Henryk Vogel has just released his third album under the name of Darkwood, which confirms him being an excellent and talented musician and composer, and which makes of Darkwood one of the best bands in the  neofolk musical scene today. Flammende Welt  is an excellent album that closes a trilogy dedicated to the struggles in Europe during the XXth Century. Here is a small interview with Henryk to talk about his latest studio album, and about a few considerations about music, his future, and the struggles in the world. And then I'm just eagerly waiting for the next Darkwood release, as ever...... 

- I got your new album "Flammende Welt" the day after that terrible Tuesday in the States (11th of September 01). It was very strange to read that title "Burning World" that day.... It just came as if it was a conclusion. As you've been living in the United States for a while, how are your feelings about that human tragedy?

The 11th September was a disastrous day for so many lives. That day I also felt the album as being a prophecy. In order to explain the subject and title of the new CD I shortly want to remind you of the two previous releases. The first CD "In the Fields" deals with the pain of war on all sides in a very direct way but in a very melancholic, quiet and desperate vein. The second CD "Heimat & Jugend" has been recorded whilst living and travelling through Western Europe and the United States reflecting memories I had of my left homeland. All the time I was confronted with all the prejudices and memories about the typical Germans and the typical Germany. But especially the United States joined WWII at the very end when it was already decided to behave as being the great 'conquerors' showing their new political power by 'testing' atom bombs in Japan and making plans about the new future of Germany ("Morgenthau"). Those plans had changed as soon as they realized that Germany could be a good fence against the Eastern blocks - which was settled by another notorious plan. So "Flammende Welt" rather deals with the end of WWII and the American influence on the German self-confidence thereafter. And after 11th September, a new period of devotion and submission to the American omnipotence and infallibility has started. Now everybody seems to be backing up America in a war against Afghanistan though they cannot even give a single reliable proof for the truly responsible people. To me, the terrorist attacks are the predictable result of American politics throughout the last 50 years. The title "Flammende Welt" - which means 'World in Flames' and 'The Inner Enthusiastic World' at the same time - was meant to invoke a strong feeling for our cultural and historical heritage regardless of any anti-German propaganda.



- "Flammende Welt" is the third and last part of a trilogy dedicated to Europe. Does it mean that you intend to explore new and radically different themes in the next future?

The third part of this trilogy dedicated to the struggle of Europe closes the circle though nothing is solved as shown before. For the next recording I will try to explore new topics but they will certainly not be radically different. At the moment I do not want to give any more predictions - we will see...

- You had the opportunity to have your first album distributed by World Serpent. Then your three next releases were distributed by Tesco and other mail-orders. What happened with World Serpent ? And explain me what is the concept of "Heidenvolk"?

It is not that something particular happened with World Serpent to invalidate all rumours. We went with TESCO because it is much easier to work with Klaus due to the same language and the same feeling for punctuality. Then we do not have to pay a fortune to get the CDs to the distributor, and finally I realised that the music I like to listen to myself mainly concentrates at German labels like TESCO, Stateart and Eis & Licht.
Heidenvolk is basically the label for Darkwood releases. It is not meant to be a new label with a large number of upcoming releases and compilations. We simply wanted to have our own homeland without being dependent on somebody concerning layout and production. For the distribution I am more than happy to use the established channels. The name itself is a fusion of one of the main influences and the term for this kind of music - pagan folk.


- The album starts with "For Europe" and ends with "In Ruinen". Was it on purpose ?

The album was meant to be dedicated to Europe but more and more became a warning for Europe. Related to the first question, the open end 'In Ruins' is not just a state after the struggle of Europe but also a dark premonition of what to come. We have recently seen it in Yugoslavia... In the last song, whispered vocals announce that there is to be a cultural resistance - which is necessary not only for Europe - just have a look the cultural genocide in Japan.

- The album is a mixture of "In the Field" and "Heimat & Jugend", with pure folk songs and ambient neo-classical and symphonic tracks, in a superb harmony. Which different musical fields would you love to explore?

I cannot tell what musical fields I would like to explore since the sound or song comes to me naturally and grows like a puzzle when working on it. Sometimes I do not use takes of further instruments which I had already recorded before. It seems like I am bound to minimalism. So the sound will certainly evolve within this framework but might incorporate different intellectual experiences. But time will tell…


- What's the importance of Dresden in your life? Do you get inspiration from your beautiful town?

Architecture is very inspiring to me. Everybody knows Dresden for its bridges across the river Elbe and its baroque buildings. I actually prefer the numerous beautiful little Jugendstil villas and the hidden places with remaining industrial architecture from the beginning of the last century or the beautiful sculptures you might find at graveyards. Due to the fact that Dresden is situated in the former Eastern Germany, a lot of buildings were neglected and thus kept in their original shape. They are in a terrible state but they were not 'restored and modernised to death' and so the typical features remained.
Another aspect of inspiration is certainly the destiny Dresden had to face in 1945 when its centre was nearly completely destroyed by Anglo-American air raids.

-And finally, which are the last records that impressed you a lot ?

I love an album by Agnivolok which is presumably not even out, yet. This is dark folk with Russian vocals - something we would immediately try if we had not already done it on "Talons", haha. I also like the Column One 7" "Sad Finger". The songs are strange bass guitar pieces with a really weird sound, very quiet vocals, and a few drums and samples which suddenly appear much too loud somewhere in the foreground. I hope the promised second part will be published some day.

Finally, many thanks to Stéphane again for all his support and for listening to me for a second time and many thanks also to all the patient readers.

- Thanks to you Henryk, for your kindness and friendship, and for your beautiful music.


Henryk Vogel

Heimdallr, January 2002.



You can find another interview I made with Henryk in December 1999 for Heimdallr.