(In this feature our new contributor Mike Johnson spoke with a member of the Dutch duo Fluisteraars (Bob Mollema and Mink Koops), whose new album Bloem is out now via Eisenwald.)
You guys clearly try to recreate a certain type of landscape in your sound. Each album evolving little by little. Translated to English (as I am an inept American) the newest release entitled Bloem means “Flower”. I am curious, as this album seems to be a symbol for this project in general. I feel the album starts furiously in a whir of black metal only to bloom into a more true atmospheric and melodic sound similar to that of a flower. Was this possibly a thought behind the album?
It was not a thought from which we made the album. More an unconscious competent choice that felt logical during the making process. Because if our opening track were in the middle it would not be right for us. The placement of the songs on an album apparently contributes a lot to the concept and that is good proof that music can be very narrative. Thank you for the observation.
I know that Fluisteraars’ original mission was to provoke listeners into searching each song for interesting and evolving details. What is Bloem trying to provoke?
The funny thing is that we always want to make a kind of concept album, but at BLOEM we thought it should come naturally. Unconsciously I came up with texts based on legends and old stories with flowers and Mink, in turn, was fascinated by the intro of The Great Escape. So what the album is for us is a symbiosis of equal interests, references, and a sense of atmosphere. That just flourished. The album is therefore a metaphor for a flourishing process if you dare to surrender to yourself and have confidence in each other. Don’t think too much, you’ll make the best choices. The content of the lyrics are of course about other things and evolve around mythical concepts, but the energy we want to give with this album is: let go of inner boundaries.
The cover of the album (as I am sure this has been commented on before) is lush, vibrant, with a sense of rebirth and purity. The shift however between the artwork and the initial sound is remarkable. I get a sense of rebirth on this album, a theme common in black metal bands with a central naturalistic aspect. Was this intended? Will Fluisteraars bloom into a less abrasive and more flourishing sound?
The front is in no way a prelude to how our sound will change in the future. The flowers on the front are in good shape at the end of August. Personally, I don’t find them sweet, but rather threatening. It is the moment when you cannot go back to your old state and have to embrace the destruction. You can see it as flowers on their deathbed. But you know they will blossom again. For me it evokes a notion of cycle thinking.
How have the influences shifted from previous albums to create Bloem?
Mink and I have been listening to many types of music since we were young. In the past, we were carefully influenced by genres outside of metal, but nowadays we want to apply and reuse everything we like. We have been influenced by the ’60s and ’80s, but also by certain progressions by Lee Hazlewood, for example. By embracing this we have been able to make a sound that we support, but which can always change because we have opened the doors to influences.
What are you guys into when writing and developing the album? I sense a stronger atmospheric presence on Bloem with some really creative instrumentation shifting from strange noise samples to blaring horns. What made you want to expand the sound for this release?
It was not really a choice. We entered the studio with all songs basically finished. The form was there and all the melodies. Usually during recording we make choices for certain sounds or atmospheres, so this time we came up with trumpet and trombone, partly because the technician (Thomas Cochrane) also plays these instruments, and we asked him to bring them. We don’t like to determine too many things in advance.. So it kind of happend in the studio while working on the songs.
I sense a strong Solstafir presence on “Eeuwige Ram” from the rhythm to the porous, tortured vocals. I am curious (if this is correct) what other non-metal bands influence Fluisteraars?
The style of the vocals on “Eeuwige Ram” emerged during the demo recordings. The text at that time was half originated because it was improvised during those recordings. The slow tune evoked so much longing for something unknown in me that a scream came out. I think that every person has such a shout.
We could give a list of bands that we listen to a lot, but there will soon be a Spotify playlist that we have based on our influences for this album. A number are: The Associates, Bushman’s Revenge, Lee Hazlewood, and Carlos Paredes. We mainly listen to artists who express their heart and try to explain.
What are you guys currently listening to in the realm of metal?
Bob: I recently have listened a lot to our friends from Turia and Lubert Das, but also Nocternity, Evilfeast, and Paysage D’Hiver. Darkthrone keeps coming back too.
How have the Netherlands helped influence your sound?
The place where we come from has certain places where you can peer and look far into nature. That is pretty rare for an urbanised country like the Netherlands. You can also find that in our music. Pent-up anger that translates into openness.
Again thank you for taking the opportunity for answering these questions, and thank you for the music you create. It provides so many listeners (including myself) a place of solace in this incredibly fucked up world.