Frozen Ocean: Band Of The Day

By on 4 April 2013

Frozen Ocean

WHO ARE THEY: Frozen Ocean
FOR FANS OF:  John Carpenter, Moomins
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Trollvinter’ via self-release

Frozen Ocean are a one man project from Russia helmed by Vaarwel. Releasing a debut demo in 2005 was the start of an intriguing and complex journey that has since seen the prolific artist add five EP’s, six albums and several splits to his repertoire. There is an air of mystery inherent in his work as you never really know quite what you are going to get until you press play and you could find yourself listening to Norwegian inspired black, crust punk or an ambient odyssey composed around a Moominland Midwinter (yes you heard that right)!

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about how your musical voyage started? Were you a self-taught musician and do you play everything we hear yourself? Were you in any bands or acts or involved in anything musical prior to Frozen Ocean.

Frozen Ocean started at the very end of 2005. I was experienced in metal music only as a listener, so there were just experiments of a newbie. In Frozen Ocean’s music everything you hear is played by myself.

Tell us a bit about your early recordings? Were they all of a more ambient nature and are they still available if anyone wanted to check them out?

The very first one was an attempt to play symphonic black metal, and nowadays I can conclude that it totally failed. All the rest were experiments in dark ambient but still had the same lame approach to the production. Maybe they are still available somewhere on the internet, but I wouldn’t like to share them. The listenable stuff began from 2008’s ‘Depths Of Subconscious’ and almost all the works since then are available to listen on SoundCloud.

Personally, I discovered you when three albums arrived all from 2011 and they were all quite different. ‘Vestigial Existence’ I described as depressive doom with ethnic and neo-classical twists what was the idea behind this and is it a style you are likely to revisit? 

There was no distinctive “idea” or concept behind this work, instead it was just an expression of some everlasting patterns of emotions or thoughts, whatever. Revisiting is possible, but I can hardly predict when it could come.

YouTube responded to TubePress with an HTTP 410 - No longer available

You also sent ‘Oneric In Geocentricism’ a more ambient journey and one that was incredibly thought provoking; taking the listener on an astral trip with the spirit of experimentation, space and even Krautrock about it. Where does your inspiration for a piece of music like this stem from?

Inspiration for ‘Oneric In Geocentricism’ I gathered mostly from works of dark ambient projects like Bad Sector, Atrium Carceri or Raison d’Etre and masters of drone like Klaus Wiese and Mathias Grassow. While talking about ‘Oneiric In Geocentricism’ it is necessary to notice the conception that is definitely described in the album title. I will cite from the album description on the official site: “One of the most irritating sort of thoughts is one about naive cognition phenomena. Sometimes it is very hard even to imagine what kind of reason someone need to have to decline all rational arguments and be ruled by own deep irrational motivations without any correlation with reality, evidence and historical experience. So, the most complex of such conceptions are naive scientific theories, which are buried deeply under the weight of history, like geocentricism, anthropocentricism, creationism and other –isms founding on the imagination of human’s belief in his ontological exclusiveness. This exclusiveness is not a consequence of any evidence, on the contrary, it objects everything evident we can find in the nature and Universe, so it can originate only from human consciousness and from nowhere else, and by default it has irrational roots that often appear like a revelation or a dream.”

You are two thirds of the way through a three disc project paying tribute to Norwegian black, crust punk which really sees you musically getting back to the primitive. What is it about this type of music that made you want to spew it out yourself?

The main source of this kind of inspiration is admiration for the early days of Norwegian black metal and of course especially for Ildjarn. These times had several musical acts and several people who were honest and sincere, not only in their convictions but also in musical expression of them. And this is quite recognizable when you listen to these recordings.

‘A Perfect Solitude’ was an album that was very personal to you? I am assuming that you really like to distance yourself from publicity and do not like to give much away about yourself. This was another incredibly enthralling journey. Do you prefer your music to express your emotions and would you consider that you pretty much like to distance yourself from society in general.

