Katharos XIII is a dark jazz/doom black metal project of the multi-instrumentalist Fulmineos ( F.). The project was established in 2009 in Timisoara and, since then, three full-length albums were released. The band describes the influences and the statement of intent: “The sound emerged from dark chambers of human psyche, questions and deep melancholy into black chords, a truly unique combination of different layers and influences…personal experiences (all kinds of abuse, paranoia, severe depressions), strange stories, movies (Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, Lars von Trier), books (Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, Gustav Meyrink, Hermann Hesse, Emile Zola, Giovanni Papini) and of course no one can deny the musical field (Dead Can Dance, Bohren &der Club of Gore, Canaan, Dolorian, Ras Algethi, Unholy, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Decoryah, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Madrugada)
These are the contributors and stimulate the project to express in their own way and releasing the dark mesmerizing feelings they encounter. No one pretends total independence/originality in today’s world even if it lives like Katharos do, in total seclusion, away from modern conversions.”
We asked F. a couple of questions about this interesting project:
-How did Katharos XIII start? What can you tell us about the story and concept behind this project? Why Katharos XIII?
The project started in 2007 as a one-man band, but after a few months I felt the need to expand the line-up to make the first demo: “Silver Melancholy“. It was a process that lasted about two years until I realized that this concept was appealing to people with some emotional and personal imbalance, a spectrum that will be preserved over time. I wanted to combine two genres: “doom” and ” black “and something came out that was called” suicidal black metal “or DSBM in those days … hmm, I don’t know if that was our wish or the most appropriate label, but it didn’t matter to us.
The first two albums “Dead Emotions” (2011) and “Negativity” (2017) were made in a stable line up, but that doesn’t mean it was easy, in the end, this line-up imploded due to the personal problems; so there was a pause in which only Sabat remained a constant and active member and he worked on the entire production (recording, mix, master); at “Negativity”, practically ensuring continuity and motivation to do something.
The concept of the project revolves around the Cathars and their way of seeing the world; “Katharoi” in Greek means “the pure” and somehow underlines the idea of searching for the outer and inner truths alone, it is very much about living and knowing/exploring fears, dreams and everything in us.
– Last year you released “Palindrome”, the third album Katharos XIII. What’s different about this album? What new ideas are you coming up with? What’s the story behind the album?
I started with nothing … I book the studio before having the album outlined, there were some ideas for about 9 tracks, but nothing certain, I did not even have any idea who would sing on this material … but the old Danubius showed me the way, the truth is that in the last years I have been looking for its proximity, so on a holiday in a lonely place near Danube, came all the main ideas that can be found on “Palindrome“, so we could say that the material is under the water spectrum as a primary element.
When I returned to Timisoara, I sent a pre-production to Sabat who was extremely excited and, in the same time, I already had some ideas of collaboration with Alex Iovan on saxophone; being friends and colleagues at work (at that time), in our discussions we tried hard to imagine what we could do differently and at the same time challenging regarding the boundaries of conventional metal, and the idea of combining saxophone with black metal came up instantly and I were very determined to experiment. After recording some of the material, at DSPro Studios, we realized that we needed more atmosphere and melody on the vocal side, so, at Attila Lukinich’s suggestion, we co-opted Manuela Marchis, who coming from a more ethereal area, but that resonated very well with the whole concept of the material and which we connected very quickly.
Hanos-Puskai Peter is the newest band member, and the way he understands how to use the frequencies for which he is responsible is absolutely brilliant; having an extremely nonconformist mind, it resulted in an absolutely spectacular and extremely technical bass score.
I think now we have another atmosphere in the band, the people who came have a different background and maybe we have another age already, so there is a feeling of continuity and sustainability that motivates us a lot for the future and the music is not just anymore. a refuge for everyday problems, but a joy and fulfilment of certain experiences that are inside us independent of the external environment.
– Can you share some methods/processes by which you compose the music pieces?
We compose a lot of visual and improvisational, “first take” as it is said, is what remains most often if it is sung correctly and does not require draconic editing; we do not really like to repeat, we go on what the first passage tells us, probably we have this belief of sincerity towards our music. Of course, we listen to the pre-productions we make and change where necessary, to have a fluid structure that flows and draws strange states, we are glad that this state is not “sought” but that it comes naturally.
– Were there any changes in the band?
Yes, all the time … the band is based on an idea that goes on in an infinite universe, it is an organism that grows and shrinks according to different states, nobody knows the final destination, and that is why I find it extremely thrilling this journey.
-What is the inspiration for this music?
An exhaustive answer would be art … Everything influences us, it is neither a secret nor we hide from it: from personal sensory experiences to films (Andrei Tarkovsky, Peter Greenaway, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Lars von Trier), literature (Mircea Cartarescu, Gustav Meyrink, Umberto Eco, Hermann Hesse, Ernesto Sabato, Giovanni Papini), music (Dead Can Dance, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Canaan, Dolorian, Ras Algethi, Unholy, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Decoryah, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Madrugada); Manuela is passionate about movement/dance, Alex also bends towards graphic art, Peter has been surrounded by these things because his mother is a graphic artist … so somehow these things are omnipresent in our lives and they fill our luggage with the help we want. let’s express ourselves.
– What do you think about the fact that black metal has become a trend?
