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Hupogrammos (DORDEDUH): a creative musical journey

Hupogrammos (DORDEDUH): a creative musical journey
BANDS : Dordeduh, Makrothumia, Sunset in the 12th House

The Romanian band Dordeduh launched its first studio album on September 28, 2012. We took this opportunity to have a chat with Edmond "Hupogrammos" Karban about Dorededuh in general and their Dar De Duh LP in particular. Sunset in the 12th House, Makrothumia and Negura Bunget (the other bands he is/was in) popped up in the conversation as well.  Read on for more details:


 
Metalfan: Hello, Edmond and welcome to Metalfan.ro!
Edmond Karban: Greetings to you and to all Metalfan readers!

Metalfan: For a start, can you give us more details about what Dordeduh means? Both what it really means for you and what should mean to the people around you, to the public as well?

Edmond Karban: Dordeduh is something that started as a creative musical journey at the beginning of ’94 (when we called ourselves Wiccan Rede), then changed into Negura Bunget in ’96 and since 2009 has been living on as Dordeduh.
For me, at the bottom of my heart, this project is what I’ve always wanted to express: longing for that particular something you cannot get a hold of, but of which you know that lies deep in your soul. Because you can spot it as the most profound feeling you’ve ever lived since you’ve come into this world. It’s longing for that something which transcends everything you know and you’ve ever known. It’s like a blurry memory that was imprinted in the human gene.
Coming back to day-to-day life, though, Dordeduh is a perpetual struggle for survival, to do unconventional things as opposed to the “normal” jobs that people take to make a living; it is also a struggle to give 100% - and that doesn’t give me the comfort of a minimal existence. I haven’t made this aspect public for a long time, as it is a personal life choice. But I still think people may find inspiration in my “non-conformism”. Because I for one could have used a piece of advice from someone willing to tell me what I signed for when I chose to take this path. Life is a struggle, no matter where the line of battle is at some point. This is the line of battle that I chose. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll see that the footprints of destiny lead me to another direction, different from this one... who knows.
For the people around me Dordeduh is probably a burden. Because that fact that I – willy-nilly – chose to put my efforts into this direction constrains them up to a point, if they wish to accept me and support me. Unfortunately they are in the tightest spot, because when I’m in trouble they are the ones who have to stand by me. And in all these years my life scenario hasn’t changed very much. As for the public, Dordeduh is what they choose it to be. All that I can do is to give them what I think I should give. How they receive my gift is beyond my control.

Metalfan: In 2012 you launched your first studio album - Dar de Duh. What were the reactions to it so far? Both from the press and the public...
Edmond Karban: The reactions were unexpectedly positive. It seems people have not forgotten us and the album was expected for and appreciated. We’ve just come back from a European tour with Secrets of the Moon and Bethlehem and people came to see us, which was a great joy.
The album reviews were better than we expected, so things are fine for us. Now we have a tour in Romania; we’re curious to see how many people will attend our gigs.
 


