Another interview with a band from Italy. The music scene – not only the metal one – has a lot to offer and by this I do not mean stuff like Eros Ramazotti. So, how are you? Do you think I should cover even more bands from your country?
Hi oneyoudontknow, thanks for this opportunity. I think we're all fine..I'm not in close touch with one of the members but I don't have reasons to imangine things are going otherwise than "fine", and hope it too. I'll clear out this in the next question... anyway, as for the italian bands, I must confess that I've lost contact with the musical scene (any musical scene, in fact, not just the italian one) in 2005/2006 due to personal life evolution. I can point out just a bunch of names, the first my mind recalls : first of all Ras Algethi, a great inspiration with it's demo "Oblita Divinitas" (1993), in which one of our members played. Anyone who likes funeral doom should listen to that demo, it's unique and seminal. Then Enoch, funeral doom band in which two of our members played too. Another really good italian doom act is Malasangre. One band i listened to recently was Black Land, psychedelic stoner/doom. And let's not forget Ovskum... sick black/drone/doom.
Obviuosly there's not just doom in the peninsula, but to throw in random names forgetting other good ones I can't recall wouldn't be fair, so I skip any further mentioning. I make an exception for Diorrhea, a grindcore band composed of talented personal friends, who often travel Europe devastating the audience with their musical fury, and who helped me with my musical projects many times.
Would you mind introducing the members a bit and what are your/their ‘original’ bands?
The "I" speaking in this interview is Giulio. I'll just tell that I'm a guy between 20 and 30 years old living in a small town in the countryside, who spreads his interests towards way too many topics, never being able to focus and go deeply, and tries to catch the meaning and dynamics of reality. No small task, with it's joys and sorrows. I have another band, "Distruzione di Massa", a Death/Grind solo project. Also, I have a second project with the members of Rostau, named "Zerfall". It's about old school death/doom, with a paticular use of keyboards.
The other members are my older brother Silvio, who has a clever, adaptive eye towards what happens around him and a way sharper skill to understand than mine. Nwadays he's living around the world gaining experience. He played drums in Ras Algethi, Enoch, Albireo and other bands.
Finally there's Leo, a friend at first of my brother and then also mine. He's a talented keyboard player with a nice sense of humor, and he played in many bands : nowadays in Enoch, and probably other projects I don't know anything about. Both Silvio and Leo played with me in the Zerfall project.
What does Rostau refer to? From what I could make out it somehow deals with some secret rooms or pathways below the sphinx and the pyramids of Giza.
Rostau's translation is more or less "Mouth of the Passages". It's concept is that of the gate to the Duat, an afterlife realm in the ancient egyptian religion. it should be a place both in our world and in a region of the star sky. There are a lot of theories about it's existence in the form of chambers and corridors under the sphynx, as well as relating them to some secret chamber containing power or technology long lost. On another hand, it could be related to the way the Great Pyramid worked, as related to the journey of a soul. In these last years the topic has become one of those chaotic ones in which one unorthodox side arguments important revelations against the other one, that of the official academy and it's litarature. It's hard to form a true position as most of the proposed arguments are physically beyond direct verification by the reader, or too technical to be seriously examined. In example, I certainly don't know the ancient egyptian language anyway deeply (or superficially), so I have to take most of the data in the debate as it's offered.
Anyway, the sheer concept inside that interpretation of the term "Rostau", that of gate, passage and related to the trascendetal, sufficiently symbolizes what the musical project wants to suggest.
What made you start Rostau and why did you release only this one album? As three members are involved and due to the peculiar nature of the project it seems natural to ask whether you all knew each other and have founded the band together?
Well, Rostau started as the first tries on my first guitar. I think it was 2003, in the warm, hugging gloom of the room I had in my parents' house. I had absolutely no tecnique, I just had this bulky instrument in hand and a whirlwind of "things" to express inside. I really didn't expect what I would have brought forth. I started playing the strings and tapping them, enjoying the sound, and began choosing what notes were good after the others, which rythms suited.. and so, after many randomly delayed days, I ended up with the first riff of "Celestial Hive Mind". I had no idea that one day it would have the form one can hear today on the cd. In fact, I didn't even expect it to develope and mix with other riffs to create a song. It was just a personal creation. Even if I knew it had absolutely no tecnical value for anyone who could actually play a guitar, it was simply touching and moving me. I found it beautiful, and highly "mine". Rostau was born that days, and it developed in the same way : I wanted to express myself for my personal enjoyment, so I continued trying, stringing one note after another, finding new sounds that touched me as mine and beautiful. The strange thing is that at that time I listened to very little doom metal. That was a death, brutal and grind time of my life.
When i composed the riffs of the first demo of my other musical project, Distruzione di Massa, I just imagined and played them in my head, then recorded them by voice (the results would be really comic if anyone other than me could listen them : beyond Impaled Northern Moon Forest). Finally I transposed them patiently in notes and produced midi files, which i sent along with tabs to my fellows musicians. In some way, however, the first Rostau sound was what I came to express directly with a guitar in hand.
The lack of any lesson with the instrument also influenced deeply my approach to music : I had no rules or scheme to what was and was not to do. The first riff in "Ahriman" was born just because one day I discovered that the last two strings created a neat vibration in a certain combination. I remember I stayed full minutes playing just those two notes, picking one string, then another, then the first, than the other, and so, and so, and so on. Even if the amplifier I was playing in was (and still is) a discount 15watt gadget, which came with the 100€ ebay guitar, I was wrapped in the sound. Then I began trying note combinations on the same frame, and the riff came to be.
Another example of this is the first riff of "to die..". I tap no string with the fingers, just pick them. Any guitarist would probably say that i'm just not playing the instrument that way.. and in a certain sense they would be right. But hey! it worked. 3.33.333 was born taking this concept of indirect guitar playing to the extreme. I won't repeat here the precise genesis of that song, it's written in detail in one section of the website.
