After "Im Wald", the monumental album released in 2020, and with the surprise announcement of a new full-length to be released in april 2021, we had the chance to ask a few questions to Tobias Möckl, aka Wintherr, sole member of the Swiss black metal band Paysage d'Hiver.
I am very pleased to do this interview. I feel honored to speak with you, I have a great love and a great respect for Paysage d'Hiver. Last December we launched the metal.it readers' poll to tell us the best 2020 album and, even if they are not in the top ten, Paysage d'Hiver are the first black metal band in the chart, in a very high position. I find this result surprising, certainly Paysage d'Hiver music, however beautiful, is not so accessible and easy to listen to...
Tobias: It seems that “Im Wald” had a much bigger effect in the human realm than I ever imagined. I assumed that there will be a few people who would be interested in it, but it seems to go way beyond that, as far as I can tell.
It is easy to listen to for me personally. But I understand that as an outsider, you have to get used to it first. If you don’t find the access, it will only be either unidentifiable noise or simply boring. This is deliberate to one part like a key you have to find first in order to be able to open the gate to the world of Paysage d’Hiver (the other part being me trying to make it sound the way this music asks for).
So it actually defies everything “commercial”: A rather raw sound and production, monotonous and lenghty songs and an extremely long playing time of 2 hours. As it seems this is appalling. I can’t really explain it myself and it’s nothing I can control. I simply do what I have the urge to do.
Paysage d'Hiver has been around for over 20 years now, but Im Wald is the first album after a long series of demos. What is the difference?
Tobias: For me personally it’s not important at all if it is called a Fullength or Demo. Also the first recordings where always full albums to me. The reason why I called them Demos was because they where first released on tape only without any mastering and Demo-like artistic apperance and also as a tribute to all the Demos of other artists that I loved so much. I often thought the Demo-Versions to be emotionally more intense and direct than on a later album with a more proper sound. But these old Paysage d’Hiver tapes where never meant to attract Record-labels for a possible record-deal, so they never had the classic meaning of a Demo in that sense.
I already knew that this terminology will stir some confusion. For me, 2 hours of playing time was definitely not a Demo anymore but rather a Full-length Album. Also by now, the old recordings have all been re-released on CD and Vinyl and so to go on with the “Demo” terminology doesn’t make sense in my opinion.
For me they are all chapters of a whole story and I look upon them as such. If it’s called “Demo” or “Album” or whatever, doesn’t really matter to me. I find this whole discussion rather amusing, actually.
Im Wald is nearly two hours long, a remarkable time even for an atmospheric black metal album. It could be risky to publish such a long-running album, but I never once feel bored while listening. Everything is perfect. Is there a concept behind such a massive work?
Tobias: I perceive myself much more like a medium than the actual creator of this music. So I let it flow through me. It was never intended to be that long, I just did what felt right. It was very late in the process when I grasped ir’s full playing time.
Of course there was some risk to it. I was considering dividing it into two parts. But this has been done before (Bathory’s “Nordland l” and “Nordland ll” for instance), a 2h long album not that I’m aware of and I think it’s much more interesting to do something unexpected and risky.
On the other hand this album just really wanted to be this way. Plus I was never bored with it by listening to it, quite the contrary actually. I always had to start right at the beginning and listen to the first two songs at least. So I was absolutely convinced, that this actually works.
Seven years have passed between Im Wald and Das Tor, the last demo, so what has happened in the meantime?
Tobias: After “Das Tor” I just strongly felt that a break was needed. I wasn’t even sure yet if I would ever continue. The reason for the break was that I felt a ton of pressure upon my shoulders which I needed to rid myself of and there was so much of the old recordings still open, like all the Vinyl-releases for instance, that I simply didn’t have any room for anything new in my mind. I also concentrated more on Darkspace during that period.
You're always been true to yourself and Paysage d'Hiver are pillars of raw black metal,
but each element in Im Wald is balanced and distinct in a perfect raw amalgam, did something change with the production? Did you use some special instruments?
