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Interview with Luis Couto (THE JOY OF NATURE) about music, Atlantis and Azores

Luís Couto (THE JOY OF NATURE, MOVING COIL, TEATRO GROTESCO and some other bands) from Azores creates not only a very bright and beautiful music, but also is a writer who found a link between Atlantis and Azores and wrote a book about it. We talked about it (2017 10 15) while waiting for a new album of THE JOY OF NATURE.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2018 m. Sausio 11 d., 13:18
Skaityta: 61 k.
Interview with Luis Couto (THE JOY OF NATURE) about music, Atlantis and Azores

You are well known musician from a very exotic place - Azores. Could You tell us more about this place, its musical scene, how does it impact Your music considering that the main Your band is called The Joy of Nature.

Azores is an archipelago of nine islands, eight of volcanic origin, located on the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Europe and America. It belongs to Portugal from the 15th century, though it is an autonomous region. The landscape is quite diversified, as it may resemble at times Ireland, Mediterranean countries and Japan (some plants and trees from the Far East, like hydrangeas or cryptomerias, were introduced on these islands). It has some lakes situated in craters of dormant volcanoes and there are several manifestations of volcanic activity, like fumaroles and geysers.

It is a very beautiful place, though it is also a dangerous place to live, not only because of the volcanic activity (the last eruption occurred in 1957/1958), but also due to earthquakes and hurricanes that are somewhat frequent.

The balance between beauty and destruction, as one can see beautiful landscapes emerging from volcanoes, is essential to the music created by The Joy of Nature. All its work is permeated by that balance between beauty and destruction and the impermanence of everything. The joy of nature is manifested through constant processes of creation and destruction.

Concerning the musical scene, Azores has its own folk music (sometimes covered by The Joy of Nature), but also bands from many genres: rock, metal (on the 90s there was a strong Metal scene), experimental, pop and those genres that one can find almost anywhere on Earth.

The Joy of Nature is one of a kind in the musical scene of Azores.

Could You please remember the bands You played in?

My first band was Shadowplay – a punk rock/grunge band in which I was the lead singer. It was a good experience, but the music created wasn’t that memorable.

After that, in 1998, I created Moving Coil and The Joy of Nature and Discipline. The Joy of Nature and Discipline (the name was reduced to its actual form on 2006) released two tracks on a compilation that came out on 1999 and one album – “The Fog that Life Is Haunted By” (recorded during 1999, but that only came out three years later, due to several delays). Moving Coil (more indie/post rock sounding) released a few demo CD-Rs from 1999 to 2002 and some tracks on compilations. Then, with the addition of the singer Mara Neves, the name changed to aquarelle. A demo CD-single was made with Mara and the next release, after Mara left aquarelle, was a post rock influenced mini-album – “Era uma vez uma cortina...” –, released by a Portuguese netlabel. After that, the activity of Moving Coil/aquarelle stopped for some time. On 2009 I released a compilation with some of the best moments from aquarelle and Moving Coil. It returned on 2015, under the moniker Moving Trees, because the name Moving Coil wasn’t available on Bandcamp by that time. Between 2015 and 2017 Moving Trees recorded two songs for compilations and mini-album released by Portuguese label Anti-Demos-Cracia.

There was also Post Crash High and Teatro Grotesco (both projects focusing on dark ambient and, sometimes, industrial music) that had some limited editions from 2005 to 2012.

I also took part on the experimental/free improvisation Portuguese music scene, playing electric with other musicians, but that was only a live thing.

It would take too much space to list the discography of all these projects and it is available on discogs.com website, though the demo CD-Rs by Moving Coil aren’t there.

These last years have been less prolific and I’m focusing only on The Joy of Nature and Moving Coil (as I could return to the original name). Looking back in time, I have the feeling that I could have done a better selection of material to be released, instead of being so prolific. Also, two many names/projects became quite confusing.

Which album of Yours do You value the most?

That is a difficult one to reply.

