For a couple of years now I kept wishing to enter a dimension came out of another constellation, a musical dimension (and not only) I heard little being talked about and, if we got to this topic, the discussions were mostly between Black Metal musicians or overseas fans, from America. And I’m saying this because John Haughm told me long ago about FAUNA, a unique and quality expression. When AGALLOCH came to Romania, I got some landmarks reactivated when I saw John wearing a FAUNA shirt. I told myself I will keep exploring the mysterious dimension I haven’t read or heard about in Europe. Taken by the daily worries but also assaulted by bands and labels willing to promote their releases through Kogaionon, I forgot about FAUNA until the ones from WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM released a new album few months ago. I even considered a way to bring WOLVES to Romania in November, but after some scenes made by their manager, I came to the conclusion it’s too complicated for this tour. It was a compromise I accepted, because the events I organize under the DonisArt banner were not aimed towards bands on tour that’d just check another country. And the DonisArt policy was, even from the beginning, to help and promote quality bands that haven’t played in Romania so far and that have something interesting to show, in dedicated arrivals… that’s why I always thought that DonisArt isn’t a concert organizer and doesn’t want to be perceived as a promoter or manager that organizes concerts or can be talked with about logistic or synergistically financial aspects. Anyway, this thinking might seem atypical and illogical, but when the determination and love for the Underground Spirit dominates every trace of reason, even the impossible is possible to accept… exactly the same way my friends from AGALLOCH flew ca 20 hours to come to Romania and offer fans 2 unique concerts, in only 2 days, after which 3 of them returned home… meaning another 20 hours of flight… and I’m saying this because I know the pressures made on AGALLOCH so they would hold a new tour in Europe back then… There were beautiful moments in March 2010 both for me and the band and the attendees of the 2 Special Events, where Neige stepped on stage for the first time with ALCEST.
Why did I mention AGALLOCH? Because they are the veterans of Western America Underground Metal and around whom, in the last 5-6 years, other new bands with interesting expressions exploded. Why did I mention WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM? Because it’s the most visible band from the new Cascadian Black Metal wave that already bonded in the minds of connoisseurs and who (currently) keep being in Underground. Moreover, the 2 American Metal bands are the only ones around who had their share of rich promotion and who significantly played in Europe, that’s why fans are so receptive and resonate every time they hear the names of these two bands… meaning they are already well known bands between European Black Metal fans. And both bands had or still have different connections with FAUNA, not only as expressions of musical ideas, but also as individualities, way of thinking or inner knowledge…
There are also other very interesting bands inspired by Cascadian forests but most probably I’ll write an ample article about this smart creation that takes place in America for a couple of years now.
At the end of September I invited the Irish from ALTAR OF PLAGUES in Romania to inaugurate the KRUNA concept and, once again, I got to the FAUNA topic… and the admiration they spoke about FAUNA made me do something in this direction, not only to satisfy myself with being a passive connoisseur of beautiful music and concepts…
Therefore, after years of wishes and ignorance, I got to get in touch directly with the FAUNA members.
Those who haven’t listened to FAUNA so far should carefully listen to “Rain” and “The Hunt”, the only 2 tracks released by the band, 4-5 years ago. We actually speak about 2 albums, for the tracks are extremely long, ca 80 minutes each… and worth mentioning would be the musical innovation of the two musicians, Echtra and Vines, who neatly combine ultra aggressive Black Metal with Ambient but also Apocalyptic Folk passages, everything smartly integrated in a unique ritual… actually, around FAUNA gravitate terms like esoteric, transcendental, eco, bio, isolated, lone, shaman, introspective, sacred, mystical…
FAUNA finished recording a new album,”Avifauna”, that will be released on the market very soon, through an obscure label.
After many different discussions with the two, we agreed to make an interview, but the official informations concerning FAUNA are very limited. I found it quite odd to start putting questions about FAUNA’s past, especially when I had the opportunity to gather a couple of texts the musicians granted other magazines.
So the first part of the material will be an indirect development of the FAUNA concept made over time, by the musicians to journalists like: Alex James Evans, Joe Stannard, Ray Hawes and Set Sothis. From the answers of the two musicians you will be able to make up a relevant image about the mysterious but also mystical FAUNA concept.
Therefore, let us discreetly enter the FAUNA universe, exactly the way they tell us to:
“Please take a moment to pause, and prepare to look from the page or the screen that relays this text to you. Let us take a journey into the Deep Past, using a slight adaptation from Joanna Macy’s ‘The Evolutionary Gifts of the Animals’. The felt sense that this exercise conjures is perhaps the best introduction our project could hope for.
First, please put your finger to your wrist and feel the pulse there. Blood is circulating. This capacity, common to all life forms, arose with the first multi-celled creatures who designed ways to transfer nutrients to their inside cells. As they developed some invented a muscular pump, a heart. The pulsing you feel is a gift of ancient Ancestor Worm.
