deep in ocean sunk the lamp of light, And drew behind the cloudy veil
of night: The conquering Trojans mourn his beams decay’d; The
Greeks rejoicing bless the friendly shade." -Homer, Illiad
Æthenor is Vincent de Roguin (Shora),
Daniel O’Sullivan (Guapo), and Stephen O’Malley of Sunn0))).
Ok first of all let's talk about the name. Æthenor is
quite an extraordinary name. What is it about? I know it's in Lambsprinck's
"De Lapide Philosophico" from 1625. Also, "ether"
is a Greek-derived word for the heavenly realm – space or firmament.
And you can find it in holistic medicine (e.g. the etheric body).
Vincent de Roguin: Well, this is it really, an amalgam of two
words: "Athanor", the furnace that supplied heat for the alchemical
process and "Æther", which means "upper air"
in Greek and generally designated this essence filling the space where
the gods lived. Daniel (O’Sullivan) came up with the name and
we all liked the way it sounded and the meaning behind it…
The title of your first album "Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light"
is from Homer's Iliad. How did you stumble upon that line and what's
the connection to Aethenor's music?
Vincent de Roguin: The quote is taken from book VIII of The
Iliad and we thought it fitted the general idea and atmosphere of the
record quite accurately. There is something about the immensity of the
ocean coupled with the mysteries of the night that obviously works well
and even though it might come up as a tremendously romantic concept,
it still sounded valid to us. I was re-reading "The Shadow Over
Innsmouth" by Lovercraft the other day and while it’s a whole
different world, you can definitely find an underlying thematic connection
because of this specific environmental context. But in the end, that’s
just a title and I don’t want to sound too literal about it.
As a reader of your nice little Lustprinzip blog I noticed those pictures
of a well preserved copy of Athanasius Kircher's "Musurgia Universalis"
from 1650. Is this just a personal interest of you in... let's say "philosophy",
"alchemy" and "esoterica" or do you found out about
those books through scholastics? I mean, I stumbled upon a lot of those
books in my studies of German philology.
Vincent de Roguin: Interesting, did you get access to the originals
or reprints? I had to dig deep inside local libraries to find original
copies but it has been really rewarding… I love books anyway,
especially old ones. I’m not too sure how to answer your question
because it’s a vast issue and "philosophy, alchemy and esoterica"
as you put it, are part of a far greater picture that implies a real
education on the subject and a genuine interest to get into it beyond
the attractive surface. I think this generalization is a symptomatic
mistake and I especially don’t want to fall into this whole spiritual
hotchpotch trap. Everything might be potential source of interest and
inspiration. I study visual arts and have made some use of these themes
in my work but I do not specifically study alchemy or occultism and
will never claim to have read Robert Fludd or Kircher’s entire
opus for example, most of these texts remain really cryptic to me.
I agree with you on this one. But again I'm convinced you have to find
easy phrases for people without that "genuine interest" you've
mentioned. So my intention was not to push this into the direction of
spiritual muddle, but more into working out if this is just personal
interest or if you came across those books through your course of education,
e.g. college or whatever.
of "Musurgia Universalis", according to Kircher the harmonies
of music reflect the proportions of the universe. What do you think?
de Roguin: Well, I surely enjoy this idea on a poetical level! But again,
celestial harmony is a very ancient theory, Pythagoras developed it
some two millenniums before Kircher. Back then, the universe was still
a great unknown with only few real certitudes. Ancient Greeks believed
the Earth was the centre of everything with eight spheres spinning around
it… Then came the scientific revolution and everything appeared
a bit more complex than we thought it really was. But I suppose we’ll
need a few pages to get through this… It’s often hard to
extract myself from modern rationalism and get back to the essence of
some of these concepts, when speculations gave birth to immensely poetical
ideas. But when I do, it really affects my perspective and celestial
harmony is indeed one of those beautiful ideas I feel I can connect
me "Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light" is a sensitive and
vulnerable record. It reveals its atmospheric effects not upon the first
listen, because its dense, deep and subtle character won't let you.
