June 1986 A4 20 pages
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Peter Frohmader is one of the most prolific and inventive musicians working today, having released numerous albums, each with its own characteristic individual style. Born in Munich (9/5/58), he started getting interested in music at the age of 13. During the seventies he has been involved with many styles of music, and numerous bands. In 1979 he started up Nekropolis to pursue his own musical ideas, often being augmented by friends he's made throughout his career.
What follows is a letter interview carried Out in April 1986, and I hope will give an insight into Peter Frohmader - Artist and Musician.
What type of musical training have you had?
"I had some training on classical guitar (about a year), in I think 1972. I taught myself to play all the other instruments I use."
What type of music did you play originally?
"I began in 1970 with electronic music (new music), program music and improvisations in a more serious style - experiments, sounds, the so called avant-garde."
What other bands/projects were you involved with before working as Nekropolis?
"Alpha Centauri (avant-garde/atonal), Electronic Delusion (rough electronics and musique concrete), Kanaan (jazz/rock/electronics/oriental), Malaria (for 6 months), Bizarro (also known as Paranoia de Luxe), CIA (hard rock).'
Did any of these bands play live, or record any LP's or tapes?
"Yes, we played concerts, festivals, etc. (not only in Germany), but none of the bands made any records, however there are many recordings on tape, but none have been published."
What instruments did you play?
"Electric bass, fretless bass, 8-string bass, electric double bass, 6-string bass, guitars, saz (a Turkish string instrument), electronics, gongs, etc."
When did you decide to go solo?
"I have always been active in solo projects (bands and recordings). Since 1978/79 I've been working alone, it's the best way for me, because my compositions are too strange for most musicians"
What is the idea behind Nekropolis?
"Nekropolis is my project name and contains all my activities in music and art, etc. It means 'city of the dead' or 'big burying place' and shows my affinities and my way of life (or theme of life)"
From where do we come and what will happen after death and so on. A kind of romanticism too (also a kind of horror), remember the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, very interesting and important to me."
Why did you release your first LP privately, did you try any major or independent companies?
"I didn't try any major companies, but did try 2 or 3 independents (so called independents, it was bullshit). I wanted artistic control, no compromises, and therefore had to do it myself. (I never like to give away rights of my music to others, and I've never liked all kinds of fashion in music and design). Too much belongs to the German labels"
The NEKROPOLIS - MUSIK AUS DEM SCHATTENREICH album has a very spooky atmosphere. Could you tell me where the inspiration came from, what are the ideas behind the work, and did you play everything yourself?
"The inspirations I have in my mind (for all things, I've a very vivid imagination). It's a kind of music for the masses and so on (also for films - H.R. Giger uses this record often for his films). "Hell cyclus" and "Night cyclus" were the main themes of mine at that time. Yes, I played all the instruments myself except for the drums (played by Rudi Neuber, an old friend of mine)"
How come your second album NEKROPOLIS 2 was released by the independent label Hasch Platten?
"Hasch Platten is a label for extreme music (founded by 2 guys from Bavarian Broadcasting). They wanted these recordings, and so I said okay, because they are friends of mine."
You thank Christian Vander on this record, though I feel your bass work shows some influence of Jannick Top, but not any other aspect of Magma. Could you comment on this?
"The dedication to Christian Vander wasn't my idea, but the idea of the label (I don't know why, sorry). NEKROPOLIS 2 is a work for basses (mainly) - Jannick Top didn't invent this type of bass style, Francis Moze developed it earlier. I liked those aspects of Magma at that time, also my own special bass projects of the mid-70's - with new forms of playing bass. I would like to think that I've had my own style of playing bass for a long time now."
This LP is far rockier and aggressive than the previous one, what were the concepts behind it?
"These works are extracts of some symphonies for basses and guitars which I did in the seventies; choirs of basses and guitars, structured and hard. Scored music."
You also have quite a unique style of synth playing, how did you develop it?
"From the beginning (1970) I've used electronics, through the many years of working, the music has developed in my mind, not only the techniques."
On your next release 2 COMPOSITIONS you play only synth, you seem to use a lot of arpeggio's and sequences, the sound being very complex, how do you go about recording something like this?
"It's all composed, then recorded on several tracks (2 COMPOSITIONS is a 4-track recording) and mixed (mixing is sometimes a kind of composing too, I think)."
Stephan Manus is an excellent violinist, how did you get involved with musicians like Stephan and Rudi Haunreiter?
"They've played in my projects for a long time now (over ten years), they know my music very well and they know what I want, so the co-operation is great and works very fast. Rudi Haunreiter has also played with Emtidi and Sparifankal (two old German bands)."
What led to the NEKROPOLIS LIVE LP? And, why did it get released by Schneeball, also did this band play live in concert?
"Yes, I played concerts and toured with this band (in other countries too), for example - in Yugoslavia with Art Zoyd and Black Sheep. The LP was released on Schneeball because Till Obermaier (ex-Sparifankal) is a founder of Schneeball, I also know the people in Embryo very well (I've played with them on record - Julius Schittenhelm's "Rundschlag", I've also played with Chris Karrer of Amon Düül II)."
