless new releases in the so-called post black metal underground it has long become an increasingly complicated task to find the raw jewels and thus you need patience, iron will and passion not to get discouraged… but if you then stumble across an album like the debut of FINNR’S CANE, you suddenly feel all the efforts on the voyage were worth it. Fifteen years ago, when I published the first issue of my fanzine Mørkeskye, I found the ambiguous slogan "Close your eyes and dream aWay…” and exactly that idea popped up again in my mind when I listened to "Wanderlust”, the beautiful strong and dreamy debut record by this young Canadian band. Although quite some influences shimmer through the compact compositions, FINNR’S CANE deserve applause for their very own sound and approach: there are passages which in terms of atmosphere and musical patterns remind of Wolves In The Throne Room, Woods of Ypres, Amber Asylum or Agalloch, yet "Wanderlust” compels with its own, often slow tempo, its own epic arrangements and a special dignity behind the harsh sounds. Indeed I dare to compare FINNR’S CANE to Paysage d’Hiver in regard to its uniqueness: like this Swiss project of black metal art, FINNR’S CANE takes up well-known musical components, but the end result is so ultimately strong that it sounds like nothing else than its own vision. And about which band could you say something impressive like that these days?
Of course you needn’t share my enthusiasm since there are at least two ways of listening to "Wanderlust”: you can rationally analyze the music and its presentation and find little new – or you could listen to the music and become enthralled by its deep dark magic! You laugh? You better should give this record a listen – and not only one, I recommend! Anyway, if there exists any young band within the wide-ranging and in the end fathomless metal underground, which is worth your very attention these days, it must be FINNR’S CANE for sure, even if it sometimes leaves the metal world behind like in the song "Classice” which is wandering through a post rock landscape, whereas the next song "The Hope For Spring” features fiercest black metal riffs in contrast to a melancholy you seldom hear in genres as close to kitsch as metal. To make it short: it’s nothing less than an honour to present FINNR’S CANE to you.
I enjoyed and still do enjoy "Wanderlust” growing on me. In the last three weeks I listened it at least every second day and the fascination doesn’t decrease at all; it’s more like I start getting deeper into the realm that I entered some listening sessions ago and explore it now. That is a really rare experience, so thank you for supporting my "Wanderlust” – I guess that this is the effect you hoped for?
Bard: Yes, that is certainly the sort of effect we had imagined. I think that the album can be likened to a journey that is different every time.
The longer I listen to "Wanderlust”, the less I think there’s any pure coincidence, but even smallest elements sound like short piano passages sound totally adequate and all in all the album sounds really focused. (Thus it’s a shame that there’s a little pause between the 3rd and the 4th song.) How long have you worked on the record and what kind of mood did you need to really concentrate on its perfection?
Bard: The material for the album was conceived over the last couple of years, and we began recording it in the summer of 2009. We did all of the recording, mixing and producing ourselves, so we were able to spend a lot of time with it
I must admit that I first thought that the production is a bit washy, but the more I listened to "Wanderlust”, the more I felt how much it suits the music and that in fact with your debut album you already created a strong and individual sound much more organic than most contemporary hyper modern productions. Thus I think this sound empowers the listener’s imagination well, maybe in a similar way like Paysage d’Hiver. With what ideas did you start to compose and finally record the music? How close to your original vision did you come?
Bard: The Peasant and I have wanted to do an album such as this for a very long time but were held back by schedule constraints. Once we finally decided to start playing together, we already had a fairly good idea of the sound we wanted and how to achieve it. Dark, cold, elegant music, inspired by black metal and other forms of dark music. We recorded sessions of improvisation with drums and guitar which were eventually arranged into songs and recorded once again in final form for the album. In the end, we are very happy with the result.
I absolutely like the adventurous, yet unconstrained character of your music: on the one hand it’s very concrete in its individuality; on the other hand it’s obviously not limited within dogmatic style borders, but really quite free… maybe like a wandering spirit? I even read in a review elsewhere that your music sounds like you’re casually jamming around. Can you relate to such a perception?
Bard: Yes, we definitely can relate to that perception. We don’t even really consider ourselves to be a black metal band, but we do fit into the genre. I am used to working in bands with many constraints on the artistic direction, but FINNR’S CANE is not like that at all.
FINNR’S CANE seems first of all to focus on atmosphere, in the music as well as in the artwork surrounding it, yet on your Myspace page you present the band with a short story of a man searching for the ultimate wisdom and finally drifting away into hallucinations. In how far seems such danger likely when one listens to your music?
Bard: Hahaha, I would think its quite likely. I’ve always felt that there was a strong hypnotic or psychedelic character to our sound because of the tempo and ambience.
Simple as I am I thought something like "Quorthon would have loved that song” when I listened to "Eternal”. Are there musicians or people in general towards whom you feel some kind of obligation since you walk at least partly in their footsteps with FINNR’S CANE?
Bard: All members of FINNR’S CANE listen to black metal, so the influence is there. We love it mostly for the musical or artistic side of it. We listen to bands like Ulver, Emperor, Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, etc. Bathory as well. The spirit of these bands also showed us to appreciate things such as nature, life and death, spirituality, etc. I suppose we want to take the strong, positive messages of black metal and express them in a new aesthetic form.
Pardon – what POSITIVE messages do you mean concretely? Isn’t black metal first of all an art form with focus on negative perspectives, ideas and feelings?
Bard: Black metal can be anything to anyone. I think the aspects that I mentioned were implied messages from certain bands which may or may not have had accompanying negative messages.
