Copenhagen based Folk-noir artist Dune Messiah is releasing this week his second studio album Moments of Bliss, a collection of songs showcasing the dark romanticism of romantic David Lynch combined with the dark and sleazy idiosyncrasies permeating the pulp and lurid song catalog of Nick Cave.
The album’s lead single, “Silence and Surrender” envisions a stylized alternative take on the folk-genre; acoustic guitars and violins violently grinding upon a frantically mechanic drum machine beat. The song ends with a heartbreaking violin solo played by Nils Gröndahl. The music video star Dune Messiah mastermind Magnus Westergaard playing a minanthropic loser and scoundrel, who seems unable to cope with normal human emotions.
During the video below we see our protagonist desperately trying to seduce women at night throughout Copenhagen, with his despaired stumbling and falling. The surreal scenes that transpire within a jealousy-drama between him and two other characters (played by Danish actress Rosalinde Mynster and Mathias Broe).
In the song “Silence and Surrender”, Magnus Westergaard sings:
“They say that forgiveness is a way to be free, and Jesus told us all just to turn the other cheek, within silence and surrender, there has been a way of showing you the faces of the people you betrayed”.
Throughout the album we get to explore this kind of isolated character more so, where he expresses his bitter emotions and pity for humanity. A misanthrope who is outside the common society and sometimes with a sense of jealousy tries to reach out towards it. The character often finds himself hopelessly in love with a female figure, or in hateful envy and with a burning desire to destroy or degrade the female figure as a reaction to this.
The overall theme of the album thus deals with escapism and exclusion from society. An escapism that can also unfold in abuse of substances. Hence the inspiration for the song “A Moment of Bliss”, Westergaard explains:
“The song’s lyric side has two themes; a cross-over of a state of deep meditation, seeking an inner peace, and a state of escape through heroin abuse, which can give the same sense of inner peace, but which eventually may lead to death. The title of the album Moments of Bliss, therefore also has an embedded ambiguity; a mystery that can also be reflected in the unfathomable smile of the misanthrope. The title is very much self-ironic i think”.
Magnus explains that a lot of the inspiration for the songs come from personal stories:
“I have experienced many things around me that can influence or give inspiration. The music can, for me, be a means of communicating emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express. I had a girlfriend who tried suicide but was disabled and is sitting in a wheelchair today. I’ve had friends who were far away on drugs. I have a friend who is an ex heroin addict, but got a period of relapse and I experienced him dealing with it on close hand. The experience of such violent events can be liberating to treat in the world of art where everything is allowed, and it can be possible sometimes to laugh at or make fun of horrible events. This misanthropic character I have created through the texts is therefore also, I think, a way of getting it at a distance. It’s not me speaking out, it’s all his work. And then I find it easier to screw up the emotions in the texts; it’s simply more comical and more easy to deal with”.
The album moves through many genres, ranging from jazzy improvisations on trumpet, to american country music a’la Hank Williams, to ballads with a calypso, lonely wedding-keyboard player feel to it. All of which is narrated through the same gothic folk style that Dune Messiah has put out thus far. The genre can be described as a folk-noir, in the same way as the old films deal with grand emotions and the romantic, but at the same time possess the eerie and gloomy. There is a certain outlandish and perhaps rather French touch in the music, which paints with large brush strokes. Magnus has a consistent Leonard Cohen reference, but is constantly moving in his own interpretation of the artist’s piercing poetic expression.
Magnus explains how ever since he started playing music (guitar and drums) as a 13 year old, he has had a burning desire to be able to write a song one day, but he never succeeded in that, he explains. However, the songs came to him suddenly and easily when he was divorced from his ex-wife.
“I played in a rock band The Woken Trees, which can be described as aggressive post-punk. I got an idea while sitting in the snow, selling Christmas trees somewhere in a forest where no people ever came. I wanted to create an expression that had the same intense nerve as punk, but where the raw energy instead would lie in a relentless silence and presence than in the grandiose distortion guitars. From this principle, I created the Dune Messiah. However, I still couldn’t write songs. When I parted from my wife some time later, I found myself with an acoustic guitar, in a cellar outside of Copenhagen having suddenly written 3 songs and time had disappeared all awhile”.
Magnus explains how the connection to the Parisian label Third Coming Records started as a kind of incident. When he had to go on holiday back in 2015 and decided to try to set up a show at some bar while he was there. He then got through to this new label, who had by then, only released one other album by a french band.
“And was at the time about to record an EP so, of course I write the label if they want to release it. Louis X. Legris immediately answers “FUCK YEAH” and then one thing took the other. I got hold of Victor Nuno from Ocean View and started playing concerts with him in Paris, Copenhagen and around Germany. Later guitar player Daniel Frank Christensen also came along, and these two have played really a big role for me. Now the live act consists, apart from myself, of Lisa Jespersen on keyboards, Andreas Bengtsen on guitar and Lee Tomas on drums, and I play acoustic guitar and sing”.
Magnus goes on further to explain tells about the production of Moments of Bliss and how it was recorded.
“The recording and production of “Moments of Bliss” is the longest and most exhausting I have ever experienced. I had long ago talked to my friend Kristian Alexander Pedersen from The Love Coffin if he wanted to produce the next album. I had already decided when I was about to finish “The Iron Oak” that I would have the next album ready to record the coming November. So we did. November 2017 we went under ground in a bunker I have as rehearsal space. I also sold Christmas trees this year, so after selling I went to Oliver Matthew from Shiny Darkly to record vocals. We also had a long night at the conservatory where we recorded guitars from eight in the evening to ten in the morning. When we came in February and we had gone on tour with Drab Majesty, I listened to it all and wanted to start over, so I deleted some of what we had recorded and recorded it all again. Then me and Kristian spent the whole spring and summer mixing and producing the rest in Berlin and Copenhagen.
Moments of Bliss is out March 29th, through French label Third Coming Records (who also releases Danish bands like Pardans and The Love Coffin) and German label Aufnahme + Wiedergabe.
- 19.04.19 Friday (SE) STOCKHOLM – Klubb Död
- 20.04.19 Saturday (SE) GÖTEBORG – Skjul Fyra Sex
- 21.04.19 Sunday (DK) AARHUS – Tape
- 23.04.19 Tuesday (DE) HAMBORG – Ms Stubnitz
- 25.04.19 Thursday (NL) GRONINGEN – Neutronstraat 7-8
- 26.04.19 Friday (BE) ANTWERP – Het Bos
- 27.04.19 Saturday (BE) BRUSSELS – Chaff
- 29.04.19 Monday (FR) LILLE – Imposture
- 30.04.19 Tuesday (FR) PARIS – Petit Bain (w. Underground Youth)
- 01.05.19 Wednesday (BE) COLOGNE – Em Drügge Pitter
- 02.05.19 Thursday (DE) BERLIN – Urban Spree
- 03.05.19 Friday (DE) DRESDEN – Scheune
- 04.05.19 Saturday (CZ) PRAGUE – Karárna Karlín
- 17.05.19 Friday (DK) KØBENHAVN – Illutron, (release fest)
- 23.05.19 Thursday (DK) AARHUS – Radar (w. King Dude)
- 26.05.19 Sunday (DK) KØBENHAVN – Hotel Cecil (w. King Dude)