Vertigo, 01/1996

Kirlian Camera

KIRLIAN CAMERA would not need any further introduction. Even those, who haven't heard of the band until now, will definitely know their "Eclipse"-song, which can be heard in numerous versions in disco's and clubs throughout the country, and is to be found on several compilations. It seems yet, that, for the band itself, "Eclipse" is no longer a blessing but more of a curse, for many of their fans don't seem able to regard other music of KIRLIAN CAMERA as more than just a poor rehash of this one song... Despite of this, the Italian band really has a lot to offer, musically as well as concerning content.

For some time now, the group consists of Simon Balestrazzi, who also released a large number of CD's, tapes and sample contributions with his own project, T.A.C. (TOMOGRAFIA ASSIALE COMPUTERIZZATA), Angelo Bergamini, who founded KIRLIAN CAMERA in the early eighties, and his life companion Emilia Lo Jacono, who is also concerned with playing guitar and keyboard, in addition to her enthralling singing.

It was also A. Bergamini, who willingly answered following questions. (As personal remark, I would like to add that A. Bergamini is on no account a lunatic, a junkie, a fascist or any of this slanderous insults with which he's brought into discredit, as we can regrettably hear or even read all too often. He's rather a wildful, highly sensitive musician, who deliberately renounces trying to please everybody. One is free to appreciate his musical works or not, but no-one has the right to pass judgment on him as a human being.)

Whereas the first KC-releases were given a warm reception in the media, negative reviews were for the first time with no exception about the latest album, "Solaris". "Solaris" has indeed become a quite difficult album, only hardly accessible. Cold and minimalistic sounds set the pace.
"For us, it's a collection of paranoid atmospheres; a musical portrayal of barren icefields. Electronical music of the fifties, as it was created by bands such as Stockhausen, was our shining example. That's why it should not be equated to our previous albums, like "Schmerz" or "Todesengel", where emotions of despair or affliction held a prominent place. No feelings exist on "Solaris" at all; just icy cold. If a magazine such as "The Empty Quarter" then calls the album worthless, I fully agree with that, because either my attitude towards this record isn't entirely positive than, since I personally prefer songs in the classical sense of the word. In fact, no real 'songs' are to be found on "Solaris". Soundscapes prevail."

KC are already occupied with music for over 15 years. What's the feeling of a person like Angelo Bergamini, who actually also released music on labels such as EMI or Virgin, towards the current music scene, particularly with regard to the underground?
"I lately listened to a lot of recent works, among other things the EBM/Electronic scene. Songs that merely consisted of one sequencerline, a flat beat and a blue murder shouting singer. That's deadly boring and shows a total lack of creative talent. What these bands need is just ideas and some sense of humor. They take themselves all too seriously. Things cannot go on like this anymore; otherwise, they will cause a large part of the so-called indie-underground public to dislike the genre. Precisely in the EBM-genre, it is high time for something new. But maybe it's better for me do not to comment on bands I dislike; let me name some bands I like by contrast very much. One of these is DEINE LAKAIEN, who are able to handle electronic elements really competently. Moreover, I rather appreciate Industrial/Ritual-bands, such as MENTAL MEASURETECH - their "Songs from Neuropa" is really first-rate! -, ALLERSEELEN, BLOOD AXIS, DEATH IN JUNE or SOL INVICTUS."

This penchant for DEATH IN JUNE and the like, can also be noticed in the worth seeing live shows of KC. Recurring elements of those shows always include acoustic guitars just as well as military percussion sections. How actually important is this kind of performance to them?
"We really like playing live. Being on the road is indeed hard labour, but this does not at all mean we see it as a tedious duty. I particularly like playing here in Germany, because the audience is really enthusiastic. It demands a lot of encores. Maybe it has something to do with the fact, that people here are just more able to understand us than in other countries, for in Germany, we really feel at ease and we also have a strong feeling of solidarity with the German state of mind. When playing live here in Germany, it feels as if we are welcomed with open eyes. A world of difference to our homeland, where people partly react very rejecting to us. This might sound a little peculiar, all the more since the Italian people are more known for their warm-heartedness than the Germans, generally considered to be more reserved... I regard this kind of cliches as nonsense anyhow. How could one race be more friendly than the other one?? I think the deeper reason for so many Germans loving our music, is that they feel that we really appreciate their culture and regard it as an important inspiration. I guess it's quite curious, but in a certain way we all feel more at home in Germany, more than anywhere else - even in Italy."

