TOROIDH - Europe Is DeadTOROIDH is yet another musical outlet for Henrik Nordvargr, a member of MZ.412 and the now defunct Folkstorm. But while his previous projects churned out industrial and noise TOROIDH favour a more tempered approach split between passages of dark ambience and folk music.
The TOROIDH website explains that it is "folk music from the times when history was written in black and white and coloured in red". Naturally the impetus for this release, and indeed the entire Europe Is Dead trilogy are the opening decades of the 20th Century when Europe was ravaged by war, conflict and strife.
On the evidence of Europe Is Dead TOROIDH will find immediate musical kinship with other militaristic outfits such as Der Blutharsch and Les Joyaux De La Princesse, though Nordvargr is keen to point out that TOROIDH finds inspiration in left as well as right-wing movements. Europe Is Dead is also characterised by a less bombastic and martial approach, preferring a more sombre and reflective atmosphere conveyed through dark ambience, spartan drum beats and acoustic guitars. Archive samples appear throughout Europe Is Dead invoking the ghosts of the past. At times it's almost drone like punctuated by effective acoustic songs, and the pounding of a drum. In the case of TOROIDH perhaps Death really is a drummer.
With Europe Is Dead TOROIDH continue to release different versions on different formats. This Cold Spring edition of Europe Is Dead features a remixed and reworked version of the vinyl edition, previously issued on their own 205 Recordings label. In fact all TOROIDH releases appear remixed and reworked in both their vinyl and CD versions.
Richard Stevenson met with Henrik Nordvargr to discuss his numerous projects and his current Europe is Dead CD. Many thanks to Richard and Henrik for granting us permission to publish this on Compulsion online.
Within the Folkstorm interview featured in Spectrum Magazine Issue 5, you stated that Folkstorm would not slow down, but less then 6 months later you had declared this project dead. Had you already established the concept of Toroidh prior to the demise of Folkstorm? Also what are your current intentions with Toroidh in regard to how long you see it as a viable musical vehicle for your interests?
Firstly, the reason for killing Folkstorm had nothing to do with the birth of Toroidh. The concept of Toroidh has been with me for a few years actually... The first idea was to make long minimal tracks based only on marching drums (similar to track 2 on the first CD), but as I started to actually record the material I wanted to push things a bit further, hence the use of real instruments and even some clear vocals. I think that I will continue with Toroidh since it has grown to be one of my most successful projects, both when it comes to sales and positive feedback.
Can you give reasons to why you choose to quit recording as Folkstorm?
The main reason was that I wanted to focus on MZ. 412...this reason seems kind of ridiculous today. I just cant keep myself out of the studio. But since I promised to quit Folkstorm I will stand by my word - there are still some releases on their way, but I do not record any new material. If you still want to hear me do some harsh chaotic noise I recommend Hydra Head Nine (me and S. Halibot).
Likewise while Toroidh is musically far removed from the raw power electronics sound of what Folkstorm produced, do you see parallels in the ideas and concepts utilised in both projects?
The only thing that Folkstorm and Toroidh have in common is the war-theme, otherwise they are very different.
I am not familiar with the word Toroidh? What significance is held within this name?
You have stated that Toroidh (apart from MZ. 412) is your most ambitious project to date. How do you see the concept and sound of Toroidh being more ambitious then any other of your musical projects?
Basically this means that Toroidh represents the music I personally like the most. Of all my projects Toroidh is the only one that I can listen to myself and appreciate as if someone else had made the music. This I have never experienced before. Also Toroidh is more "musical" than all my other work.
One statement you have issued relating to Toroidh exclaimed: "With the atmosphere of early Laibach and LJDLP we are thrown back in to the time where history are written in black and white and coloured in red. More a reflection than glorification." Given Toroidh uses of themes and images that can be deemed as constituting a political lightening rod, was this the reason you felt it necessary to write this mission statement of sorts?
Because it is the truth. I use political statements and imagery from all camps - both left, right and all in between to reflect Europe´s birth (and death), but as usual people gets pissed off because of the right-wing samples. I wanted to clearly state that Toroidh is not about glorification of anything - it is a reflection of times passed.
