Classical influences, choirs and dark industrialism are the core of Vladimir’s music. Bombastic here and intimist there, it never sounds relaxed. Every work represents a step of the human race’s decay and the music is its soundtrack. Melodies have counterpart dissonances which sometimes sound linked to contemporary music more than to industrial music. For this reason Vladimir is a peculiar musician in the industrial scene, because he’s more than that and “The Assent to Paradoxon” is the perfect way to explore his vision, as it gathers seven CDs (mind you that “Nonterra – integrated suite, op.73” is exclusive to this release) of which six have been previously released by Ars Benevola Mater. Even if one might say that Vladimir’s music is based on the above described elements, each album has its differences. Some examples? “Exorcisms” with its strings decrescendo or quasi ambient moments (check the first part of “Ufarsin”) alternated with horns, industrial noises and drums crescendo will make you feel dizzy; while “Contemplation per nexus op.77” with its two long suites based on dissonance and spoken word, will communicate the anxiety of the transformation process of the human mind during a mystical contemplation. Let’s try to understand a bit more about Vladimir’s music through this chat I had with him. Everything started from a question I asked him about his latest CD “Graue Passion” which I was reviewing… After a while, I decided to turn it into a full interview. Here it is…
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve a question for you concerning “Graue passion”: is it correct to say that “Graue passion” is a mix of a live performance of the Symphony number 4 with studio additions?
Vladimir Hirsch: Yes, that’s true. It has also been remastered.
Chain D.L.K.: I was comparing the two cds for reviewing “Graue passion.” The newest version sounds more obsessive and dark, sound-wise.
Vladimir Hirsch: And what is substantial – it is another compositional version, another work with the same themes. I consider GP to be one of my best works. I have special relation to it because it is dedicated to the memory of my father.
Chain D.L.K.: But the core of the original composition is there, right?
Vladimir Hirsch: Yes, the core of the composition is there.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you decide to rework it?
Vladimir Hirsch: I have worked on Symphony no.4 from 2001 and have made 6 versions. I was not satisfied with any of them and I have always thought about reworking it. Every attempt I did was unsuccessful. Graue Passion is the result of a momentary inspiration and it is the first version with which I am really satisfied.
Chain D.L.K.: Wow. it has been almost an obsession!
Vladimir Hirsch: Yes, for 8 years.
Chain D.L.K.: Might I ask what has been your father’s history?
Vladimir Hirsch: He was imprisoned by the Communist regime here.
Chain D.L.K.: Did he die while he was in prison?
Vladimir Hirsch: No, fortunately not, but after his release was pursued until the dissolution of the Soviet Bloc. He died in 2001 and then I decided to honor him with a symphony. It represents some kind of hope born from suffering.
Chain D.L.K.: How much has your music been influenced by the Czech social situation of the past?
Vladimir Hirsch: I think that all my early works have been influenced very much by it. Symphony no.4 is the exception because it is not part of my early work.
Chain D.L.K.: What were the main emotions you wanted to convey in your first works? What were your feelings during the Communist regime?
Vladimir Hirsch: The main moments of inspiration involved some need to express my individual defense of free thinking against the Totalitarian system. Of course, that was not the only inspiration of all of my works during that time.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you decide to file your works as operas?
Vladimir Hirsch: Because I feel close to classical music roots, so I have composed my works that way since I was a teenager. There was also a very long period during which I experimented with rock and jazz.
Chain D.L.K.: Could we say that your music is classical music for the modern age?
Vladimir Hirsch: Yes, I would like some of my main projects to be interpreted that way.
Chain D.L.K.: While listening to your music I noticed that a lot of times there’s a circular geometry of sounds that is broken by clanging sounds. Is there a precise scheme your work is based upon?
Vladimir Hirsch: It is not always precise, but I use some rules in intervals, rhythm, density of sound and tonal principles – maybe a little similar to serial techniques. There’s an important relation between the density of sound in vertical axe and tonal and rhythmic structure in horizontal line structure
Chain D.L.K.: Does “Sense geometry” refer to this way of working?
Vladimir Hirsch: It represents an attempt to apply musical geometry or musical symbolism of geometry in my works.
Chain D.L.K.: In what way?
Vladimir Hirsch: That album was inspired by the theory of fractals, by searching for symmetry of the asymmetrical. It is a sort of musical symbolism of that, expressed by relatively simple patterns of intervals, rhythms and melody and their relative motion.
Chain D.L.K.: So we can say that on your music the mathematics of sound has a basic relevance because music is mathematics applied to sound, right?
Vladimir Hirsch: It can be understood that way, the idea is expressed by some sort of musical mathematic formula and its form, including organization of sound.
Chain D.L.K.: How much has your concept of music changed from your early days when you played the organ and what have been the main steps in that process?
Vladimir Hirsch: It was a long way, some kind of spiral. I begun with classical music and stepwise have come back, but arriving at another level and during the path, the rock and jazz influences left me. Now I like experimenting, I don’t like to make music with established stereotypes.
Chain D.L.K.: What about you live activity? How do you conceive it?
Vladimir Hirsch: Usually I do few shows a year (next will be the next Saturday at an industrial festival). I have problems with shows, because only the industrial milieu is able to accept this kind of music, the classical don’t. Therefore I use industrial cultural spaces, however (for example this week) I know that my music does not quite fit in with that sort of contemporary post-industrial situation.
Chain D.L.K.: If you should have to describe your live action what would you say?
Vladimir Hirsch: I use synchronized video projection, that would be some application of visual synaesthetics. My live actions are not performances, they are only about music. I like to be on stage in the dark. I want the people to be focused on musical contents without the personification with the subject who’s playing it. The same goes for the visuals.
Chain D.L.K.: “Underlying Scapes” is your newest album. What is its concept?
Vladimir Hirsch: Even if it is my newest, that album is from 2003. It has just been remastered and released under a different name. It could be seen as a sort of “journey” into subconsciousness, into some regions of subliminal perception and understanding. Confrontation between the surreal and real world. Whether or not it works depends on the listener…
Chain D.L.K.: You lived under a Totalitarian regime. How’s your vision of the world of today?
Vladimir Hirsch: I am not a friend of conspiracy theories, but I consider contemporary “democratic” worlds only as some kind of new Totalitarian system. They are more sophisticated, they use better manipulative methods and replenish basic desires and instincts but with the same aim of the previous regimes.
Chain D.L.K.: In your opinion, why aren’t people rioting?
Vladimir Hirsch: As I said – they are replenishing the basic needs and their brains are washed constantly by a sophisticated faked satisfaction. This is possible only if you have suggestible people and there’s a constant tuning of the system. The power of multimedia is immense. If people have been educated in that way since childhood without any counterpoint, they can be easily manipulated.One of the best examples are internet discussions – they replenish a subject having the feeling of being free. After that sort of relaxation, they relieve the tensions and don’t have the urge to go out and scream their opinions.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think is there a way to shake the masses?
Vladimir Hirsch: I am very pessimistic – some catastrophe or real miracle, nothing else, but I am not sure if that would even work… The main reason of the descent of “western” civilization is anthropocentrism. It leads to de-spiritualization and destruction of values that transcend the human being.
Visit Vladimir Hirsch on the web at:
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Ian Hall]