I never thought I’d live to see the day when Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio was mentioned next to Current 93 and Death in June.
15/01/2020, Dimi BRANDS
photos: © Benny Serneels
Tomas, it took you six years to write the songs of Let’s Play, in the meantime you’ve released the double album Vision:Libertine. How come the process took so long? Was it a just a case of perfection?
The process of Let’s Play started immediately after I finished Song 4 Hate & Devotion in 2010, this is how I normally do things. I find myself inside a state of creative high and things just flow, and this time too. Two years after S4H&D we release 4Play to serve as the appetizer for the Let’s Play, we record the video in Russia and the process is moving according to plan. At this point Out Of Line have been informed, the video has been recorded, there are plans for photos, the EP out, and then suddenly, we are pregnant with our second child. So we come to the conclusion that we have two options, either we release the album as planned but without the promotional photos we had in mind at the time, and without supporting concerts, and simply hope that the album doesn’t disappear into a medial and social void. Or we decide that this album is good enough to put on hold and we simply wait and hope it's actually good enough to release at another time when the time is right and the stars are aligned. Evidently we decided on option number two. But in the aftermath of this decision I felt frustrated. We no longer had an estimate on when we would release a new album and when people would have a chance to hear some of the best songs we had ever created, so in frustration and delusion I sat down and created Vision:Libertine. But the most unexpected outcome of Vision:Libertine however was that I evolved and improved as producer, as a singer and as a musician, so the material that I once felt was the best I ever did, didn’t sound as good as I remembered when I finally returned to it, so instead of embracing Let’s Play and unconditionally releasing it a year or two after Vision:Libertine, I decided to deconstruct the album, remix it, re-sing it, and perfect it to the point that it was a worthy successor and as good as always thought it was. And this is why things took more time than expected.
About Let’s Play you’ve said you see it as the final version of Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, which also sounds a bit alarming as in: I’ve got nothing more to say. Something the fans don’t want to hear, so we hope this is just a wrong interpretation of your words?
Whether or not “Let’s Play” will be our final album or not remains to be seen, but I doubt it. I have felt hesitant on more than a few occasions, about whether or not I see the end of Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio. But every time I do, I successively come to the conclusion that it would be absurd to MAKE such a decision. It would be like consciously deciding to cut of both my hands because I don’t want to cook anymore, or both my feet because I’m tired of walking. I can’t deliberately make that decision. ORE is who I am; it’s who Rose and I are. Without it I would become half a person. But at the same time I must consider the possibility. Everything ends, everything more or less, has an expiration date. So what I was trying to say in the press-release is that with Let’s Play, I think I have taken the idea of Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio and the notion apocalyptic pop as far as I can. From here I find it hard to advance further on that particular path without imitating myself, and at length becoming a caricature of ourselves. So what I’m trying to say is that maybe it’s time to reinvent ORE and possibly commence a new journey on a new path where rules can be entirely abolished? To advance into regression and pursue the darkness of the past, as the choice would be deliberate and not a result of not knowing any better? Time will tell, it always does….
It was quite a surprise two years ago when Cold Meat Industry organised the 30th anniversary festival. But even more surprising was the Waves of Darkness on the Baltic Sea event that was happening this year. Although they’ve said the anniversary was a one-time only event, it looks like the legend is coming back to life. Do you think this will go further than just a nostalgic look back in time?
The CMI festival in 2017 was as far as we can tell, a once in a lifetime event. It was a genuine 30-year anniversary. (But on the other hand, CMI turns 3, 40, 45, 50….) And what Death Disco created on the Baltic sea in September was something completely different. It was more willingly a unique opportunity to see all your favorite bands on a cruise to Riga. An up close and personal experience at sea. The first festival was indeed a once in lifetime experience, this will not happen again, but who knows what the Baltic Sea has in store for us?
The concert on the boat must have been a very special experience. How did you experience it?
To say that the experience onboard M/S Necromantica was special is an understatement. Maybe the experience would have been more normalized if the conditions on Sunday would have been more “normal”, but with the storm that suddenly emerged in time for Of the Wand and the Moon, and which climaxed just in time for ORE and TriORE, and then withstood for most of In Slaughter Natives, I would more willingly like to describe the experience as absurd. It was an altogether fantastic experience in many many ways. Artists and fans coexisting together onboard a ship, one really great stage for everyone, one concert at a time, two days of fun at sea, 1000 people stuck together onboard, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This was amazing, so thank so Vlad, and thank you Death Disco for making it happen.
From an ORE concert point of view however, it was definitely not perfect; quite the contrary. But from what I’ve heard I gather the impression that most people really loved it. They were able to see and understand the absurdity of it all while 6 meter waves hit the body of the boat and caused both equipment, artists, audience and the entire stage to move from side to side. My impressions are therefore somewhat schizophrenic, but it was a very unique and altogether successful experience.
