Darklife Austria fanzine, 07/2002
Interview: Kirlian Camera
Confirming the hope many have -that maturity comes with age-, KIRLIAN CAMERA, after more that two decades of activities, are enjoying a period of un-refrained creativity with many releases succeeding one another -from UNIDENIFIED LIGHT to STILL AIR to ABSENTEE to the new album in the works. Meanwhile a biography book complemented by a tribute sampler has been published by the band's label, revealing for the first time the complete story of this tormented music project. While babbling idiots still shout nonsense about this band causing undesired tension, we caught the chance to chat with ANGELO BERGAMINI about the current state of affairs for KC and asked him some curiosities aroused by the biography reading.
DARKLIFE: The Absentee EP is out since some months now. To me it shows that the band has reached an unprecedented maturity. Are you happy with this release?
ANGELO BERGAMINI: We attach great importance to the work you are mentioning, as it is a kind of a long and passionate extension to Still Air, not having the same atmosphere, anyway, and this is necessary, for us, as we have never liked to make up low-quality photocopies. Let's say Absentee EP sounds a bit warmer than the album, although it is not that "Copacabana- oriented". We released a harvest of tracks not including any outtakes, but just material we undoubtedly like and perform on stage, as well. Then, we asked our label to sell that title at the price of a maxi-single, despite it runs 46 minutes long. Unfortunately, we know somebody is selling it at a higher price! We want our audience to know they shouldn't pay that release as if it were a damned album!
DL: How are sales going?
AB: Sales are going appreciably, in general, in spite we are not a dancefloor combo. Absentee suffered a bit the fact it was issued between Still Air and Kälte Container, launched as a strange single - which sounds, in the head of some people, a bit as saying it is less important - so it is selling less than other products. Then, I must clarify Kälte Container was not a KIRLIAN CAMERA operation, being instead a project by the label E.N.D.E., as people might suppose we have been releasing three records more or less at the same time, which is not true.
DL: I've read somewhere that a new band logo due to appear on the cover has been censored. What really happened there and what was so offending in the logo?
AB: SPV asked us to take away an eagle from the front cover, as it was supposed to look too "nazi-like". I honestly must admit I accepted that request, as that bloody eagle was nothing so special, to us! It was not some hitlerian stuff at all! What about Armani's logo, then?!? Armani made tons of nazi-oriented clothes, hats and so on and nobody noticed it!!! Anyway, I guess we won't be distributed by SPV any longer. We are looking for a more "independent" entity and our label will surely agree with our need.
DL: The EP/mini-album format seems to suit you better than full long length releases, or is just my impression? Actually many of KC mini-albums have duration comparable to full-length...
AB: Oh yes, I simply love that format!!! It very often fits in our way-to-releasing and composing so perfectly... Do not know why, but it is a more condensed way, as it forces one to be more lucid... Mini-albums are uneasy to do, as there are less chances to hide prolixity and approximation, due to the fact everything must work fine within a shorter length, or using re-mixes instead of 100% brand new material. It is a good chance to prove one's ability, I think. The gloomy point is that maxi-singles are not so appreciated by both standard audience and labels, so one gets actually not many chances to have a best-seller in the hands... Our situation is a bit different, as sometimes that format gave us appreciable satisfaction.
DL: The Drifting EP for example is in my opinion a milestone in KC career, mixing flawlessly the cold, passionate and melodic sides of your music. How do you feel towards this release?
AB: It is maybe the one I prefer, talking about our discography before the new decade... It sounded really particular, four years ago, I think... Then, there is a true heart, hidden among those tracks. Still Air is probably its development, although it sounds a bit different, more "lost".
DL: One step back from Absentee and we find the Kälte Container biography book and the CD including many bands covering/remixing KC songs. What do you think of the way this product came across?
AB: We appreciate that release, even though it is not to be taken as a real KC project. It is in fact an idea coming from our today's label E.N.D.E./Radio Luxor: time ago they contacted us, asking permission to make a book regarding us, a sort of an official biography. Well, we did agree. Then, they asked us whether we would like to be re-mixed by other bands, and we agreed once again. We did not make anything but signing an agreement, exactly, and suggesting the name of some bands. I am actually disappointed because some bands did not find place on to that album with their versions... Hope to use them too, sooner or later. At any rate, we no doubt appreciate the result, acknowledging it without any hesitation.
DL: I noticed that the biography neglects to mention at all KC's hyper-classic track Eclipse. Was that intentional? I mean, that track has filled dancefloors across many countries for quite many years now, and still goes strong...
AB: I guess it is just an involuntary weird casualty, as we won't deny that song has been actually important for both us and our audience... We still keep on performing it on stage today, with pleasure. We are fond of that tune!
DL: Going back to the very beginning: your first band back in 1975 was SEPULCRUM DEI. How do you remember this experience and will the recorded material ever see the light of the day?
