An interview with Hard and Obscure webzine on 20/06/2012

1. Person behind Aarni in his own words.

MW: There's somebody behind us? We swirl around, but cannot see anything save our own reflections and the shadows they cast. But sometimes he speaks, at times claiming to be a sadly understood genius, and at other times a baffled and unhappy but superior man. We tend to ignore him in the vain hope (and secret fear) that he will go away.

2. Do you see interviews as an extension of Aarni's musical works?

MW: Our interviews sound like our music ought to. And answering questions usually feels less tedious.

3. How do you see the development of Aarni from release to release? Or has there been any? I haven't heard the first demos and didn't like the split with Umbra Nihil much, but I do worship Bathos, Tohcoth and Omnimantia.

MW: You may have missed some highly polished pieces of musical coal, then. As for Aarni's development or lack thereof, as far as we can tell, it has been a jolly shoggoth-ride with its ups and downs...mainly progression (at least production-wise, maybe) with refreshing periods of stagnation and bits of necessary regression. Mostly we remain under the illusion that Aarni has improved from 'Omnimantia' onwards, but luckily music as an artform in general seems highly subjective and a matter of personal taste and opinion, so no entity's shit means another's hit or was it the other way around.
Sorry for the detailed and clear answer, but: presently we strongly suspect that if you make music, the concept "development" appears largely meaningless, at least in the sense of "maturing". You just make what feels right (or wrong, as the case may well be). About the only constant thing in making music could be the technical requirements at the recording and later stages...and even these can and probably should stay at the "good enough for me" level - so you can fully concentrate on the creative part. Sadly, Aarni has so far never succeeded in this to our satisfaction. It's for the lack of trying. it?

4. It seems that most if not all Aarni reviews underline how strange your music is. Are you happy with that or does it ever bother you?

MW: We seem to remember that I was a music reviewer once, but luckily quit in time. In my opinion it's an unrewarding and absurd job at best, because why trust someone else's opinions on music? Everyone's an expert already. And nowadays the job has become even more obsolete and needless with the easy access to music online. We speak here of the professional reviewer, of(f) course. With this little background rant, let us say that descriptions of Aarni's music don't generally make us happy nor bothered. But it does strike us as strange to be called strange. After all, much of our released material sounds more or less conventional to us. We have grand plans to change that - I believe music needs to be reinvented if we want it to survive our present age of mediated mediocrity. Aarni may do its part in this epic battle of good against bad, if we feel bothered.

5. How much of your music is carefully composed and arranged and how much is there space for chance?

MW: So far about 71% planned and 53% some kind of improvisation. Depends on the song, part and/or instrument. Currently I think that we plan too much of our stuff, which in retrospect bores us. Besides, planning usually means doing lots of work and spending time to little purpose. Maybe it would be worth trying in the future to include more of both crafted and improvised parts in a single song, to achieve a kind of uneasy balance. Hmm...must investigate further.

6. What equipment do you use to make music? Your favourite guitar(s)?

MW: Various gear by i.a. Gibson, Schecter, Steinberg, Melnibonťans, Behringer, M-Audio, Yamaha, Alko, Intraterrestrial tech and blah blah. No reason to prefer certain manufacturers per short, Aarni often makes music by recording sounds made by musical instruments via microphones and cables. We're not now in a position to obtain our favourite instruments, but for some time my main guitar has been a Gibson LP - superior in many ways to my previous guitars, except the 24.75" scale feels like it's been made for the hands of a dwarf. Luckily our second electric guitar (Schecter Hellraiser) is of a more bloated corpulence - and the third one aka "stunt guitar" the very cheapest such instrument we could find. We call it "stunt", because it doesn't matter much if it takes some damage, and because it features a Floyd Rose floating tremolo system - which I dislike quite a bit. All tr00 guitars have a fixed bridge... The stunt guitar however satisfies my rare secret guilty cravings to "wank on the whammy". Very cost-effective. As for other the instruments of pleasure, there's a flock of flutes, a nice kantele, an annoying bass, a few grand pianos, a Xothian cacophone and some homemade percussion caca. We consider ourselves largely covered gear-wise, but welcome guest musicians when they have something precious to offer.

7. Some of your guitar heroes? I sense echoes of shredders of yore such as Joe Satriani in your playing sometimes.

MW: I do admire certain aspects of such players as Satriani, Iommi, Andrew Latimer, Marty Friedman, James Hetfield, Randy Rhoads and Adrian Smith. But almost never their technique. It's what you play, not how (fast) you play...something bands like Dream Theater will possibly never grasp.

8. There hasn't been Aarni vinyl yet. Is there any plans? Do release formats matter to you?

MW: We are too old to feel nostalgic about vinyl, I owned lots of them back in the 80's; it was an unpractical format with low sound quality compared to the technologies which have been available from the advent of the CD onwards. So, in all likelihood no Aarni vinyls. I believe the optimal fidelity for human use would be 24 bit/48 kHz and the format some sort of physical recording and/or lossless audio file. It's like with ebooks vs. paper books; most people still enjoy holding something tangible - humans tend to have the tragical evolutionary flaw of extreme slowness and reluctance in accepting new ways. Nowadays you often hear that the album format "is dead" and many listeners prefer getting just individual songs. We at Aarni ignore these kinds of truths and will stick to the notion of the album as a conceptual unit, unless we don't wanna...because releasing an individual track online with its artwork, lyrics etc. actually sounds sort of interesting fnord.

