• 4. An interview with Senmuth plus an introduction to his discography


    Valery Av is a Russian multi-instrumentalist who has gained further attention under his pseudonym “Senmuth”. After his first solo project “Anima”, he decided to release the first album under his new name in early 2004. Since then, the husband, father of a young daughter and graphic designer from Moscow who creates all of his own cover artworks as well as a multitude of those bands where he also is involved, released to date ninety-nine releases as “Senmuth”. Other notable projects involving him are “neNasty” with the Russian singer Nasty Turenkova that has an industrial and gothic touch, “Technotitlan” that focuses on the topics of ancient cultures and civilizations and mixes folk influences with doom metal passages and finally “Riders On The Bones”, an experimental death metal band where he plays the exotic flutes duduk and quena. I decided to interview him in English and in Russian for the occasion of the upcoming release of his release number one hundred under the name of “Senmuth”. Here comes a slightly shortened version of my detailed interview and interesting contact to this outstanding and unique artist.


    Sebastian Kluth: “As someone that is very interested in history my first question is quite simple. Why did you chose Senmuth as name for your project and what connects you to this historical character?”




    Senmuth: “The history of Ancient Egypt, its intriguing culture, its majestic architecture and its relation to death and their cults have always been interesting to me. Concerning the character of Senmuth, I like his work as an architect and his mysterious relationship to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut.”




    Sebastian Kluth: “I heard that you work as a graphic designer and when I take a look on all of your exciting cover artworks this seems very logical to me. What are you exactly working on at your job? How do you find the time to write and release all your music besides your job?”




    Senmuth: “Well, this is a quite difficult situation. It is necessary to earn money from the early morning up to the evening. Time is often running short and considering my problems with health, my music is born in anguish and pain. As a matter of fact, I am deprived of rest. I feel always the need to create. If I don’t create, I will lose myself or die. Without my music and self-realization, it would be difficult for me to live.”




    Sebastian Kluth:  “What were your main inspiration and your goal when you started your project?”




    Senmuth: “I have a strong will to create and my creative writing processes are always very intense and inspiring. Each time, I try to create something new and special. I began to play music around the age of fourteen when I started to play guitar. Something efficient only began to turn out after ten years of training, tests and errors.”




    Sebastian Kluth: “Even if electronic music is the basis of your works, we can often here exotic instruments in many of your records. How did you learn to play all of these instruments? Where did you get in touch with them? Where do you purchase them?”




    Senmuth: “I like many different styles of music and especially ethnic music which I find very delightful. There were times when I bought many tools, tried to play the, took notes and tried to get better. I don’t consider myself as an artist, executor or multi-instrumentalist. My music is a mosaic formed by many small slices. Today, I put a lot of time in my recordings which wasn’t the case in the earlier years when things came more spontaneously. Only the recording of the guitar parts have remained spontaneously. I purchase my tools in many different places: in Egypt or Bulgaria, in local stores in Moscow or sometimes I get some help of a friend or good connection.”




    Sebastian Kluth: “Do you get any promotion for your works? Are there radio stations that play your music and spread your name? Do you get financial support by fans, friends or family? Are you able to make some money with your music?”




    Senmuth: “Concerning the encouragement, the best I get are interesting reviews or positive comments from the fans and critics. Maybe there are some radio stations out there that play my music but honestly said I don’t know as nobody ever contacted me. The financial support is very thin. Sometimes, I sell some of my discs to fans and critics but it’s by far not enough to live from. My family always supports me even though it is not easy to live with a creative and expressive person as I am.”




    Sebastian Kluth: “Up to now, the only Senmuth record that has been professionally released is the 2009 output “Weird” by Casus Belli Musica. How comes that they released this album? Why was “Weird” the record chosen out of so many you have done? Can we expect similar releases in the future? Is there any other way to purchase a physical copy of any of your other records?”




    Senmuth: “My record “Weird” has gathered further attention because northern topics such as the Scandinavian culture and the secrets and meanings of the runes are dealt with on this album. Usually, I rather write about Eastern and Southern cultures. In Russia, labels and people don’t care very much about experimental music. If I would clone European acts as metal bands such as Aria do, I would certainly be more successful. One of the rare exceptions is my project Technotitlan that got some professional releases. But concerning my solo careers, there’s not much interest and I sell my personal CD-R to those who are interested in what I’m doing. I also offer all of my releases as free downloads on my official website. This has also the advantage that I can be more creative and focus on new projects as I don’t need to care about releasing strategies and investing money in the production and things like these.”




    Sebastian Kluth: “What can we expect from your upcoming record and what are your plans for the future? Might we see you in concert one day for a special occasion?”




    Senmuth: “Yes, I am on my way to create the anniversary album of my project but I can hardly surprise the listeners with something new. The next album will be in my style and in my spirit. I will always create if I am strong enough and have good inspirations. These are not always present but if they are and if I have the time and possibility to create music, I will always carry on. Concerts are though excluded for numerous reasons. That’s sad but true. It’s not my thing as I prefer to compose and write down.”




