Industrial music is interesting. At immediate appearance, there is a fascination with machinery, cold and faceless - entities that take human responsibilities and render them null. But there is often a fascination with that which is deeply human, and sometimes even spiritual. It doesn't take long to run across ritualistic practice or occult influences. Psychic TV's first video is basically an extended ritual (and David Tibet is in it!), not to mention Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's tour de force The Psychick Bible.
Trepaneringsritualen is an industrial project that takes much from magick, the occult, and ritual. The deeply rhythmic background provides a sort of sonic breeding ground for both introspective and outwardly curious lyricism. It combines both Death Industrial with this ritualistic mindset as well as a clear reverence for the unclean and visceral. I've never seen T x R x P, though I have watched videos and I have to say that it is an impressive set made more grand by Thomas Ekelund's wild-eyed stance and size.
T x R x P just put out a new record on Cold Spring in addition to a live album with Sutekh Hexen on Pesanta, both of which are fantastic. He includes where to follow the band later in the interview so read to the bottom to hear about where to find and follow his movements!
Jordan: There's a lot going on in the name Trepaneringsritualen. Where did the name come from and what does it mean to you?
Thomas: I snatched it out of the ether and used it, not by choice but because it was forced upon me. Trepanning is an pre-historic form of surgery, a means of opening the third eye to reclaim the ability to communicate directly with the divine plane of existence. I am beginning to realize that there are many hidden meanings in the name, and its sigillized form, but these remain obscure for the moment.
J: Obviously, you make industrial music, but in addition to staples like machine sounds and rhythm, there also seems to sometimes be ritual elements in your music like Zero Kama or LAShTAL. Do you consciously include ritual in your music?
T: T × R × P an ongoing ritual, every aspect of it is focused at attaining understanding and enlightenment. But I am assuming you’re thinking of more formalized ritual work, and no, I haven’t done much of that publicly. Last year I performed a ritual to awaken the head of Mimír, at the Norberg festival in Sweden. Parts of the music is the basis for Åkallan: Mimír that was released last year by Malignant on a split with Deathstench. I’ve done a handful of public rituals in the past, channelling an entity that called itself Teeth. But it hasn’t appeared to me in several years.
J: Are ritual and spirituality meaningful in your day to day life?
T: I believe that everything you do should contribute to your spiritual growth. It is of course very hard to approach the mundane with a spiritual mindset, but if one succeeds life becomes an endless ritual.
J: Where does Trepaneringritualen end and your day to day life begin? Are they mutually exclusive?
T: All of T × R × P is a part of me, but not all parts of me are part of T × R × P. Like everyone else I go to work, I cook my food, I relax and try to enjoy what little free time I have. But more and more of my time and energy goes into T × R × P.
J: Similarly, there's a level of the visceral in your music from the blood that sometimes adorns you to vocal delivery. Do you think that a more visceral experience makes for a more powerful impact? Why?
T: It is true that the music often comes out visceral and quite atavistic. I suppose I am channeling some sort of Ur-beast that manifest through me. I haven’t given much thought as to why, it’s just the way it is. Sweat, blood, smells — I hope it all comes together into an all-encompasing experience for the audience, as it does for me.
J: What importance do you think that the visual aspect of your music has?
T: There’s no separation. I view T × R × P as a gesamtkunstwerk of audio, visuals and rituals, and all parts are of equal importance.
J: You’ve been involved with music for a while in different bands and projects. What differentiates Trepaneringsritualen for you?
T: There are quite obvious aesthetic difference, apparent to anyone, but I would say the main difference is that T × R × P has a focus on far more positive currents than for example Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words. I often hear people saying T × R × P is so much darker and heavier than Dead Letters, but I disagree. Dead Letters was all about loss, resignation and the faceless demons that haunted me — and still haunt me at times. T × R × P is about facing the terrifying darkness of the abyss, and through it attaining full understanding of all aspects of reality, a journey towards a perfect unity with the godhead.
J: You recently released an LP on Cold Spring. What was the writing and recording process for that like?
T: From start to finish the album took about a year to complete. Most of that time was spent on contemplating the themes as they appeared to me. I didn’t set out to record a concept album — all I knew was that I wanted to create a violent, revelatory ritual, which I believe I succeeded in — so it’s thematically quite broad. It explores themes typical to T × R × P, including betrayal, delusion, and the duality of divinity.
J: You also put out a live album with Sutekh Hexen on Pesanta Urfolk. What was that performance like for you? I'm curious as someone who was not there.
T: The Stella Natura ritual was truly soul-quaking experience. Patricia Cram put it in words far more beautiful than anything I can come up with in the liner notes to the record:
T: “With descent came a fog insidious, coiling around the pillars of watchful trees, lying in wait upon forest floor. Footsteps disturbed the spirits, alerted them to new blood, and the fog rose hungry, wrapped with thick suspense. We cut into night, finally meeting the end of this path where blue rang hours into the witching. Candles held tight to blistering flame and knees hit dirt as convulsions began. This midnight light for summoning. These bodies splitting into growls. Hooded one retches; four crowns materialize. Black rapture came fast. Ribcages pulsed, fully heaved into nightmare. Skulls dropped and eyes rolled back. Wild sounds echoed deep into the shadows, pulled what could not slumber there, and soon there were no stars to be seen. Leaking wax built crude, malignant shrines. The sky grew perilous, knifed to its wet center. Then the guttural oil. Hallowed all in silver scabs. This haemorrhaged offering”
T: I will come back to the states during the first half of 2015, but details are still up in the air. Hopefully I can cover a lot of ground this time around, and not just do one-off shows.
J: What all is in the future for you as Trepaneringsritualen?
T: This spring has been hectic to say the least. Countless live rituals with great bands like Bölzer, Irkallian Oracle, Old Man Gloom, and Còagul to name but a few, and a slew of releases; aside from the above-mentioned titles: Berliner Ritual live cassette on Aufnahme+Wiedergabe and a 2 × 7” entitled Papist Pretender on La Esencia . Right now I am putting the finishing touches on the artwork for a picture disc LP that I share with Body Cargo, that will be released by Autarkeia. I’ve slowly begun focusing my energies on the next album, but I also have a few compilation appearances and split 7-inches to complete before that.
J: Anything else you'd like to say?