When I combine the aesthetics of ORE and a cruise ship, my thoughts bring me automatically to the Roman Polanski movie Bitter Moon. Do you think this match fits?
Sounds tempting :-)
The ORE videoclips are always very high profile. Beside (if so?) Bitter Moon, are there other movies that share your point of view?
In times where censorship reigns supreme, it’s very surprising the Menage à Trois videoclip is still online. Did you get shocking comments after releasing this clip?
I don’t read the comment sections, just as I try to stay clear of reading too many reviews of our albums. It’s ultimately counter productive. And with 1.4M views (which nobody expected, especially not OOL) there must be quite a lot of people who genuinely hate both the song and the video. But as we sent the video to a handful of friends and family before the release, we did get our share of shocking comments before the video went public.
I’ve also asked this question to Coph Nia’s Mikael Alden: how do you look back at those CMI years. Mikael especially remembers the specific family feeling. It’s also a fact nowadays we still see CMI acts together sharing one bill, looking back could you say that lifelasting friendship bonds were made in that period?
Of course, in retrospective it was a very special time in our lives that founded many life lasting friendships. Many of us (Mikael, Jouni, Roger and Lina excluded of course) were quite young when it all happened. I was 20 when I started working with CMI for the first Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio contributions, 22 when I recorded Reaping the Fallen. And I was only 18 when we recorded the Archon Satani contributions for Dimensions of a Coffin. So it’s been a while since it all began and even as much as 9 years since it ended. But I still have contact with friends from the CMI days, and as Mikael says, it had a very familiar feeling, like the Manson family.
ORE is one of the few acts in the neofolk genre who made the step to a “big” label, I can only think of Rome who did the same thing (Trisol). Rome made a complete change of style during the years and can’t be hardly called neofolk anymore. ORE instead remains true to their wellknown sound. Not saying that Rome had to change but believing this was a natural proces, was this artistic issue a condition before signing at Out Of Line?
I have had a very open and honest dialogue with Out of Line ever since day one. Maybe it hasn’t been easy all the time with an industrial / apocalyptic folk band becoming part of an electronic mainstream label, and trying to make room for us in an already existing habitat in which we don’t belong, but the dialogue has always been good. OOL has never made any demands on anything. ORE has been allowed to operate freely, do what we desire, sound as we want to, and be ORE in every way without restrictions. The only thing Andre said that we needed to consider; was German law. I’ve been able to say what I want and Andre (Out of Line CEO) has told me what he thinks and so on. I haven’t always been pleased, as for the work that OOL did for Vision:Libertine, but we talked about it and we both decided to do our best with Let’s Play and see where it takes us. And so far so good I’d say. So I see no reason not to keep on working with OOL for a foreseeable future.
A remarkable quality of the albums that were released at Out Of Line is the warmth that goes out of them. It goes also beyond the dark folk genre. ORE shows that this stoic genre, unless what some people think, can be enriched with various elements and even deliver real “hits”. When it comes to recording, what’s the main difference nowadays?
I think this question depends on how far back in time we go when we compare it to nowadays. When I started in 1993 I had a Roland Workstation W30, no real microphones and I did my final recordings in Jouni’s studio on an 8 track. Nowadays I have full home studio, high quality microphones, unlimited recording possibilities and a brand new iMac. So the technical differences are vast. But on a more personal level I think it is also fair to say that today, I know what I’m doing, I create this sort of music because I want to and the results are deliberate. In the beginning it was more an art project where the results were the product of my limitations.
ORE is one of the leading names in the dark folk genre, and is named together with other spearheads as C93 en DI6. When I made my entrance in the so called dark music scene, it was quickly clear that this will be my kind of music. Almost twenty years later it’s sad to see that new acts in the genre are rather exceptional. When I talk to other bands, organisers and label managers they all share the same sad thought: this scene is dying. Happily there are some sparkles to enlighten us every now and then, but this verdict seems inevitable. The fact that the musical landscape is changing very fast is of course a very important reason, but there will always be some fanatics who keep on supporting the scene. What’s your look at the neofolk scene nowadays?
I never thought I’d live to see the day when Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio was mentioned next to Current 93 and Death in June. I wish I could go back in time and tell 15 year old me that this day would come.
As you say, the scene is dying unless it’s already dead. It’s hard, not to say impossible, to attract people to individual concerts and therefore it is necessary to have events such as “Waves of Darkness” or “Porta Nigra” when you invite enough interesting acts to attract a larger number of people who feel they MUST attend. But these are sad times for the scene. I suppose I will know for sure just how sad they actually are in February when we have a German weekend tour together with Triarii. Hopefully not as sad as I think.
Together with Christian Erdmann (Triarii) you formed TriORE 10 years ago. I just saw ORE and Triarii will perform live in Leipzig in the beginning of 2020, are there future plans to also continue with the TriORE collaboration?
