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Frozen Ocean

When I received this album last month I had no way of knowing that I held a truly unique work in my hands. After the first listen this became very evident, very quickly. This is a masterpiece, an album that knows no rival. De unworldly combination of electronics, ambient and black metal with a concept about technology on a cosmic scale keeps returning to my cd player, so it was time to ask some questions to Frozen Ocean`s creator Vaarwel. He proves to be an intelligent person and gives some elaborate answers, so enjoy the read!

By: Kevin | Archive under black metal

First off, I would like to welcome you to these unhallowed pages. Frozen Ocean has been around for quite a while, but I had not heard of you before. After some delving I can now say that your style has changed quite drastically on ‘The Dyson Swarm’. You went from black metal, which did already have this atmospheric element, to this new sound. How did this change come about? Is this a permanent change of style or will you go back to more black metal territory again?
Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear here. If we talk about the very beginning, first official Frozen Ocean works were expressed in dark ambient key, and the former official black metal work was ‘And Hoarfrost Blooms Henceforth’ EP published in 2010. Speaking about styles generally, the project’s goal is to create every new release (or group of ones, like ‘Norse’ trilogy) in a distinct style which completely fits for the idea of release. So, for example, from four 2013 releases two were of crust influenced black metal, one was conceptual eclectic electronics based on Tove Jansson’s novel about Moomins, and one expressed in blackened shoegaze/post rock style. Thus, the sound of ‘The Dyson Swarm’ is just a measure for letting this album gather the utterly appropriate impression, and of course this change is not permanent; next releases will be different from both this one and all the previous.

In your album I hear influences of Burzum's keyboard work but also Massive Attack and even old Dead Can Dance spring to mind. Am I right about these influences or am I completely of the chart here?
I am afraid you missed a bit. I cannot differ any singular influence appeared while writing ‘The Dyson Swarm’, only general influences. I tried to stand aside from any influences, especially the subconscious ones, for attempt to make something unique or at least different from existent musical expressions of cosmos. General influences, which gave me the whole idea how to represent the conception, were mainly brought by later works of Ulver and projects of Mories de Jong, especially Seirom.

band imageA quick question for us Dutch folks about your pseudonym. Vaarwel is a Dutch word. You live in Russia, but are there any Dutch roots? Or did you just like the word and its meaning?
Congratulations, you’re the first who asked about this alias of mine. No, I have no Dutch roots or relations with Netherlands. But I always loved Dutch as a language and even learned it for a while, so when time to choose the pseudonym come, I readily chose this word, because it is beautiful, and of course due to its meaning. Ik kan niet goed Nederlands spreken, maar ik hou van dit woord.

Your album seems to have a concept behind it, one involving deep space, if I am not mistaken. Could you tell us more about it? What is The Dyson swarm for instance?
That’s right, space is the main subject of this release. Space not as something vast, hollow, infinite and darkest, but as a tremendous place of investigation. The album is structured like a journey through the space, from our planet and Solar System to other star systems, galaxies, even macrostructure objects (like Sloan Great Wall) and finally the known edge of Universe. Song titles are describing astrophysical phenomena and some objects of known space that you could meet during this journey. I recommend to find their meanings on everybody’s own, it is quite interesting. Dyson swarm is a variant of hypothetical astro-engineering construction advanced by Freeman Dyson and thus called Dyson sphere. Dyson sphere represents a giant (with radius measured in au) spherical shell that surrounds the central star of the star system (Sun in our case), which purpose is the most effective utilization of this star’s irradiated energy in all wavelength range. Original proposal of firm whole spherical construction wasn’t quite appropriate due to being broken by star’s gravity, so some modifications were advanced, and Dyson swarm is one of them: a spherical group of satellites surrounded the star without kinematic connections between them.

What has inspired you to take on this subject matter?
Space itself. We hardly can find a phenomenon that is more vast and breath-taking than cosmos is. Space brings us something that could not fit our usual order of things: things that are extremely big, extremely far, extremely hot or cold; things that we are made to research only by their tiny traces reaching our planet; things we will never see or comprehend. Space brings us a feeling of being somewhere, shifting the centre of our world out from planet, star system and even galaxy. And this feeling surely includes the sad fact that some things we will never witness: in spite of all romanticism and hopes that science fiction gave us, physics is extremely inexorable in this meaning. Space let us to expand our epistemological horizon, from helio-centricism and discovering the Kuiper Belt and to considering our world, planet Earth as a tiny mote in immeasurably big Universe. As Carl Sagan wrote in his ‘Pale Blue Dot’ book: ‘Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves’.

Being a musician myself, I know one can draw inspiration from virtually anything, but are there things that inspire you to create this dreamlike music? What are the feelings you like to place in the listeners mind?
Talking about feelings, I would like to invoke an admiration in first order. Admiration of cosmos, of its infinity, of its diversity, of its ability to give something extremely new to us. I would let the listener have this journey with the music and make him know that the things shown are only the infinitesimal part of the existent order, and much more is to find out.

What does the future hold for Frozen Ocean?
Some releases are about to come this year, and they will be completely different. Although I also consider the past of Frozen Ocean worth to be familiarized with.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these few questions. Any last words?
Graag gedaan. Tot ziens!

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