Interview, translation from Portuguese and revision by Daniel “Roderick” Death
Once I started to hear strange sounds outside metal (things like Frank Zappa and Progressive Rock for example) I started to get into the strange world of Dark Ambient. It was a path of no return. I started to listen to more famous artists such as Lustmord, Nordvargr, Beyond Sensory Experience, you name it. It was a parallel world unheard of (at least for me, a dyed-in the-wool headbanger), and in my crooked way to see the world, pop was of course, out of question! On the contrary I started to look upon artists from the underground pedigree. As a native of Brazil why not search for such artists in my own country? Previously there was some dude who made the cover for death metal and noisecore bands that I heard in the 90’s. His work was very distinct. It was something that I bumped into time and time again. I researched his name: Edgar Franco. Then a friend of mine bought a CD of a strange band called Posthuman Tantra saying it was a great underground thing. Of course I fell for the artwork, and how was my surprise to discover that the same dude who I had seen doing covers of bands that I liked was not just the designer, but also the sole musician of that strange entity. I thought: wow man, this guy does everything indeed (remember it was a time before methods of creation by computer and Photoshop was reserved only for pros and not for the general public). That struck me a chord! Soon after that I tried to contact him for the sake of curiosity and to try to discover more about his sound. He was very polite and solicitous. I thought that maybe this guy should be in a prolific stardom trip, but he showed a very calm façade. Then we became friends as the time passed. After my Heavy Metal band split up I tried my hand on Dark Ambient as well in a project that I have up to this day called ALDFRITH. I recorded 3 albums so far (the fourth is coming). Anyway, Edgar heard the third one called Fluvium Tenebris, he thought it was very good and invited me to participate in a British tribute to his own band Posthuman Tantra: I was in awe. I’ve never received such an honorific invitation before (the cd is already out and you can find more information here). He liked my piece, I was amused. Then I thought, well, if he likes my music he should consider give me an interview, and here we are. The case here is that he’s a very busy person: he doesn’t only do music and eventual art for bands. He actually plays some parts for other friends, he produces magazines, cards and more, he works as a highly important level in research project of the one of most important Federal Universities in Brazil: UFG (Federal University of Goiás). Still the always cordial Edgar found time to give me this huge interview. Please, delight yourself with more than 10 years of history of the most important Dark Ambient project from South America: POSTHUMAN TANTRA!
DSU: Hello Edgar, it’s an honor to have you here, I’d like, first and foremost that you explain how did you enter in the world of experimental music in order for you to create the entity called Posthuman Tantra.
Edgar: The honor it’s all mine. I started in the music very early, playing bass in a self-learned manner in Death Metal bands in my hometown Ituiutaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil. I was 16 years old, and besides the basslines I used to write the songs and I drew the logos, coverart of the demos, an activity that amplified itself in the country and abroad and because of that I became relatively known inside the underground and today I sum more than one hundred Cdcovers created by me for bands from Brazil and world. During the time I was distancing myself from the music and dedicating myself more to “graphic narratives”, cartoons and illustrations, but the interest in composition (of music) returned in 1999, when I started to create electronic cartoons at my master’s degree of new medias at Unicamp (University of Campinas) and I wanted to develop soundtracks for them. Thus, it happened my encounter with electronic and digital music, I started to use software to produce the soundtracks and I felt in love with the possibilities of the digital sounds. Obviously I started to listen to bands that made use of electronic sounds to create obscure ambiences and I found entities like Abruptum, Merzbow, Brighter Death Now, Mental Destruction, Coph Nia and I also started to like a lot of soundtracks from the masters of electronic like John Carpenter and b besides my admiration for the Progressive Rock of bands such as Tangerine Dream and King Crimson. Posthuman Tantra came to life while I was making my doctorate research in arts (DA) at USP (University of São Paulo) as a part of transmedia to my fictional universe about “Post Human Aurora”: the aim is and always was to create sound ambiences to my post-human fictions, and the idea is to be experimental, never to be stuck to any style or musical tendency.
DSU: How did spring the idea of recording the first album of the project called Pissing Nanorobots? How was the process? Did you enter in a proper studio or did you utilize computer technologies outside it for the album conception?