Yes, ‘A Perfect Solitude’ is the most personal work of Frozen Ocean and since almost one year passed from its release I can conclude that almost nobody had a comprehension of it. It is probably related with inability to perceive the album as a whole without stylistically splitting it.

This brings up an interesting point. What are the difficulties when it comes to expressing yourself musically in Russia. Do you have to be careful, do you ever worry about censorship? In the wake of Pussy Riot obviously we are more aware of how difficult things can be for an artist in Russia.

I saw no obstacles “from above” during all the time that Frozen Ocean is on air because nobody cares of what I am doing if I am not involved in any social activity. There is no censorship or restrictions for underground music, all the possible troubles lie in underground community itself. The example with Pussy Riot is not proper in this case, I guess, because they obtained such a dismal fate owing to their action in the church but not for their music.

YouTube responded to TubePress with an HTTP 410 - No longer available

Also how do you go about finding the right label to release your work. It cannot be easy as it would be impossible to find one suitable for all styles of your music.

Yes, it is impossible totally to find such a one, so the only way is to find several labels to work with, and I did so. Each of them has its own stylistical direction and releases a part of Frozen Ocean’s palette. But sometimes even this is not enough, and, for instance, I was obliged to release ‘Trollvinter’ by my own means.

So the Moomins! ‘Trollvinter’ is a charming and gorgeous piece of work, what was it that drew you to Tove Jansson’s loveable creatures?

An impression that I carried from childhood. Unlike all other fairytales, Tove Jansson’s tales about Moomins appeared rather more depressive, surrealistic and aloof.

How did you research the album? To me the Moomins are a bit of a hazy memory, did you sit down and take a crash course and watch lots of episodes and read the books, or have they been with you since childhood perhaps?

No, I just relied on my memory and images imprinted into it just from the first read of the ‘Moominland Midwinter’ which is in my opinion the most cold, desperate and fantastic tale from all. The song names somehow describe a number of episodes from the book.

I really love the way you bring the personality of the Moomins into the music. It’s as though you use the instruments as a voice and as their movements in much the way as  Saint-Saëns ‘Carnival Of The Animals’ and Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Peter And The Wolf’ (to my ears). Was that the intention?

On the contrary, I tried to have distance from any kind of easily visually displayable music to avoid any parallels and borrowings, especially subconscious, and create something personal and distinctive. This is a part of the whole approach in Frozen Ocean’s music directed to bring any new album as a kind of serendipity.

Frozen Ocean - Trollvinter

I can only imagine that you listen to a lot of different types of music from black metal to classical, would that be correct? What do you particularly like at the moment?

I am open for any style of music. At the moment the most lovely disc is fervidly expected album ‘Exodromos’ from the Spanish brutal death metal band Wormed, and I guess it will be the best album of the whole year.

One other aspect of your work and possibly the only one that you are not completely in control of is the fantastic cover art. It is always incredibly eye catching and gorgeous. ‘Trollvinter’, ‘Oneric’ and ‘Vanviddsanger’ all pretty much blew me away on seeing them. Tell us a bit about who does the artwork and how you work with them?

Artwork is a very significant part of the whole release for several reasons, so for the most appropriate perception of release it should be made perfectly. Thus I needed to work with artists who could really transfer the part of album’s idea and mood into the artwork. Earlier I worked with Cold Graves Art (he made gorgeous works for the ‘And Hoarfrost Blooms Henceforth’, ‘7’, ‘Vestigial Existence’, ‘Oneiric In Geocentricism’ and ‘Likegyldig Raseri’) but unfortunately he doesn’t work anymore. There will be just one other album with his artwork named ‘Natt Over Meg’ that closes the Norse trilogy, it is supposed to be out at the end of the year. I think it will be his swansong. Another person I collaborate with is Al.Ex from Russian Mayhem Project studio, and he is responsible for such great pieces of visual art like ‘A Perfect Solitude’, ‘Vanviddsanger’ and ‘Trollvinter’. Hope that our cooperation will continue on even more splendid future releases.

Words: Pete Woods

About John Consterdine

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: