DIMENSION F3H – A Wake of Vultures
The experimental Norwegian entity that is Dimension F3H, which is spearheaded by Morfeus (vocals, guitars, keyboards, and electronic mind-manipulation), has always been an intriguing and captivating musical force to me. Ever since the debut album, the 2003 effort entitled "Reaping the World Winds", was unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses, the band has evolved into an ever-unpredictable and innovative thing with a sound and an identity of its own. The mixture and blending of different genres such as black metal, industrial, electronic music, thrash metal, and so on is simply mind-blowingly awesome. The latest album, "This Mechanical World", stands tall and proud as the band’s most cohesive, coherent, and all-around compelling output to date. Eternal Terror Live had to have a chat with the warped mind behind it all, i.e. Mr. Morfeus. Read on, fuckbags.
(Photo: Torstein Flåm)
Greetings, Morfeus. For those readers who are unfamiliar with Dimension F3H, could you perhaps provide us with an introduction as well as a rundown of its history so far? The band is a trio nowadays, right?
M: Well, is anyone really unfamiliar with us by now? We’ve been going since 2000, so people should know by now? Haha, no, just joking of course, except for the part that we actually did start back in 2000. First and foremost, as a solo project, which at that time was intended as a completely electronic project and not really intended as a live/metal band at all. As time went on tho, the project kinda developed into a full-fledged band (but with me swinging the whip and in dictatorial manner being the ruler of all things (kinda like what Sauron wanted to do)) and Dimension F3H developed into some kind of entity that would hit stages and spew out a wicked hybrid of metal, thrash, industrial, electronic mashup of genres that has become known as Bladerunner Thrash.
The band has practically functioned as a trio for several years now with various people saying hello and goodbye while in the meantime pounding those pesky round things called drums (and some cymbals too). Our last drummer threw in the towel about a year ago, and we decided to step back and eliminate the drummer ‘problem’ completely. It’s not so easy when you live somewhat out of the ‘center of the universe’ and drummers don’t grow in plenty as it is, so we will see what the future holds. We boasted that we wouldn’t use a drummer at all after the last one quit, but then again, the world isn’t as black and white as it seems sometimes, and we have decided to include a percussionist into our ranks now. That means that we will have a hybrid of programmed drums and live percussion, somewhat similar to what Samael are doing.
Do you remember how you were introduced to (or sucked into) dark and obscure music, i.e. heavy metal and its many subgenres? Was it one or more specific releases that changed your perspective on music, or was it something else entirely, perhaps a friend or something that played you a record at one point?
M: I do remember this very specifically, and it is a twofold event. I would say that my first introduction to metal was from a visual standpoint, and since I’ve been interested in graphics and artwork for pretty much as long as I can remember, I have a very clear and vivid memory of the first time I saw the Killers artwork at a poster stand in a local shop. I had never seen anything like it and I instantly knew that this was something I had to have. At this point I hadn’t really been introduced to metal music at all, and I don’t think that I even paid any attention to the text on top and what it said was completely irrelevant to me at the time (The Iron Maiden logo).
It wasn’t until I had taped a radio show (which I wasn’t allowed to listen to (not because of the content, but the sound/noise at a too late hour)) and listened to the tape the day after that I discovered two songs which was of a character and sonic intensity that was completely new to me that I would say I discovered ‘metal’, tho I had no idea that what I was listening to was actually called metal. They were just two distinct songs that I really loved listening to. I had no idea which bands were performing them nor did I know anything about their genres or anything like that, it wasn’t important to me at the time. The songs in question were "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden and "Fight Fire with Fire" by Metallica, and I guess my path was set solidly by that time…
(Cred: Dimension F3H)
Musically and lyrically speaking, Dimension F3H has never been a predictable band in the sense that all your albums are somewhat different to one another and yet they all have that undefinable F3H-quality to them, which is partly why the band is so exciting to follow. As a listener, you are never really sure what to expect, but I always find myself being challenged and entertained by them. Also, there is a lot of interesting stuff going on in the lyrics. Has that desire to experiment and push Dimension F3H to the cold and cynical edge of extreme music been there from the very beginning, back from when the band was launched?
