Unmasked But Not Demystified, A Q&A With Farsot’s III.XXIII & X.XIX

The last time we talked to Farsot, bassist/keyboardist v.03/170 was fielding our inquiries into the band’s inner workings. The Germans had just released their second album, 2011’s stupendous Insects, and we here at Decibel were obsessed with what made the landmark effort tick. It was an album of doors, continually opening and closing on Farsot’s command. Tracks like “Empyrean”, “The Vermilion Trail”, and “Withdrawal” were stupefyingly great! Now, seven years older and six new songs richer, the members of Farsot are aiming to unfurl another full-length of incredible creativity in Fail-Lure. As with previous full-lengths, Fail-Lure features songs that span long moments in time. The album’s longest, “With Obsidian Hands”, isn’t its most spectacular, but the way it weaves through movements and motifs is demonstrative of Farsot’s unending innovation. The song begs to be heard over and over again. The rest of Fail-Lure operates similarly, but with more directness. “Circular Stains”, “Vitriolic”, and “A Hundred to Nothing” are Farsot operating on a new level. Throughout each song, the Germans offer all kinds of cool things to discover while remaining aggressive, malignant, and heavy. While most music reviewers get boners over easy wins and glass cannons, Farsot’s Fail-Lure is, like IIII and Insects, the real thing. We talk to III.XXIII and X.XIX to discover what seven years has done to the band and their music. To wit, Farsot are still kings of German black metal on Fail-Lure.

Six years separate Insects from Fail-Lure. What in the hell have Farsot been up to? Fans are pining for more, you know.
III.XXIII: After the release of Insects, we took the adequate time to present the album live. With completion of the tour activities, it was really necessary to get distance to the band and to the eternal roundabout of writing and performing. Our minds needed air and freedom for new creativity. From the end of 2013, the first activities on the new album began, which lasted until the end of 2015. Haste makes waste. All of the following periods elapsed with pre-production and studio auditions, as well as artwork and release dates.

Fail-Lure is quite a bit different from Insects. What do you attribute that to? Time, maturity, or perhaps something else?
III.XXIII: Of course we continue to develop continuously. We undergo different moods in all the years. This inevitably leads to the fact that Farsot are never being really predictable. In the case of Fail-Lure, we felt a strong urge for the rugged values of this very archaic music, which formed the basis of our previous sound. The lyrical theme also demanded more radicalism, strong counter-poles between melancholic depths and driving, detached peaks.

The one thing that’s continued is the dynamics of Insects and its predecessors. The texture waves and different motifs, contained in a black metal framework, is pretty amazing.
III.XXIII: We try to tell a little musical story with each song. Every detail should occur attractive and with its own texture. This makes it more interesting, more explorable, tailor-made to our own minds. In principle without any musical limits to it. There is really a lot of hard (heart-) work and individual life / musical experience in every Farsot song. In spite of all this, all the parts and moods are to be woven together in a coherent and fluid manner without degenerating in effort. That’s what I think succeeded on Fail-Lure.

Also, there’s a ton of sounds in the background. Like near the end of “Circular Stains”. I like that you’ve chosen to keep some of the sounds behind the main instruments for listeners to discover. Was that the idea?
III.XXIII: Yes, we like to put shimmering ambient notes on the albums. Be it the feedback of the guitars, an insane bass effect or the endless world of synthesizers or floor effect sounds. This should never take over, but it can be very beneficial to the mood and depth of a song. And it also calls the spirits… Beware!

And there’s the warped sounds, which add a very disconcerting vibe to Fail-Lure. I’m talking about the acoustic passage in “Circular Sounds”. The chords warp as they’re being played. Are you trying to communicate something specific here?
III.XXIII: I just love this tremolo sound. It was also used in songs like “The Antagonist” or “Withdrawal”. Gloomy and psychedelic, it gives the songs a cold and disturbed character. The contrast to the resolved clear guitars or the width of the distorted metal parts works very well. The songs gain in character and depth, color and intensity.

Tell us about the title Fail-Lure. Is it the lure of failing or is it the allure of failing? Two very different concepts.
X.XIX: The title tries to combine these words by saying, that the failure is often caused by the allure. This is not to seen as a general truth. It is inspired by the movie Drowning by Numbers (Peter Greenaway). Man starts to lose his mind when it comes to the satisfaction of his desires. The instincts nebulize his senses. He commits mistakes. Mistakes that may change and determine his life. He becomes a victim of his instincts and his selfishness. Tightly followed by love, opaque games and immoral offerings, he gets punished. Revenge for his wicked deeds. Fail-Lure is an allegory of the seeming rift between the sexes. Caught between superficialities, half-truths and relentless lies.