Concerning The Joy of Nature, “The Empty Circle, pt. II: Rastos de Sangue e fragmentos da Tradição” has some of the best songs, though the arrangements and recordings could have been better. “The Empty Circle, pt. III: anitya” was the album that got closer to what was envisioned. “The Shepherd’s Tea” and the compilation “agKaanta asRti Parasamgate”, even with its technical imperfections, have some magical moments.

I’m also very pleased with the two releases under the moniker Aquarelle (from 2003 and 2004) – a demo CD-R with three tracks and a mini-album – “Era uma vez uma cortina...”.

What about Your plans? I've heard You plan a new album? When it will be released and what will it be like?

On March 2018 a new release by The Joy of Nature will, hopefully, see the light of day. It’s a re-visitation of The Joy of Nature’s work that will include tracks from The Joy of Nature’s discography with some parts re-recorded and featuring completely new mixes. It will also include some in-edit and recent tracks.

Also, I’m still in the process of writing and recording new songs by Moving Coil. Don’t know when this stuff will be finished and released, but these new songs in which I’m working are quite dear to me.

In 2017, three new songs by Moving Coil will come out on compilations organized by Portuguese labels.

You are also a writer. As You live near at least two very interesting objects – pyramids under water, i would like to know more about Your book which, i believe, is about Atlantis?

I started my research on the subject of the connection between Atlantis and the Azores back in 2004. As I was researching, the book I shifted its main theme to the presence of the Perennial Tradition in Azores. At some point the book was finished and I had a contract signed to its publication. But I wasn’t happy with the result, so I adapted some chapters (those concerning ethnography) of the book and published it on several issues of the magazine/book “Finis Mundi”.

I did not think much about it for some time until I read “Atlantis and The Cycles of Time” by Joscelyn Godwin. Though the book does not mention the Azores many times, it contains quite a lot of valuable information and clues to follow.

After that, some very interesting news came out: the discovery of pyramids under water (some authors talked about it many years ago), the megalithic structures found at Terceira island. Also, some academics started to pay some attention to pyramids above water on Pico island. For many years no one paid attention to it, but recently archaeologists found out that those pyramids were built before Portuguese came to the island.

This decade has been quite fertile concerning the appearance of new data about the history of Azores and I hope to find some time to investigate all this.

Do You believe Atlantis existed? What did You find out?

More than a matter of belief, it’s just something that makes sense. If one thinks that the Doctrine of the Four Ages (and we found that doctrine both in the West and the East) is true, it makes sense that Atlantis existed.

Almost all civilizations mention a deluge in their sacred texts, but what is possible to affirm with modern science and history about what happened 11000 or 12000 years ago? It’s very difficult to prove.

Plato mentions Atlantis in two dialogues – Critias and Timaeus – and I don’t see any reason for Plato to lie about it, based on what Solon transmitted him. But this is a never-ending discussion. Some of the skepticism regarding Atlantis comes from a quotation attributed to Aristotle - “he who invented the island also sank it”. But, in fact, that quotation is wrongly attributed to Aristotle.

Regarding the location of Atlantis, Plato mentions that Atlantis was located beyond the Pillars of Hercules (modern strait of Gibraltar), as Azores are. There are some authors affirming that the Pillars of Hercules weren’t, by that time, the strait of Gibraltar, but one could go on doubting everything...

I studied all Azorean legends I could find and many of those legends are connected to enchanted islands, especially the legends about Sete Cidades (Seven Cities) – a small village and lagoon over a crater –, some mentioning Atlantis. There is also a curious inscription on a Buddhist temple in Tibet mentioning seven cities in a way that resembles the description of the destruction of Atlantis by Plato.

One interesting observation: we can find huge pyramids both in Egypt and South America. Curiously, Azores stands in the middle.

I don’t want to create any new theory about Atlantis (there are already too many), just link some dots concerning Azores and Atlantis.

There are also water cults everywhere in the world, as well i guess in Azores. Could You tell more about that and did Azores' people have their old religion as well?