M: Yes, yes and yes again! The whole idea and reason for starting the band in the first place was to do things that I felt I couldn’t do in the situation/band I was in at the time, and the idea of the band/project was to give myself an ‘arena’ with no boundaries where I could explore whatever musical ideas that came to mind. We have released three albums to date, which isn’t much if you judge by the years it has taken to release those albums, but it is very important to me that the albums are ‘ready for release’. With Dimension F3H being my creative outlet, it’s been very important to me to not rush things and not release anything until I have felt it ready, and in particular with the last album it’s been a thing that I have not released until I’ve been really comfortable with doing so.
I wouldn’t say that the original intent was to end up in a very cold and cynical place, but I guess you could say that there’s there the world has taken us. It’s like a journey and this is where the we have been swept off to. The world is a shitty, dark and gritty place that you can pull endless streams of inspiration to dark and dismal creations.
What was the initial motivation for forming Dimension F3H? Was there a specific purpose to the whole thing or one main reason why the band was formed back in 2000, be it a musical, ideological, or perhaps philosophical reason?
M: Well, at the time there were things I wanted to do that I didn’t really feel that I had the right setting for in Limbonic Art. It’s as simple as that really. I wanted to explore more of the electronical aspects of my writing and the project was initially meant to be an exclusively electronic project. That changed pretty quickly tho, but that was the original intent.
(Photo: Torstein Flåm)
How do you guys go about arranging songs for Dimension F3H? I know that you compose and write pretty much everything, but do you ever try things out in rehearsals or do you send the ideas and song files and so on to the others for them to learn and perhaps contribute to? Is everything more or less planned and set in stone before you start recording in the studio?
M: I do present the material to the rest of the band at rehearsals or via email, but I would say that’s pretty much solely to get confirmation that my idea is sound, not to change what I have in mind by what the others think of it.
I would say ‘to learn, yes, to contribute, not so much’. I have possibly become somewhat rounder in the edges lately tho and I feel like I’m more including than what I have been before. Motvind even has a track that he wrote on the latest album, and that’s a first after being a member of the band for like 15 years or whatever!
Everything is more or less planned, until we get in the studio and time passes and shit happens and then shit gets changed and all that stuff. I’m sure that if we did release the album 3 years ago people would be happy about it. By people I mean whoever listened to it except me. I wouldn’t, and that is important to me. I wouldn’t release anything until I was completely happy with it. I dunno, Dark Throne wouldn’t ever do what I just did with "TMW", and I would never do what they are doing with whatever they release. The point is that Dimension F3H is a band/project that needs time to develop and materialize the right sounds to invoke the right atmospheres in the music that we want to. Then on top of that all kinds of shit happens… like… life….
Are you intuitive and spontaneous when it comes to composing songs and coming up with musical ideas? I am not just referring to the here and now, but also other musical contexts that you have been or are a part of, namely Limbonic Art, Viper Solfa, and so on. Were some musical outlets more spontaneous than others?
M: That varies a lot for sure. Some songs are written and pretty much completed in a manner of a week or even as tight as days or even hours. In my most creative days, I could write a complete song in days or less. As an example of the complete opposite, there is a song on the "TMW" album that the first ideas and riffs were written more than 15 years ago. I think this could be achieved when you have no boundaries and specially when it comes to production. If you have no idea how to produce or record, then you can write with a very free and liberated mind. As soon as you start working on what a certain sound should ‘sound like’ then it opens wide open gates and those gates are really hard to close then you have started exploring where they lead to…
DIMENSION F3H "This Mechanical World"
"This Mechanical World" is an awesome release and most definitely your best output to date. I am curious as to how you view that album now that you have been living with it for a few months? Like I said, I think it rules. The songs have never been as memorable as they are now, at least not in my opinion 🙂
M: First of all, I need to say thank you. It’s a very good feeling to know that people enjoy the work that I’ve put in years of my time to achieve. I don’t listen to the album much anymore. I pick it up now and again, but having listened to that music countless times over and over, when the album is actually done, I need to take a serious break from it. Not because I’m sick of the music and bored with it, just that I have heard it so incredibly much that I need a bit of distance.