Edgar: Pissing Nanorobots was an audacious and visceral experiment; I used only a Pentium 4 computer and some software and recording plug-ins for its total composition and recording, and the PC even hadn’t had a special soundcard. It was something totally homemade, but it generated an unexpected result and the album received a great deal of attention outside Brazil, with praised reviews in important medias as the Belarusian site “The Machinist” that rated the album with the maximum rate. To this day it’s one of the preferred works of many fans of the band across the world, even after I had recorded other albums with quality productions and already summing 30 hours of sounds released by the band in its 10 years of existence. The album is about the existential paradoxes of the technological imbrications between the man, biotechnology, robotics, prosthetic and techno-fetishism and the songs are organic and it may cause nauseous feeling in many of those who made themselves avid in listening to it in its entirety with good earphones. BEWARE!!!!!!!
Edgar: It was something curious and natural, I was a Melek-Tha fan and I had two CDs of the band, I found the postal address of Lord Evil in his website and I sent to him – without any pretension – the first album of Posthuman Tantra “Pissing Nanorobots” and some of my fanzines. Lord Evil replied that he was excited with the sonority of the project along with my art and he invited me right off the bat to create an album together. So we made the part one of the “Quadrilogia Kalemath” (Kalemath Tetralogy) that tells the invasion of a post-human species that came from the Sirius Galaxy and that contained music and cards created by me. The success of this first part took us to develop the other 3 parts, always released in special boxes in France and with limited and numbered quantities. After that we made other incredible partnerships as in the triple albums such as “Asylum of Slaves” and “Necronomicon Gnosis”, also released in France and with songs of both bands and other created in mutual partnership. Lord Evil became a friend and I hope to create other works with him in the future. The global status of Posthuman Tantra as a band upped the bar due this partnership, because Melek-Tha is a GLOBAL CULT! After those partnerships with Lord Evil we received the proposal to sign with the Swiss label Legatus Records, in 2007 and we started a partnership that has been fruitful.
DSU: Tell us more about the conceptions of Quadrilogia Kelemath.
Edgar: It was a very pleasant work to do, Lord Evil gave me total creative liberty and we traced a general plan to the saga of the invasion of the Earth, I inspired myself in my fictional universe “Post-Human Aurora”. The four boxes that took 4 years to be recorded and to be released, one each year, tell the stages of this invasion, until the total decimation of the humankind in the final part with the simple and suggestive title “The End”. The boxes sum more than 12 hours of music and more than 20 cards created by me, with my drawings portraying creatures and other elements of the invasion. They had limited and numbered print, that’s why it became a collector’s title. It was even done a very limited print of 25 copies of a box gathering together the four parts! Although the difficult to get these items nowadays, I’ve already seen the complete tetralogy available in a lot of blogs and websites for download, mainly in Russian servers.
DSU: We know that you are a multimedia artist, and that one of your great highlights out of the musical project, it’s your work with arts, given that you personally made the cover of several compilations and even the covers of renowned bands of Brazilian metal. What was your greatest influence? It’s clear that H.R. Giger is one of them, but would you like to cite others?
Edgar: Yes, I have works in multiple media, from interactive installations, going through sites of webart and arriving to illustrations and cartoon, I even keep an annual magazine in cartoons “Artlectos e Pós-humanos”, published by the printer Marca de Fantasia, that is already in the number 8, and it brings short cartoons that take place in my fictional universe of the “Post-human Aurora”. This magazine was awarded with the Troféu Nacional Bigorna (Anvil National Trophy) conceded to the best of the Brazilian cartoon in 2009. In 2013 I released the album “BioCyberDrama Saga”, through the printer UFG, a partnership with the legendary painter Mozart Couto, the opus was indicated to Troféu HQmix 2014 of best National special edition. My influences are multiple and they aren’t restrict to the area of plastic arts. I consider myself influenced by cinema, literature, cartoons, music, poetry, sculpture, and all the possible and impossible forms of expression. But I’ll talk only about Giger here, because it’s a sad moment, we lost one the greatest genius of art. The first time I saw the art of HR Giger I was fascinated and amazed. His images were repulsive and sacred at the same time, erotic and grotesque, sensual and macabre. The worlds that he used to create were unique, archetypal cosmogonies that caught a glimpse of transcendental aspects about our species. His visionary opus motivated even articles of Stanislav Grof, one of the creators of the transpersonal psychology that saw in the Giger’s art pregnant aspects of the called perinatal trauma.. In 2009 I was in the city of the master, Gruyère, in Switzerland, and I spent 4 hours visiting his amazing museum, one the most fascinating experiences of artistic submersion of my life, because it was the museum that I wanted to know more in all Europe and the friend Mike Vonlanthen, owner of the label Legatus Records, gave me this priceless gift in the time I went to Switzerland in order to follow the mastering of the second album of Posthuman Tantra released by that label. I drew in the visiting book of the museum an art in homage to him and my gratitude for his existence and to present us with his superb opus. I’m sure he had read because he always went to the museum. After the moving visit to the museum, we went to the HR Giger bar, and there I took a lot of photos, some used in articles about Posthuman Tantra, as in an interview to the magazine called Comando Rock #86. The great iconoclast Giger became enchanted: get my reverence and gratitude for transforming me through his work.
