Pradžia / Garsas / Sound
 

Allerseelen: exclusive interview with Gerhard Hallstatt about Music, Čiurlionis and Life

Long awaited interview with Allerseelen's mastermind, musician, writer and thinker Gerhard Hallstatt.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2015 m. Liepos 26 d., 20:13
Skaityta: 822 k.
Allerseelen: Fliegerlied (Terra Incognita CD 2015)
ORDER NOW: Allerseelen CD Terra Incognita (2015) - each song 30 seconds

Before conducting interview with Gerhard i received his interesting notes from his archive::

Allerseelen, Kernavė, Lithuania – 28.08.2004:

"Allerseelen performed at midnight. The air was now cooler, and the clouds that had been over Kernavė for the whole evening finally disappeared. The stars became visible, the full moon was shining directly into our eyes. The sky with its lunar light and the dark clouds reminded me of the symbolistic paintings by the Lithuanian artist Mikalojus Čiurlionis. The audience was great, the sound system and the light show were wonderful, the combination of music and light created a very poetic and quite psychoactive field of force. We had been tired from the long travel but now we were again full of energy and enthusiasm. The light had the colour of amber, we were surrounded by golden sparks - the light fit perfect with the songs and their lyrics although the light engineer did not speak German at all. Especially one moment was unbelievable, I never noticed an experience like this before and also after this in a concert - impressive and immense purple waves were rolling from the audience into the direction of the stage - and this created the impression that hundreds of people were coming closer and closer and closer and closer to the stage: Ačiū / Thank You." (Gerhard Hallstatt)

First of all, congratulations with Your new album! Which one in line is it?

Ačiū, thank you! In all these years Allerseelen released a couple of CDs and vinyl editions. The CDs so far were: Cruor, Gotos=Kalanda, Sturmlieder, Stirb und Werde, Neuschwabenland, Venezia, Flamme, Abenteuerliches Herz, Edelweiss, Hallstatt, Rauhe Schale. So Terra Incognita, our recent release published in June 2015, is number twelve. But as we also re-released some months ago in a limited CD edition the very early Allerseelen cassette  Schwartzer Rab (Black Raven), Terra Incognita could also be number thirteen.

Could You please tell more about the new CD Terra Incognita and its concept?

The idea of Terra Incognita is that our world is full of questions that are difficult or impossible to answer. We are surrounded by things that we do not know. We are surrounded by terra incognitae. Too often someone believes to know everything about someone or something – only to find out one day that this has been an illusion. To find answers may be a life-long mission impossible. Whenever a researcher or thinker believes to have found an answer, exactly this answer is giving birth to new questions he was not been aware of before. So there won´t be an end to this search, probably not even in death. We do not know anything about the future. But what do we really know about present and past? We do not know the others, and we do not know ourselves too. And each of us is a terra incognita too. What do we know about death? Nothing. Death is another terra incognita. What do we know about life and love? We are everywhere surrounded by unknown territories. Some are trying to find answers for this mission impossible in philosophy or religion, and a part of them might be successful but actually most of those searching probably will never find an answer. Children are full of questions: Why is the sky blue? Why is so much salt in the sea? I love these questions. Maybe they are more important than the answers.

Allerseelen is probably the same as Lithuanian Vėlinės (Ilgės), it's commemorating the ones we lost, people from the past that we knew or we never did. Why did You chose a name for Your band Allerseelen, why is this festival so important to You?

Allerseelen is German for All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead, November 2nd, it is almost the time of the Celtic Samhain. So this seems to be very close to this Lithuanian day of commemoration. On this day the connection between the living ones and the dead ones, between life and death is believed to be very intense, so many people visit the cemeteries to be close to their beloved ones. And the dead very probably want to be close to their beloved living too. I like the mirror as a symbol of death in the surrealistic movies by Jean Cocteau: Those alive look into the mirror, by getting older they come closer and closer - until they touch it for the first time and finally disappear in it. The word Allerseelen also contains the word All which means universe. Soul is Seele. So already the name itself refers to two terrae incognitae, the infinity of the universe and infinity of the psyche. In some way, I am celebrating Allerseelen 365 days a year, in my calendar of Allerseelen each day and night is named November 2nd. Allerseelen is also the name of a beautiful song by Richard Strauss. Some years ago we recorded a cover-version of this for the vinyl edition of the Allerseelen CD Sturmlieder (Storm Songs). Another inspiration was also the book Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry which takes place on the dia de los muertos in Mexico City. Allerseelen is also the day when Pier Paolo Pasolini was killed. In the early Allerseelen cassettes, this concentration on darkness, death, decay was quite strong, for example on the cassettes Schwartzer Rab (Black Raven) and Requiem – and the cassette Requiem will be the next re-release on CD. Currently, we are  working on this re-birth of a cassette as CD. In the liner-notes of both releases, I wrote two texts about the significance of death.

