I was a semi-prepared, freeze-dried fan in varied, limited edition packaging – just add Fiordmoss. Half-life unknown. So far, my love for this band is still highly radioactive. I think it’s some of the best music I’ve ever heard, and it just seems to keep getting better, with every little tidbit they release. Case in point – Siberia, a single released in August 2013, as a gentle nudge-nudge wink-wink towards the LP they’re (hopefully still) working on, as mentioned in the interview they were gracious enough to grant me. Two versions here – the studio version, for the great video, and the live version, for the breathtaking performance. Enjoy!
From my point of view, the year 2013 was a strange one insofar as music is concerned. I had much trouble writing about albums I liked – so much trouble, in fact, that I didn’t write much of anything. I felt assaulted by a cold, artificial tide of sound and I could only dive in once I learned how to reconnect to my trance/electronic music years. To be perfectly honest, the year as a whole has been peppered with tracks I loved, grinning sheepishly on entire LPs I struggled with. It’s not that 2013 was a drought year in music, it’s that this blog’s formula was not designed to accommodate it entirely and I was too uninspired to change said formula. In any case, I couldn’t let the year fade into the past without compiling this top 13, just as I tried to do last year. So, without further ado, here’s my top 13 tracks of 2013, in no particular order. I hope you guys find it enjoyable!
ZaRecords has been silent for a long time now, I know, and I’m sorry about that. It’s only because I was really caught up in finishing up my studies – final exams, writing my BA thesis and all the bureaucracy that goes with it took up so much of my time and energy that I simply couldn’t focus on writing much of anything else. But all is well that ends well, and I’m happy to announce the triumphant return of ZaRecords, with an interview of Czech band Fiordmoss. I wrote about these guys before – I saw them live for the first time and they really left me breathless. I’m really happy they found the time to answer some of my questions and I hope you’ll like what you read and the accompanying music! Most if not all questions were answered by Petra. Welcome back!
Fiordmoss: It is a long time since we made this up. It was supposed to describe contrasts of our musical backgrounds. We translated this into nature and landscapes that we liked which happened to be fjords, forests and moss at the time. Today we’re closer to tribes, churches and taiga.
ZR: There’s a burning question on my mind, so I’ll get right to it. Please don’t take this the wrong way but, having been lucky enough to hear you play live, I have to say your songs sound very different live than on the album – both versions are amazing, but your attitude towards the songs seems to be very different in the live environment… Which context do you prefer, which do you feel feeds your creativity more?
Fiordmoss: We treat them differently because you hear different things in both settings. Album production can take more details and other things that would not be strong or even audible live. Some things just have to go and they get replaced. It also isn’t fun to reproduce live exactly what you can hear on the album, the songs have their own life and sometimes change naturally according to what we currently feel is our sound. For example Tigermy, one of our first songs that we still play, changed more times than we can count.
ZR: Do you guys have other creative outlets alongside your music? You seem both very visually oriented and very poetic.
Fiordmoss: We’re very much into anything visual. The two founding members have an art school background so naturally there is also something to see. Through Facebook we’ll be soon publishing excerpts of Petra’s photographic series that we feel are somehow related to Fiordmoss.
ZR: How do you compose, how do your songs get born? Is it democratic, slow, painful?
Fiordmoss: It is everything and nothing. Sometimes it really is very slow and painful because we’re very strict in what goes and what doesn’t. There is a lot of waiting in between, waiting for the one moment from which it will all go very fast.
ZR: Do you feel part of a community, a musical “wave” coming together? I ask because I feel that, maybe for the first time since the ’90s, I feel there might be a powerful “movement” emerging in music.
Fiordmoss: We try to do our thing and often it doesn’t fit into trends that are currently around. This makes it harder for us to instantly reach large audience but at the same time the people that find our music rarely leave us. There is a lot of bands that come and go, change their names and genre every three years. Even though it means we’re not always cool, we’re staying away from this because it creates no permanent value. But I must admit it is a good feeling when we find ourselves in a setting where we belong.
ZR: You seem to find inspiration in numerous, sometimes quite random, sometimes quite macabre stories. Tell me a story from the road, something you took back with you from your travels.
Fiordmoss: For example driving through Romania was quite insane and sometimes macabre, too. What goes on tour stays on tour, though!
ZR: Are you planning a full-scale release in your future, or do you want to stick to the EP format? Do you feel that releasing fewer tracks at a time puts less pressure on you as a band, or are there other reasons? I ask out of pure curiosity, but also because I’m really hungry for more of your music.
