Morthond and Morthound
"In the winter of 1990 Morthond was created as a one-man project of Benny Nilsen. The idea was to make visual music without any moving pictures with coincidence as a main inspiration."
"The river Morthond, also known as the Blackroot, was one of the Rivers of Gondor and was located in the province of Lamedon near the Stone of Erech."
"In 1992 the name "Morthond" was changed to "Morthound"
Not much has been written about this early Scandinavian act, although it can be said that it dealt with a lot of hard to pin genres such as industrial ambient (This Crying Age from 1991), new age and neoclassical electronics (Spindrift from 1992) and droneish kraut-rock textures (The Godess Who Could Make... from 1994). There was never quite a clear moment when you knew what to expect from the world of B.J Nilsen. A notable act from the early Cold Meat Industry and Sound Source days, since then, B.J Nilsen has been working with other acts such as Hazard and Janitor (Together with Peter Andersson of Deutsch Nepal) and has more or less moved on. Still, there was a need for more material and a new album was released in 2015, which followed a complete boxset the previous year. I'm going to find out just what started this act and how it still manages to stay alive after all these years.
Per Najbjerg Odderskov: So Benny... back in 1990, how did Morthond/Morthound come into being, and what inspired you to do music back then?
B.J. Nilsen: I think the initial drive to make music came from being bored. I grew up in the countryside and there was not much to do. My friends and I used to go to Stockholm and visit record stores or record fairs and got into all kinds of experimental music, films, e.t.c. We educated ourselves more or less and we realized that with simple means one can also make music! I remembered the first time getting in contact with a Synthesizer and that changed everything,
I knew this was something I wanted to get engaged in, but for me it was, and still is important to be curious and open to everything. Get inspired from all kinds of art.
PNO: Why did you choose the record label Sound-Source/Cold Meat Industry to release your music?
BN: I saw it in an ad inside a Swedish fanzine, "New Life Magazine", I think it was called, and it was the only Swedish type of magazine for electronic and industrial music that I knew of. There was an ad with the first releases and I ordered Memorandum and BDN. I was already into that scene and all the old masters. I made some attempts of making music up until then and somehow things changed when I got a Sampler, then the first material for Morthond was made. I sent Roger a demo and he got back to me really happy and I got two tracks on the 2x4 Compilation, then the Death Time Tape, CD e.t.c. It was really inspiring to do this as early as 14-15 year old.
PNO: Still I find, your Age of Crying album as the grand masterpiece. Talk about the how this album was made.
BN: It was composed in my old room at my parents' place in Sweden. I recall spending quite some time on it. I brought the equipment + some additional samplers and effects that belonged to RWL (who also played the indian flute on the recordings), down to Linköping to a friend of Rogers' studio. There we mixed and finalized everything, added the flute and some electronic treatments. We recorded it on a Fostex 8 track reel to reel. We had a few days, perhaps 4 to do it.
PNO: How did the listeners/fans of CMI react to your albums?
BN: Overall really positive. Listeners seemed to appreciate the difference between the albums.
PNO: You stopped Morthound, and your evolvement with CMI and started Hazard. Were you seeking newer pastures within the scene back then?
BN: Yes the scene changed quite a lot into Neofolk, Black Metal direction and I was more into abstract soundscapes and electronic sounds. Later I focused on field recordings and this is were I am now. I think it was a natural step moving forward.
PNO: The boxset is a beautiful achievement after all these years, and you managed to create another new album, Off The Beaten Track The Light Don't Shine. Was it your decision to resurrect Morthound? And for what reason?
BN: I always thought it would been interesting to create a new Morthound album if the Boxset ever happened-and it did! I tried to create the same mindset as the previous ones and draw from where I stopped. It was not an easy task to make a new record but also go back to all the old material and remaster it was quite a trip! The new CD perhaps border more into Sound design and film soundtrack. It is quite a floating record where many of the tracks merge together.
PNO: Can we look forward to new Morthound releases in the future?
BN: If there's time. I work pretty slow with my solo stuff but not in the near future for sure.
PNO: Last question, was the name Morthound from the world of Tolkien?
BN: Morthond was one of the rivers of Mordor I think. I then put a u in there for Morthound.
Thank you to B.J. Nilsen for taking the time to speak with us.