So, to gloriously return to your question after this trip, Rostau had a long gestation beforn seeing daylight. Riffs accumulated, ideas developed, and "Celestial Hive Mind" guitars were completed. In 2004, after coming back from a summer festival in Germany, one day I feeled like writing some lyrics for it. Then, with still little voice after the round of concerts (viewed, not performed!), I recorded a first previews of what that lyric could effectively sound on the track. The sighing stile was natural due to my throat conditions.. and sounded pleasing. So pleasing, despite it needed some refining work, that I kept it.
All these boring anecdotes are to point out why we released only one album and how three memebers were involved : "To die and to the Stars Ascend" was thought and recorded across years, grew with me, and had not been intended for publication till the last stages of its elaboration. I produced some music to express myself, that's all. Eventually, people who listened to it coinvinced me that it had potential, and it could be turned into a real album. A unique and non-conventional one. So I asked my brother Silvio and Leo to help me out with keyboards, to compose and record them. I knew that albums relying on the ideas from just one mind are somehow limited. Far more magic is generated from the clash of different wills. I asked them this perhaps in late 2006 or the begining of 2007, and we recorded in the last days of August, after 3.33.333 had already made it's appearance. The keyboards sounds are modified excerpts of that song. By this time also my ideas about the world changed, and they did it drastically in march 2007. After the recording of the album I developed the artwork, joining together the various "ideological" aspects that had sedimented through the years in the project, and gave them unity.
There's some tension in the album, being it the compression in a single piece of different and sometimes opposing forces. Just to say one or two, the low fi, analogic, old school sound of guitars and vocals joined with the digital and "mathematical" sound of the keyboards, or the union of a fictional, sci-fi fantasy elements such as Warhammer 40k and numerologic, philosophical, historical and esoteric hints. This tension symbolizes my personal evolution, while the unique recording and processing circumstances generated the sound of the album. Both these factors cannot be reproduced. So the ipothethical next Rostau album would not be anyway similar to the first one. People put albums under the same band name in comparison, building up hit parades, that in this specifical case would be pointless. It would be the same as to assign a mark and make a chart of life stages : any one of them had it's context, it's causes, it's synchronous and diachronic meaning.
That doesn't mean that the inspiration behind Rostau will produce no more. Perhaps we'll have to wait another 5 years or more, but it could emerge again and show up under another name.
On your homepage you have written that the music has been recorded over the span over several years. I wonder how you keep the attention and the interest over such a long period. Was it difficult to motivate yourself to proceed with this project? Did you ever reach a point in which it all became too much and you just wanted to get it over with?
I anticipated something about this question in the preceding one : I had no need to keep attention, to focus, as it was a personal search, a personal enjoyment. Also, as I said before I'm not one who keeps for too long or too deeply on something without feeling the urge to explore something else. Interest in Rostau grew or exstinguished over the years, and this was perfectly acceptable as I had no pressure except the one coming from myself.. and I pleased that pressure whenever it visited me. It also had an intriguing feeling to take again something left behind with a new mind, enriched by time passing and collected experience. It let me build a more complicated structure around single simple points coming from different moments.
This changed only in the final stages of the production of the album. At some point I decided I wanted to conclude it and give it a stable, finished form. In that period I focused more, and felt some times of tireness. The worst part was the physical production of the cd : the music was already there and, beside the thrill of giving your work birth, the sheer procudure was sometimes annoying, expecially regarding the printing process of the digipack. There are many aspects, both technical and "burocratical", that a non-professional like me finds quite laboriuos. There had been many things, both musical and physical, I would have wanted to further polish, but I grew tired and went on with the final print.
Did you always had this special sound and kind of arrangement in the back of your head or did this evolve over time? What had been the original intentions behind this band or album? What was it that you wanted to create?
Was this that I wanted to create? that's an hard question. That's something the variuos mes through time wanted to be that way. None of them would have liked everything in the sound or the other facets of the album, but in the end I liked it very much, even with it's flaws and contradictions. Moreover, mostly the sound was compelled by the technical equipment I had at disposal : a small amplifier, a chep guitar, zero to low musicianship, a mall-quality microphone, and a pc. But I liked it, and after some audio processing I found it evocative and intimate enough.
The arrangement in particular wasn't even imaginable at the beginning of the experience. It grew as I grew, as I metabolized more music and developed new ideas in any related branch of knowledge.. literature, music, phylosophy, and so on. The keyboards expecially were a very late introduction, and sprinkled from reflections about the fullness and completeness of the overall sound and richness of the music. United with a last-hour "melodic" guitar in the title track, they even surprised me with the final effect, and now the music coverd many more frequencies, gaining variety and adding the tension I mentioned before regarding the two main classes of sounds, old school and mathematical.
Aside from the conceptual aspect that is discussed below extensively, the musical one is interesting as well. There are a lot of influences from the drone and doom genre, while the compositions are generally rather minimalist. Why did you pick such a ‘reduced’ approach? How would you in your own words describe Rostau’s art?
Minimalism wasn't something I aimed to. As I said, the composition of the songs grew bit by bit, first through the aggregating process of basical elements, then by accumulating other single lines over the basis. In the late stages, I reached a point when music expressed everything I felt with the just the elements already merged. The overall minimalism simply is the result of this communicative goal.
Sometimes the richness of arrangements interfere with this focal aspect of music. Sometimes you listen to perfectly produced, neatly executed and fully arranged music, and feel very little emotions through it. That's a try to cover a lack of seed inspiration hoping to surprise or hypnotize the listener through baroque constructions, or throwing in well-estabilished stylistic elements. Obviously I don't think that's always the case when encountering richly arranged music, and neither I'm an extremist fan of minimalism. I'm a fan of music which conveys feelings, emotions, suggestions..