Next, feel the bones in your neck and back. Those vertebrae of the long spine are separate, but ingeniously linked. They cover the central neural cord and, at the same time, allow flexibility of movement. Ancestor Fish did the design work, because he couldn’t swim if his backbone were one solid piece. We can thank him for this marvel that now permits us to stand and walk.
Now, begin to listen to the sounds in your environment. We can take in music and sound because tiny bones vibrate in the inner ear, which is also a gift from ancestor Fish. They were once her jawbones before they migrated into the mammalian ear to carry sound.
Some of our sense perceptions are interpreted in the limbic region of the brain, which lives inside the base of the skull. This is a gift from our reptilian grandmothers and grandfathers. It allows deep pleasure. It also allows us to protect ourselves by fighting or running away.
Now look at your environment. Notice that your eyes are no longer on the sides of the head, as with our fish and reptile cousins and many mammals as well. Our tree-climbing primate ancestors moved their eyes around to the front, to function together, so they could know the exact location and distance of branches to leap for. We thank them for our binocular vision.
Please consider your hand. See how the hand curls over; see the size of the space it encloses between fingers and thumb. That’s just the right size for a branch able to hold a swinging body. Ancestor Monkey designed that hand. And the branch was designed by sun and wind and gravity, as well as Grandfather Tree himself as he grew high to reach the light, and limber to allow the wind. So we, with these hands, are grandchildren of tree and sun and wind, as well.”
At the question of what FAUNA means to the artists, the answer seems as complex as straight:
“Fauna is nothing more than the effort to reclaim and embody what is fundamentally human. The wisdom and beauty that lies within our blood are borne of millennia upon these soils, communing with the manifest beings of Earth and the spirits of the land, sea and sky. We pursue a rigorous philosophical inquiry into the matter of humanness, leaving no stone unturned in our effort to understand who we are. Largely, this means understanding where we’ve come from. How we came into being is the greatest story ever told, the myth of all time, an unending dance with the Others and a journey of unimaginably epic proportions. Fauna tracks the footprints left by this travel, tracing them back to the heart of our being and the truth of our humble majesty.”
A very interesting topic develops here a rather atypical expression:
“We are irremediably animals, and this is perhaps our saving grace, as it is what may eventually facilitate our Return. The rubric of civilization has twisted and torn our understanding of ourselves, our place in the universe, and our unique gift to the world so that we can no longer recognize the grandeur of who we are. The human is simply another character in the play of seasons, another voice in the chorus of beings, special only in that he shares with certain others (notably Owl) a role as the Watcher. Humans have a special responsibility, ordained long ago by the totemic and chthonic spirits, to see and sing the world, to be the critter that tells the story of this sphere, renewing the cycles and calling back the sun each day from its hiding. We gladly take on this responsibility, knowing that the template for the fullest possible realization of our potential was laid down in our blood and bones, ritualized in those contracts between our ancestors and the Others so long ago.
We are animals, and the less we give voice to our animal instincts the more psychotic we will become.
The essence of life is to be found in wildness; civilization is an inherently destructive institution that inhibits our humanness.
There are spirits or forces within all creation that can be communicated with if we know how.
We must return to a mythic consciousness wherein we conceive of ourselves as divine.”
How come Echtra and Vines?
“Echtra and Vines are beings other than those who normally inhabit the coil we are bound to. While there is inevitably a residue of identity that remains after having transcended ourselves, the reasoning and feeling processes we undergo in the altered state of consciousness Fauna represents are wholly different from those we normally experience. Putting on corpsepaint and preparing to engage the otherworld is a powerful process, and requires the individual to loosen their hold on the mundane. This inevitably results, for us, in the attainment of an ecstatic state that cannot be understood as arising from our individuated selves. Those other beings we become are a result of the meeting between ourselves and the All.
Echtra is a word from the Irish language (often mistakenly referred to as Gaelic (it is actually just one of a number of variants in the family of Gaelic languages)), signifying a story cycle wherein the hero finds themselves unexpectedly transported into the otherworld. These tales, common in the bardic tradition of our ancestors, commonly feature a person going about daily tasks and finding themselves suddenly catapulted onto sacred ground.
The most effective way to explain the meaning of Vines is thus:
Vines are the arms of God. Rooted firmly within the Earth yet ceaselessly reaching skyward; strangling Life with Life.”
How do the musicians view the two materials released so far?
“‘The Hunt’ is a mythic journey into the imaginal nature of prehistoric consciousness, including its archaic totemic manifestations and the physical, psychic and spiritual sustenance the integral human activity of hunting provides. The piece takes us from the aching hunger of our current nightmare, through a treacherous initiatory labyrinth beyond the bounds of the known, into the ultimate unification with all of Life through the rite of consummation. It is simultaneously a parallel journey into the wilds of human meaning, searching for sustenance for the soul in the lost art of Myth.