9. I understood you had a rather big role in the creation of Yog-Sothery compilation. Are you happy with how it turned out? I absolutely love Aarni and Umbra Nihil tracks but Jääportit and Caput LVIIIm don't do much if anything for me. Do I have hope?

MW: I had a more or less central supporting role maybe. We forget as the start of the project seems like aeons ago. I suspect all the parties involved in it feel happy to have finally reached release, although most if not all of the bands have meanwhile much evolved their sound - so the album seems like a gate opening to the past (and no Elder Signs at hand). At any rate, I can say from personal experience that the album works very well as a soundtrack to [insert your favourite obsession] whilst wallowing in some preferred altered state.

10. Speaking of Lovecraft, what do you think about other writers using and expanding the Cthulhu Mythos? What about Finnish ones like S. Albert Kivinen?

MW: I think some have pulled it off and even made interesting contributions, others haven't been as talented. My favourite example of the former case would be Clark Ashton Smith and even Robert E. Howard, and of the latter the notorious August Derleth plus myriad others. Of the Finnish writers we've enjoyed at least Boris Hurtta...Kivinen comes across as often making the notorious mistake of stuffing in too many Mythos elements and also being an inferior writer in general. But many cycles have passed since we read the modern writers' tales, a rule of tentacle, you should stick to HPL and his circle for quality. In my opinion it would be better if authors strived to create something original and stopped trying to emulate Lovecraft, no matter how much they admire his work.

11. I'm convinced that if Ior Bock and co. had been able to excavate Lemminkäinen's Temple, they would've found dholes. You said in another interview that you prefer not to mix different mythologies in one song, but wouldn't this be a good topic?

MW: Yes, no dholes should be barred. Although we've already got one Aarni song ("Lemminkäinens Tempel" from the PiM Split CD) dwelling on the subject of hurry to make another, especially since the Last Goat died soon after we got the song finished. Apparently the world will end soon now, what a pity. it?

12. Final Cthulhu-related question: how's Lovecraftian album coming together?

MW: It has been manifesting itself nicely, although work on the album has been on hold for over a year now, as we've been lazy with the Split album. After I somehow manage to finish everything for release readiness, the process of 'Lovecraftian' shall continue in full manic gait. The album artwork and maybe even the music seem very promising so just might be the one Aarni release we can ourselves bear listening to. Ambitious stuff, perhaps ambient too.

13. After that, what do you have in pipeline? How's the split LP with Persistence In Mourning? You're also featured on their earlier album, right? How did that come about?

MW: We already have plans which go into some detail concerning two future albums. Also Aarni can't leave 'Tohcoth' alone as it constantly bothers us. I want to remix and at least partially re-record the whole album and then dub it 'Tohcoth Redux', if we don't come up with a better title. Release in one format and/or others.
The Split album has just been released...the artwork and PiM's half had been ready for ages, while everyone's been waiting for our part. Due to some banal disruptions in the megaflow we unfortunately consumed vast amounts of precious time trying to get finished.
I did some guest recitative on PiM's 'The Undead Shall Rise' vinyl(!) and also on their forthcoming werewolf-themed album. Andy, the main man of PiM, in his turn guest stars on 'Lovecraftian'. The collaboration started aeons ago from general conversation when we had adjacent seats on an astral plane that was never meant to fly.

14. Oulu, a grim, cold northern city... Or is it? Does your environment affect Aarni's music?

MW: Not such grim an environment compared to Karvatunturi. At any rate we suspect that esoteric factors matter more than exoteric ones when it comes to Brown Metal Chaos Musick. People often tend to use music to escape their surroundings, while sometimes they use the surroundings to escape music.

15. Transhumanism. Isn't that just some crap ‹bermensch ideology for insecure nerds? Does humanity have hope? Why should we progress or change?

MW: Well, nobody "should" change. Some of us just feel bored.

16. Mistress Palm... euphemism for jerking off! Caught you!

MW: Yea, that is one of the meanings behind the name for a myriad reasons. Shit and ye shall find.

17. If you found the Goddess, what would you do to her?

MW: The same I did with God, only with less popcorn maybe.

18. Your favourite movies?

MW: The good ones, meaning somehow interesting i.e. non-Hollywood. Fave directors remain Jodorowsky, Tarkovsky, Lynch, Gilliam etc.

19. You have now (or never!) the chance to update your list of recommended reading found on your website.

MW: Thanks, but no updates necessary really as "the classics are eternal". Or...are they?
The list shall be updated as we discover more classics or failing that, travel back in time to change what we read. Okay, maybe throw in the Dune series, the Earthsea books by LeGuin and the Hyperion/Endymion tomes by Simmons..and tomes about General Semantics for the more discerning reader.

20. Speaking of reading matter, you've mentioned comic book/graphic novel writers such as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore... as influential. Are you a big comics fan? Any favourites beside the aforementioned?

MW: Not a regular comics geek since childhood. I've loathed Marvel and Disney since I turned 12, after which I concentrated on the 2000 AD series, Groo The Wanderer, Usagi Yojimbo, Moebius, the quality DC titles and so on. Those three writers you mention would be the favourites, with perhaps Warren Ellis and Peter Milligan thrown in as seasoning.

21. Sir, why should I question authority, Sir?!?

MW: You better do as you're told; stupid is as stupid does and you'll be initiated as Master Shoggoth.

22. What would Jesus do?

MW: Mutter incoherently in Aramaic while madly flailing about, but mostly weep.

23. Last rites for our readers.

MW: Last rites usually equal first wrongs, so not?

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