|Sol is Emil Brahe’s Doom project; he’s a multi-talented musician with a vision: that of a bleak antique rawness. The result is quite uncompromising, boldly mixing accordion and other odd instruments with crushing doomy soundscapes.|
|Hi Emil, thanks for answering my questions. Sol has been around for something like 5 years now. Your first effort ‘Let There Be a Massacre’ gathered some very good reviews back then; what was your reaction to that good reception? |
It is always great to get good reviews for something you've put a hard effort into. And considering it was my debut album, I was thrilled that people liked it.
Let There be a massacre isn’t a friendly title, the tone of your voice, the words I can decipher, the crushing rhythm patterns and the overall feel of impending doom that permeates the album impose an utterly misanthropic vision of the world… how do you see our humanity? What in the world inspires you?
At the time I wrote ‘Let There be a Massacre’, my view upon the world, and especially humanity, was very bleak. The world felt uncomfortably real and I was sickened by human kind and all its pathetic attempts to grasp the divine. ‘Let There be a Massacre’ was the monolith of my hatred for the world and perhaps also to myself for being alive. It was a very frustrated and hateful young Emil who wrote that album. But, as the world goes on, one gets older and grows perhaps more indifferent. The world doesn't strike me as so real anymore. At some point I got in contact, or rather got aware that, I lost contact with reality, and it is the main inspiration for me these days; the endless infinite cloud of unknowing. The fact that nothing is real and nobody knows anything. We are all groping in the dark, holding on to what shattered pieces of a so-called reality we can find. It’s all about letting go and just drift along the current.
The lyrics of LTBAM are all translated in runes, which makes them impossible to understand to the average reader. Why did you chose to mask that part of your artistic project (You’re using growls so rough that you can’t say they are of any help in that matter either!)?
Haha. The two main reasons for the runes are that, after recording the album, I wasn't very satisfied with the lyrics and I was very fascinated with runes. So it seemed like the ideal thing at the time to just translate the lyrics into runes. Haha.
Sol is basically a one man band. It’s one in a hundred, let’s be honest; but what makes you peculiar is the amount and the different kind of instruments you play and they naturally find their place in your doomy compositions: guitars, bass, drums, accordion, clarinet, banjo, glockenspiel (bells) and other electronic manipulations. That can only lead to one first stupid question: how did you find the time to learn all that? And to some others (more interesting I hope): did you learn so many diverse instruments to get total control over your work? You never thought about working within a band? Or do you think you’re harbouring too radical a vision to even begin to share a bit of it with others?
Time is what you make of it. I have played music almost my entire life and instead of using lots of time to perfect my skills on one instrument I got bored and learned different instruments. When I was writing ‘Let There be a Massacre’, I didn't really know other persons who played doom, so it was a logical solution to just record everything myself. And it was important to me at the time to have total control over the album and the musical direction of the album. I have played in many bands and I'm still playing in different bands. But as for SOL it was no option to work within a band. Until now, where I’m putting together a band to perform live with. I don't think my so-called visions within SOL are too radical. All the people I have worked with as SOL have been great musicians and most of them haven't asked about the overall visions or the lyrical content. They have just focused on the music.
Sol sounds really raw, it conveys a kind of uncivilized atmosphere, almost… dare I say it? Rural! Like it were old farmer Doom, haha! I’ll try to explain my thoughts more precisely: the unpolished, rough sound, the unorthodox and completely folklore-related instruments you use give the idea of a remote countryside where old animist beliefs would still be strong rebellious forces… do you see what I mean? What are your views on pagan religions?
Farmer doom, HAHA. Good one. I grew up in the country, so maybe that mood is just within me? As for my views on pagan religions: I don't support any organised religion or anything that claims to have the answer. That said, I must confess that my knowledge of pagan religions isn't very vast, unfortunately.
You made some splits with other one-man bands: one with Grívf, another with Blódtrú. How did those two splits take shape? Who chose the artists? Did you know those two guys personally before working with them? And finally, what is your personal idea of a split - I guess for you , it isn’t just the juxtaposition of two projects?
Trúa from Blódtrú and I are old friends. We have played in an obscure amount of bands together, and we started our doom projects almost at the same time (around 2004-05-ish). Trúa sang some vocals on my second album, ‘I Am Infinity’, and I think it was around that time we decided to do a collaboration/split album. So we wrote ‘Old Europa Death Chants’. It was originally meant to be released on Ván Records (the label that previously released Let ‘There be a Massacre’ and ‘I Am Infinity’) but due to economical issues we had to find another label, which a couple of years later turned out to be Paradigms Recordings. Isar from Grívf is also an old friend. I have recorded a couple of albums for him and at some time (after the release of ‘Let There be a Massacre’, we talked about making a split). The music for ‘The Great Plague Imperium’ was written and recorded at start of 2008 I think, and the split was released at the end of 2010, Haha. The split was due to be released on Det Germanske Folket but in the end it was released on Archaic Sound. I think splits can be a great idea – either if you like or respect the other band or if the music fits together.
‘Let There be a massacre’
‘I am infinity’
'Offer Thy Flesh To The Worms'
‘Black Cloud of Becoming’
All solo releases; please define to us the meanings of these titles and why they were chosen.