As with all of our work, there are three parallel dimensions to ‘The Hunt’. One is related to the aesthetic environment itself, encompassing the music and the words we used as a technique of induction. Another is the imaginal myth the work signifies, which is a story that we have crafted to facilitate the deepest possible immersion of our consciousness in the transmutation of reality the piece entails. The third aspect is the ritual itself, the movements made, the spells cast, and the spirits or energies banished or called forth that made up the live environment that was the truth of ‘The Hunt’.
The sonic world and the words that accompany it are available widely now, and can be entered into as one sees fit. The imaginal aspect involves a rite we undertook as part of the conceptualization process, wherein we asked Spirit for visions of what we were to do next. We were guided by strong images of a character that came to be known as the Hunter, a prehistoric being who somehow was able to become contemporary with us in order to communicate certain truths or exigencies. We saw his journey: from a tender recognition of his band as they starved for sustenance; to a meeting with a wise woman of his clan who cast him from the nest, knowing that he had a crucial role to play in the life of the People; to his movement out into the world in search of game and the spiritual gift of meat; through his despair, loneliness and fear; and finally to the conversation of death that he shared with the Deer and the feast that restored power and sight to himself and his People. The parallels to the psychic journey we have undertaken are obvious, and the ineluctable connection between the material and spiritual aspects of the relationship between our eaten Gods and ourselves revealed.
The ritual aspect entailed a similar journey of annihilation and triumph, as we physically put our bodies and souls through trials and received empowerments and gifts from Spirit. ‘The Hunt’ was an initiation rite that allowed us to move into a broader identification of what we are, connected through the Hunter to the whole of life.
‘Rain’ was a tracing, in the storied form of ancient myths, of the deliverance of the human animal from distant origins. We undertook to move our consciousness through the journey from the primordial seas to the caves of our ancestors, and through this project attain to the fullest possible understanding of what it means to be human. By finally reaching a full identification with the undeniable interconnectedness of all of Life, the Seeker in the journey of ‘Rain’ burned his way out of the cage of civilization and ran screaming for the place of fulfillment, the wild environs that birthed the human Soul.”
FAUNA re-issued the 2 materials. Below some references to”The Hunt” are made, where the drum machine was replaced by live drums…
“The original edition of ‘The Hunt’ was not a ‘demo’. Our primary intention with our releases was to provide a mnemonic device to those who had interacted with our live ritual, allowing them to reenter the altered states of consciousness that were invoked there. Our understanding of the word ‘demo’ is that it is the music industry abbreviation for ‘demonstration’, a simple document that bands hastily put together to parade their recordings before record labels in the hopes that one will eventually release the band’s work. This was in no way our intention with our initial releases. Both ‘Rain’ and ‘The Hunt’ were released on hand-screened CD-Rs that were housed in hand-screened, hand-folded, high-quality paper packages. The production was costly in the way of labor and funds, and none of these were sent to record labels. The inclusion of drum machine was an intentional choice on our part, and reflected no lack of attention or ambivalence towards the release.
We have changed our outlook on this matter, however, and the re-release of ‘The Hunt’ will indeed eschew electronic drums. We are grateful for the opportunity to redress what we’ve recognized to be an aesthetic faltering on our part, and feel that the integrity of the work shines through much more vibrantly now. The psychoactive properties of this piece have been accentuated by this alteration, and we believe its effectiveness as an entry to visionary states has been heightened.
‘The Hunt’ was conceived and enacted as an immersive 1 ½ hour-long ritual, which featured Fauna and local artisan Lina Mclean of Brisingamen Design. In order to organize the logistical labyrinth of this production, electronic drums were used. When it came time to release the aural document of the rite of ‘The Hunt’, we consciously elected to allow the electronic drums to remain, knowing that this was the true face of what we had done. Fresh from the otherworld journey of this work, it seemed important to allow it to remain as it had been, for us and for those who had journeyed with us.
In the interceding years, we have recognized that there are many who were unable to join us to imbibe the prize of ‘The Hunt’, yet who deserve to taste an essence of what this meant. For these individuals, an aural abstraction is the highest and best that we can provide, having set aside the live embodiment, and we have a responsibility to make that document as relevant as possible. For this reason, we painstakingly went back and replaced the electronic signals with arms pounding skins, knowing that for the uninitiated listener this would facilitate a stronger identification with the motivation that had driven us.”
The two demos’ reissue aroused controversy between the fans who found FAUNA a band that shouldn’t collaborate with record labels. Why? Read a statement made by them a very long time ago:
“Firstly, to understand this dynamic you would need to know that Fauna is not a ‘band’, per se. We operate within an idiom that presupposes a certain approach to sound and to the presentation of one’s art to others, but we have never been interested in the paths already trodden. We are musicians, certainly, but this profession is secondary to our roles both as seekers and as shamans. Fauna is an effort to safeguard our own ascension, as well as to open up a world within which others may taste the transmutation of the Gray. The music industry tends not to support these goals.
Why did they sign with Aurora Borealis?