Your cover artwork isn’t inviting at all – unless you like lonely walks through snow deserts. It was in a surrounding similar to this one when I was hypnotized by Wolves In The Throne Room’s "Two Hunters” album that I listened to on headphones while the snow fell and I stepped mountain wards… how important is such a scenery and this kind of contact with (in regard to humans lifeless) nature?
Bard: I think that in all things, we require balance. Being with other people can be nice sometimes, but isolation can have its benefits as well. Isolation can be a form of mediation, or a sort of spiritual journey to find oneself. These themes are explored in the lyrics on the album. In the age of interconnectedness, it seems that people have lost touch with themselves and with nature.
How do you experience this loss and what do you gain through finding your self?
Bard: This loss is experienced everyday. Due to progress in technology, solitude is rare. It is extremely hard to "get away" from other people as we are almost always accessible with cell phones, pagers, the internet, etc... Many people have lost the "want" to turn these devices off. Importance seems to be placed on being connected with one another twenty four hours a day. I do not think most people know how peaceful and comforting isolation can be. With finding yourself comes new ideas, positive energy and often times, a new found appreciation for one's self.
When I talked with Nocturno Culto quite a while ago, he reflected some people slagging the typical Dark Throne photography off as boring, since it’s mostly the same motives with nature in the fore- or the background. Why isn’t it boring for you?
Bard: It’s simply a representation of our reverence for the beauty of nature. How could it be boring? To me, music and nature are very interconnected. When I experience one, I often subconsciously experience the other. This is why I enjoy these motives.
Quite a lot of music from the extreme metal underground is somehow linked with topics like nature (or more precisely man versus nature), (the loss of) spirituality, romanticism, responsibility… nevertheless in public metal is still mostly viewed upon as simple-minded art for stereotypical male losers. Thus a trio with the same instrumentation as yours, but with a jazz background, would probably be regarded with more open-mindedness and respect if it would offer similar dark music just because of its musical origin. Is this the paradox character of the fluid modernity, that there are many new ideas on the one and narrow-mindedness on the other hand? Can you imagine to attract a more mainstream oriented audience as well, e.g. with your music as soundtrack to a wintry movie?
Bard: To be honest, we did not expect to get much recognition at all. I don’t think that FINNR’S CANE could ever become a very popular band, as the music is too depressive and most people seem to enjoy listening to happy sounding music. In Canada at least, music like this is not listened to by very many people. I think that we could be looked at differently than a traditional black metal band, and that doesn’t bother me.
According to the booklet FINNR’S CANE consists of the Bard, the Slave and the Peasant, so it seems as if you’re (very) poor people and thus must be happy to be able to play music anyway? Has the slave any rights to introduce her own ideas to the band?
Bard: The idea to hide our real names was primarily to show modesty, to show that we do not want to be "rock stars.” However, there is also an air of mystery about it, the same that there was with the black metal musicians. We do not wish to be very "revealing.” Our titles represent ourselves to some extent. The Slave has rights to introduce her ideas into the music just like any other member. She states that her title in the band has several meanings but is not meant to be demeaning to women or to herself. It is mostly a provocative representation of how we as humans are all slave to something- we are never truly free.
Is it right that you reside in Sudbury? How is life in a city that from far seems to have nothing more spectacular than an ice hockey team and a giant smokestack?
Bard: Sudbury is a smaller city which is well north of the urban centers to the south. We are proud to be from the North, where there are plenty of beautiful landscapes to inspire us. It just feels like home. This sentiment is expressed in the lyrics on the album.
Among others I sometimes write articles for Legacy which speaks of itself as the world’s biggest extreme metal magazine. These days a single issue contains literally hundreds of reviews and often writing about an outstanding album seems like a drop in the ocean to me because there’s so much else presented within the 220+ pages. Can you thus understand that I burned some copies of "Wanderlust” and sent them to friends, musicians and other writers in order to make others aware of your music? How do you personally discover and promote music? Which relatively unknown bands do you like?
Bard: We are not against downloading or copying of our music, as we also do it. In fact, we thank you for introducing our music to others. As an artist you cannot try to fight it, instead you must realize its inevitability and use it as a tool to promote your art. I don’t generally discover much new music these days. One relatively unknown band I enjoy is Sorcier Des Glaces.
Some weeks ago, before I received your CD, I bought a magazine named "Wanderlust” (www.wanderlust.de) which is all about hiking and which mirrors a new discovered hobby in Germany: due to sometimes banal financial reasons, more and more people start to wander again and to re-discover the beauty of nature so to say in front of their doorstep. When a growing amount of people can’t afford to make vacation in far and expensive places, the tourist industry focuses again on landscapes nearby and encourages detecting the beauty of forests. Do you observe similar developments in times of the "global village” in Canada as well?
Bard: Canada is known for its variety of breathtaking landscapes, and people here have generally always remained observant of them. Hiking is a fairly popular activity here and we all certainly enjoy it as well.
Since I would definitely love to attend a FINNR’S CANE concert: are you planning to play live one day? What would be a dream of close to perfect gig for you?
Bard: We plan to play live eventually. It is difficult because The Peasant is currently in school eight hours away from our hometown so there isn’t much opportunity to rehearse. A perfect gig for me would be a small outdoor show with all my friends.
What’s next on the agenda of FINNR’S CANE?
Bard: We are currently exploring ideas for a new album.
Thanks for taking the time to answer!
Thank you from everyone in the band for your interest and support!
This interview was published in the 6th issue of Sounds under the Surface which is available for free download on www.trollmusic.net.