Tobias: I definitely learned a lot during the years, especially with Darkspace concerning production and recording. This knowledge flows into the work wether I want it or not. With “Im Wald” I tried to keep the distinctive Paysage d’Hiver sound on one hand, but also to have it a little bit clearer on the other hand, simply because I considered it to be important for this length. If it is too harsh, it is too strenous for the ears for two hours. If it is too clear, it lacks the necessary atmosphere for the right mindset. So this was a very narrow path to walk. In my own perception, I succeeded.
The instrumentation and effects used are the same as with older recordings.
Howling winter winds, cold atmospheres, but there's something more in Paysage d'Hiver, something untouchable, something almost primitive, am I right?
Tobias: It definitely is archaic music and sounds. But this is simply the form of expression. It suits the fact that Paysage d’Hiver is like a diary for me. It always reflects my innerself, that’s the whole idea.
What it does to the listener is out of my control and I also hope that it takes on a life of it’s own within each listener, to have them have their very own experiences with it.
The abrupt stoppage between cd 1 and cd 2 makes me think of the interruptions on the old films, when the roll film ended up, but in this case it seems done on purpose, as if to highlight the limit of the physical support. Im Wald is a unique opera and must be listened without interruptions. Although I have to tell the truth, I still haven't been able to hear it all at one time. (I'm sorry :-) )
Tobias: Yes, this is intentional. It is meant to be listened as a whole, without interruption. Which is not possible on CD, nor any other physical format (at least what I’m aware of).
No reason to apologize!
Personally I think that Im Wald is absolutely to be listened to with headphones, a stereo doesn't let fully understand the particular world and the suggestions of Paysage d'Hiver, do you agree?
Tobias: I always try to have a sound that works with both. I like to listen to it on both so I guess this is a personal preference.
All the Paysage d'Hiver albums and demos have the same graphics and the same format, is it a kind of trademark?
Tobias: It makes it more clear that you deal with something coming from an identical realm. So it is a form of identity or trademark, if you will.
I find Paysage's music very intimate and introspective, what you express in music, is what you really are in life?
Tobias: As I said before, it is like a diary. It deals with the microcosm. It is my innerself and what I experience in life. It’s on a much deeper level than what you see in the every day life person I also represent, though. So yes, it is very intimate and introspective.
I will never forget the Dasrkspace concert at Hellfest in 2012, extremely impressive for the music, the atmosphere and the sensations felt, do you think a new chapter in the Darkspace project it will be possible?
Tobias: Yes, we are currently intensely working on it. Hellfest was very difficult for me. I never felt very comfortable on stage to this point and there I was having to deal with an audience of around 5000 people...very stressful. The happier I am that it seems like we nontheless where able to deliver what we came to express.
This question is from Beppe “Dopecity” Caldarone, who reviewed Im Wald on metal.it. Which is the biggest difference between Paysage d'Hiver and Darkspace?
Tobias: As Darkspace does not only consist of myself as a member, I can only speak for myself here.
Paysage d’Hiver is focused on the Microcosm, Darkspace is concentrated upon Macrocosm. These two reflect each other. Even on a physical level: Doesn’t the model of an Atom remind us of a solar-system or vice versus?
But this is the reason why those two have very different settings (Winterworld and Cosmos). One admirer of my/our music once described it as “Paysage d’Hiver being the heart, Darkspace the mind” which also reflects the difference very well in my opinion.
[intro]The second part of the interview was done at a later time... The forthcoming album “Geister” and the availability of Tobias allowed me to ask other questions. Tobias spoke about current issues very sincerely and openly, taking responsibility for his words, aware of being subject to criticism. I am very grateful to Tobias for his trust and for freely expressing his deep thoughts.[/].
The new album is called “Geister”, ghosts.. who are these ghosts?
Tobias: The concept of “Geister” is about the Wanderer having a lucid dream. In this dream of his (the gender of the Wanderer depends on the observer. As I am male myself the Wanderer is male to me), beings from another dimension appear to him. In fact this other dimension is the human realm. The only possibility for the human realm to get in contact with the world of Paysage d’Hiver is through a ritual, such as these “Tschäggättä”, a mask cult from Lötschental in Switzerland, represent. There are of course other rituals possible, the “Tschäggättä” is only one example.
