Some time ago now I was sent two albums by mysterious German surrealist black mentalist Martin Lang for his project Todesstoss. There certainly seemed to be a lot more beneath the music worth exploring and with that I was keen to speak to the man behind the madness and get some answers.
AN: Hello! I reviewed your latest couple of albums a few months back now. I have to be honest and say I haven’t seen a great deal of feedback in the British press (both online and print) – not sure if I’m looking in the wrong places or what…but are you happy with the way they have been received, and how much attention do you pay to the views of both journalists and fans?
Todesstoss: Ave noctum, ave diem, Luci!
Well, to calm your nerves and in my defence I have to admit that I am not keen on forcing things to an enormous spreading. All is going on quite easy. By starting an own label you realize quite soon that theory and practice are two different things. Especially when you don’t want to sink into poverty and getting ridiculous praising your art as the marvel of the century, hehe, it doesn’t make sense to behave like a pitchman suffering from megalomania.
What is more important is to put out something interesting, different, individual, and to add some nice attracting authentic non-standard cover art. And this method works quite well for I seem to reach people by relying on the simple effect: the same attracts the same!
And, aye, I feel honoured that critics concerning the two latest works seem to carry on an old tradition of scoring Todesstoss’ art. It seems there are two possible ratings mostly: zero or full score. It couldn’t run better. It might be middling to read reviews, only being interrupted by my laughter or yawning, but the fans’ reactions (and even a reviewer can be fan) is absolute more important.
Love or hate, choose your side, ladies and gentlemen!
Nevertheless, if any reviewer of a zine (with references) is interested in getting an extensive promo-package, just let me know!
AN: Looking at your back catalogue you seem to work really fast with putting out albums. It’s been a few months since the last two were released now, so are you currently working on anything new? If so, can you tell us more details?
Todesstoss: My release activity might purport that I only need a little time to put out new material, but to set the record straight I have to admit that I am an accurate musician getting even more rigorous these days. So, in fact, albums lurk in the dark for years, with hungry eyes until the day they’ll have their feast upon willing souls being devoured absolute unexpectedly. The reason why I work out concept albums for years is that I have to gather enough homogenous material that might slot together for the big picture. This is chaotic but wonderful.
Aye, there’s a new MCD in works with a playing time of over 25 minutes featuring a female extreme vocalist celebrating demonic victory by introducing the listeners to the real nature of the femme fatale topic. I’ve been preparing this stunning material for over two years now. Watch out, if you could stand a hybrid out of Landfermann/Bethlehem and Diamanda Galas being wrapped in psychedelic and titanic guitar-madness. “Heikäne Löwentötrin” (Lionkiller Heikäne) is ready to attack and devour everyone of you, lions, mice or man!
AN: ‘Sauglingshanwerk…’ is a concept album based around anti-natalistic philosophies. Can you talk about what inspired this concept, and also whether you agree with the philosophy yourself to any extent?
Todesstoss: Aye, you’re right and yet not at the same time, as far as the title track is concerned I was inspired by personal motives of antinatalism as a result of abstract anger. Classical philosophy dealing with this special topic had only less or no influence. Of course some ideas and the term itself have conspicuous similarities.
This special concept came to my mind by just looking around both my hometown and world news/statistics about growing world population and thinking: Fuck! It’s time to invite some new, extraterrestrial species that will step in for the role of the natural enemy of human beings. I also considered creating a cannibalistic movement, offering some free beer for people eating each other. But instead of following these ridiculous and utopian ideas I decided to put the whole motive in a fictional and sarcastic shape and finally into art, of course.
The main idea behind all this is that most of our problems today in fact pop up because we’re getting more and more. Economy, exploitation of labours and environment/ nature has to and shall increase to produce all the things more and more people need or don’t need, it depends on the view. Goods, food, habitations and infrastructure increase under the holy banner of capitalist progress. But there’s something going wrong here. Regimentations to keep a quality of life (in the esoteric / naturalistic view, not the common) of course are lacking (generally speaking in every way). Birth control – well-considered, could be a simple step to stop the development towards overpopulation.
I am not loosing myself in just theory, I witness all this madness day after day in my hometownMunich(where everything expands to the max including madness), and I am sure there are even thousand time more horrible places on this earth. Spread fucking condoms and arrange the guillotine again!