Metalfan: The album has a profound spiritual component: lyrics, graphic elements and music – they all bind beautifully and generate a mystic aura, a quality less and less present in contemporary metal albums. Can you tell us more about the concept behind Dar de Duh?
Edmond Karban: The concept has two elements that are important for us. The first is revealed by the album title: the idea of heartily giving something. What the title also conveys, beside the obvious idea of giving, is that it invites the listener to contemplate upon the idea that nature, universe, transcendence (or however we choose to call this force) is the only “entity” unconditionally giving away things. Man is used to give only when he has a purpose, an agenda conditioning his gesture. That’s why the title of the album aims to encourage man to leave his ego and self-importance aside; it can be a minimal self-actualization gesture – but not in the sense that if you still have an ego and you think you’re important you don’t have this “virtue”. No. I think the world we’re in doesn’t need heroes, perfect spotless human beings. No, the world would settle for humbler things that every man can achieve. People need unity, need cooperation, they need a common vision and a will to make things right. Every force in the world tries to break this unity... up to the point where we forget what exactly is human.
The second conceptual component of the album is tied to the number seven. This number is the backbone of the album. There are seven songs – plus one that both ends a cycle and starts a new one. Each song is a mix of visions and esoteric aspects present in various ancient cultures, including our own (Romanian – ed. note) traditional culture. They are presented from the perspective of seven spiritual hierarchies and each song talks about one of these cycles.
The first song is attributed to Saturn and, by analogy, to Saturday – the first day of the week in almost all traditional cultures. It is a tribute to “the ancient”, to “the ones from forgotten times”, to the primordial spirits, the preserving and unifying spirit. This spirit is embodied in the image of the old, but still strong man; a demanding and wise man, but with a generous and fair heart. He is the one to right the wrongs and he brings things back to their initial pure state.
The second song belongs to the Sun, to Sunday and, implicitly, to the spirits who carry the torch of life and who dedicate this torch to every living creature. They are The Flame Bearers; beings who unconditionally offer life.
The third song is dedicated to the Moon, to Monday and to the lunar spirit, which is so well represented in our culture by “iele”(wicked fairies – approx. transl.). We meet this character fully depicting the two faces of the moon: the bright, visible one, and the dark, invisible one. The bright side thrives with fertility, it creates the maternal instinct and supports growth; while the dark one represents the sweet and gentle call devouring the one who falls under her spell in the deepest and most hidden darkness, only to go out into the light again, to grow and bloom once more.
The fourth song belongs to Mars and Tuesday. This song takes us, with the help of the Martian will focused on its inner self, through all the light centers of the humane structure: The Path of The Fire Wheels. There is only one path to align all centers: the path of righteousness!
Mercury is the governor of the fifth song, the song of Wednesday. This part weighs and decants the path of righteousness. He talks about the journey of life from an alchemic prospective, about finding and orderly placing the gold inside oneself.
The sixth song belongs to Jupiter, To Thursday and, consequently, to the expansive spirit which unbinds things in the universe and brings diversity in unity. This part talks about the way man can control expansion without ending up in dissolution.
The seventh song belongs to Venus and to Friday. This is the end of the cycle which balances all the past experience, turning it into a bunch of predispositions aimed to reach fulfillment. It is the fruit of the whole cycle, the fruit of an episode in the evolution of the spirit.
The eighth song  is the moment when the cycle turns back to the old Saturn – a place of primordial and absolute values. But everything takes place in a superior octave compared to the beginning.

Metalfan: From your point of view, are there any major differences between the local audience and the one from abroad? On the other hand, is the feed-back from the Romanian fans more important or the nationality is irrelevant?

Edmond Karban: Frankly, I never understood this desire to compare ourselves to “the ones abroad”.  “The foreigner” is not that “foreign” as we think, but we make him more “foreign”. In reality there is no difference between the Romanian audience and the ones from abroad. If there are some differences, they are linked mainly to the quality of logistics of the events, but not to the “quality” of the audience. We both have good and bad people, and you can meet low quality people over there as well. So we don’t see big differences between the local and the foreign audiences and feed-backs. Maybe the guys abroad have of sort of saturation in terms of music, and that’s because they have the opportunity to see an event per week over there. That’s why they have certain higher standards as well. But, just like here, there are people there who settle for less and they’re fine with that.

 
Metalfan: You are probably aware of the fact that your new studio album has created high expectactions in our metal scene, especially since the launch has been postponed quite a bit. Do you think that the public’s expectations have been met? What the feed-back so far, in your opinion?
Edmond Karban: Yes, we are fully aware of this. I think one can never completely meet the expectation of the public; and we didn’t plan to do this. We just followed our creative intent and our call without thinking whose expectations this album would meet and whose won’t. There will always be people who resonate more with what we do and many others who won’t resonate ever. That’s how things are and I think it’s better this way. We won’t like it any different.
As for the feed-back from the listeners, we can’t complain. Generally the people who got the album embraced it gladly. And that’s all we wanted with this record. The public has, of course, more or less legitimate opinions, and we have our limits in what we create and we are fully aware of most of them.

Metalfan: After splitting up from Negura Bunget did you feel an extra pressure from the public who waited for the same kind of quality as compared to your ex-band? If so, did it have any effect on the creative process for your debut record?

Edmond Karban: Yes, there was such a pressure. Everyone was waiting for a second OM. Some people think Dar de Duh is a natural continuation of OM, some think differently. But opinions are opinions. And one thing I know for sure. OM was written between 2000 and 2004 and Dar de Duh was written almost 9 years later. In 9 years, both Sol and I have changed a lot in terms of musical expression and as persons. So there are definitely some similarities and one can feel the same pattern behind the compositions of the two albums, but of course there are lots of differences as well.
I think the highest pressure was when we mixed the album. We spent a lot of time there trying to achieve what we intended. We wanted a dynamic, organic record, avoiding the modern sound processing – extremely loud and compressed – which has no effect except for tearing your eardrums apart.