Internet sites write that You play neofolk / martial industrial / ritual / Apocalyptic Krautfolk music. It's similar, although rather different styles. Which side are You "on"? More apocalyptic approach, or rituals are the main thing to You?

To be honest, I prefer recording music than talking about it. I do not like these brands, labels, genres, these may be important for writers, mailorders, record-shops but not for me. With Allerseelen, I always try to stay outside of these genres, to remain a kind of outcast or outlaw outside  these villages or cities that are called neofolk or industrial or ritual or metal or something else. Allerseelen always has been a process, a work in progress, and clearly the early recordings have been inspired by ritual music. Basically the art of Allerseelen seems to be a field of force somewhere between metal and neofolk and industrial, this is why we often are invited to festivals of this or that style. Yet our music is different from all these genres. Victor Hugo wrote: „You may resist the invasion of armies, but you can't resist the invasion of ideas.“ And these words are full of truth in the world of art. An artist cannot and probably also does not want to resist this invasion of inspirations. Ideas come from somewhere, but again we do not know at all where they are coming from – from the universe, from the psyche? The inspirations are coming from a terra incognita. It is always the idea, the concept of a song or CD that tells me if a recording should sound  soft or hard, if its atmosphere should be warm or cold, more electronic or more acoustic. For example, the songs on the CD Neuschwabenland were quite icy and electronic as the concept deals with antarctica and winter. Whereas the songs on CDs like Abenteuerliches Herz (Adventurous Heart) and Venezia have much more warm and almost mediterranean atmospheres. I like one quotation by Friedrich Nietzsche: “Let us singular individuals live our existences as predecessors, and leave it to those coming after us to wage war about our opinions.” So I prefer to work on my songs and leave it to others to find inaccurate words to describe them.

If Your music is apocalyptic, do you wait already for Kali Yuga's end (one of many...)? Is Your music trying to fasten it?

In this context I prefer the saying: „Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.“ (Martin Luther) So maybe each of my CDs is a tree and each song is an apple. Good appetite! Actually, I do not consider my music as apocalyptic. You won´t find apocalyptic events or symbols in the lyrics – and how should one define the character of an apocalyptic song? You may find a certain darkness in some songs and lyrics, but in general I prefer to use positive texts and contexts in this modern world with its negative materialism. My vision is a different one, I try to be part of a positive spirituality. I hope to create with my songs little islands or peaks. On these artificial islands and peaks there should of course be apple trees. Apples are at the same time a symbol of wisdom but from the Christian point of view also a symbol of sin. Some consider my music as ammunition, some see it as medicine. Someone eats an apple and then makes love. Another one eats another apple and commits a crime. Those who eating these apples or listen to the songs of Allerseelen are actually those who decide if they fasten or slow down the decay of the world. I personally probably am that much in love with mountains because there I am „6000 feet above sea level and far higher above all human concerns“ like Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in the Swiss Alps. He was not only philosopher and poet but also a very talented composer – and experienced a very personal apocalypse.

You create all Allerseelen's music and words?

Usually I write most of the music of most of the lyrics. But I also took poems by writers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and others. To write the songs would be a strange description as it does not really fit the way I am working. I am playing with sounds, and the sounds are playing with me. Maybe I am not just invaded by ideas but also by sounds. Each sound is also a symbol, so I am combining in my music symbols in an almost alchemical way. But I am also inviting close friends to play bass or guitar or violin on some songs. In the past, members of Blood Axis, Cawatana, Graumahd, Hekate, Svarrogh, Waldteufel and other projects, have collaborated with Allerseelen on stage. On the CD Rauhe Schale Meri Tadic from the well-known folk metal group Eluveitie and Annabel Lee from Blood Axis played violin to several songs – but both violinists never performed live with Allerseelen. On the recent CD Terra Incognita John Haughm of the American metal group Agalloch played guitars on several songs, also Jörg B. from the Austrian projects Amestigon and Der Blutharsch participated, also Daniel from the Spanish project Arnica. With Agalloch we performed several concerts in North America some years ago. Jörg B. was for a long time Allerseelen live bassist. But bass on most songs on the CDs Rauhe Schale and Terra Incognita played Marcel P. who was also on stage with Allerseelen in many countries.

What inspires You most?

A lot of things, material and immaterial, have been inspirations. If you listen to the music, read the lyrics and look on my photos in the releases of Allerseelen, you will already know a lot about Gerhard Hallstatt. Maybe already too much as some lyrics are almost like pages from my diaries. The photos on the CD Terra Incognita were taken in the Austrian Alps, in the Spanish Pyrenees, on Etna in Sicily. Some songs were also inspired by travels in winter to Finland – for example the song Grünes Licht (Green Light) and Neunmondmesser (Nine Moon Knife). One song was also inspired by the drug Belladonna.