Well, my blood pressure… I always have to be careful if my pulse reaches 121 pounds per minute. Hey, but I am not naive, at least I hope so, and beware of the fact that there will be no realistic man-made solution (besides planned genocide or war) for this problem and my abstract anger! But perhaps even sooner than later global cosmic physical changes might introduce us to some unthinkable future.
So I put this topic in an ultra sarcastic shape, inventing the little bloody story of Temporary J. Black (read below a little description of the character and its aim), taking care of some of the babies popping up like mushrooms after acid rain in an apelike world.
AN: Have you had any negative feedback about the theme? Seems to be quite a contentious subject with a lot of people.
Todesstoss: Mothers of several children seem not to be among my set of fans too often. Though I believe there are and will be enough haters of my personal-aesthetic visions I haven’t got any threatening phone calls or lawsuits! Everybody with an intact brain, intelligence, sense of art and scepticism could understand what I have to tell with the antinatalist-topic, the sarcastic, and yes, utopian way (these days).
AN: I found the lyrics in the booklet really helped me to visualise what was going on beneath the music and it interlinks very well. Did you think it was important for you to provide lyrics in English as well as German for this reason?
Todesstoss: That’s great to hear! Absolutely. As it might be known I place value to the whole concept of the work of art a lot, including music, lyrics and graphic art. For my part, music (genie, “superego”) is the pattern that introduces a part of the intellectual/emotional content (mind, spirit, esprit) to the consumer. Therefore, it is essential trying to make the listeners understand what I am singing about.
Otherwise, if they aren’t able to read the lyrics they only can deal with the self-inflicted content of the music and images that also creates an echo in their mind and heart, although not a precise one, but a visceral, not less valuable one!!!
Though I always expect sharp analysis of my translations especially from English speaking readers, I never heard anything too bad about them. It’s not easy to transform poetic diction into another language at all, as you might imagine. But I give my best to keep the sense and pattern.
Todesstoss: I think I clarified my inspiration some lines above quite precisely. The whole concept and this creature are very much related to each other. But to focus on the animated symbol itself;
Temporary J. Black, well, the idea behind this approach was the one of creating a symbolic figure, an utopian archetype, a surrealistic version of Joe Black, the personification of Death itself, but not as the traditional form, but a slightly altered, sarcastic, temporary one ( because “Main Death” is snowed under…), standing for the antinatalistic embodiment. A creature, that could absorb and fight for my visions of a freer world in which you would be able to breathe fresh air and start to live to the full again. A grotesque, atavistic fighter for life’s quality. Maybe a phantasy warrior or even a transcendent alter ego of myself, being not misanthropic but full of charity in the end, celebrating creation through destruction.
AN: I read somewhere that the lyrics on your self-titled album were influenced by German poetry. Can you elaborate on the themes on this album?
Todesstoss: Where have you read this, hehe? I can’t agree, sorry. I use German poetry to gather and present personal thoughts of course. But classic German poetry has no direct influence on my approaches.
Let’s have a look on the themes track by track adding some keywords maybe?
Die autoaggressive Wut der Verzweiflung – This one deals with the lack of power every individual has to face sooner or later, no matter how strong it is. The rage could grow to the extent of a furious rage, that might harm the body-soul-identity. The result of this human process is desperation and wisdom in the end.
Ich blute Zerstörung – Impact of severe illness. The beginning of the journey through Pluto’s gate and back.
Schlangentau – This one is about surgery, a six-hour operation I went through. My personal rebirth.
Nur ein Fläschchen Nitrolingual (Selbstentleibung – der Annäherung zweiter Teil) –
The second part of the “Leaving the body” behind-series. The first part, released as MCD by Ahdistuksen Aihio and Goatowarex in 2007 dealt with the general/personal human inadequacy, imperfection and of being tired to be trapped inside human flesh / revealing that humans are neither an result of evolution nor the crown of godly creation, but an irrational experiment (from humans’ view) to put souls into vessels of flesh, to learn out of the wide range of emotions on the planet of suffering. Part II has its focus on a singular instance that happened in my nearer circle of acquaintances.
Nervenlaub – Though the style of expression is very abstract and pictorial the essence is quite simple. Converging to madness through pain; and to survive and laugh again. To embrace fucking fate / karma, even if it was ramming a dagger in your back. Riding on a crippled horse over dead leaves and put your fist in the air!