I know that I was content with it when I finished it and the last few times I’ve heard it I’ve still been happy with it. I think it’s time to look forward and get back into writing mode for whatever the next musical outpour will be!
The band has existed for 17 years now. What motivates you to keep doing what you do? Do you ever feel that you have nothing left to say, musically and lyrically speaking, or are you always coming up with new ideas and thinking of where you can go next?
M: That’s a question that’s really hard to answer. I don’t think that there’s anything specific. The urge to create comes in many levels with me, from writing music to graphic design, photography and building things from wood and other materials. I do build and use my own guitars live. There are definitely times when I have ‘writers block’ and that I feel that I have no clue what to do, but this comes and goes. At times, I have been really far down the black hole with no idea how to get out of it, but I find that taking a break, doing something else that you love, or do collaborations etc. helps to bring back inspiration.
Could you elaborate a bit on the lyrics of "This Mechanical World"? Mental images and thoughts of decay, cold and deserted streets, lifeless cities, spiritually bankrupt humans, hatred, misanthropy, and suffocating norms and conventions flood my mind when I read the lyrics to the album. I am extremely grateful that they were included in the booklet, so thank you for that!
M: To make it simpler for myself, you answer much of what I’m thinking in your question. I never liked to go much into detail about the lyrics that I write, but in general terms it is much like you describe here. The whole idea behind the "This Mechanical World" title is how we as humans have become more and more dependent on our technical achievements and when the gears stop spinning, much of the ‘civilized’ world would seize to exist as we know it.
(Photo: Dagmar Ruud)
What was the atmosphere like in the studio when you recorded "This Mechanical World"? And where exactly is Transient Lab Studio? Is it a home studio?
M: Transient Lab is my home studio. It is mostly just for me personally, but I’ve done a few recordings there for friends and whatnot.
More specifically, when it comes to "This Mechanical World", the recordings took place over a span of several years. There were multiple changes made throughout the process, for example I recorded the guitars at least two, maybe three times to improve on things I wasn’t happy with. Actually, the last guitar changes I made to the album just a couple weeks before the album was finished, as well as some changes to the vocals the last weekend before I locked the album.
I guess that’s the problem with having your own studio, you never finish…
What inspires you on a personal level in terms of music and lyrics? Do movies and literature inspire you, or maybe paintings and nature? Perhaps it is a case of you being inspired by the world around you and then building your music and lyrics on or revolving around that?
M: I would say that all of the above mentioned inspires me. I think pretty much everything that happens in life has some sort of effect on the creative outcome that you put out, in whatever way you chose to use that inspiration. The news and what goes on in the world inspire me to a great extent, as well as the fantasy worlds that I dip into on a regular basis, from movies to books to just looking at the stars and imagining things. There are so many places to gather usable material to put in the creative witches’ cauldron and conjure up wicked concoctions!
How do you look back on your time with Mayhem? You toured with those guys for a few years, right? Between 2008 and 2012 if I am not mistaken? Did you ever feel at home in that band? What was it like to perform those classic Mayhem cuts live on stage?
M: I had a really great time with Mayhem. I’ve been a fan of them since the beginning of my ‘black metal career’ and of course performing the songs from "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", "Grand Declaration of War" and whatnot was an amazing experience. They have released some of the biggest classics in the BM genre, and the feeling you get when you hit the opening chord of "Freezing Moon" and then the whole crowd explodes in cheering a moment after is completely priceless, nothing compares to that.
(Photo: Dagmar Ruud)
Given that Limbonic Art released its first few demos in 1995-1996, I was just wondering if you ever long for the days of old and the way things were back then, releasing and distributing demos and writing letters and stuff?