Even more famous than their fancy for Germany, it's their fancy for cover versions. On almost every KC-release, one of them is to be found. The band has created remakes of among others ULTRAVOX, DEATH IN JUNE, :WUMPSCUT:, JOY DIVISION and QUEEN. Generally speaking, the playing of remakes indicates a lack of imagination, but with KC this is absolutely out of the question, only witness the incredible quantity of self-written music. Then why the need for so many cover versions?
"I have no ready-made answer to the question why we like making new interpretations of other band's songs, and do so often. There's a specific reason for every single cover version, it has always something to do with the original track. Let me illustrate it with 2 covers. We made a remake of JOY DIVISION's "The Eternal", because we love the band, and particularly their "Closer"-album. Personally speaking, this song was a true milestone in my life, and I had planned to cover it already for a long time, but I waited 15 years with that, since I didn't already feel able to do it. It's just really difficult to cover a song that is actually already perfect in its original state. I chose "We Will Rock You" (QUEEN), for return back in those days of glamrock, with people such as GARY GLITTER or indeed QUEEN, that I had started working as a musician myself. What strikes me about those days, is the decadence emanating of it. It was an important time for rock music too. With our version, we've tried to give this famous song a totally new sound. About "Dying Culture", I have to add, that it was not merely a cover version. We recorded the song together with :WUMPSCUT:. Rudy of :W: is a close friend of ours. The cover came into being at one of our mutual visits."

Are there concrete plans for more remakes yet?
"Yes. We're going to cover "I'm Not Scared" of the PET SHOP BOYS. The PET SHOP BOYS have a certain sense of humor we truly appreciate. When we are recording in studio, we also laugh a lot. In that way, such unanticipated cover versions are established after spontaneous sessions. "I'm Not Scared" has something very dramatic, which goes well together with our own music. Maybe we will even meet the PET SHOP BOYS in the future, concerning the song."

In addition to producing remakes, KC do also frequently work together with other musicians. Lately, for example, there was the release of the cooperation with DIVE ("Obsession" Split-MCD, Discordia).
"I have to confess, that this "Obsession"-CD should not be taken all too seriously. The recording of "Obsession" was also done in a quite relaxed atmosphere, and we've had a lot of fun. Because Dirk Ivens also is a good friend of ours, it was obvious we wanted do something together some time. The tracks on "Obsession" were all created in rented studio in Italy, when Dirk once visited us."

Are you going to cooperate with other musicians in the nearby future?
"We don't have any concrete plans yet. But for the moment, we do have a good relationship with SIXTH COMM, we lately did an interview together for the ZILLO-magazine. So it certainly might be possible, that we record something with SIXTH COMM."

In recent years, Discordia, the band's label and distributor, re-released a lot of early KC-material (e.g. "Schmerz" (orig. 1992), "Eclipse - Das schwarz Denkmal" (1988), or "Todesengel" (1991)). What do you think of of those re-releases?
"Our sound recordings, such as the "Schmerz"-CD, came out on our own label "Blue Rain / Heaven's Gate" at the time. In those days, we simply didn't have enough money to have larger editions pressed. That's why all KC-releases came out only in small numbers or even limited editions, back then. We have decided to re-release all those albums in the first place because of the fans. We receive loads of letters and faxes, in which people ask for our early recordings. Especially here in Germany, the most brazen dealers sell them for absolutely astronomic amounts. Of course we still like our older works, and we want them to be accessible to everybody. We also have a lot of previously unreleased music. Mostly, however, it's quite hard to decide whether things should be re-released or not, as for the public, it might be pretty confusing to see all those different KC-CD's, some of them released at the same time. To us it's important that listeners know, CD's such as "Todesengel" or "O.E.M. / Zentral Friedhof" are by no means new work, but really just old songs. At this moment, we're not sure which old tracks we're still going to re-release in the foreseeable future. All in all, we think it's more important to present our more recent material. But a re-release in any case will come out soon, I can already tell you that. It will contain all old singles as well as totally unknown, revised songs from the eighties."

Thus far KC. It's worth mentioning, to conclude, that the band is working on two soundtracks for the moment. Both of them will consist of well-known as well as unreleased songs material, and afterwards be released on CD. Thanks to M. Thiel for his support during the interview.

  • Uwe Marx

  • English translation: Tom Verbreryt