    Sebastian Kluth: “Many people are interested in your music but simply don’t have the time to make it through all of your records. Which album(s) would you chose to introduce someone to the world of Senmuth? Which albums do you consider as absolutely essential? Which albums are your personal favourites? Which albums do you consider as your weaker ones?




    Senmuth: “As a whole, it is very difficult to me to judge any albums as most important or best ones. I think it’s up to the listeners to try out and judge on their own. You can choose any record from my huge discography. It can be a casual choice. It can be inspired by one of the cover artworks. It can be inspired by a certain topic. I think that everybody might find something interesting. Otherwise, my best songs are gathered on some official collections: “Songs Of Life”, “Life Of Songs”, “Шема Тауи and Аменти”. Some of my strongest instrumental tracks and tool compositiosn can rather be found on the following collections: “E.D.I.E.M.”, “The World’s Out-Of-Place Artefacts IV” and “The World’s Out-Of-Place Artefacts III”.




    Sebastian Kluth: “As a last question, do you mind if I ask you something more personal? If you had the possibility to change anything in your career or if you had the occasion to modify any of your albums what would you chose or do? In the end, what can we expect from Senmuth in the future and what is your biggest dream?”



    Senmuth: “Even if there are many possibilities, I especially want to create. There are no big plans. Everything has its quiet succession. I think I was already too old when I started to have dreams. I have different desires, some get executed but others not and I’m okay with this kind of philosophy. Many thanks for your interview. You had interesting questions for me.”


    After a few tips from Senmuth himself, here comes a short and sweet analyse of his large discography to help you to get into the world and music of this artist.



    Oracle Octave Part I: Orion Mystery (2005)

    This album is the first out of two parts that touches for the very first time Senmuth’s beloved space and galaxy topic. The record has a truly intense doom atmosphere and surprises with an outstanding work of synthesizers and sound collages as well as with a great drum play. The guitars sound very progressive and remind me of Mike Oldfield in the folk passages. The record works very well as a whole, don’t try to pick out songs and listen to the entire album instead. (10/10)

    Weird (2008):

    The only professionally released record by the artist is indeed worth to be bought. The album itself is rather minimalistic but that’s why single and quite diversified passages even impress more and stand out. Dark gothic piano melodies in “Raido” meet sacral choir chants in “Uruz”. Mechanical industrial sounds as in “Iza” are as interesting as the dreamy folk passages in the outstanding “Perth”. (10/10)

    Величие И Таинство Кавказских Гор (2008):

    In this record, Senmuth deals with the “Magic And Mystery Of The Caucasian Mountains”. He mixes traditional folk sounds with straight metal guitar riffs in danceable neckbreakers like the opener “Alania. Caucasus” and the closing “Ancient Alania”. They use the same main melody in two completely different ways. Fans of New Age sounds may find their new bible with “Phantoms Of Clouds” and fans of gothic music should try out the dark and addicting “Shelter Of Eleven”. (10/10)


    Also recommended:

    Izoteri-Ka (2004):

    The second record in the large discography of the Russian multi-instrumentalist is about Ancient Egypt but you don’t really hear this. This record is dominated by danceable, chaotic and heavy dark wave sounds that would make any fan of electronic gothic music dance in the clubs. It’s surely not a record for everybody but a highlight for those who like bands such as “Liebe, Tod + Teufel”, “The House Of Usher” and “Zeromancer”. (9,5/10)

    Rajas (2006):

    This album deals with topics such as philosophy and religion with a special focus on Buddhism and Hinduism. Every song is different but they are all united by their exotic and spiritual feeling. From aggressive metal sounds in mixed with female Indian chants in “Saraswaty” to samples of jazz trumpets in the outstanding “Threshold Of Great Transition”, this album offers a lot to discover and is a good choice to enter and discover the diversified world of Senmuth. (9,5/10)

    Себек (2009):

    This is one of Senmuth’s most metal orientated records that really kicks off after fifteen more spiritual minutes in the beginning. Filled with eighty minutes of neckbreaking music, this record should be checked out by the metal fans and get some larger attention. (9,5/10)


    Special tip:

     Резонанс (2008):

    This record is definitely filled with surprises. It has an industrial touch including dark Russian vocals performed by Senmuth himself. Dominating synthesizers, heavy guitar riffs and eccentric vocals are mixed with a small amount of folk passages. Fans of the Neue Deutsche Härte genre around bands such as “Oomph!” or fans of hard Visual Kei music around bands such as “Dir En Grey” should definitely check this record out, anyone else should not expect too much and open up his or her mind before checking this weird piece of music out. (8,5/10)


    Weak point:

    NewOldLife (2005):

    This album is a compilation of rerecorded tracks and bonus songs from Senmuth’s early years. This album definitely came out way too early in his career. The record focuses on Gothic and Industrial Metal but includes a lot of filler material. Tracks like the duet with Annie Red Hat in “Cutting The Last Threads” or the experimental title track are though still worth to be checked out and rate this album a little bit up. (7/10)

    « 3. Interview mit Senmuth plus eine kleine Werkschau des KünstlersThe Vision Bleak - Songs Of Good Taste (2002) - Welcome to the gothic lounge - 75% (17/10/10) »
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