That's how Rostau was born, and the goal I had in mind. At first, simple personal expression, then the same thing slightly bent to fulfill the general feel the basic elements made blink in me. Don't let me be misunderstood, I'm far from thinking the result is perfect. If it was, everything in it would be "poetry", as in Croce's aesthethic theories (which refere to literature, but could fit well also to music). Instead, there's still a lot of "structure". That's just my attempt, I hope the balance between the two favours the first.
The title track is somehow interesting. The longer it progresses the fewer elements and facets appear until at the end everything closes with some form of silence. At last, one might say, the soul is able to leave this world and drift off into a different place. Did you always wanted to create such an experience? Was this an idea that you had in the back of your head right from the start?
Absolutely not. The title track took it's final form very late, but very quickly. One could say that the experience created itself through me.
It's not a process I can describe in an intellective manner. After the recording of the keyboards, listening and filing the sound, the idea of a deep meaning inside it blinked in my mind. That's the way of inspiration, I think. As inconscius as it was, it had some force. And as forces, as the old gods of the myth, it is a seed manifesting itself in many ways, all related. As for the general concept of the album, it has no univocal intepretation. It can be seen as many things, and none of them would be wrong. It has hints and suggestions, and one could see the journey of the sould from flesh to the parting moment, while another could visualize the gloom behind a column in an ancient desert temple, as shamans are calmly performing a ritual. Both ways are right, they are different and still could be related, they could be the expression of the same seed. What I wrote in the website is just one, the strongest of my views of it.
That interpratation came after music, according to the nature of this work. The energy of non-rational expressed by music is shaped and ordered by the a subsequent moment, both by feeling and mind. That's why any way to feel the album is right, the collapsing equilibrium of the album is the form gave by me in 2008 facing something that, having evolved for long time, was somehow external.
In particular, the song was initially composed of the first two sequencies. As you noticed, it proceeds evolving towards something calm, opaque, silent. The central part, that I found dramatic or even tragic, sparkled the view of death occurring, while the rest of the song had a feel of melancoly and loneliness, feelingsappropriate to the dying. The first part felt hypnotic and touching, holding a desire of meaning, a slight, sub limine question about where..what.. why. I decided to meld in the last part: like you say, a different place. That satisfied many needs, from the variety of the musical aspect, passing through the adding of a worrying hope after the melacoly of the preceeding of the music, to the fulfilling of the numerological symbol in it's duration.
According to my exploration of the astral travel experience, I have found that it can occur in, as to say, two directions, like the axis of the cartesian plane. The horizontal axis, in this view, is the journey through our physycal dimension, while the vertical one is about moving to other planes. The last part of the song could represent the lingering of the soul just beyond death, contemplating quietly it's mortal shell and still remembering with a sweet smile what the carnal experience was, now distant and forgiven. Just a few moments, before pointing to the stars and journeying throug the void , free to explore and feel joy, or being attracted by some force, by fate, by cosmic laws... who knows? Anyway in this section of the album the soul it's still in the "horizontal" direction of travel.
Sadness seems to be a core aspect of the album, at least this was an impression that I gained while listening to it. In seems natural to find such, because topics like "loss and death” are often dealt in such a way in the Western civilization. Is there no hope to break out of it? Has our culture some sort of pathological fixation on death and tries to celebrate this depressing mood in a countless varieties?
I think that fear of death, horror before self disgregation and the end, are basical anthropological feelings innate in a being able to reflect on itself and the bewildering loss of it's kin. It seems to me that these feelings are rooted in every culture. The liberation from these thoughts comes through many means, both spiritual and intellectual.
We should also distinguish between levels in culture and civilization. We could say that Western civilization has it's roots in Mesopothamic and Egyptian cultures. The epic of Gilgamesh conveys a strong, desperate feeling of sadness about the mortality of men, while in Egypt we found many hopes pointing to an afterlife, even happyness in it. Greeks too had precise views about life beyond death, expressed in their mythic cicles, but their culture also produced Epicureism, and it's calm disillusion about anything beyond the disgregation of body and soul in their corresponding heavy and thin atoms, which swirl again to form new entities. This brief schetch could go on a lot (and I don't think I'm able to draw a comprehensive or deep summary) : the point is that those ideas never reached a vast amount of people. Even talking about a single capital cultural event for the western world, as Christianity, we range from the frightened chanting peasant to the elaborations of st Augustine of Hippo, just to focus the late ancient period. On the other side, vikings hailed glorious death and embraced it with joy; romans gladly sacrificed themselves for the wellness of the Res Publica, stoicists proudly suicided when there was no way to live reasonably. But these are all generic views, strict summaries, not accounting the intimate feelings of billions of human beings through history. So we could state that how death is regarded in a sample population depends on the type and penetration strenght of a given culture, and on this culture's view about the topic. Where that culture can't reach to, the original sense of fright and loss prevails.
That said, I agree when you state that, generically speaking, modern western culture is fixated in these motives and expresses them almost univocally through sorrow, fear and so on. I know Eastern culture just superficially, and cannot say what are the feelings about death of the majority of people born in that context. Through ages, man has tried to ease discomfort, and the generic western civilization started, from a moment on, to focus almost solely on technology to ease the pain. "You're doing it wrong", would some demotivational say. In the XVIII century, the cult of reason cleared the fog of superstition, leaving a barren landscape to be seen. The devaluation of anything that couldn't be measured and numbered, anything that wasn't explainable through the strict use of the intellect, struck a severe blow to the connection with the divine, already weakening after the Medieval Age. An italian poet, Leopardi, evolved through pessimism, from personal, to historical-anthorpological, to cosmic. The solution was ataraxy, something way easier to search than to acquire. Even considering Romanticism, neo-idealism and so on, it seems that materialism and pragmatism are still among the dominant concepts that lead western culture in the modern age. And getting back to the question of the levels in culture and civilization, talking about contemporary western mass culture would be simply afflicting. No surprise if nowadays, generically speaking, death (personal death, not other's.. that would require extremely long and complex disquisitions) is expressed through sorrow. But there's plenty of hope to find both inside and outside anyone - and according to some belief systems, both directions are just the same.