We have a second album ready, a truly great album; we are just waiting for the opportunity to release it under the right circumstances.
From the beginning sexuality was a huge angle of approach in your music. All kinds of human fantasies are covered, especially those who are disapproved by the so called “average person”. You also combine this with the typical mark of shame that religion puts on all of this, which in my opinion makes it even more powerful. The question that many people will ask is in which way these fantasies are combined with your daily life?
The fantasies are always there, but of course it’s a lot easier to have a more active and extrovert lifestyle before you become parents, than it is today. Before parenthood you could decide to go to clubs in the weekend, act out and bring someone with you back home, or simply do whatever you desired whenever you desired. But nowadays everything is more based on tact and seizing the moments. Things are still possible but they are only available in moderation. But on the other hand, it makes it all the more precious and pleasurable when these opportunities do occur.
The song A World Not So Beautiful sadly enough has proven to had prophetic visions. Do you think there is a future for Europe as we know it?
I suppose everything depends on which Europe you know.
Constituted borders and countries are illusive and ever changing. What we consider as true today was unimaginable 50 years ago, and will most likely be considered entirely insignificant in 100 years from now. We move in cycles. Kingdoms come and go. So the Europa we know will die like everything else, what we say is “our” culture will become intertwined with new expressions and what we consider progressive today will be conservative and regressive tomorrow. We will naturally feel rootless and disillusioned as our culture crumbles before our eyes, but our children will never understand our grief and our separation.
The first album ORE made for Out Of Line, Songs 4 Hate & Devotion, which also features some of your keytracks is not for sale anymore for a longtime. Did you already get the question considering a reissue of this masterpiece?
People are asking about this album quite regularly, and I did in fact speak to OOL about the possibility to rerelease it in combination with Let’s Play in September. But even though I see the potential of rereleasing it, I also understand the record label perspective on reissues, quantities and the record selling climate 2019/20, and I understand their skepticism of bringing the dead back to life. The album however, will be rereleased in 2020, maybe not by OOL, but there will be physical “Songs 4 Hate & Devotion” album for sale again.
Nicolas van Meirhaeghe (Empusae) who also works with Triarii seems to be a full time member since 2014. Are you familiar with other Belgian artists?
Belgium for me is Electronic & EBM, that’s your legacy. Front 242, The Klinik, Dive, A Split-Second, Play it Again Sam Records. I’m a long time fan of The Klinik. Dirk still does great things with Dive, but none of them quite as great as he and Marc Verhagen did with Klinik. I still have a special place for that 3 LP Box in my record collection.
In the special edition of Let’s Play you’ll find a toy and a pair of stockings. The nylon fetish is a recurrent theme, so maybe it’s time to tell us which is the best hosery to fullfill your desires?
Rose and I have the same preference when it comes to this topic, so we are both wholehearted admirers of the hold up stocking; it’s genuinely hard to compete with that particular item. But a classical seamed stocking attached to a 10-strap garter-belt is also a real turn on. And lately both of us have come to relish overt pantyhose, fishnet in particular. So there’s a selection to choose from.
ORE will play the Porta Nigra festival again, and as I am playing the afterparty, do you have a request to hear?
No matter how much we’d like to, I’m not really sure how much time we will have to attend that afterparty on March 6th, considering that we will perform in Mannheim the night after, but here are my requests, take your pick.
Haus Arafna – No Right to Live - 7” version
The Klinik – Black Leather
Skinny Puppy – Tin Omen
Christian Death –Romeo’s Distress
Lee Hazelwood – Summer Wine
AARON TURNER (SUMAC, ISIS, MAMIFFER...) • 'It’s like a dialogue between me and what I’m hearing...'
SYRENOMELIA • The drunk rural constable at the local pub.
IC 434 • find it amazing to live in a highly developed society and at the same time having to realize what a mentally mess it really is.
FIX8:SED8 • I Could Talk About The Wonder That Is Skinny Puppy For Hours
BROOK • I’ve soaked up a lot of musical genres over the years, and I like to think that maybe this is reflected throughout the Brook album.
CHRIS HASKETT (ROLLINS BAND) • 'Musicians are more like radios that occasionally pick up and reproduce things from the cosmos.'
EVA - X • An Interview With Synthpop Act EVA - X
ACCESSORY • ‘You Can’t Reach People Alone With Pictures Or Texts’
DEAD HIGH WIRE • ‘Dead High Wire Did Not Like To Be Categorized In One Box’
TREY GUNN (KING CRIMSON,TU ,SECURITY PROJECT,...) • 'I’m trying to set up an experiential thing...'
Other reviews from ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO
ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO • Is it really tragic? A soundtrack 4 the end of the world. How can that be tragic?
ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO • Without people like Porta Nigra the scene would be dead, but for as long as they are around, it's only dying.
ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO • There is no premeditated direction, never has been, probably never will be