Could You name Your favorite Your compositions / albums / collaborations? You worked with a plethora of artists over the years. What collaborations were / are the most interesting and important to You and why?

Each CD, each collaboration was the most interesting, most challenging, most important one at the time of its creation, otherwise I would not never have had the energy and enthusiasm to work on it. Most Allerseelen CDs are published on my own label Aorta and on Ahnstern in Austria but I have also collaborated with Ewers Tonkunst in Moscow. A very interesting collaboration was the Russian CD release Georg Trakl. Umnachtung. I had the idea for this publication when we performed with Allerseelen in Moscow and I found out that some Russian musicians I got to know were inspired a lot by the dark symbolistic Austrian poet Georg Trakl. So we thought of a CD with contributions by Neutral, Otzepenevshiye and Allerseelen and worked on this. And one year later we presented this special release to the audience in the several Russian cities. Another very important release was the split CD Barco do Vinho with the Portuguese group Sangre Cavallum. We had this idea when I was travelling in Portugal and spending a lot of time with the members of this wonderful project. Something very adventurous was definitely the limited, quickly sold out edition of Barco do Vinho in a box with a bottle of red Portuguese win. Another very interesting Russian release was a split CD with the American folk group Changes. With them we also played in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Mythology of Black Sun, Kabbalah, Ernst Jünger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hermann Hesse... You are a big book lover, and - an author of one. Could You please tell us more about it - what was Your book's idea and do You plan another one?

I especially like the writer Ernst Jünger who died some years ago at an age of 103. One CD of Allerseelen named Abenteuerliches Herz (Adventurous Heart) was inspired by a book of him with the same title, full of little symbolistic and surrealistic events and dreams. And he himself was an adventurous heart too with all his adventures and experiences in both world wars, with all his novels, essays, diaries, dream diaries. He was also interested in drugs and took LSD and magic mushrooms with the inventor of LSD, Albert Hofmann. In the Sixties, at an age of seventy, he published the book Annäherungen (Approachments) about his experiences with various psychoactive substances. When I was recording the first Allerseelen cassettes, I also had the wish to write in a personal way about things that I was fascinated by. So I started a small bi-lingual magazine, first called Aorta, later called Ahnstern. I released almost thirty editions about a variety of themes – performance art, architecture, movies, mysticism, magic. Each issue was a small monograph, it contained the same text in German and in English, as already in the early time of Allerseelen – which was a prehistoric era without internet – I was in contact with many people all over the world with whom I wanted to share my experiences. These magazines have been sold out for a long time but again and again after concerts I was asked for these issues. So I decided that we should publish Aorta and Ahnstern in a book. The American and French editions of Blutleuchte came already out some years ago, the Spanish and the German one are in preparation. After this book release, I hope to start working on other books as I have been writing in-depth diaries for years about my travels with Allerseelen and also my time in my beloved mountains. So there is a lot of material, and I also have a lot of photographs that I took that might be used too for a book publication. Yes, I love books and am basically living in a wood of apple trees in which each trees is a book. When I was recently in the mountains, I was given there the title for another book: Steingeburt (Stone Birth) – a book about my mountain experiences and also about Mithras about whom I already had written a chapter in the Blutleuchte book. Steingeburt is also a song on the CD Terra Incognita, but an early version we had published on the now sold out MCD Pedra that was published many years ago in Portugal.

Do You know Lithuania? How and when did You come to it? What Lithuanian and foreign musicians do You value most?