“This is a good question, and is one that we have been forced to ask ourselves many times. The dissemination of aural artifacts has always been important to us, though it has inevitably been de-prioritized as the demands of creating meaningful, challenging and engaging ritual environments asserted themselves. We have long recognized that those far-flung individuals who require the healing salve of our work would be better served by another entity, one that has taken its mission as the casting of these documents into the world. We had never really considered this, however, assuming that the compromises required would leave our efforts less coherent and powerful. We therefore never pursued label representation, and were content to send out a disc or two every month to whatever seekers had dug deep enough to find us.
When Aurora Borealis approached us with the offer to repress ‘Rain’ & ‘The Hunt’, we initially were hesitant. It took repeated assurances that the integrity of the packaging would not be lost for us to even consider this, and then we had to attain clarity together about the manner in which the work would be promoted. When these discussions had been concluded to the satisfaction of both parties we sought out packaging options that most accurately reflected our aims and the aesthetic and ecological considerations we both brought. It actually came out quite well. We are very lucky, really, to have found Andrew, as he is someone that seems to intuitively understand and believe in the work that we do. He has been quite generous with us and also very understanding of our eccentricities.
One of the things that Andrew had said to us initially was, ‘More people need to hear this’. This is guidance that we have increasingly been receiving, whether from close and trusted friends or from the spirits we work with. The universe seems to be sending us a clear signal that the time has come for our work to be spread more widely. While this was initially confusing for us, and though there was a desire to remain within the safe confines of our obscurity, ultimately we have elected to embrace this movement out from underground. It remains to be seen whether we can continue to make ourselves available for this process while maintaining the consistency we have always demanded of this project.”
How important is your ritual?
“Siberian shamans have referred to their drum, beaten in a simple and repetitive fashion, as their horse. This signified the ability of the drum to carry them away, beyond the world of the senses. As twenty-first century beings, waylaid in a maze conjured by the devastating influences of rationalism and materialism, Fauna is our horse.
Essentially a vehicle for ritual action, this project can actually be understood as the live rite itself. The recordings are documents that we share with others for use in private environments, but they must be understood as artifacts. It is an unalterable truth that the mediation involved in the process of taking something living and turning it into an object dims its fire. However, we have been told that these recordings are powerful tools, and we honor the fact that we can provide a portal for others in this age of fragmentation. There is a curious power in being able to disseminate these portable documents that can transform faraway spaces, artifacts imbued with the numinous value of our workings.
There also exist certain unique advantages to the recording process. The music itself, used as a tool for intrapsychic exploration in the live environment, is able in the recorded environment to attain to a certain purity. Because the music is channeled in a controlled atmosphere a clarity is achieved that live situations disallow. There are many variables in performance, and inevitably some degree of exactitude in the conveyance of sounds is lost. We allocate a tremendous amount of energy to the songwriting process, and value highly the ability to give the songs themselves a vibrant life of their own”.
There is a symbol that permanently appears next to FAUNA. What significance does it hold?
“We are highly appreciative of the runic significance that corresponds with this symbol. It also expresses aspects of the ogham, the pre-alphabetic signification system of our Celtic ancestors. Our sigil was chosen in relationship to these layers of meaning; however, what is of primary importance to us is the imaginal potential of this signifier. Our intention is to convey, in an entirely non-rational manner, a non-referential form that can conjure from consciousness a felt sense of all that we are. We encourage all who encounter this symbol to allow it to burn itself into their consciousness, in a non-literal fashion, and remain curious as to what will be revealed.”
The symbol was also found on the”The Hunt” cover…
“The cover of ‘The Hunt’ depicts Eve, a ritual implement and collaborator that has been with Fauna for many years. An elk skull, emblazoned with our sigil, Eve has been with us at every rite we’ve undertaken since our fateful introduction during the conceptualization of “The Hunt.”
We recognize the overwhelming importance of animals in our understanding of what it means to be human. Our kind has always lived in a keen observation of and affiliation with animals; it is potentially the most horrifying aspect of the great tragedy of modern civilization that we no longer interact with wild animals on a regular basis. It should be self-evident that humans cannot live in an environment completely surrounded by other humans and human-created artifacts and stay sane. We require the Others in order to be in relationship to ourselves. We have been driven mad as a species by aloneness, an ache that the vague consolations of domesticated ‘pet’ ownership cannot truly salve.
Elk is not the totem of Fauna, as we require a multivalent relationship to the faunal world to understand our place in this nightmare. The majesty of elk is extremely inspiring to us, and encountering them in the Hoh rainforest has been a bounteous gift to our psyches. We were gifted Elk tooth necklaces by a Medicine person that we sought for our work with The Hunt’, and we recognize that these animals are asking for us to sing them. However, we have worked with many different animal forms in order to gain an understanding of ourselves and the process of Life, and we will continue to do so.”