Endbeginn – One and only depressive song I ever recorded. I even was too weakened to sing the vocals. After getting two syringes I couldn’t use my hands abundantly for about 8 months. Essence of the lack of power. After this final shock a new beginning began to rise from the darkest horizon / ken very slowly. Light was again more valuable than before.
AN: What’s the significance of the number 121 – it seems to pop up throughout both album packages?
Todesstoss: That’s a little secret, sorry!
AN: I can sometimes be quite critical of bands who release albums very frequently, as in some cases it is clear the bands become quite stale as they don’t give enough time for new ideas to develop. Having not heard previous material of yours I am unable to comment, though the two albums that I reviewed each had its own unique qualities and different ideas to it and were far from bog-standard depressive black metal fare. With you working very quickly on albums, I was wondering how you manage to keep coming up with fresh ideas and also if you agree, or disagree, that bands need time to develop between albums?
Todesstoss: As mentioned above, I am not as quick as you might think, hehe. Maybe quicker than others, but the music scene is, or shall be, no race track!
All I can say that I take my time, also taking into consideration the quality of time. This aspect of time itself is often forgotten by many, I guess. You can wait for years to get inspiration, when this time has nothing to offer than just empty hours, heavy days and dull years, it will be for vain.
Maybe the key to get enough input is the attempt to live an interesting, varied life full of adventure and challenge, though it might be natural that one needs also quiet and contemplative moments to prepare for the future.
I personally welcome, if artists, take enough quality of time to elaborate matured works.
But not only lacking of time and experiences can lead to repetitive results in music. Another aspect also can be, that the personality of the creators is limited to an always the same coloured ken.
AN: You have put a lot of effort into the packaging for the albums, and as it says on your website “You won’t get this with a fucking download”. How do you feel about today’s download generation where it feels that music has been devalued and more people have no respect for the complete package beyond a few MP3 tracks on a hard-drive?
Todesstoss: I only can express my regret over this situation. The disrespectful act of downloading and uploading without permission is a shameful one and on top of that mental thievery.
But the spirit of the age tends to turn people and things connected to them into excessive behaviour and undifferentiated relations to each other. The only solution to abjure from mass consumption is to cherish the moment, in which you recognize the simple importance of the subject or matter you pay undivided attention to.
All is giving and taking, folks! You’ll learn that sooner or later. And if you don’t have money to offer, I could understand this, but withholding respect is not to pardon at all!
By downloading only MP3s from Todesstoss, you’ll never dive into the essence of the elaborated concept.
AN: You seem to be a very creative person and have a lot to express through music and art. Is it important for you to have something real to express, as opposed to making music/art for its own sake?
Todesstoss: But even if you create something for its own sake you’re expressing somehow, aren’t you, even if it’s only your admiration, gratitude or just love towards creation. My line is, that everything I come up with is authentic. What does that mean? I don’t deal with stuff I read in a newspaper (never) or a book, I heard from others or saw in a movie. Either I have experienced the themes myself or I have such a close relation to them, that my fictional alter ego absorbs and reflects them like reality.
In conclusion, I never pontificate about something, I report / refer.
AN: How much are the artwork and the music linked – would you regard the two to be of equal importance, or is one more essential than the other?
Todesstoss: Quite strongly. Both, separately, have their impact and implication. Together they are just stronger in effect complementing each other to a profound unit of expression.
AN: How involved were you with the production process of the albums? Can you talk a bit about the production. Do you prefer to work with an external producer, or to do it yourself and have full creative control?
Todesstoss: I’ve always recorded and mixed the material by myself, while a real mastering never was necessary or helpful until the “Sauglingshängwerk Aushilfsheins” album. From the upcoming MCD on, we recorded the vocals and also will record them partially in a real studio. Also audio material will be mastered by myself up from now in a very individual way. Furthermore I hand over the master-files to an audio engineer for a “final check” since 2010. As you can see, all is quite under my wings definitely, hehe.
AN: Thanks for your time. Any final words for the readers of Ave Noctum?
Todesstoss: Living for the moment, exploring one’s potential might be a suitable key to open some doors in life, that might be locked yet!
Only art is smart.
You might visit me and my Dream Organs at:
All the best, and thanks for your time and interest in my works and thoughts, Luci!