Most traditions in Azores came from the Portuguese (also Galician and French people) that came to inhabit these islands on the 15th century. But these traditions resisted more here because, for many years, these islands were quite isolated. A tradition that is still very important here is the Cult of the Holy Spirit. On Portugal it almost disappeared and was never that important. That tradition has, according to some authors, a strong influence from the heretic Cathars.

Regarding water cults, there were some connected to Summer’s Solstice. I took part in some rites when I was younger. Unfortunately, those traditions disappeared.

Azores are officially Christian, but a kind of Christianity that owes more to popular religion than anything else, like in Portuguese mainland.

There are some traditions that were created by the Azorean people, but that’s a long story!

Obrigado!

After a two-year hiatus, the CD of "Emptiness Is a Long Story - The First 12 Years Revisited" will be released in digipak with a 8 page booklet, including the lyrics in Portuguese translated to English (exception made to the lyrics of traditional songs that are nearly impossible to translate). The album will be officially released by this year’s Spring.

Also, album “Another View of the First 12 Years” will be released. These two releases commemorate the 12 first years of The Joy of Nature’s existence.

“Emptiness is a Long Story – The First 12 Years Revisited” is a compilation of songs already released by The Joy of Nature. All songs have new mixings and arrangements. Also, the vocals for many tracks were re-recorded (one by a new vocalist) and some lyrics were changed (even some song titles are different).

Tanchão, Senhora do Almortão, Sombras dos Nossos Ancestrais, Silêncios Correm nas Minhas Veias (from “The Empty Circle, pt. II – Rastos de Sangue e fragmentos da Tradição”), As Três Moiras Encantadas, Ao Sol (from “A Roda do Tempo”), Twilight of The Old King (from the compilation “All Souls Arise”), Winter Is Coming (from “Two Leaves Left”), A Song To The Sun (from “My Work Was Not Yet Done), Canção do Desassossego (from “a evasão das fadas”), Breathing Your Name (from “Auguries of Innocence”) and “As The River Flows” (from the compilation “Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense”).

The CD will be released in digipak with a 8 page booklet, including the lyrics in Portuguese translated to English (exception made to the lyrics of traditional songs that are nearly impossible to translate).

The video for one of its tracks – “Winter Is Coming” is already available on youtube:

“Another View of The First 12 Years” will come out on cassette (the tracks will also be made available on digital format for those who buy the cassette) and will include new versions of old songs and unreleased tracks. The tracklist is as follows:

Side A:

1) O Fogo dos Ferreiros (this is the original song that remained unreleased and was later reworked and included on “The Empty Circle, pt. III” as “A New Dawn Out of the Noise”)

2) This Floating World (included on “The Empty Circle, pt. III”; new arrangements)

3) Everything that Happens as a Lifeless Painting (new unreleased song)

4) A Evasão das Fadas (included on “a evasão das fadas”; new arrangements)

Side B:

1) Terra de Lava e de Mar (included on “The Empty Circle, pt. II”; new arrangements)

2) The Longest and Deepest Sleep (included on “The Shepherd’s Tea”; new version)

3) The Rain (unreleased track)

4) The Empty Circle (unreleased track; some parts of it were reworked on “The Empty Cloud” and “From the World of Shadows to the Light” (both included on “The Empty Circle, pt. III”)

There is the intention of making a video for “Everything that Happens as Lifeless Painting”, so we invite everyone to send short clips (from 30 seconds to 1 minute) recorded with a cell phone with something ordinary, from daily life. The ideia is to join all short clips in one video, to give the impression of daily life is a “lifeless painting”. If you’d like to help with this, please send your clips to thejoyofnature@gmail.com. The video will be made freely available to everyone who sent clips or got “Another View of The First 12 Years”.

https://www.facebook.com/thejoyofnature

https://thejoyofnature.bandcamp.com

Finally, Moving Coil, the indie/post punk/post rock project that was created by the same time as The Joy of Nature and Discipline, is back. The first release – “A Thousand Leaves Falling” – was released by Anti-Demos-Cracia last year, under the name Moving Trees. Two copies of “A Thousand Leaves Falling are still available. To hear and get more info about Moving Coil go to:

https://movingcoil.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/movingcoil

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