About FAUNA’s relationship with: Black Metal, Satan, Christianity:
“One of the fundamental attributes of Black Metal is an anti-modern stance, an intuitive rejection of civilization and the desire for its destruction. Whichever direction the original impulse went in, it seemed to retain that basic critical framework. You can see this atavistic tendency in the themes of pagan retribution and the fetishization of Nature, both of which have been ubiquitous within the Black Metal milieu. This basic critique was also combined with a strong antipathy toward Christianity that usually (at least in the early years) meant a tendency toward Satanism. While we have tremendous respect for those early pioneers, we do not fall within this tradition.
Part of our rejection of Satanism relates to time. For one thing, the spiritual forms that resonate most deeply in us are older than Satan. More importantly, however, our cosmology stresses an atemporality that resists the historicization of mythology. Judeo-Christian thought, which birthed the figure of Satan, represents the apotheosis of the entry of human consciousness into a time-bound understanding of our world. Previous to this, humans embraced what Mircea Eliade wrote of in his text The Myth of the Eternal Return: a mode of being that facilitated an ahistorical engagement with the mythic structure, a doorway into becoming contemporary with one’s Gods, a recognition that the life one lived and the one enjoyed by distant ancestors were the same. This is the fundamental religious structure of humans, found in all pre-civilized peoples in one form or another. Christianity’s positing of a chronology of cosmological events that exist in time destroys our spiritual faculties.
One of the deformations of consciousness that is connected with this is a strong emphasis on duality, the inability to tolerate the shades of gray which reality ultimately is. To paraphrase Paul Shepard: one aspect of maturity is the ability to affirm ambiguity, a development that the ontogenetic crippling we experience as civilized people renders very difficult to achieve. Christianity shackles us to a perceptual lens that can conceive of things only in terms of duality, apparent in its focus on good and evil, heaven and earth, and, most importantly for our conversation, Jesus & Satan. This duality is part of the legacy from which we would like to break free, moving instead towards a pluralistic embrace of our world and the nuanced shades of meaning that elude reductionistic ideologies.
Perhaps the ultimate reductionism exhibited by the Judeo-Christian paradigm is monotheism, the facet of most ‘world religions’ that lends them their unique virulence. The sense that the multivalent world we inhabit could be attributed to one deity is an obvious failure of understanding, and the rabidity of those infected with this madness to ‘convert’ others an obvious signal of its destructiveness. When humans had multiple gods they were capable of abiding multiple truths at once, and when the landscape was intimately connected to our relationship with spirits and ancestors we recognized the fundamental truth that, in the deepest possible sense, All is One. Christianity works against this psychic assimilation of the world and the personal integration it offers, limiting the individual instead to a puerile obsession with ‘good and bad’. Satanism simply capitulates to this essential logic.
Thus, Satan and Christ are only two forks of the same tongue. What we want to stress is that Satanism relies upon and supports the Christian worldview. It exists within their framework and strengthens their reality. As creatures inculcated within this Christian gestalt, we have a hard time thinking outside of it. Satanism, however antagonistic it might seem to Christianity, does not exist outside Christianity, nor does it threaten Christianity.
All of this notwithstanding, we do recognize the mythic potency of Satan and embrace the Luciferian principle he represents. Most if not all mythological systems have a trickster figure, the animal or theriomorphic deity that in some way rebels against the established order, often seeming to relish confounding humans with inexplicable mysteries and unsolvable problems. Lucifer is the questioner, the one who refuses to accept truth as given, and as such wields a power that should be sought by all individuals.
What we seek to connect with, in contradistinction to the abstraction of the Christian faith, is the numinous power that resides in our blood and rings in our ears. This force, which opens our eyes and then speaks to us in ways even we cannot comprehend, is atavism. These are the ancient ways of being that do not need to be recreated; they are there, waiting to spring up through us if we only open ourselves to their light. These intransigent human potentialities are like the weeds that perennially spring up between the cracks in the pavement. We do not need to plant the weeds, nor do we need to tear up the pavement. If we cease thwarting natural processes the balance will be restored.
One of the other primary attributes exhibited by Black Metal is the expression of raw, visceral pain at the dreariness of our modern existence. We believe that humans have a deeply embedded notion of how we are supposed to be, and how the world around us ought to be. These are genetic expectations, conditioned by millennia of adaptation and refinement that took place in the wild and gave birth to the human soul. Yet the abjectly profane modern world around us ceaselessly disappoints these notions, and the tension between what our inner animal demands and what the outer world denies results in psychosis and misery. Through our music and performance we attempt to literally recreate this world that is almost forgotten (at least to the conscious mind). Our goal is to create, in a real and transparent way, a transcendent space where we can be animals again. This allows us to take part in our shamanic legacy of communication with the animal and plant kingdoms, as well as the world of the spirits. The idea of a nascent god within each of us, within each animal we encounter, within each stone upon the path; this is the true threat to the sky god. The crux of our atavism is this process of our inborn desires rising up unbidden toward manifestation. In seeking to honor these instincts we challenge the hegemony of the modern world and pay tribute to our ancestors, for this is our true human path”.