I think it is very good, the quality, the exposure, the appropriate live venues can increase, the bands benefit from support and more and more professional means to do their job, I see nothing wrong with it, just the opposite, you can stay “Trv” your concept and being able to do it without compromises is a sensational evolution compared to twenty years ago for example.
-What are the things you like and don’t like on the Romanian metal scene?
I have to balance two things in both directions so that we are not biased.
1. the disappearance of the local acts in the small cities … unfortunately, outside 3-4 big cities and university centres, in the small cities, the change is dramatic, if 10-15 years ago I did not feel this necessary, now it is a disaster, and the peak is as in most of you now find very good singing clubs compared to the “dining rooms” we used to sing.
2. the indifference and lack of support of the organizers and often media publications with a larger market share than the local bands … if I look over the fence, in Serbia and Hungary (not to mention England and Germany) the support it is much more serious, in Romania, if you do not know the organizers, you have a minimum chance of attending a show, which I find extremely sad as the lack of confidence in the local potential … at Exit or Sziget are close to every scene local bands, for example.
1. The local bands have raised quite a lot … we have projects that sound very good, compared to what is outside, this is a big thing … plus the relationships into the stage have matured, if in the past they were about “hating” stupid people, now it seems to me that people have understood that together we can somehow support each other and make it work, with the means we have here.
2. The sales are generally good, very good, I am extremely pleased with this.
-What is your favourite album or song and why?
It is absolutely impossible for me to define this, I have a lot of favourite albums because this is the way I listen to music…begining to the end, I am not the kind of selective listener who keeps skipping and doing “streaming” among songs; I like “astral hours”, those magical moments that completely overwhelm you and give you creeps, and they must be discovered precisely in this type of experience I say; I remember now: the solo guitar parts of the song “I Troldskog Faren Vild” from Ulver, the vocal performance of Brendan Perry from the song “Severance” (Dead Can Dance), the sheet music, the rhythm and transcendental intensity of Bjork in “Bachelorette” – here are just three examples of magical moments in music for me.
– What do you think about the metal scene in Romania?
As I said above, things are positive until this time, in the sense that the bands have a professional concept, tools, understand modern promotion methods but we, the Romanians, as genetic material are not made for the conditions that must be fulfilled now. to be a big band … the Romanian does not want to starve anymore, they have done enough saving in communism, I think that is why, apart from Negura Bunget, we have nothing more to say in the world metal scene, that the current demands are to cram everything into a van and go on tour until exhausted, to lead a nomadic, uncomfortable life … and most of us have a corporate job, instalments, family etc … and the two tasks are not very compatible and neither I do not see very young enthusiastic people with sacrificial spirit … the average age of the Romanian metal scene is very advanced and we have few followers …
-You are part of some other musical projects. What can you tell us about them?
Yes, I also deal with other musical projects, the most popular being in the aria of black metal: Ordinul Negru and Argus Megere, as well as something more atmospheric/progressive: Kultika or Dara Project. At all these new musical materials are in various stages.
-What other musical styles do you listen to? What do you recommend?
Apart from black metal and a little funeral doom, I don’t listen to metal much … my world is pretty much elsewhere: Bjork, The Cure, Dead Can Dance, Radiohead, Muse, Woodkid, Rammstein, Madrugada, Sigur Ros … these are the projects that colour my sound spectrum quite a lot.
-Metal, especially its darker shades are a special art form. What does it represent for you and how does it affect your life?
I was never a true “metalhead” because I grew up with Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cure, they listened to “the older ones” around me and at my parents listened to classic rock – Black Sabbath, Phoenix, The other words, Pink Floyd etc … so from this I went directly to Samael and Darkthrone quite steep, and somehow for me, black metal was first of all ideology and concept and only then music, I was more interested in the atmosphere and the experiences generated. Then the sound quality or the instrumental technique and that I think has shaped me as well as the desire for expression and for many years I liked the “raw” analogue sound, my project colleagues having much to convince me of the benefits of digital.
-In November, you released a new video, “Vidma”; what can you tell us about this?
It is made by my good friend Alexandru Das and represents a very personal visual representation on the origins of the “Palindrome” material as well as a parallel on the origin of life. It is a journey in which we are observers who are getting deeper and deeper into anxiety, hallucinating with the unknown and realizing that we are not the centre of all things, as we wish to believe. Like a shadow spirit, Vidma, embodies the flow of life as luminous impulses in the vastness of the universe where the questions of what is real and what is simulated around us become painful for the seeker, but perhaps the figure is at the end of the journey in a dream what establishes that reality is what we want it to be and the rest is lost in darkness, like life itself.
I wanted to make a visual material full of hidden symbols, metaphors and maybe a little more than what seems at first glance, the viewer to discover new things and details every time he chooses to give them “play”.
– In the past you had some live shows; Do you think you will resume the experience?
Most likely yes, but we do not have a timeline for this, at the last meeting I debated this topic with arguments and counterarguments and decided to prioritize new pieces and creative artistic expression, without trying to recreate what we have already done … I know that maybe sounds strange to readers, but we like the spontaneous creativity, emotions and intense experiences of the moment and we are always in search of new virgin spaces in our exploration and the dilemma is that we will not be able to repeat them every time, we will not be able to recreate the motivation that led to the initial creation; we will see but, following the “never say never” principle, maybe we will resume the live activity.