I think I have defined the thoughts behind ‘Let There be a Massacre’. ‘I Am Infinity’ evolves around the visions given to me in a state of megalomania. The vision is basically described in the second song (‘And I Rose’), it was a powerful dreamlike vision I had in 2004. Yet it wasn't a dream – it was more the feeling of waking FROM a dream. As if life was some kind of lucid dream we all one day will awake from and survey the universe and become infinite. It is hard for me to talk about because it is connected to a vast amount of feelings, concepts and visions – which all can be too much for me to handle sometimes, haha. ‘Offer Thy Flesh To The Worms’ is of a weird size. It is mostly an acoustic and musical experiment. But at the time I edited the album, I was very focused on the deceit and falsehood of the common media, and the sentence 'All Hail the Fucking Media' was circling in my mind and lyrics. But the music of ‘Offer Thy Flesh To The Worms’ was more subtle, so I came up with that title instead. Theme-/concept-wise it is much the same ideas, but mixed with some rather translucent sentences and ideas I had at the moment. I guess it is a very personal album. Also it marked the era of a new way of writing lyrics for me, which leads to ‘Black Cloud of Becoming’. That album is the transmutation from misanthropy to a higher perception that dwells somewhat inside every human mind. The title derives from the idea of a mental womb, haha. And that mental womb changing into the black cloud of becoming. It is always weird to try to explain the meaning of lyrics and titles... well.
What bands, if any, do you listen to and take lessons from their work? Do you listen to a lot of Doom projects? In short, tell us a word about your musical influences, be they Metal or not.
A lot of the musical influences, especially guitar-wise on ‘Let There be a Massacre’ is inspired by the Danish band Saturnus. But besides from that, I'm very inspired by non metal acts as Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Der Blutharsch, Coil, Current 93, Death In June, Vildensky, Acid Mothers Temple, Forseti, Brighter Death Now and a whole lot of Experimental noise/dark ambient music. In the realm of metal, I'm inspired by Darkthrone, the old Mayhem, Burzum, OM, Black Sabbath, Autopsy, Gigandhi, Iron Monkey and the Sunn O))) album called ‘Monoliths and Dimensions’, which perhaps is one of the best albums ever made. Composers such as Wagner, Carl Orff and Mozart (especially his ‘Requiem’, hehe) are also influences and sources of great inspiration. There is loads and loads of other bands.
Do you see Doom as something mystical? Maybe an ersatz for dogmatic religions? A profound ritual made essentially of inner contemplation, as the track 6 of ‘I am Infinity’ and other parts of your work suggest (like the first track of your EP ‘Black Cloud Of Becoming’, which almost sounds as a J.S. Bach tune!)…
I don't think doom has more mystique than so many other genres of music. Most genres have their esoteric bands (if one can say that), which have a great deal of mystique. And I'm not sure about the religious dogmas you're talking about. Each man or woman has his or hers own beliefs, you know. I guess there is some religious mystique thing connected with doom, thinking of Black Sabbath and that whole movement. But today every band or group has some kind of religious point of view. Praise the Great Nihil! (there is an unreleased SOL album called Great Nihil – but that's another story, hehe).
That EP I mentioned is a bit more drenched in Black Metal moods than everything you’ve done before, it’s more aggressive, tense, desperate; do you agree? Do you consciously try new approaches or is your work following its own smooth independent progression?
In my opinion, ‘I Am Infinity’ is much more black metal inspired than ‘Black Cloud of Becoming’. But then again, the soundscape of ‘Black Cloud of Becoming’ has a certain black metal feel to it. It is also the first album where I use shouting vocal instead of growls, and that could also contribute to the desperation you talk about. I think the most important thing for me is to never stagnate, musically speaking. Each album is a new experiment, a new way of looking at something or just a new approach. Sometimes I know precisely what I am going for, sometimes I just grope my way there and try to be inspired by random actions. Sometimes it is like chasing the wind, because you have an idea and you try all you can to make it work, but you need to just tear it all down and start over with another approach before it gets that feel you're after. That happens every now and then. But then again; sometimes it just right there, you know. Right in your fucking face and all you have to do is just to document the event: press record and let the inspiration run wild, because when you are in the right zone, everything that escapes is as it is supposed to be.
There is a lot of room for instrumental parts in your music; considering you’re a multi-talented musician, have you ever thought about an entirely instrumental record, devoid of any vocals?
I made ‘Offer Thy Flesh To The Worms’, which is basically instrumental and using loads of different instruments. The few vocal passages on that album is done by Trúa from Blódtrú. But yes, I have often though about making a pure instrumental album... time will tell.
Tell us about the future of SOL. What are your plans?
I found a SOL album which was written to follow ‘Let There be a Massacre;, but for some strange reason I forgot about it. So I have produced the album anew and written new lyrics and recorded new vocals. The album will be called ‘Beast of Riddles, Monster of Light’. I don't know where it will be released yet, but hopefully someone will. And then I'm working on an album called ‘This Realm is Free and Remains Eternal’, which should be released on Cain Records in cooperation with Les Fleurs du Mal Records. It is once again something completely different. And then Trúa and I have recorded a new Sol/Blódtrú split which needs to be released as well; we have talked with Ván and they were pretty interested, but let's see what happens. So basically I'm just recording one album and looking for labels for the others. Last, and as said earlier, I will soon be gathering people so that SOL can play live.
Thanks for your time, Emil; if you have anything to add, the final words are yours…
Thank you for the good questions!
Visit the Sol bandpage.