And the Denis Lavoyer cover is quite striking. Instead of making the image the full album cover, it’s framed in black. Where were you going with the cover art? A statement or merely something to make the viewer think? Or both.
X.XIX: The bold frame of the photograph was mainly chosen for design purposes. It makes the picture appear even darker and more unapproachable. Also we didn’t want to place the band logo and album title on the image These elements should not destroy the effect of the image. That’s why we decided for an cut-out cover. You can see the full image if you take the booklet out of the packaging. This is a reversible cover by the way – the back cover of the booklet shows another shot of the sculpture which could be used as an alternate cover. We wanted to have this cut-out also as our vinyl cover. But this wasn’t possible due to financial reasons.

You’ve opted to continue the anonymous look and feel of the band members. The promo photos are striking in that regard. Are the individual members of Farsot not that important to the collective or does it really matter who is who in Farsot? Maybe it’s the music that matters.
X.XIX: Since our early beginnings, we tried to avoid setting a too strong focus on the individuals behind the band. Farsot is our overall work of art. Like a painting. Inaccessible and arcane. We don’t try to avoid mixing our real life with our music but in Farsot we’re just breathing through our music and our album concepts. Except on stage. There we don’t need these masks to hide behind. On stage, we only communicate through our music. We are just the guys which present their art. Unmasked, unveiled, honest and devoted. Like the painter who is presenting his painting.

You recorded with V. Santura. What, sonically, were you looking to achieve with Victor?
III.XXIII: Due to our very good experiences, we knew about what we have in him and what we could achieve with him. Fail-Lure should – as already mentioned – carry a rather primal black metal corset. Rougher and impetuous, the sounds should inspire the lyrical concept. Insects at that time needed this rugged, earthy and metallic character, which Markus Stock could handle simply well. Over the years, we have been following the productions of both of them, and with this album we felt better at Victor. We are extremely pleased with the production, as it perfectly reflects the bond of hardness and malignance as well as the variety of emotions and musicality. Thanks Victor!

When you hear Fail-Lure what do you hear? The production, mix, and master sound really good. The whole thing is powerful, aggressive, mournful, and reflective.
X.XIX: A lot of feelings and memories emerge, when we listen to the record. The past six years were very eventful for everyone in the band. We had many ups and downs. Good and bad things happened. We worked really hard for this (for us) very important record and we never thought it would make us that glad in the end. We are very proud of it. We hear a lot of heart blood, sweat and tears. Maybe this is what Fail-Lure is.

Would you consider Farsot black metal at this stage? Given that the genre of black metal is quite wide and deep from a musical point of view.
X.XIX: Meanwhile, black metal is more or less just a generic term for extreme music with fast played guitars, some atmospheric elements and harsh vocals. It hasn’t longer anything in common with the former movement, which came up in the mid ’80s (Venom, Bathory, Mayhem) or the early ’90s (Darkthrone, Burzum, Beherit). Maybe we perform black metal in a way. Just because we use the characteristic musical style. But we don’t like these drawers at all. On top of that, when it comes to so-called sub-genres like post-black metal, shoegaze black metal or similar. It isn’t really of importance which kind of music we play.

What music moves you lately? And why?
X.XIX: I’m currently really into the new records of Deep Purple, Mastodon, Emptiness and Ulver and I just discovered Nazareth for myself who released great albums in the early ’70s. My latest record is Solar Fire of Manfred Mann Earth Band. I’m listening to a lot of ’70s hard rock. Music in general should move and touch me. It should leave a message. Otherwise it isn’t interesting at all.

And finally recommend a Farsot song for a weary, if open-minded traveler. And why, of course?
X.XIX: To pick out just one Farsot song is really difficult. So here is one song of each record which you should listen at first: “Thematik:Trauer” (IIII) – an epic 20-minutes piece with an intense piano interludium and a continuous tension to the end, “Empyrean” (Insects) – the most atmospheric song on Insects with a certain Enslaved-vibe, “Circular Stains” (Fail-Lure) – the most diverse song on the new record, perfect to get a good overview.

** Farsot’s new album, Fail-Lure, is out now on Prophecy Productions. The album of the year is available HERE in various bundles and configurations.