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Ignorance is a Blessing

Behind KRAAKER are Knockelkatt and Skrangelfant who seem - at least on paper - to be a rather disparate duo. While one contains himself aloof, the other speaks out a bit more detailed on their raw Black Metal and the album "Musikk Fra Vettenes Dom" every now and then.

But they totally agree on one thing. Requests about their slightly strange pseudonyms are brushed aside by Knockelkatt with a curt "These names suit our personalities. No further elaboration." So let's focus on that evening in 2006 on which the two decide to found their own Black Metal band. "Yeah, I remember that night quite well," recounts Skrangelfant. "The local symphonic-ish Black Metal band Lucid Fear was on stage that night. Knockelkatt who knew the band invited me to tag along. I found it very exciting, being only 15 years of age and I hadn't attended many Black Metal concerts before. The concert itself did definitely open up a few doors for me musically. Later on, outside, Knockelkatt and I discussed a little, this idea of starting our own act. And two weeks later we drove up to Knockelkatt's family cabin by the foot of Hardangervidda and started jamming." It doesn't take a master degree in maths to notice that both band members are quite young. Still they do know what they want as can be seen as the story continues.

In ´Sirkus Av Hex´ or in the second half of ´Geitespill´ one might detect distant traces or be slightly reminded of bands like Slagmaur who follow a similar process of delivering albums which one either loves or hates. Knockelkatt simply ignores the question how KRAAKER would define a unique and experimental sound, and just points out that they are not in any way feeling close to Slagmaur's music. So it's up to Skrangelfant to provide an approach. "I'm sorry but I don't think I've even heard one song by Slagmaur. That's probably because I don't listen too much to the music of the scene and am quite poorly updated on what's going on out there. Although it would probably be an advantage to know the Black Metal scene more, I think that not listening and keeping oneself updated goes for a lot of other musicians. Now, on the unique and experimental sound you're talking about, I think ignorance can be a bliss at times. Being a copy of a copy rarely makes you better than the original. You need to inject that extra dosage of yourself into the music. But, I can't really define what's unique and experimental. An album I like that pops up in my mind right now is Nidingr's "Sorrow Infinite and Darkness". Now that's fucking awesome, unique and experimental..."

Representing such attitudes one isn't surprised that Knockelkatt only names Tulus and especially the freedom of creativity as sole influences for KRAAKER upon which Skrangelfant agrees. The reviews on "Musikk Fra Vettenes Dom" are clearly split into two camps. Many are more on the negative side but some also praise the work of the Norwegians. Knockelkatt explicates that "people who listen to the creation of the music and the meaning of the lyrics like "Musikk Fra Vettenes Dom", and people who only want ´pure black metal´ may hate it." Whereas Skrangelfant comes up with a more explanatory attempt. "Well, in a way we have stepped over the line in many places, regarding the whole production. Lyrically and musically we throw around some untraditional themes when it comes to Black Metal. That could maybe put some listeners a bit off. I really think understanding the lyrics plays a big part of getting a hold of the whole album... A good amount of reviews have turned up this year, and yes, you can say some are devastating. But I also agree with a lot of the critics. I have had four years to listen to this album, and although it has established itself in the inner parts of my brain, the occasional listening through gives me new ideas for this and that."

picture provided by Kraaker

Listening to "Musikk Fra Vettenes Dom" he wants the listener to feel "nostalgic. At least that is how I feel when I listen to the album. Many events and feelings tied to "Musikk Fra Vettenes Dom". Knockelkatt meanwhile wants to "tell stories that never have been told." With no mockery being part of it although titles like ´Frysende Snute´ don't really sound like the typical Black Metal song. Knockelkatt seems to cut one short the moment one is still phrasing the question. "No mockery. We love the beauty of black metal. We use this while we play with words. In unpredictable and maybe a bit surrealistic ways. Never meant as mockery." And Skrangelfant adds that "although Knockelkatt is the lyrical master I think the themes in the lyrics aren't really of a grand nature but more personal and breath common, everyday issues."

For which Norwegian is the language of choice. For Knockelkatt it simply sounds better as they love this hard and simple language while to Skrangelfant it "seems natural to do black metal in Norwegian. If I might say so, it's a beautiful and ´clean´ language. ´Skulle bare mangle´ to say it in my mother tongue..." While doing this interview there's unfortunately only a download for the album but even in the small online version one notices the stunning cover artwork and wonders in which relation it stands to the music as well as lyrical contents and if there is some sort of general concept on the album. Getting used to Knockelkatt's rather short answers one isn't surprised by his brief statement, "I think it's a dark and magical mystery tour." Skrangelfant gives a slightly more detailed insight. "As it says on the album, Sandro Galati R. made the artwork. We have had no relations with that guy. We threw in some ideas but when Final Earthbeath pitched us the idea for the album artwork, it looked very good and fitting. Love it!"

According to Skrangelfant the emotional driving force to creating music involves a lot of expectation and eagerness. "Nowadays there's a huge amount of bitterness and anger played out in the music. It's fucking therapy to record a new tune. Empty the bucket so more shit can pour in". The creation and recording of "Musikk Fra Vettenes Dom" took about four years, and hopefully the release of a second album won't must as many years. For the future release we can expect something "grimmer and rougher. I've had these sort of eureka moments where I've envisioned a next album. Playing in my head, it sounds pretty good. And yes, hopefully time won't be against us in the future." He could also see the implementation of a cello into the music of KRAAKER as Knockelkatt started playing the instrument when the band was founded. Live activities seem to be a bit of a problem, though, at least as far as time is concerned. "We have some great musician on standby so going on stage and playing both old and new material and all that wouldn't be a problem. As both Knockelkatt and I are involved in other projects (Svidd, Svikt and Lillith) as well these days, it's only a question of harvesting some time. I have no doubt it would be awesome and really, just playing some gigs would boost creativity and the further life of KRAAKER."

Last but not least there are those absinthe-trips which one can read about. So just how inspirational are they, considering there's a track called ´Fra Absinthen Farer´? "In the inner parts of our country, Vestfold, there lies a cabin we found by chance five or six years ago. It's an old ´seter´ raised in the 19th century. All I can say, it's a goldmine for recreation and creativity. We brought with us alcohol and other necessities and entwined with the thick, Norwegian forest atmosphere. Of course, this inspires us. Although the lyrics to the song ´Fra Absinthen Farer´ duals between a dress-up party with lots of absinthe and masks and colours involved and the loneliness and solitude of the mountain cabin." This time it's Knockelkatt who adds that "we brought with us some homemade absinthe as well which I made." Knowing about alcohol prices in Norway this seems like a wise idea...

For further information check out the KRAAKER myspace page.

Interview done by Endrew. September 2010.

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