As they appear the Wanderer in a lucid dream, they are ghosts to him, thus the title.
As you've said "Paysage d'Hiver is a kind of diary that reflects your innerself, so it's easy to think that the new album is due to these very particular times we are living, when we need to look at ourselves more than ever...
Tobias: “Geister” in it’s concept is the most “worldly” as Paysage d’Hiver will ever get. I took the opportunity it offered me to say a few things I personally criticize about the human realm, as this is also a part of my inner self. So it almost seems like I intuitively foresaw that it would fit the current situation perfectly. It didn’t have anything to do with Covid19 directly though, as it was finished recording before February 2020.
But you are right: Humanity needs to look at themselves more than ever.
I don’t even know where to start…
And that’s exactly the thing. There are so many things going wrong, that we would have to protest 24/7 and wouldn’t even be able to cover everything. And here lies one of the basic problems: Protest is a reaction, but not an action. I perceive it as degrading to only be able to react. I want to be able to act, to actively take action.
If democracy means that you can only vote for which person suppresses you, this defies the whole idea of “We the people”. Most people are not aware that there are different forms of democracy. It’s a bit better here in Switzerland (partly direct democracy), but still it’s usually about the half of the country being overruled by a small margin by the other half. What I see as a much more desirable form is consensus democracy. No “top down” rule at all, but truly the people who govern themselves, in consent. I’m afraid humanity is not ready for this at all though.
What I currently see is totalitarianism marching forward in high speed. Worldwide. If you don’t agree with the official narrative, you are being discredited, named a whole lot of things “conspiracy theorist” being the nicest of them, you lose your job, etc.
The propaganda and fearmongering is breathtaking.
Soon we might have apartheid: If you are not vaccinated, you will be prohibited to travel, to attend concerts or any other participation of public life.
This all screams “fascism” to me and it makes me wonder where this is going and why.
There is reason to believe Covid 19 is not as dangerous and deadly as anticipated if you look at the data. If this is the case, the measures are unfounded, thus totally arbitrary and this is against any constitution, thus illegal. At least in the “western” world. Same goes for the masks: There is no evidence that they are able to prevent a viral infection. In my opinion, they do more harm than good (bacteria, fungi, lack of oxygen).
On the other hand I do see that there have to be measures taken if an epidemic or the danger of an epidemic emerges. I guess everyone was fine with this in the beginning. But is it still justified now? And to the extremes most governments are taking it?
What would I do in a governmental position? To be fair: It’s easy to point the finger on someone else, I don’t know if I would do a better job if I’d be in their position.
What is the truth now? Is this virus as dangerous as governments and the media want us to believe, or is it simply the biggest hoax ever? Why is it so difficult to get all the data and knowledge available, make the conclusions and react accordingly? Especially including a benefit / cost equation which in my opinion has not been done rightfully, as the costs and risks of lockdowns, curfew, experimental vaccination etc. are definitely higher than the benefits.
So why, oh why? Interests? Profits? Diversion?
I say it like this: I definitely don’t trust profit driven people and firms. As long as there are monetary interests, there can’t be any trust.
And here we are pretty much at the core of today’s problems: Money (and the power it represents if accumulated).
It simply can’t be that very few people own as much money as the rest of the world. Democracy and Capitalism just don’t go together in my opinion.
This is what capitalism is designed to do: accumulate the wealth to a very few. The easiest way to get rid of this malfunction in the human realm is by abandoning capitalism, by abandoning capital a.k.a. money. No money, no capitalism, because money is the sanctum of capitalism. It is its life-source, its very blood.
Life does not need money. And life is what human beings truly are and what this planet is all about, so I think it’s actually the obvious thing to put on the top of any “system”, not something abstract and anti-life as money as is the case in capitalism.
Meanwhile the WEF has seized the UNO.
NATO is turning itself from a defensive into an invasive collaboration and conducting a massive “exercise” at the borders of Russia.
I could go on forever but feel that already the short excerpt of my thoughts above go beyond the scope of this interview.
“All I want to say is that they really don’t care about us”