Coming to Rostau, it's true that one could feel sadness leaking out across the listening. I pointed out many times that the core inspiration came out by iteself, the basis of the music wasn't planned rationally to be so. Then I enphasized or changed what I felt had to, according to the theme the core sounds inspired me. For example, Celestial Hive Mind indeed communicates cold sadness and deep melancoly. It has nothing to do with death though, in fact it involves the opposite : an intellect existing only to consume and absorb, until nothing in the universe will be apart from it. The act of eating never fulfilled by satisfaction. And then, after everything is Tyranid and nothing alse lives, what? terrible solitude, deep void of meaning, only the well-known growing hunger. I wouldn't label "Ahriman.." as sad, I would prefere "tragic", in the ancient greek tragedy acception. The tragedy of an unspeakable act of treason and genocide as a proud, cynic and feverish solution to a taint considered worst, an act - in the mind of Ahriman - embraced as impossible to avoid. I spoke in another question about "To die.." and it's compromise between sweet tears and shivering hopes, and then there's 3.33.333, which I still find somehow enigmatic. Could be hope, but there's some subterranean feeling of uneasiness and worry, prevailing and exploding with the last sound.
Is 3 33 333 some sort of a final electronic requiem for a dying race? The last sound that will leave the world and enter the vastness of space, maybe recorded at some point in the future by a distant alien race. Could this be final music of this planet?
As i found during my studies, smart or innocent critique always find meanings and nuances that even the author would have never imagined. As long as there is something effectively detectable that gives a basis to the argumentation, the interpretation cannot be told wrong. That's even more true in a work like this. We're not talking about a didascalic poem, we're talking about allusive music. That said, I hope the final music of this race will be a joyful laugh, even if the idea of the electronic requiem tickles the Imp of Perverse in me, as Poe figured it.
I had absolutely no intent of sort when I produced 3.33.333. It was pure experimentation, it didn't even was meant to be a song. But when placed in the context, after the final work of concept-structuring, it generates a host of different images, sensations, "trips". My personal view, the reason why I put it in that place, in that form, ending the album after "to die..", is one of hope and exploration, which could occurr after the separation of the spirit from matter. I said "could": the mentioned underlying feeling of worry expresses the uncertanity both of the ipothethic soul journeying through time-space and of the listener reflecting on what could be after death. The final sound leaves a shiver full of questions, and then there's plenty of silence to start answering.
What kind of instruments and equipment were used for the recording?
I hinted before that the equipment at disposal was mostly entry-level. I had a cheap guitar plugged in a cheap amplifier, with no pedals. The microphone too was inexpensive, I bouth it in a tech store. Recordings were made directly into my pc.. Nowadays I use a Terratech phase 88 sound card, but at that time I think it was a simple soundblaster live. Recordings as well as post processing were accomplished through the Audition 1.5 program united with some plugins. Keyboards were also taken directly through pc, using a digital sampler, Kontakt, played on the pc keyboard using sounds taken from 3.33.333. For the drums I used the same sampler, sounds from the Drumkit From Hell and midi. I didn't mention it before : I think it's clearly hearable, drums are digital and not actually human-perfomed. I studied drums for a couple of years, and never liked drum machines or trigger sounds. The drum lines which are now on the album were meant to be temporary, but recordings proved too arduous given the situation. I tried to work out it's sounds to be as warm as I could, and the result is satisfying enough.
The sound resulting on the album was therefore somehow compelled by the situation. I'll note, however, that I prefere old school, warm-feeling equipment to top quality. I prefere 80's and 90's sound also in the music I listen to, finding the ultra perfect sound you hear nowadays in any production too sterile and cold, too perfect. That's one reason why on the last Ep of my other project, Distruzione di Massa, I used an old walkman cassette recorder to take vocals, even if I could have used a minidisk or the microphone directly plugged in the pc through a mixer. Also, I absolutely prefere human errors and musician's intention to digitally obtained mathemathical precision.
Even with better equipment the sound on the album would have been different, but with similar characteristics.
How many rehearsal sessions took place for it; if you can still count them?
In the strict sense of the expression, implying people playing together in a reharsal room, none.
You wrote to me that the music of Rostau cannot be enjoyed "straight out of the box". Why is this so?
We live in hasty times and time is money, so people might not want to explore such a complex topic like you present it on your release.
I'll quote an email I sent some time ago on this very topic :
"I know the album is quite cryptic and cannot be fully enjoyed "straight out of the box". This was indeed meant to be. The album took many years to develop and gain it's final form. It's the fruit of many layers of passion overlapping each other, the fruit of time, experience, growth, change. I don't care about fame, so no full names, photos or detailed information were included. The music isn't probably pleasing to untrained or unprepared ears, to superficial listenings, but - and this is the central point of the question - it can gift so much if properly explored. It contains a tension in itself, a tension to explore, to find out more, to perceive the next nuance in the keyboards or just another suggestion from the atmosphere. It calls the intrigued listener to go further in the music. Still, I'm not so presumptuous to think that everyone will have the interest in doing it. And I have never been a self-advertising guy, so no links, no long texts about ideas, concepts, and music inside the album.[...]. So, to make a long story short, I left to the initiative of anyone who hears the call to explore coming from the album to find a rich prize. That's what sincere albums pull to do, and if anyone finds "to die.." to be so, even a very few people around the world, I'll feel pleased enough."