What other musical inspiration does FAUNA have?
“We draw from many sources. Obviously, Doom Metal has been an inspiration, as has primitive music from around the world. Apocalyptic Folk, Ritual Dark Ambient, Tribal Industrial, and various religious musics also shape our consciousness.”
And besides musical ones?
“Studies on shamanism and archaic religion, primitivism, plant spirituality, consciousness studies, and Buddhism are all important contributors to our body of knowledge. The study and practice of early living skills has helped to shape our understanding, as well as providing many of the ritual artifacts that are integral to what we do. First and foremost, however, we trust our instincts and dreams to guide our work, and seek counsel and inspiration in the natural environs that we dwell within and serve.
We integrate what we do as Fauna into our daily lives, which includes our practice of spirituality. The rites and ceremonies that we undertake, including the relationship we have developed with our spirit guides, have a strong influence in the decision-making process that shapes our creative output.”
Why is your musical shape so aggressive? Is it fury, rage?
“Rage. Yes. A burning ire lives within our hearts, the bitter taste of revulsion and despair, necessitating the psychic maelstrom of Fauna’s ecstasy. Anger, truly lived and integrated, kindles the brightest purificatory pyre, our offering to this wounded sphere. Fauna is an invitation, both to ourselves and to those who interact with us, to enter the organic recesses of our beings, throwing aside and trampling the conditioned responses to the world that drown us. These conditioned responses, expressions of the traumatized psyche that lives within us, are frequently misinterpreted as expressions of our animal nature. They are in actuality a manifestation of the animal’s frustrated movement towards wholeness and meaningful engagement. The unrealized quality of our interior being quails for a righting of what’s gone awry; this necessitates a spontaneous catharsis of destruction, the creation of a space for the animal within to be what it knows.”
Being asked a while ago about the future of FAUNA, the answer came out very bombastic…
“The live rite is what we conceive of as Fauna’s essence. We need always make space for the frequent and impassioned embodiment of spiritual communion with that which escapes our understanding. We invoke spirits and embody archetypes to evoke the essence of our lived experience as wild beasts on this Earth, and of the timelessness of our consciousness. This atemporal approach can sometimes interfere with the goal of documentation.
We have thus prioritized the enactment of the various stages of this ritual unfolding over the issuance of artifacts relating to what has already occurred. We enacted our 3rd Cycle (Avifauna) across the West in MMVII, and followed this with the 4th Chapter last year (MMVIII). Both of these are album-length performance pieces that will eventually be recorded and released. We are going to revisit “Avifauna” in spaces across the West Coast at a series of engagements this Spring and Summer. We are looking for assistance with a European sojourn in the Fall, and in Winter we will likely bunker down and attempt to document our work of the previous years, having been told in no uncertain terms that it is our current task to make these works available to others.”
Does the new album’s concept have to do anything with birds?
“Yes, Avifauna is a description of the flying animals, the birds. Avifauna is an exploration of the themes of flight and transcendent journeys to the Otherworld as a winged creature or as taken on the back of the Harpy or other flying figures. Our research into Shamanic lore and as well as the variegated spiritual traditions of this world led us to consider flight as the preeminent symbol of transcendence, and the bird as the ultimate harbinger of the otherworldly journey. Having declared our intention to the world to explore these themes, the bodies and meanings of many bird creatures were shared with us, leading us to the deepest possible exploration of the relationship between the human and our aerial brethren.”
And after many detailed answers filled with meaning given by FAUNA along the years and excerpted here, we got to the end of 2011. Things moved more or less in the proposed timing, what’s important is that FAUNA is ready to share with fans a new ritual.
Greetings, Echtra and Vines. I’m glad to meet you. How do you find the material above? Is it still actual, do you still find yourself in the statements released a while ago? Is this a complete image of what FAUNA is to you?
“The philosophical orientation of the Fauna project has remained remarkably consistent over our 7 years of existence. Many varying interests have played a part in our evolution, but the primary thrust of our project has stayed its course.”
How are the present days seen from your continent, from the forests of Cascadia? Does the economical recession affect or influence you, tomorrow’s concerns, globalization or the more or less correct policies of the ones ruling the world?
“Economics does of course impinge on our lives, and also unfortunately exerts an influence on the development of our projects. ‘The ones ruling the world’ have unfortunately driven us towards a very desperate end, and this will certainly affect our expression in every way. It is perhaps worth noting, however, that the process of domestication and settlement itself underlies the unsustainable situation we’re in. The cataclysm we face is inherent in civilization itself, rather than an unfortunate byproduct of particular policies or certain governmental processes.”
In the last years major catastrophes kept taking place all around the world: volcano eruptions, floods, earthquakes, fires, diseases… is the end of the world really coming? Were the Mayans right? Should be afraid of something?