AB: SD was a strange duo mixing several inputs as, for instance, FAUST, NEU, early TANGERINE DREAM, TUBES and KRAFTWERK. We held some gigs with that name, but people was too "elsewhere" to give us any chance. All of our concerts became a kind of a battlefield! To be honest, some people were even interested in us, sometimes, but labels were not. My bass player was both a great musician and a wonderful person... We were used to spend hours and hours together, drinking mint-flavoured milk, listening to HAWKWIND, STOCKHAUSEN, VARESE, PINK FLOYD and so on. He is currently living in Israel, where he teaches theology in some university... Our families (or something like that...) had no money, but were interested in doing the best they could to satisfy our thirst for making music, so we got a chance to buy a shabby and farting synth and a b-quality bass guitar with a home made ampli: we literally drew blood from that poor gear, till succeeding in holding some appreciable concerts.
I do not know whether one day that material will come available! I am looking for the recordings somebody made time ago, but I have not had any great result.
DL: Through the SUICIDE COMMANDO phase, then on to eventually rename your project KIRLIAN CAMERA. Will the first releases (self-titled mini-album, the Communicate and Edges singles and the album It Doesn't Matter Now) ever be re-pressed on CD in their original form? I guess there would be quite some interest from your fan-base...
AB: Well, an album including both our first demo and the first mini-album (plus a previously unreleased track made in '81) should come out in a couple of months, say end of February 2002, approximately. Its title is Uno, and I must admit now I do not feel any shame towards that issue. Time ago I was largely embarrassed by our first works, but now... I am not, any longer. I really do not know what a hell of a language we did use as a text in those days! Listening to that "international English" is nothing but ludicrous!! Anyway... the "spirit" has been captured and kept as it was at the times. No improvement has been used to turn that music to today's logic. We have only taken away some useless and noisy "clic". I must say I have got some real fun, when I was editing those songs... It has been quite a surprise!
DL: Strolling through the book I read that in 83 you've supported SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. What do you remember of that gig, if anything at all??
AB: Well, I must say I think that band was undoubtedly appreciable at the times and I respect them, but... I frankly would like to add they looked to my eyes as conceited and arrogant bunch of people, ill-mannered in addition. I remember when we arrived in our backstage and found our food literally torn to pieces! NOTHING was saved! I do not know whether that band's members had not been eating anything since eons before arriving there and effectively did that brave and original venture or somebody else did it, but I know they were unbearably unkind, shit! Just Robert Smith, who joined the band a few months before, looked in a different way... We made a very stressful gig, but I remember a great thing: one from the audience threw a coin to me and I caught it "full toss" with my right hand, throwing it back immediately! That was my "pride", that night! Pretty western-like, isn't it?!?
DL: Just a couple of other trivial curiosities concerning past productions: amongst the material worked upon in 88 which mostly ended up then in Todesengel - The Fall of Life there was a long funeral march. Is this as of yet unreleased?
AB: Yes, the title was Trauermarsch 1929 and it should have been put on to that chapter, an EP whose I do not remember the title of, but the release in question was then "cancelled", so that track keeps on sleeping into our archives.
DL: One of the most unconventional bootlegs must be the 1-track CD Ascension (Music for the Wedding...) in ltd. ed. of one copy... Does it have any relationship with the actual track Ascension on Pictures From Eternity?
AB: It is just the same song. I re-worked it till making a kind of a voluntary pompous and evocative (in my opinion) wedding march for church organ and voice, performed slower than the original. The final result is quite different from the original one. Emilia sang it in a really touching way. This version should come out in a few weeks along with other material for the German label Thaglasz. It is just a strange special box including some albums featuring several bands: one of those albums has been intended to give hospitality to KC, so we accepted to make some previously unreleased material available, making up a 40-minute full-length work.
DL: Some years ago there was concrete talk about an album featuring orchestral versions of KC songs, to be recorded with a genuine orchestra. What has become of this project?
AB: It is true. The point is... it seems the right moment has not come, yet. One might find some tracks performed by a string chamber orchestra on our new album, but it is just another story. I have temporarily decided not to release that orchestral project, so to give more room to brand new emotions. Anyhow, I guess sooner or later that 'lost project' will be coming to light...
DL: Coming back to the Kälte Container CD I think each and every artist has done an excellent job in the not easy task of covering KC tracks, each interpreting them in their own style... Are you equally satisfied of the final result?
AB: Oh YEESSS!!!! I am satisfied and happy about all of the bands participating in that deal! How could I say I am NOT?!?!?!? Of course, I have instead my preferences, of course, but... sorry... would you like to see a poor keyboarder hanging down from a fork?!? Joking apart... We actually appreciate the effort each entity made. Some of them really made great things.
DL: Could ever any of these tracks end up sounding better to you than your original version?