And what you say about time is so painfully true, nowadays. It's getting worse year after year, noticeably. The "system" is any day more complex, and if you slow the pace a little, one hundred other sharks will outswim you. And then you freeze in the depth. And that's not the only facet of the problem : the musical world is getting simply too crowded. Anyone can make music through simple means, like I did. But too much variety ends up in confusion. I found out recently, trying to spread the last Ep of Distruzione di Massa, that standard reviews, found on generic metal websites, are nowadays short and superficial, compared to what they were in 2004/2005. One very good italian webzine I knew, Shapeless Zine, partly shutted down recently : they used to review demos and underground albums, as well as bigger names, but they had to stop receiving any material at all, as the effort of reviewing deeply and through real and metabolised listening had gotten simply impossible. It's hard even to the fanatic to disentangle from the overwhelming mass of potentially good music constantly coming out, without sacrificying the real listening experience, which should be feeling the music instead of grinding an album after another of slightly different tunes. Internet offers samples, that's true.. but considering the amount mentioned before, one risks to end up collecting a huge library of isolated songs. I know many people who have their hard disks full of albums: many of them never get a chance to be listened at all, and other stand still after one 3-song-spin or two. On the other hand, many people can enjoy music that way. I am one who tends to fossilize on the same album for a long time. I rememeber listening to Farmakon everyday for about two years, and that album frequently comes out of the speaker today, too. That's simply a way to experience music, I have many friends who can listen deeply retaining a lot of variety.
The chances someone will end up enjoying "To die.." at such dept is slim, I perfectly know it. But as said, I prefere a bunch of people who feel that it's music is communicating with them and feel the pull to understand more, than selling every copy of the album to people who will leave it to dust after one absent-minded try. Exactly as I would do in person, as that album is the expression of human beings.
To Die and to the Stars Ascend, this is the title of the release, but why do you think that in the vastness of space lies the salvation? Hell, Gehennah, Hades and the like are different examples and point in a different ‘direction’.
Just as you say, it's a direction. I scattered delucidations on my view of existance in various answers to your acute questions, so I'll try not to repeat myself. Space is vast, and the manifestations of existence are incredibly vaster. Or so it seems. Infernal world has been conceived in a great number of beliefs, from an archaic realm physically lying under the surface of earth to one fold of the universe where rejected buds of creation end up. On another axys of analysis, some say that our physical world is hell, because it's dominated by disgregation, one low state compared to higher forms of existence.
So what is salvation, and how to accomplish it? the concept of salvation itself is hooked to human cathegories, such as absence of pain (another human cathegory), as many wouldn't call "salvation" the simple fact of continuing to exist, if this existence is in "hell". And still, salvation could in fact be that, and an iphothethical life in hell just a stopping place with it's own cathegories of perception. We could also evaluate the concept of evolution, binding the term "salvation" to a virtual ascension through it's stages, while "damnation" could be involution, or perhaps the inability to further evolve. We could also refere to quantic vibrations in one's soul, or one's true self.
I think that there may be forces and actions in our physical universe that can leave a mark in the trascendental origin of a specific person, changing it's "colour", or "vibration", and influencing the way existance is perceived and the peculiar state it's lived in. The final goal could be completness, and completness could mean the identification of oneself into the principle of existance. Or it could be constant evolution, constant change, the way the one self of the universe experiences and knows itself through the mutable and the fragmented. Or our very human existance could even be the manifestation of a lesser order of forces (like, in example, solar system ones), a sector of the creation lower in hyerarchy respect to the only one principle - but still comprehended in that principle.
In a complex and uncertain panorama like this, anyone is called to choose and form his view, and act accordingly; and even believing in nothing is still believing in something.
When you read books of Thoreau for instance, then you recognize the wide array of his knowledge in terms of old literature and mythology. Such seems to have been lost today. Do you think that this is a bad thing and are you familiar with your own cultural literal heritage?
Myth are tales containing great power. There are many ways to interprete them, and they were an incredibly ancient vehicle of knowledge, a way to understand the nature and the universe. As such, they were symbols epitomizing the comprehension of stars and life cycles. Also, myths' story is very long, starting from the very ancient tales about the cosmos and the symbolic transmission of ethno-political facts. Facts such as the second millenium a.c invasions in the greek area, symbolized by the distruction of beasts (which on their turn embodied the cosmic and religious conceptions of some human stoks) by gods, embodiments of the new systems and dominant elites taking over the former ones.
But then the myth was also philosophical speculation, literature and more. It is possible to give a punctual alchemic interpretation of Greek and Egyptian myths (and many more, considering that resemblances and underlying themes associate numerous traditions); myths feeded western literature for a great number of centuries, and sparkled wide-range speculations over human knowledge, from psycology to physics. Notice that scientific western terms derive from the ancient Greek and Latin language; language both expresses and shapes cultures, and those cultures relied deeply on myths. It's certainly bad that nowadays knowing myths is considered needless, even just for their pull to reflection and reality interpretation, if not considering the factual knowledge they carry. On the other hand, today's world is frenetical, and that which doesn't offer an immediate and tangible benefit is low-valued.
I myself can't surely say to posses but lightly the mythological heritage of my culture, even if I deal with it now and them, as I study letters and philosophy at the university and being interested in topics related to mythology.
Right these days I'm studying some episodes of Ovid's Metemorphoses, and it's fashinating to see how the implied power in myths finds new forms and blends into new realities with the passing of centuries, mirror and veichle of the time in which they keep letting their charge flow. Even considering the sheer influence on literature from the ancient world to the modern one, and considering that literature and culture walk together, we cannot think possible to understand our world completely ignoring the nature and content of myths.
A core aspect of your music as well as the concept behind Rostau seems to be the transition from the living to the dead, from the physical basis to the transcendental one. Well, as even Plato wrote about it several thousand years ago, it seems to an aspect that mankind or the philosophers have thought about extensively. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know why it is so important to you.