“It does seem clear that things are spiraling into greater dysfunction and disorganization, and feeling afraid would seem an appropriate response to the precariousness of our situation. As mentioned previously, our species is a Pleistocene animal and is best suited to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The experiment we have enacted, which has come to be called civilization, is a dismal failure on all levels. It will never last, and our Earth was never meant to sustain human populations of this size. A massive die-off is unavoidable, and we enthusiastically support the rebalancing of embodied energy on this planet, though we know it is unlikely we ourselves would be spared.”
We reached 7 billion on Earth. Is this overpopulation a threat? The resources keep decreasing, imbalances are everywhere, we forgot to respect nature, to communicate with it, to be part of it… we even got to believe nature is part of what we can dominate, defeat, conquer… we keep running, out of inertia, after shadows we can’t even identify or recognize… we just run… The system tends to dominate and destroy individualities, the human becomes a clandestine survival mean and banality overflies a too ignorant, indifferent world that relates to completely outdated values… Could meditation be a way through which we could return to simplicity, normal landmarks and clear morals? Is this homo sapiens sapiens evolution a step forward daily or day by day we irreversibly involute? Can we see a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel?
“I can’t pretend to understand everything you are speaking of in this flurry of queries, but I do think I understand the general thrust and the implicit philosophical position you’re pointing to. I am taken with the imagery of running ‘…after shadows we can’t even identify or recognize’, and resonate very much with this identification of the vacuity of modern life and the confusion of the postmodern psyche.
As a meditator myself, I do have a great deal of confidence and basic trust in this kind of spiritual practice. The habitual patterns and conditioned tendencies that make up much of human behavior can only be transcended through the embrace of something deeper, a primordial consciousness that we share with the animal and vegetal worlds. This way of being can be reached through meditative processes, and in this way we can travel back through evolutionary time and reach something more intrinsically related to who we really are.”
Can religion and spirituality intersect somewhere? Can they be complementary? Where does one begin and the other end? This being said only if we accept not relating to parallel universes…
“Generally speaking, religion can no longer minister to the spiritual needs of human beings. All religious traditions now carry within them the seeds of their own irrelevance, as the conventional and circumscribed rites they dictate can never facilitate the unfolding of the true human person. It is perhaps useful to employ the distinction used in the history of religions, the differentiation between the esoteric and exoteric forms of religious tradition. Mircea Eliade has written convincingly on the way in which all religions have within them an exoteric form, or the outer shell of the religion, as well as an esoteric core that is not reducible to the dogma of the public face of each religious form. This esoteric pith of all religions can offer the seeker much in the way of inspiration, if we can see through the stolid forms of their exoteric skin.”
Enlighten me: is Cascadia a territory that should be separated by the rest of America? Can we draw comparisons with other regions from the world, maybe?
“We have written elsewhere of our relationship to the Cascadia concept. I will only offer here that we are more drawn to Cascadia as a mythic archetype than as a political strategy. We affirm the need for the human animal to have a deep relationship with the land, apprehended through daily reconnection and myths of our interwoven destinies”
Slowly, we get back to FAUNA… How come this term? Is there a semantic the fans of your artistic concept should understand? Can FAUNA be seen without the connection to nature?
“No, Fauna could not be meaningfully understood without reference to the Earth from which we’ve sprung. The word ‘Fauna’ reflects our allegiance to our animal brethren, and our sense of alliance with all other animals. The understanding of humans as a separate species unrelated to other animals is anathema for us, and we hope to spark in others a reverential and familial kinship with the whole of the animal world.”
The band was founded 6 years ago, yet it has released only 2 albums so far… Why didn’t you allocate more time for FAUNA? Were your other projects more important?
“Fauna rituals require elaborate and incredibly long periods of preparation, and we are also very busy individuals. I wouldn’t say that our other avenues of expression were more important, per se, but rather that as modern people we cannot always offer the Fauna project the time it deserves. Those who have attended our live events can attest to the fact that the execution of a Fauna rite, which is what eventually becomes an ‘album’, are certainly much more intensive endeavors that what a normal band goes through in the writing and recording of an LP.”
Please tell me thoroughly about each musical project that has something to do with FAUNA members…
“We each enact a solo project, with Echtra recording and releasing albums documenting live ritual actions and Vines having performed multiple times. We have been involved in other projects together as well, including Threnos and Fearthainne. All of these various veins speak in some way to the same mythos as Fauna, and reflect nuances of our spiritual and philosophical orientation to life.”
The new album will be released at the beginning of next year. 74 minutes, a track and two interludes… same concept as structure, don’t you think? How does “Avifauna” sound, musically speaking? What does the stylistic change consist of?
“As an aural document, ‘Avifauna’ will not be surprising to those who follow Fauna. The production values are certainly higher, but fundamentally it is the same voice as our previous works. There has been the addition of cello and violin, and we recorded the drums and electric guitars in a music studio, so things sound fuller and lusher. In addition I think it is far and away the most coherent and integrated creation we have conjured thusfar.”
