DOTDR: I see that you’ve had a good number of releases prior to Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood, so tell us about Phragments (it’s inception, motivation, and anything that you feel relevant).
Matej: Phragments is a duo from Bratislava, Slovakia. It's a project of me and my wife, where I am responsible for the musical output and my wife Sonia takes care about the visuals at live events. We have started Phragments in 2002. Our first material (EP "We are all beasts", live CD "Switzerland Occupied", full-length "Homo Homini Lvpvs" and the second live CD "Awaken the Wolves") was released on our own label Construct.Destroy.Collective.
The second full-length album "The Burning World" was released on the Israeli label The Eastern Front. After that there was the three-way split "Scontrum Act VIII" on the Polish label Rage in Eden. Finally the third full-length album was released on the US label Malignant Records. My last piece so far is the collaborative album "Mysteries of the Greylands", created together with the Slovak dark ambient project Korinth, released on the young Italian label Greytone. I have also contributed material on a number of compilations.
As for my motives - well since my childhood I was always into music. In my teenage years I started to love the darker areas of art. Back then I was a lot into doom, black metal and gothic rock. Around 1996 I discovered Cold Meat Industry with it's amazing roster of artists. The Swedish scene has influenced me a lot and I think you can hear that on the overall sound of Phragments. Later I discovered other areas of industrial music, noise, PE and all sorts of other genres. I'm very open in terms of style, but I am very picky as well. The need to start Phragments was motivated by the need to express certain difficult emotions and ideas. This has not changed since I started the project. I'm glad that my music did find it's way to listeners all around the world. Their feedback is one of the things that keeps me motivated to create more music.
DOTDR: There’s definitely an emotional power contained in the music, which is one of the main factors in making it so strong. I’m also hugely interested in those labels and sound you had just mentioned.
Upon first listen your sound is intense and also archaic, there’s a lot of soul in the tracks created and each one sort of forms this experience of the angry dead resurrecting themselves to wage a plague upon those that did them wrong. On your MySpace Page under Sounds Like you put “Victims of genocides spitting fire into your eyes”, which is absolutely true in what I hear in your sound. It’s sort of the ideal combination of In Slaughter Natives with Arditi, you get the industrial militaristic and nihilism effect of one mixed with the more haunting and ethereal orchestral of the other. Obviously you intend to provoke a response within the listener and that for me, as already said, is what makes your sound so powerful so in your words: what do you want to create with Phragments?
Matej: Honestly, I have to say that what you just described is probably the closest anyone has got to what I want to communicate through my music. True, I put a lot of my soul into my music, sometimes almost too much. The music of Phragments has a lot of ingredients. There is the orchestral pathos, the mournful melodies, the noisier outbursts and last but not least, the ever-present darkness.
When I compose music, I tend to think of it as very visually evocative. I was always fascinated by large spaces created within music - that is probably why I use so much reverb. My music is music for dreaming, for contemplation in solitude, and even though nowadays it sounds as a cliché, through my music I try to create movies for the mind. I tend to perceive my music as very serious, dealing with serious topics and difficult (yet not necessarily negative) emotions. I never thought of my own music as fun, although I myself have a lot of fun during the creative process. It's hard to see my compositions as "songs", since they are often quite long and repetitive. This is one of my compositional tools - I lead the listener into a slightly different state of perception and after that I can have a better access to his / her emotions. I have always tried to provoke responses with my music - in my opinion all music is political, since it communicates some sort of stance or worldview. Even the stupidest pop music communicates things - it often evokes a vision of a perfect world, ideal people, well-structured relationships, etc. My music, on the other hand, points out the aspects of human nature and the world as such which people don't want to see. My music is a sort of mirror - I hope people end up feeling and thinking a lot after listening to it. And in regard to the projects you have mentioned - I have been fascinated by In Slaughter Natives since the mid-90s, yet I'm not a big fan of Arditi.
DOTDR: It’s really great to hear someone, an artist, say that they intend to invoke some sort of experience through their creations whether it be audio or visual, and of course some thought. I think that’s part of why the dark ambient/power electronic/martial sounds continue to grow and prosper, there's a lot of responses that are triggered while listening to it making it more than just audio most times. As for the darker atmopsheres, there’s something more to the darker and more disturbing emotions that makes them so enticing, there’s a thrill associated with them as well as mystery and a primal urge toward conflict. I also agree with you fully that music is political as is all art to some extent.
In my art I tend to want to create images that are intense and disturbing. Many people feel compelled to like them because of the detail and skill but can’t always get past the expressive content. I rarely finish them becuase hte feeling fades and I either emss them up and throw them out or just leave them unfinished. I’ve always had really strange dreams, I’m talking vivid ones where your entire family, friends, and even enemies sit down at a table made of carcasses and they openly plan on executing you next, and that's my main source of visual imagery. I’ve also always been able to find a soothing aesthetic in things that are solemn and dreary or even morbid and diabolical, just as there’s ugliness in much of what we deem as desirable, especially the superficial nature of our being. So given that, what influences in your life do you feel come out in your compositions?
Matej: Another cliché comes to my mind - I am influenced by the world around me, haha. But seriously, it's stuff that I see, hear, feel, read about that influences me. Psychology, anthropology, history are the main sources. There are personal issues as well as global ideas that I try to reflect with my music. I like to keep the interpretation of some of the meanings within my music on the listener. Politically though, I try to keep things simple and clear - my music is anti-totalitarian in every sense. I would be happy if all listeners of Phragments would see it the same way.
DOTDR: I saw that statement you made about Nazi’s and totalitarianists not being welcome and I really liked it. I didn’t know if it would be too upfront to mention it here at first but now I see that you’re pretty open about your music and expressions. I don’t support arrogance and stupidity of any kind, ignorance is curable but stupidity is forever.
I definitely feel a sort of freedom and space in your music that lends itself to more of a trance inducing state or a film, as you mentioned earlier, then anything political and appreciate that as much as I do some of the political stuff ( I really love crust punk stuff like Discharge and Doom, there was a real message and it was actually quite positive). For me when it comes to music and art, there’s so much to say but I have to stop somewhere, so in doing so is there anything left that you’d like to mention?
Matej: Well, there is a lot of stuff to talk / write about, so if any of the stuff that I wrote has provoked any questions for you, let me know and I will be happy to answer them ;-). Thanks a lot for the interview so far, I really liked your questions.
DOTDR: Honestly, thanks so much for your time and a brief look at what you create, it’s really remarkable and definitely deserves recognition. I actually love to correspond and interview the artists that make a huge impact on myself, it’s interesting to get the creators actual perspective on what they do. Studying visual art as a minor, I always hated critiques, but now I actually understand why they are so important and try to really develop my ideas and output and can really see it in other peoples work (or lack of it). I’ll definitely check out your other releases and wish and your wife the best with Phragments and any other artistic forms that you create.
Phargments online@ http://www.constructdestroy.com/
Phragments review here: http://defecationonthedivineradio.blogspot.com/2010/05/phragements-earth-shall-not-cover-their.html