Metalfan: I’m sure you’re already sick and tired of the Negura Bunget vs. Dor de Duh comparisons. But the press and the fans will inevitably draw some parallels between the two bands. Did you plan to radically distance yourself from the Negura Bunget sound, or you’d rather create your own identity exploring the same musical territories? I’m asking you because Dar de Duh seems a natural continuation of OM – the best Negura Bunget record ever, in my opinion.
Edmond Karban: That’s right. I’m looking forward to seeing each other after 2-3 albums, when people won’t make any comparisons at all. Now, at this stage, this thing is inevitable and somehow normal. Frankly, we didn’t plan anything that would lead us to a comparison with Negura Bunget. We don’t take into account anything that happened or is happening with the entity called Negura Bunget now. We follow our path, which is a natural development and continuation in our work. Dor de Duh is an independent entity and depends in no way of what has been or is Negura Bunget.
 

 
Metalfan: Why did you need so much time until the launch of this debut album? What were the main factors preventing you from releasing the record? There was quite a long time between the writing process and the physical transfer to the disk – are you still satisfied with the final product? If you had the possibility to change something, would you – either musically or conceptually?
Edmond Karban: Well, there are three factors when it comes to delaying the launch.
The first would be the fact that we are not a band who wants to industrially write and release records. We never were, nor do we intend to become one. We like to ponder over a material, to “mature” it until we feel it’s time to let it go and offer it to the public. This is our approach.
A second aspect would be that, unfortunately for us, we kind of over-worked on this album. We did so many things in vain. There were mixing versions after mixing versions – each with their strong and weak points, just like any other record. But at some point we stopped progressing. The work no longer brought the results we expected... and then came a moment where one had to deal with the fact that each album is a sum of bigger or smaller compromises. And then what you can do is get over it and let the material go out of your hands. Basically that’s what happened to our album.
The third delaying factor is that we all have our ups and downs in our personal life. And many times we confronted with financial or personal troubles, when we had to take other jobs which didn’t allow us to be 100% involved in music or moments when we had to put time and energy into balancing our personal lives. We are generally satisfied with the record. But unfortunately represents our aspirations in 2010-2011. Now things are different, a state of mind which will have an effect on our next album.

Metalfan: The songs on Dar de duh include a lot of elements taken from our folklore. Unlike other bands who tap into our cultural heritage, we are talking, in your case, about more than mere influences. They are an important part of the bands’ music. Why such a big emphasis on the local folklore?
Edmond Karban: Frankly, our folklore has never had such a big influence on us. I know that many listeners wanted to hear that, but it’s not true. Our folklore is old and worn out and above all out of touch. There hasn’t been a single innovation in our folklore for hundreds of years. This thing can be an advantage if you want to capture the ancient ways and feelings; but we need ethnic music to grow and redefine itself. Honestly, I was more inspired by the instruments than by the music that was created using them. Take the panpipe, for instance; that’s the instrument with the greatest deal of innovation. There is a Gheorghe Zamfir who is by far the best panpipe player in our country, but many other musicians have incorporated it in various genres.  The panpipe is such an expressive instrument and you can express such deep feelings with it. Its possibilities inspire me more than any pieces composed with it so far.
And it’s the same for every traditional instrument that we incorporated in our music.

Metalfan: Is there a subtle connection between the songs on your debut album? Are they to be regarded as a whole or they are compositions who can be enjoyed one by one, independently?
Edmond Karban: It’s a conceptual album, so we recommend you should regard it as a whole. The songs have a succession in a story and, although you can take them out of the context, they make more sense in the build-up that we created with them.

Metalfan: What was the main factor for choosing Dojana when you shot a video? Are you satisfied with the result?
Edmond Karban: The key element is the message of the song. The piece is accessible and the message is more contemporary than ever. Sure, it’s a non-metal song and this thing can be a disadvantage for what the album really is about, but we’ll soon release more videos and then we’ll have a balance. I’m very happy with the result. Costin Chioreanu, the man behind the cameras, is a very talented and intuitive person. The advantage is that he’s a musician as well, so he understands things beyond the video barriers. We’re very glad he got exactly what we wanted from this clip and he managed to put into practice everything he understood. 
 