DSU: Coming back to the musical field, which is your fave work or participation?
Edgar: It’s almost a cliché to say that, but works are like children, it’s difficult to vote in a opus of Posthuman Tantra that I consider the best, every and one of them has their importance and they show faithfully the moment of the band and of my own life experience. Thus, I vote as the best that one that I’m working at the moment, because it reflects what I am now. I’m recording my third album for Legatus Records “The Cybershaman’s Rising”, I’m into the creative process for more than two years, I have no hustle, but I work excitingly on it. The same goes to special participations, I’ve participated in more than dozen albums, and the invitations come even from the Brazilian Metal Scene. Just to cite some bands in which I made special participations in CD’s: Lycanthropy, Scibex, Psychotic Eyes, Alpha III, Maldoror, Each Second, Melek-tha (France), Xa-mul (England), Kenji Siratori (Japan), between many others.
Edgar: Yes, I like Heavy Metal a lot, in the most diverse genres, going from melodic to black metal, as well as rock in general and classical music. Some metal bands that I consider influences to Posthuman Tantra and that obviously I like very much are – I’m going to cite only 11, because the list is huge: Celtic Frost (and now Tryptycon from the great Tom Warrior), Katatonia, Anathema, Marduk, Type O Negative, Omen, Manilla Road, Sarcófago, Medicine Death, Taurus, Mutilator, and it goes on and on!
DSU: What do you have to say about the band Alpha III? I believe that Amyr Cantúsio Jr is one of the most victimized artists of the Brazilian music, isn’t he? How did this friendship take place?
Edgar: Amyr is a great friend whom I made important partnership, it’s a priceless honor to me because I consider him one of the greatest keyboardists in the history of rock, a genius never seen before, magic creator of melodies. I already knew the august opus of Amyr through some of vinyl that I acquired from Alpha III, his band, and in 2007, in the occasion of the release of my first album through Legatus Records – Neocortex Plug-in -, I sent a promotional package with the CD to the defunct Valhalla magazine. Cantúsio was the editor in chief of the magazine, and he was given the work to make the review of my CD, and he wrote a great review, he perfectly understood the proposal and he gave a rate 9 to the album, then he entered in contact with me and even made the interview that was publish alongside with the review. There was an immediate identification between our way of working and it occurred the possibility to create together due to our aesthetic, philosophical and magical affinities. The first partnership was the album Gothik Kama Sutra of Alpha III and Posthuman Tantra, where I had the chance to create tracks in partnership with this genius of music. From there we made other alliances and Amyr has just recorded a track to the Posthuman Tantra tribute that will be released by the 412 Recordings from England. [NOTE: my band called ALDFRITH also participates in this tribute]. He is a genuine artist although his importance he’s not concerned with being known but he wants to always create. He continues to release albums, composing, and he has a loyal following that go along with his opus which is beyond his time, and it will only be duly appreciated by future generations. Amyr Cantusio Jr is an example of the great and genius artists who follows marginalized in the underground, which gives the world what it needs and not what it wishes.
DSU: How are the performances of Posthuman Tantra? In which places and with which gear do you use to perform?