Is this something you were aware of when recording, is this something
you tried to achieve?
Vincent de Roguin: I’m not sure to have been really aware
of this when recording the basic improvisations but it all came out
naturally. Again we recorded at night up until dawn and I believe that
the way we felt, physically and mentally, this bizarre state of lucidity
beyond tiredness greatly affected the music. But sleep deprivation does
not necessarily imply great results; we played some really terrible
bits too, ha.
is the recording process of the new stuff different from "Deep
in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light"? And how's the outcome different
Vincent de Roguin: Basically the first album was based on various
sound-searching activities that Stephen O’Malley and I happen
to go through while being on tour back in 2003. We recorded at night
in hotel rooms, backstage areas and various other places. A couple of
months later we invited Daniel O’Sullivan to join the project,
which resulted in a nightlong improvised session in a massive club here
in Geneva. The new recordings were recorded live in a huge meat-locker
also in Geneva, in one session that spanned through the entire night.
The process was a bit different because this was all recorded live but
the sub-zero temperatures and the complete abandon of time-related notions
again influenced the music we played in a way that definitely relates
to our first album.
other musicians participate on the next record?
Vincent de Roguin: Besides Daniel and I, Stephen O’Malley
is playing guitar, Kristoffer Rygg (from Ulver) and Alexander Tucker
both contributed vocals. Alexandre Babel and Nicolas Field are two amazing
drummers from Geneva that work together as a duo as well playing in
countless other projects. And finally we have a very special guest with
us but that’s a bit early to talk about it. Such an amazing line-up,
I’m really excited about those new records.
Please tell us about the next release, when it's gonna happen etc. Any
live shows of Aethenor on the horizon?
Vincent de Roguin: We just finished mixing those two new full-lengths
that we hope to release soon. Both records share the same elements and
instrumentation that we’ve worked with on the first album but
the sonic palette has expanded drastically. We’re also planning
to do some touring, which is something I’m really looking forward
to as this the place where this band makes the more sense I think.
As most of our readers know, you also play in Shora, so let's talk a
bit about your involvement in the band. First of all, why does it always
take ages to release new music? A new record is recorded, so when it's
going to be released?
Vincent de Roguin: We have our own way of doing things I suppose
and it usually takes a lot of time. We’re all busy working outside
of the band and getting things together to record new material is always
quite of an adventure. And we’re just one of those bands where
the laziness factor manage to take more place than it actually should.
But that’s the way it always worked so we’re not too worried
about it. We actually just finished mixing 20 minutes of new music for
a soundtrack, which is quite a departure from “Maval” (again)
and there’s still a lot of work to be done of this new album,
more recording, more processing. We want to get it right and that might
take a while.
Stylistically you guys made a huge and drastic step from the split with
Merzbow to "Malval" and even after seeing you guys live I've
got the impression the new stuff is even put further, on a new level.
How would you picture that expansion of sound?
Vincent de Roguin: I don’t know, we play better now than
before but otherwise, its hard to tell where we stand today. The new
songs are quite different from "Malval", more adventurous,
less sound orientated and more composed. But the mechanics of this band
goes just beyond my comprehension. I have no idea why we make the choices
that we make and how we come up with most of this music in the first
There's another project in the pipeline, announced some time ago: Odio
Terz. What is it about? Please give our readers some basic infos about
the music, people involved etc.
Vincent de Roguin: Odio Terz is a trio we formed in 2002 with
Nikklas Todeschini (from Shora) and Mark Blakebrough. It started as
a really informal electro-acoustic studio project but we ended up playing
some shows around Geneva and getting into more rocking territories.
We’ve recorded a couple of things that we expect to release one
of these days. The best bits are not unlike late-Boredoms, Cluster or
Faust except a bit more radical and modern sounding.
Ok, that's it. Thanks for your time Vincent. Anything else you'd like
to add or say?
Vincent de Roguin: Thanks for the interview and if you have
the chance to listen to Grails’ new album "Burning Off Impurities"
you should, because it’s really good.
Interview conducted by Magnus Jaschke in March 2007.