I'm deeply convinced that the physical world isn't the only one this universe is made of, and so I am that the material existence we call life isn't the only state a person can experience. Time and space are cathegories that appear stable, but just the experience of dreaming can easily lead to think differently. I believe that material death isn't an end, but a passage. We are part of an "everything", a manifestation of a unique source in a plane of existance, and as such, we are like an atom of a body of inconceivable complexity. I know this isn't fresh news. The central node of the question is whether a creature gifted with conscience can retain it through the stages of mutation, or not. Obviously there are hints all around us pointing towards both answers, and that's why so many people through history struggled in search of an answer. Personally, I think the universe (or better, omniverse) is far more complex than we can imagine, and something that people phylosophically reasoning tend to ignore is that between the supreme origin of anything that exists and our material experience could lie a host of different kinds of existance. Before the "light of God" we could see us under the laws of the solar system and it's powers, seeing us as shards of the essence of Tiamat knowing itself through our fragmented lives, or we could hypotesize that after death one wakes up in another kind of existence, either assuming a cyclic return to the material plane or a linear course through states, evolving. Ovidio's Methamorphosis is a vast poetical celebration of transition, each mutation is both a death and the birth of a new existence, expressed through myth and history. An essence changing form and still being the same principle, with a different material manifestation and with changed attributes in it's trascendetal form.
I'm far from having answers, and I keep adjusting or changing my view as my experience grows. So many different traditions and systems could also be different expressions of the same complex truth, and this reminds me of the concept that the various religions are just the expression of the same mystic principle, the philosophia perennis. And still, this is all so limited, so human. Thomas Aquinas, after all his life of deep theological work, stated "mihi videtur ut pula" : everything I wrote seems to me like straw.
Recently I've been evaluating the theories according to which a person is one of the physical manifestations of a "true self" which exists beyond the physical dimension, whose pull is to evolve through variuos incarnations. And still metempsicosis could be a partial view, not taking in account the possible existence of many layers between "physical" and "trascendetal". The concept of time we are wrapped into limits our ability to think, in this case. And we should also consider that "thinking" isn't but one way of acquiring concepts, and surely a limited one. Anyway, to go back to your question, I see the problem of life beyond death as fundamental, something not to be skipped, and I live my life accordingly, trying to never forget it's implications and trying to view things from it's peculiar wide angle.
Two other topics are the Warhammer 40K universe and Ahriman. Could you elaborate why these have sparked your interest and the reasons for picking them?
Since I was very young, i was fashinated by the universe of warhammer 40k, it was so crude, real, poetic and tragic. I was charmed by the vastness of the context, our entire galaxy and even other ones, I was thrilled by the struggle of mankind and the display of technology whose real use was forgotten since millenia, and were created and manteined by prayers and rituals whose intimate meaning was recognized no more. I found out later that many stories which form up that universe had allegoric meaning or hidden referrals to our world's cultures. Just in example, the divinized mainteining rituals remind me of the Carmen Saliare, chanted by Salii priests during a May procession every year, and which were not intelligible by historic age Romans who heard them..
Many years ago I was an enthusiastic player of the tabletop game when I had the occasion, but mostly read the manuals thirsty for their stories and the worlds evoken. In the first time of Rostau, I was browsing a forum related to the game, and found a topic about songs having warhammer40k as inspiration. I caressed the idea of making my own ones and posting them, and that desire inspired the lyrics of Celestial Hive Mind. I never had the occasion to effectively post any news about the song when the album was published many years after, but in the meantime came Ahriman of the Thousand Sons. He's story is one of my favourites, I'm enchanted by the context of his Legion devoted to knowledge and study, which lead them on the forbidden path of knowledge. When they divined that the Horus Heresy was about to break out, they tried to inform the Emperor about the treason, but he didn't listen, as they trespassed their Pillars of Hercules. From their point of view, the Emperor betrayed them, while he unleashed the savage Space Wolves to destroy their libraries, legion and planet. Joining Horus and the powers of Chaos seemed the only option, and when the war was lost, they retired in the Eye of Terror. Living so exposed to the forces of unstableness lead them to mutation, and so Ahriman took his decision : another betrayal, towards his own brothers. His Rubric spell destroyed every Thousand Son lacking psychical powers, reducing their bodies to ashes, nullifying their minds and sealing their spirits in their armours. Psykers like him and the excellence of the Legion were cleansed from the taint of chaos, and had their powers enhanced. Magnus, their primarch, banished him from their planet in the Eye of Terror, and Ahriman wander the galaxy since then, plotting and pursuing his schemes.
That's touching and deep, and when I had a first basis for the song, I used the story's suggestions to build it around the climax of the Ahriman spell.
The macro-concept in the album came later, through various stages of elaboration, and I decided to keep these themes to create a unique thematic balance involving ideas and suggestions from different spheres of thought. Anyone can interpete this as he founds appropriate, my personal view is quite complex, sprinkled from my own exploration on the world of dreams and lucid dreams. Dreams are neither stable nor physical. However they have their relative dimensions of time and space. "Somewhere", they are. Experiencies in dreams affect the one living them, they're just a different kind of information and effect respect to the experience in physical world. Veraciuos dreams leave a memory. The most realistic ones involve many human senses, and I remember clearly the air caressing my body from the variuos times I flew trough it. These memories aren't very different from memories collected through physical experience of the world. I just know that they happened in a different plane than the physical one.
This led me to think about the wolds of invention as instable forms existing or having existed in some fold of the complex universe of ours (as any thought, in it's peculiar way of being). Who knows, in another state of existence, a soul could end up travelling through one such world. That's just a suggestion, I don't take this as a stable point in my conception of reality. I have no truths in hand, and have evolved my view many times. However, when reaching a high control of lucid dreaming, theorically it could be possible to create, in example, a shard of the universe of warhammer 40k and act in it. Technically the context would be created by you (you don't end up in a context thought by another person), but the lucid and rational point of the iceberg would journey in a setting generated by the inconscious, and therefore unpredictable. And nonetheless, such a dream would be part of the experiences of the dreamer, shaping his reality and essence, and "existing", as the universe is a vast light filtered through the prism of anyone's self, anyone being the principle of his own peculiar reality. We could imagine that the reality of the soul in 3.33.333 includes a 40k experience, and that the first two songs are expressions of some facets of that experience.