As has been alluded to in the above question (and as was the case with Folkstorm), the titles and imagery inhabit a political sphere pertaining to the events of the early/ mid 20th century. This is clearly highlighted with another mission statement of: "Toroidh should be considered a timemachine - let yourself be swept back in time to the first decades of the 20th century when Europe was boiling with frustration..." Would you care to expand further on this?
I partially answered that in my previous answer... it is a musical meltingpot of all camps - I have sampled Stalin, Hitler, Churchill and lots of other less famous politicians, agitators, pacifists, anarchists and "men of the street" in order to get the "total" feeling of the chaos that is (and was) Europe.
Your first three releases "Those Who Don't Remember The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It", "Europe Is Dead" and "Testament" form individual parts of a triptych fittingly entitled the 'European trilogy'. Can you elaborate on the trilogy's concept? Do you have any conceptual ideas that will be encompassed within forthcoming Toroidh material once the above mentioned trilogy is completed?
The "European Trilogy" is all based upon the chaotic 20th century - the world wars, the ethnic conflicts and the dream of a united Europe. The Europe that conquered the old world, and colonized the new, and that passed away with the Second World War.. What forthcoming Toroidh material will be about is still a mystery.
Your first release under the Toroidh banner was the limited "Those Who Do Not Remember The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It" LP. This was then re-released soon after on CD format however containing different tracks and mix. Was the original intention to release it as an LP only? Likewise what was the reasoning behind the formats containing different music/ mix?
All the Toroidh full lengths are released on both vinyl and CD, but they are all different versions. So in order to experience the "whole" album you need both formats. The reason for this? You have to work hard to get it all.
In that Toroidh utilises dark ambiental type passages, intermixed with militant neo-classical sampling, guitars and others elements pertaining to the neo-folk scene, how much of a fan are you of the current output of the neo-folk scene?
To some extent I like it, but I am more of a noisehead... I think that most "folk/neofolk/classical/whatever"-artists make some good tracks on each release but also a lot of crap - the productions are almost always unbalanced. There are so many pseudo-musicians that cant handle the keyboard/guitar, but still keep on trying...maybe it´s just me being picky since I have been around in this field so damn long:)
On a number of occasions (both speaking to you personally and likewise your views put forward on e-list forums), you have stated that you have a general dislike for music recorded on computers. Therefore I assume that you still avoid the use of a computer with the creation of your music, however what methods production to you utilise to create Toroidh material?
I record most of the stuff in our studio mostly using samplers, analogue synths, guitars and some snares. I then master and mix the recordings on a computer. The computer is very good when it comes to editing and mastering, but to use it to make music is bad. Especially when it comes to making noisy stuff - you just cant make a computer sound as a "real" distortion pedal!!! What I truly dislike is noisemakers who (most of the times) uses computers and ends up with badly looped noises and cheap soundcard crackle. I will not mention any projects, but there are lots of them out there. Nothing beats working with real instruments!
Having had the opportunity to witness Folkstorm live twice prior to its demise I can personally vouch for the sheer physical intensity of the performance. Given that Toroidh differs drastically in musical approach to Folkstorm, is Toroidh a project you have any intention of thrusting into the live action arena?
I don't think so... When I play live I like the physical and confrontational approach, and the music of Toroidh is more laidback but it all depends on the time and place of the arrangement.
Given the sheer number of projects you have been involved in over time, there however has been a clear increase in the number of active projects you have in recent years. Could this be viewed in any way as a subconscious effort to tackle the prolific output of one particular Peter 'raison d'etre' Andersson?! (given the number of project names he operates under).
Oh yes, it´s a competition... seriously. No, its just that I am very productive and collaborates with lots of people and to call it all Folkstorm, MZ. 412 or Toroidh would be evil... and I shouldn't take all the credit - I have worked with lots of talented people and without them and their guidance I wouldn't have become what I am today.
Again we are at the conclusion of the interview. What can we expect from Toroidh in future and is there anything you would like to add?
I will probably start working on new Toroidh material later this year, but first I have to join the rest of MZ. 412 to finish the Infernal Affairs boxset. That´s all I can reveal at the moment.
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