Belgian Herman Klapholz is mainly known and recognized for his involvement with Ah Cama-Sotz. He released an impressive number of productions and the less we can say is that Ah Cama-Sotz is constantly innovating and experimenting with new ideas. From dark-ambient and pure soundscapes to explicit industrial music to dub to techno, nothing seems impossible to Herman Klapholz. His newest opus “I Believe – “Allerheiligenvloed – Het Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe” (released on Hands) is the perfect exposure of this eclecticism. The first album is mixing industrial-, tribal- and techno music while the second one reveals an ambient/soundscape creation. Both albums are worthy of examination and simply confirming the endless creativity of this visionary artist.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: What can you tell us about the writing of your new album “I Believe”, its influences –which feel a bit like Ah Cama-Sotz mixed with Gatto Nero, and what are you believing in?
Herman: “I Believe” and “Allerheiligenvloed” has been written in nearly 2 years, a time where my life was not easy. There were weeks I was busy with lots of thinking and thoughts, and it was quite difficult to produce new Ah Cama-Sotz music and themes. There must be a constant flow when composing, but I had gaps when it came to thinking in a rational way. In 2 years I had lots of material, but when working 25 years onto the same project, (now in February 26 years) you become harder for yourself. Believing in yourself is a must. Most of the material was good enough for this project “I Believe”, BUT I wanted to transpose my Ah Cama-Sotz 2018 project to a higher level. In the end I had so much good material that it all came together: one CD with dark-ambient soundscape moods and one CD nearly full of danceable beats. My label HANDS agreed with this project, as it should be a 25 years Ah Cama-Sotz celebration. The beat tracks on “I BELIEVE” have some ritual-tribal feeling, be it not so hard as you can find these on GATTO NERO, my techno project.
Q: You already mentioned the new album has been also featured as a double album featuring the extra disc/album “Allerheiligenvloed – Het Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe”, revealing a meaningful and conceptual work about history. Tell us a bit more about the concept and the way you try to transpose it into sounds and songs?
Herman: “Allerheiligenvloed” was an idea I had since longer time, but I needed the time to think about it. This project fitted perfectly in a DCD project. I was looking on the web for more music around “Allerheiligenvloed”, but couldn’t find any. Strange as a lot of people are walking in this region of The Netherlands, near Belgium.
With the history about the “All Saints’ Flood” I imagined a soundtrack coming to life. Just imagine the movie.
Q: “Allerheiligenvloed – Het Verdronken Land Van Saeftinghe” features multiple classical music passages –and I especially refer to the transcendental acapella choirs. It’s an essential element from the work while I think it also reveals some sensibility for classical- and liturgical music, right? Tell us a bit more about this aspect and do you see possible links between classical music and contemporary underground formats such as industrial, ambient etc?
Herman: Well I’ve always been interested in Gothic and Middle-Age acapella choirs and chanting. It has some darkness all around. It fits so well with dark-ambient music and soundscapes. It’s just a question of feeling. I agree than classical contemporary audience don’t understand the mix and the moods. We’re still talking about the underground as we know, why bother? Lol. It’s our underground ….
Q: I noticed you last year self-released the album “In Underground We Trust. Ah Cama-Sotz Compilation. Volume 01”, which is a selection of ‘old’ songs you have remastered. Remastering is a pure technical procedure, but definitely one of the most important aspects from a release. What importance does it have for you and what do you try to improve/change in the remastered versions?
Herman: Yes, BandCamp is the way to go, so it seems, a good promotional musical platform. It doesn’t cost a penny and the idea is uploading tracks, newer and older ones. It’s a pity that less people are buying full length cd’s as today’s society is changing so quickly. Youth of today doesn’t bother about buying physical music and starting a collection! From all different point of views, I’m taking my own perspective.
It’s quite interesting talking about the technical side of master/remastering as an artist wants the best for its music; how the get the biggest and best possible sound, but at the other hand not all people are listening to their music on hi-fidelity !
Q: Back to “I Believe” and the clip from “Lords Of Evil”. The images of the clip are clearly reinforcing the title of the song, but what does it say about your vision about the world –and its political/social situation of today? And do you think music and arts generally speaking has the power to change things?
Herman: We are living in a complex world, needless to say that since many centuries and millennia it has always been the same situation with humans and civilizations. A fact is that the world is crowded, even more than before. They are still wars and sicknesses… Well today f.i. HIV is under control, and diseases like the black plague have been nearly eradicated. In a certain way we have a problem. When coping with billions of people on this planet we will have to build our houses in a vertical way. I’ve seen that in Hong Kong, N.Y… Quite interesting, people live quite small, but this will be the impact for all of us.
Q: Industrial artists are more and more mixing ‘techno’-related influences in their music, which I think is great, but I’m often missing the truly industrial spirit from the 80s where artists were crafting their own gear/instruments with all kinds of metal objects etc… It makes me say that industrial music probably is one of the underground genres that has evolved the most radical way! What do you think?
Herman: All music has mostly been influenced by diverse underground artists/genres and looking for external accents and moods, experimenting with sounds, scapes, and beats. Techno as evolved since mid-80s, and techno has taken over lots of influences. It’s not strange that nowadays techno has strong industrial accents (f.i. Drumcode label, etc….); society is much more brutal, and lots of underground DJ’s like our stuff, our mixes, our way of producing, etc …. . It’s a pity that today you encounter less vibes like Detroit-techno and acid as we knew it in the 90s. It’s quite simple to play always the same vibe during 1 or 2 hours. Well that is my opinion. Come and see me on stage, it’s better than putting this into words; lol.
Thank you for the interview.