On the former issue: do you play it as table deck and/or in the computer version? I have merely played the computer versions so far, but I have to admit that this had been a lot of fun. It seems like a very cruel and brutal universe; a place with little mercy.
I started playing the tabletop version after having been interested for long time in the background of the warhammer 40k universe, and after starting painting miniatures. With the passing of years various pc games came out related to that world; the first one i put my hand on was SPace Hulk : an atypical first person shooter with a strong tactical component set in a specifical setting carved out of the whole : the exploration of giant space wrecks, known as Hulks, by Blood Angels' Terminators. The potential discovery of ancient forgotten technology lead to the discovery of the genestealer and chaotic infestation in the Hulks. It was very claustrophobic, set in labyrinths of narrow corridors where the bulky terminator armours of the space marines had troubles maneuvering, while an unlimited number of the insect like genestealers rushed to you and your squad from everywhere. I remember I was thrilled and charmed by the atmosphere of the game, tense and desperate. You could hear the other squadmates screaming and swearing vengeance in the radio, and at those times (something like 1995) that was something incredible. Nowadays the boardgame version of Space Hulk is the only thing I still play, along with Battlefleet Gothic (a tabletop battle of starships, intricate and stunningly refined. And the miniatures are awesome).
Then, on pc, I played intensly to Chaos Game. The most bugged pc game ever, it was far more similar to the tabletop version. It too had a great atmosphere, very pleasing for the scenarios, the tactical system and... well, the possibility to command a loyal transposition of space marines in a long and structured campaign! I would paly it still today, if i had time and could manage to get it working.
Then came Dawn of War. This last game, while spectacular and amusing, reflects the more cinematographic nature of the games evolution through the years.
The old material was more mature and "shaded" and soffused, far richer in starting points to raise the thoughts view to our-world tematics. The emotions it provoked were deeper and less black-and-white. The whole had a less pompous and superficial taste, it wasn't child-oriented, and from that period come the most intriguing core ideas of the system. Necrons are perhaps the better product of the recent period with their Gods, the C'tan, cosmic entities that once feeded on stars. Then, called by a dying race and seducted into living metal bodies, they discovered the pleasures of flesh and started to have a testa for living essences as food. Deceived by one of them, and an Eldar God, the Great Arlequin, they found that the most deliciuos essence in the universe was that of another C'Tan. They destroyed themselves in a fratricidal genocide, till only four of them remained, powerful and very different in nature.
Anyway, what you say is true : It's a brutal and mercyless universe, where the life of the individual has no value, and where the survival of the race (almost every race : to tell the truth, some of them like the Tyranids don't care about it at all) justifies any means. A very delicate balance of constant war in a depersonalizing galaxy-wide horizon.
Just in example, there's the Golden Throne : a gargantuan machinery devoted to the survival of the mortal shell of the Immortal Emperor God of Mankind, that once walked among "us". Wounded to the threshold of death by his genetically generated son Horus (in a rebellion that echoes the one of the biblical Lucifer), he has been sustained for 10 000 years, so that his spirit can be anchored to the material plane. The Golden Throne is nourished by the constant sacrifice of human psykers, whose soul is consumed so that the spirit of the Emperor can keep assisting and guiding mankind. The psyker themself, on the other hand, are gathered across the galaxy by the Black Ships of Inquisition, since they threaten the human race with their genetic deviance, their uncontrolled powers and their being potential portals for the demons of the warp. The strongest and most talented ones are trained to serve mankind, the majority is immolated for the same cause.
Aside from the concept and also the tracks appear in a rather surprising style:
The first 3 songs were produced to be precisely 11.01.111, while the last was 3.33.333. (Total playing time : 36.36.666) [quote from the homepage]
I guess this might leave people a little bit bewildered. Why this extreme precision and what is the meaning behind this numerical code?
At first the idea came by chance, as for the rest of the album. The first two songs ended up being 11.01.xxx minutes long, and having already elaborated part of the life, death and resurrection ideas behind the concept, I decided to add a further piece of the puzzle. Always fashinated by numerology, I picked the occasion to extend the suggestions of the album : in the duality between 1 and 0, one represent fullness, the essence, while zero the void, the absence. In a context like that of the album, which could suggest a vision of the universe as a manifestazion of perfect fullness discovering itself in the fragmentation, the flawed series of ones (11.01.111) can symbolize the conscient being in it's experiential dimension : removing the flaw, that is the absence, only the essence remains, perfection. 3 is traditionally related to the divine and perfection, and by summing the 1s of the three manifestations of man (body, mind and soul) we get three times 3, with a 3 graphically added in any repetition (3.33.333).
The implications on the musical plane are that the first three songs represent a material and corporeal experience, so comprising the flaw, and at the end of "To Die.." you enter in the dimension of the transcendental beyond, in 3.33.333.
The artwork of the CD contains also several interesting symbols. You have a version of the ‘Eye of Providence’, several Egyptian hieroglyphs and some sort of a constellation. Some hints can be found on your homepage, but I would like to discuss this a bit:
Who is Senenmuth? Why did you pick him and did he play an important role in the ancient Egypt? How does Orion fit into this?
Senemuth was a high dignitary, astronomer and architect during the 16th or 18th dynasty in Ancient Egypt. He gained great power and influence, then he fell in disgrace. On the ceiling of his second tomb, the secret TT353, there's the first complete star map in history, a lot of time before the one by Sethi I. This star map is obviously imbued of mythologic symbology, and one of it's halves shows various figures, gods and men, sailing on small boats across the void. One of the most striking elements is the presence of three drop-like signs around the central star in the Orion's Belt. According to what we know about that time's technology, it was impossible that they were seen, but we now know (since the 70s, if i recall correctly) that there are effectively three planets around that star. The drop-like signs could represent as many planetary orbits. This all suggests fashinating implications, if verified.
