Heathen Harvest: One of the most active and most fascinating entities in the post- industrial universe is Henrik Nordvargr Bjorkk. Even if his name is not familiar, it is unlikely most of our readers are unfamiliar with any of proliferate projects. The most famous and enduring is undoubtedly MZ.412, the legendary ‘black industrial’ project formed in the late eighties with Ulvharm and Drakhon. Other projects are Folkstorm, Toroidh and um, Henrik Nordvargr Bjorkk, Goatvargr , Hydra Head 9 and Sleep Therapy. Did I mention that this is not a complete list? Despite this avalanche of projects, Nordvargr is unwilling to claim any as a main or primary project, but does tentatively suggest what could be seen as his primary project.
My creative process, my "flow", is something that I actually cannot control. What I compose is mostly a reflection of myself, my inner feelings and my current state of mind. So to answer which project is my main project is difficult. You could say that all releases with the word Nordvargr in the title is the closest to me...
HH: Nordvargr is prepared to group his projects into three groups, to accommodate their varied approach.
In general you could say that all things Toroidh and Folkstorm focuses on war, history and politics, and even if they are different in sound they are still very closely tied together in my mind. HH9 was a pure noise/improvisation project, a cleansing of ideas, feelings and personal issues. It is not active anymore. All things Nordvargr are all in the dark ambient/drone field of music. Personally important, and probably the most intimate music I make. I also have started to record my own brand of Black Metal, as Vargr... I will not go into detail about this here, it is not music for anyone. I have decided to close down the Myspace site and keep the music for myself to a large extent. Time will tell what will happen in the future...
HH: This is the first time Nordvargr has stepped into the black metal arena, having hovered around the edges for ages. He has and still is, working with Hellenic black metal act Naer Mataron and contributed some ambient passages for Forgotten Tomb. And of course, MZ.412 has attracted a small core of black metallers, helped in no small part by their explicit Satanism. When I asked why Mz.412 have disbanded, I received an unexpected answer:
MZ.412 is NOT disbanded! There was a little misunderstanding regarding the word "swansong" that was used in the press release for "Infernal Affairs." We are stronger than ever, and a new album is in the works.
HH: Nordvargr does not expand upon the misunderstanding that led to [MZ.412 label] Cold Meat Industry issuing a press release unambiguously describing “Infernal Affairs as their swansong album, but it is great to know that MZ.412 are still going strong, as there is plenty of fuel left in that machine. “Infernal Affairs” was different from previous albums in placing a greater focus upon ambient structures rather than the aural agonies of previous missives. The overt Satanism and anti-Christianity also seems to have been toned down considerably. I pondered the possibility that perhaps their earlier Satanic leaning were the result of a mix of naivety and an adolescent desire to shock and rebel, but Nordvargr is quick to dismiss this suggestion.
We never muck about. The ideological foundation of MZ.412 is serious. You get older and wiser, and thus the "tone" of things might come through as muted, but the fire is still burning inside us.
HH: One project that has fallen by the wayside is Folkstorm.
I felt that I had nothing more to give, and as Toroidh dealt with the same topics (more or less) my interest in the harsher music of Folkstorm waned over the years. However, Folkstorm returned from the grave a few years back with the "Folkmusik" album, and I recorded a new track for a compilation last month, so I would not call it dead anymore... just a bit slow.
HH: Perhaps not quite dead but definitely on life support. Based on the assumption that that MZ.412 and Folkstorm were no more, I had enquired whether their shelving represented a move for Nordvargr away from the harsher end of the post-industrial spectrum and whether noise /power electronics held less appeal for him. The rationale behind the query was based on facts revealed to be false, but the assumption was nonetheless correct.
The whole [noise and power electronics] scene just exploded with so many talentless boring copycats that sounded all the same. Every clown with a computer/soundcard started their own labels and bands and just flooded the scene. This, together with the evolution of my skills as a "composer" has made me move away from the scene.
HH: Nordvargr further compares this to black metal and he is right. Both musical form (or should that be ‘amusical’?) that is ostensibly simple attracts a huge number of marginal talents, whose lack of technicality is surpassed by a lack of vision and imagination resulting in repetitive dreck. It barely need be said that there are also a huge number of original, inspiring and just damn good projects, but the rubbish does detract from this. I also enquired about the possibility of a vinyl box set of mz.412 material. It might have been good if they had disbanded, but Nordvargr does not rule out the possibility that this could be a consideration for a future time.
The interview is approaching an end, and it is time for the obligatory question as to his future endeavours. Apart from mastering the new Arditi album, the first two Nordvargr and Drakh collaborations will be re-released on the Russian Eternal Pride label.
We usually get together and record an album every three years or so, so I guess it is about time to do another one soon.
HH: A new Vargr, “Northern Black Supremacy” is due out in mid-October on America’s 20 Buck Spin. Works in progress include collaborations with Merzbow, Navicon Torture Technologies and Cordell Klier. A new Nordvargr CD “Helvete” is also due for release in the near future.. The title translates, rather cheesily, as ‘Hell’ and wonder whether this is a re-awakening of the overt Satanism of Mz.412, or whether it is tribute to the record shop of the same name owned by Mayhem’s Euronymous, who was murdered by Burzum’ Varg Vikernes in 1994. Those are questions for another time. Watch this space!