Downfall of Nur is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting black metal projects to emerge in the past few years, with a debut full-length (Umbras de Barbagia) that stole my attention and held it for weeks. I am extremely proud and delighted to present the following interview with founder Antonio Sanna, and encourage you to keep a watchful eye on this most promising of projects. When was Downfall of Nur formed, and can you recall what inspired you to establish the project?
Well, I started Downfall of Nur after the breakup of Drowned in November, another musical project formed when I was 15 years old, if my memory is not wrong. Drowned in November was not a serious project, but thanks to it, I met many people and I started to get more into the world of recording and production. Downfall of Nur was born in May of 2013 with a concept based on the Nuragic civilization and the folklore of Sardinia, Italy, place where I was born and lived my childhood, I was wanted to start a project making tribute to my homeland and by May of 2013 I had recorded the first demo “Jhanas-Nur” which was released digitally on the 11 July of the same year and later in Cassette by ᛉ dnirgal Productions.
Your influences, so I believe, stem from the Nuragic Civilization and the folklore of Sardinia. Sadly my knowledge on these subjects is extremely limited. Would you mind explaining a little bit about why you felt the desire to create music influenced by these topics?
Mostly because they are my Ancestors, my forgotten Ancestors, why forgotten? Well, it’s a hard theme but is the sad truth, many people had never heard about this civilization because many things are still unknown about it below the ground, and archaeologists don’t have money to start excavations. I felt the desire to create music influenced by this, Sardinia Folklore and the Nuragic civilization because they are topics that I feel are mine, I was born in 1996 in Sardinia (Italy) and since 2008 have been living here in Argentina. Downfall of Nur was born with the idea of made a tribute to my ancestors and to my motherland. I know very little about Sardinia in itself. Could you tell me a bit about the island, and why you believe it is such an inspirational place?
Sardinia is a beautiful island, from the awesome natural landscapes to history and culture, beyond this I’m very close to Sardinia because it’s my homeland, the place where I belong, and distance makes this feeling stronger, there are a lot of inspirational places in this world for me, but I have a personal feeling for Sardinia, is my homeland, that is all.
You decided on the 21st of March 2015 for the release date of Umbras de Barbagia. Why does this date hold such importance for you?
Why this Date? Well, the 21st of March was the spring equinox. This date was chosen because the spring equinox is the time of the earth’s annual cycle around the sun, in which day and night are equal in length, before the days finally start to get longer after the dominance of darkness during winter, and life springs forth from death. A sacred date for my ancestors and many other ancient civilizations. Umbras de Barbagia is a truly diverse piece of art. I appreciate the harsh and power filled moments just as much as I appreciate the gentler, softer parts. I would like to know more about the production of the album. Did you have a carefully laid out plan for what you wanted to achieve, or was the process more impulsive and unstructured?
It was a bit of both, impulsive without structures but keeping a limit because the finals demo songs were already finished, according to these, we added or removed sounds, details and arrangements. With Dany we had worked a lot on every single detail of the songs, experimenting a lot in the mix of every song until we reached the sound we were looking for, and it took a lot of time. By March of 2014 all the songs and the demos were finished to record and Dany recorded the vocal parts, we started working on the production of the album and it ended up being finished in early December of the same year.
Is Downfall of Nur your only musical project or can we find you elsewhere too?
At the moment I’m working on a new project focused more on experimental and 60’s folk music, it has not been released yet, for now I’m composing the first album/ep. I have to be honest and say that the cover art for Umbras de Barbagia is one of my favourite album covers of recent years. Where did you find the inspiration for the cover, and what is the story behind the mask?
Thanks! The cover of the album has its own history, in the photo a masked man in silence staying with his cane on the peaks of Supramonte Mountains is shown. The Mask is an ancient traditional mask of Barbagia which represent a pre-Nuragic divinity often associated with the figure of the bull, symbol of strength and life. This is one of the oldest divinities, represented from 3000 BC in tombs and amulets. After the invasion made by Romans and years of bloody battles, all the people who lived on the coasts and plains, went towards the mountains in the center of the island place where they could continue to worship their archaic gods, speaking their language and be free. On the cover of the album I wanted to reflect this senary, the mountains, the old cult, a shadow in time.
Despite Downfall of Nur being a one man project, you do engage in collaborative work at times. How important is collaboration to you on a personal and professional level?
Well, it’s always important. I used to write and compose all the songs for Downfall of Nur, it is a little personal project, but sometimes two minds can think better than just one. In each album there are always guest musician friends, this makes for a good working environment and the music can flow. In the last album “Umbras de Barbagia” Dany Tee (Seelenmord, In Element, Aether, ex-Inferi, ex-Dead Warrior) was the guest musician, He was the one in charge of all the vocals parts and we also worked together in the production of the album. Umbras de Barbagia has had outstanding feedback from listeners across the world. What is it like having so many people listening to and enjoying your work?
It’s just very satisfying that your music can reach the hearts of so many people or just one.
Downfall of Nur has a truly unique sound, and it would seem that you gather your musical inspirations from many varied artists. Who would you count as your primary musical inspirations?
The main bands / projects than inspired Downfall of Nur sound are Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, Ulver, Burzum, and Austere. I’m a huge fan of 70 “rock / folk, Led Zeppelin, Nick Drake, King Crimson, Vashti Bunyan, Nico, Brian Eno, Punk, Jazz, Alternative rock, indie, country, The Velvet Underground, Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Pink Floyd, Bowie, Espers, Bjork and more.
One of the things I really do appreciate about the album is the use of traditional instruments. Why these are such an important feature, and how did you decide which instruments you wanted to be heard within your music?
They are very important because certain kinds of instruments and sounds teleport mind to another place and I think this is very important. This album needed these kind of instruments and atmospheres. Long ago I was planning to add ethnic instruments and create some semi-folkloric atmospheres to give the album some detail, and this has taken place in this record. The selection of instruments is based on the concept of the album, those who appear most frequently are “Flute Quenacho” and the “Launeddas” archaic instrument of Sardinian origin.
What is next for Downfall of Nur?
To keep making music and keep the flame alive!
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