Lighting a “Secret Ambrosian Fire” with Mosiac’s Martin van Valkenstijn (Interview + Album Premiere)
Mosaic is Supreme Thuringian Folklore.
Whenever a band declares themselves to be something… different, I tend to be apprehensive. It’s not that bands and artists can be different, there are just a large set of boots to be filled, as it were. Over the past decade, black metal’s definition has become difficult to wrangle, somehow containing both Obskuritatem and Deafheaven (yeah, find another sentence which has both of those bands in it) simultaneously. So, how does an artist’s echo find itself outside black metal? Mosaic sets forth in existing as an exception to the rule. Listen to an exclusive stream of Secret Ambrosian Fire below.
Secret Ambrosian Fire, Mosaic’s second album (following an extended release of Old Man’s Wyntar), can be characterized by its unwillingness to conform. Drawing from a cornucopia of styles, be it neofolk, blackened metal, post-industrial, and more, Mosaic’s “Supreme Thuringian Folklore” can be distinguished by its simuntenaiety.
“In modern times, ‘freedom’ is a huge word, and there is not just ONE freedom,” explains Mosaic mastermind Martin van Valkenstijn in an interview which can be read below. “Everybody is able to create and live in his own freedoms — he just needs to find the Secret Ambrosian Fire.”
In this sense, Mosaic’s music follows a Borgesian path, or many paths, all at once. Echoes from the Black Forest can be heard alongside whispers from the future; the modernity of atmospheric black metal and post-industrial music coexist with ancient folkish musings.
Martin van Valkenstijn very strongly feels about this lack of classification — each artist having their own set style. “[M]usic has no boundaries, and that traditions should find more attention in this modern world.”
So, is Mosaic “Supreme Thuringian Folklore”? Absolutely. Is it not black metal? That is for the listener to decide, but van Valkenstijn makes for a strong case that it might not be.
What is the Secret Ambrosian Fire?
Secret Ambrosian Fire — can be everything and nothing, there is not just one truth — there are multiple truths — everybody has to discover.
Within this record it is the flame that keeps us alive, the will to create and the power never to surrender.
Ambrosia is the nectar of the gods, so you if you want to translate “Ambrosian” you should do it with “divine.”
Secret Ambrosian Fire is the flame and torch of Lucifer itself, the womb of the ultimate procreation, the birth of all elements — as the torch unleashed the prima materia in the moment it collided with the primeval water.
To give just three possible interpretations to your question.
In looking at it from a Luciferian perspective, do you see it as a symbol of primeval freedom?
Definitely, it is an archaic mythological symbol for the human being. In modern times, “freedom” is a huge word, and there is not just ONE freedom. Everybody is able to create and live in his own freedoms — he just needs to find the Secret Ambrosian Fire.
This freedom is reflected in the performance found on the album, which is varied beyond the scope of traditional black metal. Do you consider this to be a black metal album or is it something different?
I use the term Supreme Thuringian Folklore and that is the most suitable one in my eyes. It gives no boundaries and that is highly important for me and so it works perfectly together with the band name.
Are there specific folk tales or concepts which drive this specific album?
Secret Ambrosian Fire draws heavily on the traditional lore of the Hörselberge, a mountain chain situated in the most mystical of all German regions. Legend has it that this is the place where purgatory is located and where Mother Hulda leads the wild hunt through stormy winter nights. To the initiated, the weeds and flowers growing in these mountains can even be the key to the otherworld.
Do you wish for your album to act as a similar portal to the otherworld?
It is for sure a key to it. After several listenings it reveals more and more details, fantastic ones, that are truly not from this world.
Do you consider the Fensterverse und Nachtgespinste EP, which is to be released on the same day, to be a companion piece to Secret Ambrosian Fire, or is it meant to be taken in separately?
While Mosaic’s Secret Ambrosian Fire deals with songs and themes of the old world — Fensterverse und Nachtgespinste is a footstep into the modern world — even in visual and musical approach.
Do you often find yourself dealing with modernity in your art?
Between the lines there are actually a lot of reflections of the Modern Era. The idea behind Mosaic is — not just to sing about olden folklore, it is more a modern approach and interpretation of the themes. Like the bards did in the middle-ages, we sing about them, add some more shapes and shades — to create a modern gateway and access.
Do you feel your position as the mouthpiece for Mosaic is inherently bardic?
I think so. If this question refers to: how I tell “my stories”. But if it refers to the musical way how bards sing and perform — then definitely not. In this point MOSAIC act a bit more eccentric.
Eccentric in what ways?
It’s hard to describe, you need to see a Mosaic live show — and you need to know — how I am in real life — then you can understand what it means.
Mosaic is my vision, my life and my world — besides my family it is the highest good for me.
Though you had mentioned the freedom for those to take their own paths, what are your thoughts on musical projects which are just musical? That is to say, a musical project which is not all-consuming like Mosaic?
Music can also be fun or just a job — it depends on the subject. If the person is happy with it — it’s good, if it’s turning into a curse — he should probably stop it. The most people I know put a lot of lifeblood into their creations and that’s the way it should be. If it’s just something to go with the flow, and riding hypes — or just to be cool that’s definitely nothing I support.
What do you want the listener to take or internalize from Secret Ambrosian Fire?
That music has no boundaries, and that traditions should find more attention in this modern world.
Secret Ambrosian Fire releases December 13th via Eisenwald.