M: I guess you could always say that it was better in the past. What you grew up with was always better than this new modern shit that the kids deal with much better than what you do, right? I would say that the difference now is that the impact that the introduction of the digital medium has had on the music world that’s much more profound than anything that’s ever happened before and it’s ‘degraded’ music into something that the ‘lay man’ can ‘perform’ and completely flooded the market with mediocre bands that all fight for attention. The ‘winner’ isn’t the one with the better music, but the band that has the best skills at being noticed in social media.
I do of course long for the ‘old days’, but then again, if you can’t keep up with the evolution, you will find yourself extinct pretty darn quick, and I think that’s important in the digital world we exist in today. Perhaps the next Dimension F3H album should be entitled "This Digital World".
Speaking of distribution, the distribution of music has changed drastically over the past 10-15 years. Many artists operate independently now and are no longer affiliated with any labels or managers or anything like that. With all the streaming devices out there, you can basically release your own material digitally in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, it can be extremely difficult to actually have people notice your music and pick up on it. Nobody seems to be able to keep track anymore simply because we are drowning in released. Where do you stand on all this and what are some of your views and perspectives on the whole thing?
M: Well, you pretty much answer your own question, the market is completely flooded and there are way too many bands out there fighting for attention. Without the ‘help’ of digital media most of these bands wouldn’t be there at all. I don’t doubt that most or even all of said bands are out there with a genuine intent that they are artistically sound, but fact is that a lot of them really have no place and are cluttering and making it far more difficult for the bands that ‘should be out there’.
As you say, what some years ago was a major undertaking (a release) and required months of work, preparation, etc., you can now technically do in minutes on your fucking phone and then the next day you can spread links on social media, and you have released an ‘album’.
I guess there are benefits and setbacks. Music has also a lot to do with timing. Being in the right place at the right time, and the time we are in right now isn’t really a very good time to start out with shit, unless you of course are the one shithead that actually figures out the shit that none shat out before you..
(Photo: Dagmar Ruud)
Just out of curiosity, could you list a few of your all-time favorite bands or just some bands in general that have meant and still mean a lot to you?
M: Haha, well, this is a kinda hard and very easy question at the same time. ‘a few’ limits this to just a few albums, and there are so many. I will try to weed out the ‘unworthy’ ones tho. Now, by saying that I will mention only a few, I will state that the mentioned by no means mean the limit of albums that have made an impact on my life for sure.
To begin, I would have to say "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and "Powerslave" by Iron Maiden as well as "Ride the Lightning", "Master of Puppets" and "…and Justice for All" by Metallica as the ultimate albums, because they were the albums that brought me into metal as it were. They (combined with most of the discography from said bands) are albums that I will continue to enjoy and listen to till the day I die.
Apart from the aforementioned bands, bands like Mayhem, Emperor, Judas Priest, Testament, and Sepultura have had a huge impact on my life. I would also say that even tho I was introduced to Frank Zappa’s music at an early stage by my parents, it wasn’t until my adult years that I came to understand the awesomeness that Frank’s music is.
And finally, what albums are you currently listening to at home?
M: I guess I’m listening to a lot less metal than what people would imagine, mainly because metal is such a profound part of my life and mental state that when I listen to ‘music’ I take a mental ‘break’ and distance myself from my current state of mind. So mostly, I’m listening to movie soundtracks or actually watching/listening to said movies/series. I will always love and play the classics of course, like old Maiden, Metallica, Priest and whatnot, but also more modern stuff like Meshuggah (I mean, Tomas Haake, come on, WTF???), Tesseract, and also more ‘obscure’ modern stuff like Ulcerate from New Zealand, which has some really cool stuff. Their "Burning Skies" from the "The Destroyers of all" album is just… FFFFUUUUUU!!
Any final insults to the scummy readers of Eternal Terror Live before we cap this off?
M: Fuck them!! Hahaha.. Those scummy pesky readers better check out the latest Dimension F3H album tho, and the back catalogue too, or else a fucking fuck off would be in its rightful place for sure!!!! Go fucking check out "This Mechanical Fucking World", or suffer the consequences!!