THE CONVIVIAL HERMIT
The Real Underground Is Where The Rules Are Broken
Story online since: 13.09.2008 / 12:18:04
"Sincerity, passion, and a perceived taste for the unconventional and the profound" – according to Yury Arkadin that’s the common thread which binds the artists he presents in his self-made publication The Convivial Hermit together. Issue 4 of his magazine with the seemingly contradictory moniker has just been released and among the quite few remaining prehistoric fanzines (at least from the angle of our post-modern internet platform), this mammoth bares its teeth while it rummages in the brushwood of the world wide underground, unearthing bands and projects many of us might even not know by name.
A Crossfire of uncommon Questions and Ideas
Thus it should be clear whom Yury addresses with this book-thick issue: only open-minded adventurers who still search for the unknown might become enlightened by this crackbrained collection of musical experiences in isolationism (be it black-, doom- or death metal based), of music revolting against man’s estrangement from his natural foundations, and of a Weltschmerz linked with the ironic humour of an outsider who can still laugh about himself. As I wrote in the introduction to the conversation I conducted with Yury some months ago (read it here: www.soundsurface.com), his and my taste differ a lot, and I really don’t share his perception of numerous bands, but I admire his ability to provoke his interview partners in a way that many of them take the time to reflect themselves and their art in a crossfire of uncommon questions and ideas; a method which gives us, the readers, the chance to discover the often hidden layers beneath the music’s surface.
Aliens, Tango and the Spirit of Nature
It should be superfluous to numerate the interviewed artists one by one if you can find all necessary information by few mouse clicks, so better let me point out that Yury’s focus is more than before drawn on matters transcending the music in its concrete form. Thus, for example, Stefan from Kerbenok explains his concept of human nature: "We have to recognize and accept that what we perceive as ‘strange” or ‘foreign’ in nature is still part of us and we are part of it. We may have thousands of words to describe the spirit of nature, but that’s of nos use if we can’t live or feel it. And I have to confess, that even as I believe a description of nature highly important in lyrics, I’m far away from understanding the majority of her riddles and secrets.” Of course that’s just a small quote from a long interview. Maybe you get a glimpse of the enormous spectrum of topics dealt within this issue when I tell you that in other discussions Frédéric of Longing For Dawn wonders about humans being an alien species on planet earth, whereas Alejandro from Diadema Tristis (Argentina) describes the melancholy of tango and the feeling of enormous loneliness in the traditional folklore of his country and Alboin from Geist puts basic ideas of Christianity into perspective. There’s much more to discover, and honestly speaking I’m not able to offer you a profound review since this 116 pages thick magazine (which contains a small bonus booklet with 32 pages featuring interview excerpts with the same questions answered by most bands) arrived a few days ago and as you can guess it will take weeks or months to explore this in-depth. Nevertheless I’m convinced that this publication is well worth your interest, time and money as long as you applaude to Yury’s attitude: "I think one of the most important points of a magazine should be to introduce new talent, names you have never heard of before. (…) The real underground is, after all, where the really exciting things happen, where the rules are broken and where the ‘real’ chances are taken. My opinion of this has not changed one centimetre in 15 years. Virtually all of my favourite bands are obscure, even to underground metal fans. It is not a direction that I purposely lead myself in, it’s not a ‘choice’ per se, but I cannot deny that if presented with that choice, I will go for the unsigned underdog over the band with the heap of praise from the metal press any time.”
Besides my praise for this monstrous publication, I want to utter three points of criticism: of course I know that The Convivial Hermit is an underground publication and of course the hermetical character reflects in the individual dark layout, but I guess I won’t be the only reader who has difficulties to decipher specific passages of the texts printed in font size 7 or 8 (or smaller?) on a blurry dark-grey background… none of us gets younger and I’m not Sherlock Holmes! Moreover I think that a magazine like this gets somehow hurt in its overall appearance by advertisement of specific record companies since they strike the character of the whole publication. But what I experience as really annoying is to be confronted with the same old pretty one-dimensional argumentation of "nationalist” people in The Convivial Hermit. Sorry, but after all those years having again and again tried to communicate with some people and to develop new and progressive perspectives in order to go further, I’m just fucked up to find some truly anti-progressive "ideas” inside this apart from that great magazine.
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