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20 Years Ago: THOU SHALT SUFFER release Somnium

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20 Years Ago: THOU SHALT SUFFER release Somnium

I find it easier to write instrumental music, as lyrics and words do not "come" as easily to me as music does. Initially, I had five lyrics for this album but, as I mentioned above, many things have changed since I started, so I chose to use only one of them. Despite the few sentences that are sung on the album, I still regard it as instrumental. I have also left out track titles and more or less kept it clean of anything but the music. My intentions have become, during the years I have been working with this, to make an album with contrast and atmospheric range without making the themes too concrete. Also, considering the concept Somnium (the dream), the themes are themselves abstract and do not portray concrete views or atmospheres (only vaguely).

Ihsahn interview, The Lodge, 2000

THOU SHALT SUFFER - now Ihsahn's (EMPEROR, IHSAHN) solo project - released Somnium on this day in 2000 through Candlelight. A complete departure from the death metal on their 1991 demos, Somnium is a symphonic ambient work.

Thou Shalt Suffer was the name I worked under when I chose to do this solo album in 1991 and, even though many things have been re-evaluated, re-arranged and changed since then, I did not see the point in changing it now. After all, the contents on the album are from different periods between 1991 and 1999, so I preferred to keep some things as they were. If some should find this misleading by any means that will have to be their problem.

Due to my gradual enjoyment of soundtracks and classical music, I have found it very appealing working with this kind of instrumentation and arrangement. I think my ambitions for this album have outgrown each other through different "experimental" periods and they probably would have kept on doing that if I had not chosen to finish this once and for all. I feel I have learned quite a bit from this process, both musically and technically, as I have done this only in my own studio, except the mastering at Strype Audio.
As for technical details: since I have 6 outputs on my JV1080 and 16 on my E4XT Ultra, I did not have to record this physically down on multi-track tape or HD. So I mixed it down to DAT with a rather unconventional loop through an MPX1 and an Art tube pre-amp.

Ihsahn interview, The Lodge, 2000

...I'm not at all embarrassed by it, but the sonics of that, it was created on this old Roland sound module I happened to have. Compared to what you can do now with sample libraries and all that, it doesn't really hold up to par. For me that was really just a long shot, it was just me wanting to learn more about orchestration. I had absolutely no formal training and it was basically done all by ear. I would have done that quite a bit differently today. It was quite an ambitious project.

Ihsahn interview, Metal Underground, 2012