Metalfan: So how was the collaboration with him? Are you planning on doing things together in the future? Maybe a new video...
Edmond Karban: The collaboration was exceptional. We are grateful to the force of destiny to have such a person in our country. We’ll definitely do things with him in the future – both for Dor de Duh and for Sunset in the 12th House. Yes, we talked about a third video. You heard that right, a third one, cause you’ll be able to see the second one very soon.

Metalfan: Your promotional tour in Romania will start shortly. Are you more nervous when playing in Timisoara than, let’s say, London?
Edmond Karban: Frankly, no. But I’ll doubt that the experience in London will ever be matched by the one in Timisoara. If this happens, it will be more than I ever imagined. London has been one of our best gigs so far. [Later edit: to our surprise, the concert in Timisoara was at least as good as the one in London].

Metalfan: After Dordeduh you started Sunset in the 12th House. Can you give us more details about this band? In what way does it differ from Dordeduh? When do you plan to release a studio album?
Edmond Karban: Well, what I can definitely say is that the band taps into another corner of our soul. Musically and stylistically is different from what we do with Dor de Duh. It is also a space allowing us to explore new musical dimensions and that’s all we want from this group. It’s a somewhat large space to manifest ourselves, which will allow new sounds into our music. We started recording the album in February 2012. We have tracks for drums, some of the guitar, bass and keyboard parts. But the launch of Dar de Duh got most of our attention, so the Sunset in the 12th House (called Mozaic) had to wait. We hope to finish it by the end of the year.

Metalfan: You’ve recently made a cover of Ruun from the Norwegian band Enslaved. Can you give us more details about it? What were the selection criteria? What other bands would you like to make covers from in the future?
Edmond Karban: Guys at Pictonian Records invited us to take part in a tribute album celebrating 20 years of Enslaved. We said yes and we chose, I’d say. The most prominent song they’ve ever written. That’s my opinion, at least. It was also a song in which I was tempted to invest just to bring new and nice elements to it. So I added some cymbal and an extra-chorus with a melodic voice that my ears have “heard” when I first listened to the piece. We were extremely glad when Ivar told us he liked our interpretation. Unfortunately, I’ve never been much of a cover fan, so I guess we won’t make many of them in our musical career.
 

 
Metalfan: You used to be a producer for bands like Indian Fall and Wodensthrone (UK). How can a band get to collaborate with you for this job? Is there any band you’d like to be a producer for?
Edmond Karban: I’m glad you asked that. Producing a record beyond engineering the sound is my favorite one, I guess. Bands willing to collaborate with me can write to me at dordeduh@yahoo.com or simply write a message on the band’s Facebook page. Sorry for not being so in touch with the world, I don’t have a Facebook page and I hope I’ll never be forced to make one, haha. I like to produce any band who can play and has a drop of inspiration. So I have no preferences and no expectations.

Metalfan: In the mid '90s you played with a band called Makrothumia. Why did you split up? Can we expect a re-release of the The Rit of Individuation (1997) record, but also of the demo stuff in a special box set? Have you ever considered even (partially) re-forming the band for a concert that eventually would lead to a DVD?
Edmond Karban: It’s interesting someone still remembers this stuff. The reason for dissolving the band was that the other guys showed no interest in the project. I would have liked a lot to have the album on separate tracks so I can re-master it, but unfortunately I don’t. A re-release would never be possible, I think, although at some point I tried to re-form Makrothumia, with little success. There are some parts that used to be in Makrothumia songs which I re-interpreted with Sunset in the 12th House. The context is different, so I modified the songs a bit to better fit the current setup of the songs. My biggest sadness is that in ’96 we had 6 full songs that could make an album but we decided not to recorded, because we thought they wouldn’t have been up to date [according to the standards of that timeed. note]. By that time we started leaving the death-doom area and we were heading to a more technical and progressive music, something you can hear on The Rit of Individuation. Then we had 5 more extraordinary songs written after we recorded the album, songs which never got to record because we split up. It’s such a shame.

Metalfan: Thank you, Edmond, for you time and answers! At the end, do you want to add something or send a message to our readers?

Edmond Karban: Thanks for this opportunity and also for support and for the interest you’ve shown.
 
Autor: Dragos P., H.
Foto: Ella
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Dordeduh, Sunset in the 12th House,

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