Like I've said, the artwork to 'Andipal' is simply amazing, truly evocative of the album's contents. It was done by Stefan Thanneur art but given direction by you. Was the artwork completed before or after the album? Either way, discuss the directives you gave him...I'm sensing themes of birth, destruction, and rebirth to go along with the more-restrained, womb-like music.
After the recording, I envisioned for each track some substances, forms or colours. But I was not comfortable with creating an intriguing and faithful assemblage of my very thoughts. Then Stefan Thanneur offered his skills to carry out this delicate task with my inputs, along with the whole packaging. Musically like-minded and knowing his pertinent work, like his promising graphic novella 'Mvsica Satanae', I accepted without hesitation. Page after page, his artwork exactly reflects the introversion and the autobiographical thematic continuum of 'Andipal' : Global submission (social, religious, domestic) narrowing to sexual submission, before a renewal of the supreme individual. We wanted to express those abstract ideas by drowning a few obvious objects into more psychotic visuals. Unveiling the lyrics allows the beholder's interpretation to be driven.
What is your conception of 'industrial'? Is it more than mere musical boundaries but, rather, bound to a general/specific feeling?
Faster than ever, humanity is drastically changing, shaped by more and more technological rules, surrounded by unnatural lights, aggressive noises or invisible waves. And paradoxically we find a quite masochistic pleasure in this, for everybody seems to admire this 'progress'. Creating industrial music is to reclaim the core of this technology, its sonic bases (i.e. electricity waves, machines sounds and noises) and its specific consistent rhythms, in order to re-work them with a human vision while satisfying our unconscious longing for submission. Industrial does not necessarily involve using electronics or samplers. Early Neubauten or early Swans music and performances are models of handiwork where the feeling is absolutely industrial. The aim is not to reassure or to please the listener in his musical habits, but to hurt him, methodically, like technology hurts nature. Somehow, the human psyche likes to get hurt.
Why does so much 'industrial' metal fail? Sounding so dated, relying so much on blips 'n' bleeps or super-masculine posturing, instead of truly conveying the grinding, inexorable march of industry?
Delimited by predictable sounds and images, the 'metal' genre is mostly childish entertainment, polluted by macho men moving on a stage, playing Mr Tough Guy or Mr Evil, but still belonging to the old rock' n' roll tradition with modern clichés. This lack of maturity is a barrier when it comes to design truly subversive music, in addition to a lack of musical openness, of knowledge in electronics, or interest in weird rhythms. When synths are used, they often fall miserably into cheap classicism, or crappy dance. If priority is given to mind manipulation through original sound treatment, instead of concentrating on pure energy, then metal can be perverted and dangerous. Black metal and industrial share a strong common ground in the sense that they can provoke uneasiness and aggression by slowly repeating extreme distortion patterns and processed effects. Aware of this, P.H.O.B.O.S.' sound has noticeably evolved since the 'Tectonics' period.
Do you find industry - factories, machines, etc. - frightening, fascinating, or both?
The genius behind machines and factories is sometimes amazing, industrial art and architecture are sometimes attractive, but I am not really fascinated by the industry per se. What is really frightening is the instrumentation of the industrial production by corporate greediness, eradicating the human sensitivity for a higher profitability. One latest example is how a shitty format like MP3 is now revered and admitted as a high quality audio standard, thanks to massive brainwashing. People are not able to trust their ears anymore, they settle for the approximated aural sensations re-created by digital science. Tooled industry is lowering the cultural standards and people bow down before every screen they are lured by. This scheduled death of taste and arts pisses me off, and is one of the driving forces that maintain P.H.O.B.O.S. so punishing.
Do you see a sort of industrial-metal *ideal* in the artwork of H.R. Giger, whereby the mechanic and the organic are merged and take on a symbiotic, almost parasitic relationship?
I am a great admirer of Giger's art, but I do not really feel it as 'industrial', except maybe in the coldness of the "NY City" series. Sustained graphic repetition and geometrical harshness multiplication would be necessary to make his paintings and sculptures truly industrial. With the omnipresence of mutant flesh combining with mechanical pieces, his creations are more evocative of macabre and sexual powers than of industrial production.
Lastly, do you think modern listeners can relate to such industrialised sounds, living in such industrialised times, than they would've, say, 40 years ago? Or is the concept of 'industry' relevant for the past 100 years or more?
The ability of the human being to be receptive to industrial sounds depends on the industrial state of his time: A curious listener living in the 40s could be easily appealed by the works of Pierre Schaeffer, or later by musique concrete composers like Boulez or Xenakis, who often recalled the mathematically driven sounds of the industry. But the same open listener would have surely been confused in 2000s when listening to Ryoji Ikeda or Autechre. As told before, a modern audience should naturally relate to the extreme sounds and rhythms of industrial music, since we are moulded by a technological environment for a while. Even when it is 'not audible' in very low or high frequencies, we physically feel it. Reception is always possible, but is useless without open-mindedness and culture.