Your next work was ORAKEL/TIEFE, this was to have been released in the States as a 'picture disc', what went wrong?
"The ORAKEL/TIEFE works are older than NEKROPOLIS LIVE. I quarrelled with this company, so I had them send back the tapes."
This is I feel, one of your best and most important works. Was it generally improvised or composed, and what is the general idea behind it?
"It's generally composed. Tiefe is also the soundtrack to my film "Seelenwanderung". It's a mystic and dark world, very atmospheric. I also think it's important."
There's a slight Heldon similarity on Orakel, have you ever heard their music?
"I know some Heldon music, but it doesn't have much to do with this I think, it's more organic, not so mechanical"
The two pieces you donated for our A CAGE WENT IN SEARCH OF A BIRD compilation (Sepulchral Choirs and Pharonische Grabkammar) are in a similar style to this, could you provide some background on these?
"Yes, these works are from the same period as ORAKEL/TIEFE and are showing similar worlds. I'm very interested in the mysteries of mankind"
Your second Hasch Platten release was the mini LP THE FORGOTTEN ENEMY. It's heavy, slightly funky, with some similarity to Material; do you like their music?
"Hasch Platten wanted something from me, and liked this stuff, so I said okay. For me it's a kind of 'Nekropolis disco', but I think it's okay, it's hard and powerful too. I must say that I don't like bands like Material, I hate jazz-rock, my love belonging more to classical music.
Do you aim to follow this direction further?
"I don't think so (perhaps a little bit)."
Your next work CULTES DES GOULES is definitely your most unusual and complex work to date, how did you go about composing and arranging something like this?
"It's ballet music and should be performed to. I'm in contact with different choreographers and H.R. Giger could do the stage design, but at the moment I have too many other projects to work on. In this work every tone was composed, I worked throughout 1984 on it, though some pieces are older. So I combined all the pieces and arranged it for my ensemble. (All the parts belong together and follow each other in a logical context.) It's also program music, a serious contemporary record."
Not only are you an accomplished musician, but you are also an excellent artist, what are your main inspirations behind your paintings and artwork?
"Same as in my music."
I understand that you also work with video.
"Yes, not only video, I also do films and copy them onto video tape - these films have been shown at festivals and on TV in different countries. There are also short films about me and my work."
Have you been pursuing any other projects recently? (i.e. - concerts, exhibitions, films, etc.)
"Yes, right now I'm doing concerts with different people in Germany, and exhibitions (some large ones) throughout the year. This week (9th of May - Ed.) I'm doing a concert in Munich with Andrea Centazzo (from Italy) as a duo (he is also well known in the contemporary scene). Also a trio concert will happen. I'm not doing any film works at the moment, but there's always film music (mainly for TV)."
Your new LP: RITUAL is a more rhythmic and work, with some structured similarity to Asmus Tietchens especially with the track Ecstasy.
"I'm not familiar with the work of Asmus Tietchens. Ecstasy is an uncompromising work, laid-down in a kind of 'ostinato principle' - like Ravel's "Bolero".
Have you any new releases planned?
"Yes, HOMUNCULUS-ORCHESTRA, LP or perhaps a double LP. Hopefully It will be released later this year."
What type of music do you like to listen to?
"Mostly classical as I've already mentioned, for example - Ravel, Stravinsky, Frank Martin, Sibelius..."
Do you think that the music you listen to has influenced your own output?
"There are no direct influences, mainly I think I've developed my own music in these 15 or 16 years, and I'll continue my work until I die (no other possibility)"
What do you think of the German experimental music scene in general, from the late 60's 'till now?
"The old scene was important 16 years ago I think, the new scene I don't know very much about, I don't think there are many interesting projects here. I would like to state that I don't see my music as experimental. I left these things behind me in the 70's. I just want to create 'real music', that doesn't need too much explanation - timeless, not fashionable."
With the exception of A CAGE WENT IN SEARCH OF A BIRD what other releases have featured your material?
"The Hasch Platten Sampler LP and single, called MUSIK FUR DICH (see Compilations review page); Necronomicon, Spain, cassette(s) I think; Fabrique Electrique Sampler 1985, cassette, P.A.P. 007; and some others, I don't know exactly what at the moment."
PETER FROHMADER REVIEWS...
NEKROPOLIS - MUSIK AUS DEM SCHATTENREICH
This is Peter Frohmader's first LP and is a self produced and released record, and as such bears some of the qualities of immediacy and rawness you would expect from a German experimentalist's debut.
All the tracks have a ghostly synthesizer droning of various intensity to provide a heavily atmospheric backdrop, sometimes hostile, stormy howlings of alien and drifting and even cosmic, paint your own visuals. Having said this, the LP is not at all unvaried, the first three tracks are swamped by powerful bass, guitar and drums to give a demonic early Can feel. The last track on this side (the hell side) is a synthesizer piece, which leaves behind the rock 'n' roll and begins the tendency for the whole LP to quieten down and demand more attention and volume. This track is the longest at 8:54 and reminds you of the benefits to be had from draught exclusion.
Interview by Steve & Alan Freeman. Reviews by various authors
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