Fiordmoss: We released EPs because the songs we had already created a unit and we didn’t feel like pushing it somewhere else. In fact releasing only EPs creates this pressure because you get asked all the time when the full-length finally comes. But we feel like it’s time now. It wasn’t before. In the summer, there will be a single from the album coming out with a video by Elvira Bukowski whom we met in Berlin, where we live now. The rest is in the stars.
ZR: I see you’re present on Bandcamp and so on. Are you self-released? What’s your relationship with the industry, record labels etc.?
Fiordmoss: So far yes, we are self-released. We do want to release on a label someday but as of now we’re more concerned with the music itself than with our relationship with the industry.
ZR: Your live performance was very theatrical, you move in a very expressive way, much like a dancing actress. Do you have a background in the dramatic arts?
Fiordmoss: No, nothing like that but I very much like to dance.
Fiordmoss: I was obviously obsessed with tattoo ladies at the time, which influenced the whole record. I was reading a lot about their personal stories and this came up while working on lyrics for Maud. Just how, I do not know.
ZR: Thank you so much for your time! I can hardly wait to hear new music from you guys!
Fiordmoss: Thank you for your questions and kind words!
Here it is, at long last, the 3rd Mixtape, themed around dreams and nightmares of all sorts! Next Friday, I’ll upload the 4th Mixtape, just so that I can keep my promise of two podcasts each month! Until then, enjoy!Vodpod videos no longer available.
The way to write about Fiordmoss is to be half asleep, at the threshold of illness due to exhaustion, or, conversely, in love, distantly overwhelmed, as though, while looking at storm clouds, you’d have trouble telling if it was coming or going. In this nebulous space, their music can be met half way and it can begin to weave itself around one’s mind like a cold, sharp garment, a gauze and satin hybrid, to be worn right before sex and right before wounding. The sterile caress of these songs is something not easily forgotten, something which can tattoo itself on your eardrums, softly, as if spilling ink were enough to drown out all pain and leave traces of peace under your skin.
I saw Fiormoss perform live in my town, a few days after Floex, in a wonderful display of inspiration by the Czech Cultural Center. Their performance was hypnotism itself. With patience exquisite, they treat sounds like fluids, they slowly perform the alchemy of turning air into water into wax, with a presence about them which alludes to ritual rather than performance. Regardless of acceleration of tempo, every second spent in that concert hall made me feel like time was slowing down more and more near the shimmering edges of the sonic bubble they were projecting around the audience. It’s shocking how different the recording is, but since I can only speak about the recording, I must say it’s just as effective in inducing this dizzying and entirely non-violent attack on the threshold between the wakeful state and whatever happens when you nod off.
This music reminds me of the butoh dance experiments, where the performer would try to shut down consciousness and impulse, and allow the body to move as the body wants to move, free of intent other that that which is dictated by the music. Dream on your feet, in other words, dream as your toes try to support you in ways unthought of before, dream as your body finds new ways to stand, your bones find new ways of leaning on each other. There is passion and darkness and a particular kind of cold, a spectral chill permeating such movements, and the same shiver seems to me to be traveling through Fiordmoss’ album, from beginning to end. Odd, melancholy, fragile, the music has something dead and yet thriving, something basic, like the micelles of fungi, quickly spreading through the cold, damp soil, terrifying and endearing at the same time.
Fear and love tangled together in Petra’s voice, marble, grit, ice and water grafted on each other in Jan and Roman’s bass and guitar dialogue/dance, and the slow pulsing of blood through arteries with the programmed beats, these ingredients meld so well in the trio’s music that I simply can’t find any way not to become completely mesmerized. References abound, but to mention them would feel hollow. The music is just too cohesive, too entrancing, too in control of itself to require any sort of bonds and ties to other names. The pulse is unrelenting, making one wonder about the attraction between things, the inevitability of clashes, like tectonic plates mounting each-other slowly, like great beasts, or the maddeningly slow and yet somehow unstoppable process of motes of dust congealing around each-other, forming planets. This attraction, be it magnetism or gravity, is sung by these songs like hymns; this slow, constant, sexy coming together seems to sit at the nucleus of every one of Fiordmoss’ offerings, and just like the astronomer and the microbiologist can look in different directions and observe the same patterns, so do these songs behave when emitted from recording or in the live environment. I hope you enjoy Fiordmoss as much as I did. My favorite track on the album, Deer Traps, I present to you in two versions, one live, for comparison. See you soon.