AB: It is possible... but I do prefer thinking somebody really surprised us with his great ability. The version John Murphy made to Schmerz is not less evocative than the source, in my opinion... and it is only a little example... as there is plenty of fine and original ideas, along that album's tracks! NAEVUS, :WUMPSCUT:, ZOSMA, SWORD VOLCANO COMPLEX, COLLECTION D'ARNELL-ANDREA, and so on and so forth made great versions, not to mention further brilliant bands. Even the bands the label has rejected have had some really intriguing and bright intuitions, in our opinion. It is a bit strange, indeed... Some of the bands involved in that project are sounding better than ever; we have been actually lucky!
DL: Covering other bands has been another of your most successful achievements as you've produced stunning version of many unsuspected tracks such as ULTRAVOX Vienna or the infamous We Will Rock You of QUEEN, not to mention The Final Countdown for the LAIBACH tribute. What will come next, if any?
AB: We have recorded a version to the SOL INVICTUS song Looking for Europe to be put on to the tribute to the band, and we think it should take place on to our new album, as well, as we are really satisfied about it. I guess it is a quite unconventional piece of music, a bit far from the original way, but keeping it in great respect... I like to work on material made by others... I find it very stimulating. We are now working with SWANS' Jarboe on some music written by her to be put on to our new work, and I must say I am deeply excited. She has great ideas... You see I believe in exchanging points of view, but... when it is time, with the right people.
DL: The other special skill of KC is re-working their own songs in order to reward their live audience and the results are highly praised. Won't you consider releasing an album of re-mixes, or better yet a live album compiled from the re-worked versions?
AB: We have been effectively planning a live album -our first official one- to be released in autumn, this year, containing several songs performed in different version, but... I do not know whether we'll take advantage of that idea or not, yet, as we are working on a "strange" brand new album since a couple of months and the embryo actually sounds too stimulating to let us taking a breath of relief, so, if things keep on going this way, we think we'll feel forced to follow that "siren"! We'll see... At any rate, a live album should come out not that late, and I guess it won't be "the same old story" at all... as we are the first who cannot stand abused and exploited orientations...
DL: On the other hand, have you considered to play some classics live in their original form? I believe many would die to hear In the Endless Rain or Eclipse or Twilight Fields as "mother" made them?
AB: We have been playing In the Endless Rain in an unreleased version, recently, and audience seems to appreciate it a lot, as it is almost acoustic and warmer. I do not know whether one day we'll be performing the titles you have mentioned in their original way... Never say never, you know...
DL: KC have always somehow been ahead of their times. Think about the early mixing of intelligent electronic elements, noises, accessible drum patterns and melodies. With hindsight, after a good twenty years, do you think this is true?
AB: I do not know if it is true, but I always worked on music thinking it had to be so, not to be "particular" at all costs, but to express myself in the best way my forces allowed me to do. I have been dedicating tons of hours to those possible "developments", throughout time, losing tons of money!!! No problem, as I have fear I'll never have any chance to buy a Jaguar, and that's pretty clear!!!
DL: Have you had any resonance outside continental Europe? Have you ever performed somewhere else?
AB: Some guys invited us to perform in Canada, U.S.A., Russia and Japan, but nothing happened. Well, I guess we'll be effectively performing in Canada and Russia, this year, but I have not any confirmation to spread, yet. There is anyway a continental Country which is little by little surprising us for its "unexpected" attention to KC, and that's United Kingdom. A bit strange, for us, but surely welcome and gratifying.
DL: I've heard of some incident at a recent gig in Vicenza (I). What happened there?
AB: Nothing special, indeed. Let's say two guys were a bit disappointed of our show and I jumped from stage to directly "meeting" them... Well, I am not that used to act like that, but I was really pissed off... I promise I'll be a good boy, from now on! The real problem in Vicenza was just the p.a. system. Disappointing, as our audience had no chance to understand what it was happening on stage, and we performed largely under stress, trying anyway to do the best we could. The two concerts at the Schloss Puchau (D), some days ago, have been really another story!!! Unforgettable, for us...
DL: To conclude: what can we expect from KC in the near future?
AB: My friends and collaborators Elena Fossi and Andrea Savelli -with the help of Andrea Fossi- are close to release their debut album as SIDERARTICA, titled Night Parade, which might be preceded by a single on vinyl. I have not taken part in it, so I can say in total relax I like that band a lot. They were born around 1995. Their style sounds like a combination of ULTRAVOX, GOLDFRAPP, late JOY DIVISION and AMON DUUL 2. As far as I am concerned, I am working along with Elena, Emilia and Jarboe on a possible album, temporarily titled Court - Martial and, with a different line-up, on a project called STALINGRAD, whose first album should see the light soon, too. Studio aside, we hope to perform live more frequently, this year!
Taken from: http://darklife.linuxpower.at