More information can be found in this link
http://www.maat-ka-ra.de/english/personen/senenmut/sen_t353.htm, or searching TT353 (the code of the tomb).
Who is Roger Essig? Can write a bit about your reasons for picking his ‘God 1’ work?
I found God_1, the painting by Roger Essig, browsing the art vault of www.erowid.org. I didn't know him before and know little about him still nowadays, but I found that work very fashinating and contacted him to ask permission to use it for the album. I choose it because it depicts very well the concept of a weaved material world, a complex warping channel emanating from a single source. It's hypnotic nature and the graceful intersection of lines, united with the balance of colours, made me think it was perfect to convey the ideas of trascendental, branched and interconnected, and journey.
From that basis I made the artwork grow to encompass other themes, such as tyranids, chaos and those suggestions from Senemuth's Tomb I spoke earlier of. The whole, as it should now be clear, doesn't want to convey a focused ideology or belief system, but rather an accumulation of possibilities and interrupted paths, Holzwege, using an Heidegger's term.
Why ‘remove the flaw’?
See the earlier question about the timing of the songs.
How have the responses been so far? Have you been able to reach out to a certain amount of folks?
No. I tried to spread the album a bit, but I'm much more prone to create something than to make it known to others. I found that I isolated too much, I lost the contacts I had in the musical scene before, and anyway had none in the doom scene. I sent the album to some labels for trades and distribution, and had a review published on doom-metal.com. After that review and the entry in metal-archives.com, some people contacted me personally to have the cd, and many more downloaded the album from our official website www.rostaudoom.com.
Almost every response I had so far was very positive : I'm proud to say that "To die.." is certanly an atypical album, one which can raise interest. Surely It's not an easy-listening work, and also considering it's many flaws, I simply don't expect many people to really like it. The ones who did so far, however, found it captivating and personal. Some said "it is an album that takes time to grow" and that it " is unique. but you have to be in the right mood to enjoy it". All of these aspects are true, and I find this a compliment to the work, a confirmation of it's non-banality. Rather than selling all the copies, I was hoping to spring emotions and thoughts, and the sincere compliments I received from some people already fulfilled this desire.
Someone suggested me to contact promotion agencies, but not only I don't know any, also I'm not sure I'm willing to give away the managment of the album and pay for that.. as a symbol of a part of my life, I think I prefere the personal and private contact with those who found it interesting, or spreading it in the underground, the place flourishing with passion we know.
I want to add something interesting I found out right in the very last days : Rostau's songs can be found as videos on some site. I discovered this while googling. None ask me a thing, but that's not a problem itself.. I still don't like this contemporary tendency. Not only I'm an old school listener who still plays some vinyls now and then, but most importantly this album is crated to be listened from start to end. It should be a voyage, create an atmosphere, and the carved single songs loose much of their charm. Also, the infromation readable about the band is sometimes wrong or misleading. Anyway, it's still a sign of appreciation, and under that point of view I'm glad of it.
Is there a chance that you start another experimental group? Or do you want to concentrate on something more metal oriented and less ‘fancy’?
For some years I concentrated on my other project, Distruzione di Massa. As said, it is surely more metal oriented. It also retains some "fancyness", the last EP opens with a song about knowledge whose lyrics are taken directly from the chant XXVIÂ° from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, and it ends with Lucido, a "didascalic" song about Lucid Dreaming containing some dream recordings I took during my studies on that topic, narrating and descripting sensations and emotions.
Although i'm still playing and recording something, my life as gotten rather busy and took different paths, so I'm not planning anything certain on the experimental side, nowadays. Although, I would really like to try again the experience. The last project I was working on was Zerfall, playing an old school Death-Doom with slightly experimental keyboards, and based on a concept about two galaxies collapsing one into another, and the futile struggle of the seemingly powerful civilizations in them.
What kind of music do you listen to generally? Could you name some albums that you have enjoyed very recently?
I listen to some funeral doom, and a lot of old school death metal. Tides of Awakening and Black Vistae by Tyranny, the last album by Esoteric, Worship, the whole Skepticism discography, Mournful Congregation, Ras Algethi, and some more, united with albums from death metal bands I traded with distros thanks to the last DDM ep, like Pathogen, or big names and albums like Exstintion by Lemming Project, Phobos by Voivod (I'm crazy for this one!), Grave, Entombed, Obituary, Pestilence and so on. I listen also to some stoner and stoom, mostly early Black Sabbath, Sleep, Amerijuanican by Bongzilla.. And I wouldn't know where to place them, but recently I put on Given to the Rising from Neurosis, too.
Anyway the genre I play the most is ambient. I extensively listen to Lustmord (mostly The place where the stars hang and Arecibo), Neptune Towers (both Caravans to Empire Agol and Transmission from Empire Algol). Also I listen a lot to Jon Hassel, a trumpet player creating something I would call jazz-based ambient, although probably experts on that branch of music wouldn't label it so. It's an incedibly fashinating music, the album I'm spinning these days is Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street (2009). To keep it on the non-metal side, I'm not ashamed to say that I listen a lot to the old albums by Elisa, an italian singer-songwriter. She played pop in the rock and trip-hop forms, and her voice and lyrics, expcecially in some old or not very known songs (like A Beautiful Night, Yashal, The waves, Gift, Rainbow, Creature, Dancing and many more) simply touch me inside to tears.
Where can people acquire a copy of your release?
Directly from me, through the "have the cd" page on our website, www.rostaudoom.com ,at the price of 3 euros
How can people contact you?
By an email located on the same website, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some final words if you like and still have enough motivation to write something.
There would be much more I'd like to say about many questions you asked me, but the nature of topics involved implicates that new thoughts spring every time I reflect on them, and this interview would never end. I know I'm far away from having been exhaustive, but I hope I could communicate sufficiently.
I thank you for this opportunity and anyone who will be touched by Rostau's works, one way or another.
Giulio from Rostau