Edgar: Posthuman Tantra intends to be a constant marriage between my visual creations, the universe of electronic music, and the transmediaperformances. Since its inception, in 2004, the band has participated in dozens of compilations in 4 continents and it released albums abroad, in countries such as France, Switzerland and Japan; All the more it has performed in four Brazilian regions during national and international academic events. The live performances of Posthuman Tantra are configured as multimedia presentations. They count upon exclusive videos made with my arts, computational and electronic applications and artistic actions exclusively created by me in partnership with the research group CRIA_CYBER, which I coordinate and it’s linked to the Post Graduation Program in Visual Art and Culture of FAV/UFG. The use of computational effects in augmented reality lends a cybrid character to the performances, criating the so called cybrid ambiences that link simultaneously the real and the virtual. Posthuman Tantra was one of the first band in the world to use this resource on the stage. The group performances a strong mix of technognostical aspects and they propose approximations between transcendence and hypertechnology through a contextualization based in science fiction and encapsulated into the fictional universe of transmedia from the Post-Human Aurora. . At the same time, it loathes the asepsis of the stunt images that induce people to consume and the destruction of the biosphere committed by multinational corporations helped by the great global marketing agencies. The acts of the performance are seen as cyberrituals, because they unite, in a singular manner, aspects of native ancestral culture of Brazilian tribes, above all its transcendental perceptions through the incorporations of animal and vegetal mythical totems in the rituals of cure and energizing, to new post-human perspectives opened by the creation and incorporation of digital worlds, computational cosmogonies made possible by the great universe of the numeric images and of hypermedia. The performance Cyberpagé blends the world of vegetal reality. – the access to mythical cosmogonies through the use of entheogens (chemical substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context) with the cybrid realities… creation of digital cosmogony creating a new transcendental body. We ally to the context the of the cyberritual techno-fetishists aspects, amplified with base in the accelerated interconnection between the human being and new technologies such as robotics, telematics, virtual reality and transgenesis. Offering a conceptual dislocation to a “caught-a-glimpse” future where the sexuality mixes new sexual servomechanisms, transgenic humanimal hybrids, sensual artificial intelligences and ancestral lust. Since 2010, when we started the live performances, we already sum more than 20 presentations in events of academic character as the ART#International Meeting of Art and Technology (Republic Museum, Brasilia), and important festivals of alternative music such as Woodgothic festival and Goiânia Noise festival, we went through 4 Brazilian regions, but we still didn’t make a gig in the North region of the country. The stageset of Posthuman Tantra has 3 computers, a midi-controller Ozone, Korg synthesizers, a 4-chanel mixer, video projector and some acoustic instruments, besides all exclusive fashion sketches and devices to electronic magic FX!
DSU: Your opus includes besides music, a hybrid of audiovisual almost unseen for Brazilian patterns: Is there other people behind your post-human music?
Edgar: It’s important to cite that in studio Posthuman Tantra is an one-man-nand, I compose and record all the instruments and voices, eventually with some special participations. But in the stage, Posthuman Tantra is a group: the conception, creation and direction still is mine, but I count with the effective participation of several people to the general production and performances. The only person ever-present in the stage is the First Priestess from Post-Human Aurora, Rose Franco, musician and performer that has been present in all gigs so far. The other members are researchers of CRIA_CYBER, the great deal of them are oriented by me in scientific initiation, master’s degree and doctorate in the Program of Post-Graduation in Art and Visual Culture of UFG (Federal University of Goiás), the university that I’m a professor. Some make just a sporadic participation, taking pictures of one of the presentations and helping me in the edition of one of the videos of the show, others are with us for a longer time, like the great costume designer and performer Luiz Fers, that creates in partnership with me all the costumes, masks and other clothes used in the performances. Fers is working with us for almost 4 years, always present in the shows, acting as an auxiliary of stage as well, and his research of scientific initiation in visual arts, oriented by me was a creation of half of Posthuman Tantra costumes. Besides Luiz, dozens of people helped or help with Posthuman Tantra and they receive the credits in the times of their participations: my sincere gratitude to all of them. Eventually people that don’t make part of the research group also help with the band, as the animator George Chiavegato, who developed in partnership with me the animation that is in the end of the show.
DSU: Tell us how happened the censorship in the college called Unievangélica? What did actually happen and what do you think about institutions whose directive is to censor the art instead of fortify it? What do you believe that could have happened? What was so offensive?