Did you have to accept bigger compromises so your album would be released at a label?
“The compromises have been surprisingly few. Our initial orientation towards releasing music was to create our own packaging, laborious and time-consuming as that was. We distributed our music ourselves, much of it in the gift economy, and avoided any profiteering by companies and corporations. Though we have had to accept that the money economy now benefits (however infinitesimally) from Fauna’s existence, the aesthetic integrity of our products has remained largely untainted.”
Haven’t you received offers from bigger labels, isn’t your music interesting enough for labels that would offer you massive promotion but also a worldwide distribution? Black Metal is really on top… Southern Lord or Profound Lore has quality bands…
“We’re certainly open to being released by a label with wider distribution, but prioritize working with labels that are willing to honor our vision. Before we agree to collaborate with a label we make sure they are fundamentally in agreement with us regarding aesthetics, and strongly prefer to work with individuals with whom we are personally familiar. We have not intentionally chosen to work with smaller labels, but our choices have been guided more by intuition and necessity. We will see if there are shifts in this pattern in the future.”
I didn’t have the chance to see FAUNA live, but those who saw you highly praised you… What’s the difference between FAUNA in studio and FAUNA live?
“Fauna’s recorded output is a shadow of the musical/spiritual/performative rituals that give rise to the music itself. We’re entirely dedicated to the live event as Fauna’s true manifestation, and look upon the albums benignly as artifacts for those far-flung individuals that cannot attend our live rites.”
I understood you’re 4 on stage… How can you describe me the actual FAUNA ritual? What differs from your first stage apparition? Who are the other two members, do they play in other bands?
“Yes, we generally draft other musicians to round out the live Fauna line-up these days. This was not the case in Fauna’s earlier incarnations, and we performed as a two-piece for many years. We have also designed rites in collaboration with other performers, most notably Lina McLean, who are not so much supporting musicians as they are co-facilitators of the ritual we are enacting.”
I want to believe that after the new album will be released, you will consider organizing some tours… Where would you like to play? In which locations and places in the world?
“Yes, Fauna is certainly interested in bringing something of what we do the broader world. We are interested in a European outing in particular, though the complexity of bringing Fauna to another continent is a bit mind-boggling.”
Could a FAUNA ritual resonate indoor as well as outdoor? What would the differences be?
“We strongly prefer to perform outdoors, in an environment in which the depth of our relationships with the rest of the phenomenal world can be given their due, though more recently we have been forced to design live events that resonate within four walls. We enjoy the challenge of creating environments conducive to the spiritual journey, whether they are far off in the wildnerness or in the middle of a modern city.”
What importance does the booklet and album cover have for you? Does imagery have its role in FAUNA? We already talked about symbolism.
“Yes, aesthetic concerns are very important to us, potentially as important as the music itself. The product that is produced to represent Fauna, the artifact that will be held in someone’s hands, is carefully attended to on all levels. Many different strata of meaning are considered, and we strive to create something that will speak to the depth of one’s being.”
Can we speak about FAUNA fans? Do you receive messages, communicate with fans, take into consideration their recommendations?
“We have a few committed followers, who we prefer to consider collaborators rather than ‘fans’. Some of these individuals have gone to great lengths to mark their connection to Fauna, including tattooing their bodies and in others ways transforming their lives to reflect the influence of what is ‘Fauna’. We are indebted to these individuals for continuing inspiration, direction, and comraderie.”
Who are Echtra and Vines besides the music they’re creating? Are you sociable people, do you have friends, family, children? How does a normal day look like for each of you?
“We prefer to allow the mythic characters of ‘Echtra’ and ‘Vines’ to have their existence independent of the material realm. The individuals behind these monikers are in many ways modern people like any other: fathers, lovers, and individual people dedicated to contributing to their respective communities.”
Can we accept the idea of dreams transforming into visions? Do you believe in dream interpretation?
“Literalistic dream interpretation largely misses the importance of dreams as psychic signifiers, and though we are highly interested in dreams and seek understanding from our dream world we avoid interpretation as a ‘factual’ enterprise. A somatic process of dream archeology has been very revealing and transformative for us, and we are continually dedicated to understanding ourselves more deeply.”
Thank you for the opportunity to enter the FAUNA dimension! I wish all your wishes would come true! A last question: what does the Underground Spirit mean for you?
“Thank you, Doru! Your questions were thought provoking and awakened much curiosity and inspiration. We wish you the best as well, and hope that we will be able to join you in Romania in not too long.
The Underground Spirit, for us, is a way of weaving together a sense of the obscurity that necessarily accompanies true art with the embodied understanding of ourselves as earthly creatures. The chthonic reality of our existence, our ability to sink into the earth and remain in deep communion with the soil and energy of the land, mirror our commitment to remaining true to our artistic vision and ourselves.”
Questions: November, 2011; Answers: September, 2012