I love languages, and the little gift that I got when I came for the first time in 2004 to Lithuania was a little Lithuanian / German dictionary by Ugnius, the organizer of the great festival Mėnuo Juodaragis and owner of the label Dangus. The first time we played with Allerseelen in Kernavė, a wonderful area. I liked this place very much and also the museum close to the venue. Already then I knew the art of Mikalojus Čiurlionis and thought that the sky with its moon light and the dark clouds looked like one of his paintings. I also own a book with Lithuanian fairy-tales, I like their surrealistic events: rocks that are fighting against each other, appletrees eating people who want to steal their fruits etcetera. Maybe I should write a song about the fighting rocks. I also have a by book by Jonas Trinkūnas about gods and rituals in Lithuania and Baltikum. Allerseelen played several years ago with Kūlgrinda in Spain, I met them there for the first time and then again in Lithuania. I like their songs and ceremonies very much. I have a lot of CDs from the Lithuanian label Dangus. These are other projects that I highly appreciate: Donis, Spanxti, Marga Muzika, Ugniavijas, Žalvarinis. One time I was also as guest vocalist with the Spanish group Arnica on stage in Zarasai. With Allerseelen we also performed in Zarasai and also in Vilnius. Zarasai is really a magical island, an amazing microcosm with thousands of great people. Mėnuo Juodaragis is for me one of the most beautiful festivals in the world. When we performed in Vilnius, I finally had some time for the National Museum, Lietuvos Nacionalinis Muzgejus, and also for the little museum inside the Gediminas tower with the documentary / documents about the Baltic Way, Baltijos Kelias, this living wall of two million Balts in 1989 reaching from Vilnius to Tallinn. When I was there,  I just had read in some papers that Catalunya was planning something very similar to become independent from Spain. I was also glad to visit the island Trakai with the red castle. As I like a lot the symbolistic paintings of Mikalojus Čiurlionis so I also travelled to Kaunas. Unfortunately his museum was closed when I was there. So I visited the Devil Museum, Velnių Muziejus, which was great too. But I would have preferred the Čiurlionis paintings. I especially love those with the amber and gold colours. I love amber and had in the past some amber jewellery. So the Baltikum seems a perfect area for me. At my home I also have some amber vodka with raw amber that I use from time to time in winter as natural medicine. In Kaunas I also bought a book with Ciurlionis paintings and also his compositions.

What are Your plans in the near future? Last words?

Currently we are working on the vinyl re-release of the CD Venezia with some additional songs and a new CD. We are also working on some more re-releases of early Allerseelen cassettes. We have invitations for some concerts in various countries, I am looking forward to these travels as they allow me to get beautiful and powerful inspirations, „to be invaded by ideas“. Last words? I hope that soon Allerseelen will perform again in Lithuania, that some of your readers may experience us again or for the very first time on a stage somewhere in your country and that next time the Mikalojus Čiurlionis museum will be open.

Many Allerseelen releases are available in Lithuania:
www.dangus.net

Please purchase Allerseelen CDs directly from Aorta Mailorder:
aorta.mail.order@gmail.com
http://www.discogs.com/seller/Aorta.Mailorder
https://www.facebook.com/aorta.mailorder.aorta
http://allerseelen.bandcamp.com/music
http://allerseelen.bandcamp.com/merch
https://www.facebook.com/allerseelen.allerseelen
https://www.facebook.com/gerhard.hallstatt.blutleuchte
https://vk.com/allerseelen.allerseelen

ALLERSEELEN CD TERRA INCOGNITA

These songs were recorded and mixed in 2014 and 2015 at Haus zur letzten Latern and Dungeon Studio (Rhenania).
The mastering took place at Soundtempel Studio.
 
All lyrics were written by Gerhard Hallstatt except From the Emptiness by R. N. Taylor, Fliegerlied by Walter Reisch, Flamme by Friedrich Nietzsche, Totenschiff by Richard Wagner, Thule by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sturmlied by Ricarda Huch.
All texts were translated by Simon Collins (Drengskap). The photographs were taken by Gerhard Hallstatt on the peaks Schneeberg (Austria), Brecha de Rolando (Spain) and Etna (Sicily). The artwork was created by HaateKaate.
 
Tonkunst, Vocals: Gerhard Hallstatt
Bass: Noreia (Fliegerlied), Marcel P.
Drums: Christien H., Marcel P. (Flamme)
Cello: Annamaria Bernadette Cristian (Grünes Licht)
Guitar: Jörg B. (Böses Blut, Ikarus, Schwarzes Vinyl)
Guitar: John Haughm (Thule, Wir sind Schwäne)
Guitar: Daniel P. Arnica (From the Emptiness, Fliegerlied)
Guitar: Alexander Hugin Wieser (Grünes Licht)
Keyboard: Marcel P. (Totenschiff, From the Emptiness)
Vocals: R. N. Taylor (From the Emptiness)

01 Steingeburt
02 Fliegerlied
03 Böses Blut
04 Ikarus
05 Flamme
06 Totenschiff
07 Thule
08 From the Emptiness
09 Grünes Licht
10 Neunmondmesser
11 Sturmlied
12 Wir sind Schwäne
13 Panzergarten
14 Was wissen wir vom Licht
15 Schwarzes Vinyl

Album review: http://www.radikaliai.lt/garsas/2851-review-allerseelen-terra-incognita-2015-aortaahnstern

(C) Katia Neu

Komentarai
  • Austeja
    2015 m. Liepos 27 d., 11:59
    That is exactly how it happened. And I mean Kernave concert in 2004. A psychedelic and magical experience. After the concert we stormed the stage with friends and bought a different album each, so we can rotate them later :) Herr Gerhard is really an artist with special powers.