Edgar: On the 22 of October, 2013 we had our performance cut down in the fourth song (about 8 listed) during the International Congress of Research, teaching, and Extension of Unievangélica from Anápolis. By the end of the fourth act, entitled Sexual Initiation of a Multifunctional Robot, the event organization turn on the theater lights and in an act of explicit censorship screamed from the rear of the theater that the presentation was over and done, causing an extreme embarrassment in all Posthuman Tantra staff. The time of the presentation had been previously set with the organization and it would be more 25 minutes, the enough time to complete the gig. After the inquisitorial attitude of explicit censorship, I tried to reason with them to no avail and I declared to all present that we were being censored. Everything was taken on camera and it can be seen in the channel of Posthuman Tantra on Youtube. Posthuman Tantra was invited by the organization of the event that should have known what our performance is about. There are videos, photos and details about it on Youtube, Myspace and Facebook. The presentation was set with the same songs that have been showed in the 4 Brazilian regions, in national and international events of research. Even, we made a presentation on September 20th/2013 at UEG (University of the State of Goiás) in the very same city with excellent receptions and response from the audience. To add insult to injury, there was yet a pressure for us to take off stage as quick as possible. Posthuman Tantra is an artistic action that merges the investigations of the research group CRIA_CYBER, registered at CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) and linked to the Program of Post-Graduation of the College of visual Arts of the Federal University of Goiás, at which I’m a permanent professor. All the members present on stage were researchers of the group. That was a sad episode that shows a biased and archaic attitude from an institution in front of a presentation of artistic property that proposes itself to promote dialogues. An University must be open to diversity and to the “universe of possible knowledge”. I want to make it clear that Posthuman Tantra doesn’t link itself with any dogma and we shall continue our saga with even more enthusiasm and energy! I want to highlight that on November 5th/2003 it was sent to Posthuman Tantra from the Coordination of Post-Graduation Program about Art and Visual culture, from FAV/UFG, a motion disclaimer against the censorship. The motion was sent to the coordinators of the event that signed the pressed invitation made to Edgar Franco and his team, being: The Dean of Unievangéliva, The Teacher Msc. Carlos Hassel Mendes da Silva; the Professor Doctor Francisco Itami Campos, Pro-dean of Post-Graduation, research, Extension and Communal Action; The Chancellor of UniEvngélica, Mr. Geraldo Henrique Espíndola; and Academic Pro-Dean Professor Ms. Marcelo Mello Barbosa. We never received any reply to that motion and no clarification from that institution. About being offensive, we believe that what scared the organizers was their medieval and unprepared mentality that
didn’t have a least care in trying to understand the context of our performance and the critical reflections about the relations between the man and technology. For low brown minds we are the profound iconoclasm, we are the bringers of the doubt that jolts the dogmatic structures that menace to take off the reckless from their cozy womb, from the secure lies in which they are submerged. Lots of people go off our performance with some degree of impact and the reception is always extreme. Either people love it a lot or they hate us, and the both of them interest us. This act of censorship was a proof to us that what we do has an importance. We don’t create art to entertain idiots; we create art to express ourselves in front of the sickness of this world. So was it, so be it!
DSU: Last one: I’d like you tell us if you have some plan or invitations for presentations outside Brazil, because I believe your North American, European and Australian fans are interested in your shows! Thank you very much for your time, post-human cheers!!!
Edgar: We received indeed some invitations, from promoters from England and Switzerland, in this case to perform tours with some dates, including shows in Germany and France! The invitations didn’t take place simply for schedule problems because I’m a College Teacher and for a tour in this way I need to be on vacation, as well as I must organize the schedules of other members, because all of them have steady jobs. We’re yet with negotiations with some European promoters, but for now I prefer to not give further details. However, I’m sure we are going to perform in Europe, where it is the greatest base of fans of Posthuman Tantra and a future dream is Japan, where I believe that our live performances will be well received. I thank you for the opportunity of being interviewed by you and I invite the interested ones in knowing more about Posthuman Tantra to search our page on Facebook, our channel on Youtube and to visit my blog “A Arte do Ciberpajé Edgar Franco” at http://ciberpaje.blogspot.com.br/ Post-human cheers from Cyberpagé Edgar Franco!
(Daniel “Roderick” Death)