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[IMAGE: Devil Doll]
The Theatre of the Mind
Karsten Hamre of Penitent looks into the magic and mystery that surrounds the enigmatic Mr Doctor and his band Devil Doll.

"A man is less likely to become great the more he is dominated by reason...
few can achieve greatness - and none in art -
if they are not dominated by illusion"
- Mr. Doctor

Devil Doll has to be one of the most bizarre, frightening, confronting and satisfying bands in existance. Their music is a chilly assault on the senses, a unique and possessing atmosphere one seldom finds in music today. There is simply no way to explain in details the feelings and emotions this superior art gives us. To fully understand what this music is capable to give you emotionally and spiritually, you have to dive deep within the world of Devil Doll, for it is indeed a world of its own.

Who is Mr Doctor

The unusual and unpredictable music of Devil Doll is an elaborate tapestry of styles, a surreal exploration of the unknown territory that is the Ďtheatre of the mindí. Intense and dramatic, the Devil Doll experience spans the broad spectrum of music and emotion. Comparison is virtually impossible.

Those with "philosophical reservations" about the name Devil Doll should note that it comes from an obscure 1930s American melodrama, and NOT "the devil" of Biblical infamy. While pervaded with Gothic and often spooky elements, the music and lyrical content of Devil Doll is NOT "Satanic".

The first time I experienced the truly magnificent music of Devil Doll I was literally possessed by something which is close to artistic perfection. When I listen to such an powerful expression I almost canít believe what my ears are hearing and my soul is experiencing. One question keeps popping up in my head; What kind of mind is capable of creating this astonishing piece of art?

The man behind it all, Mr. Doctor, is a very mysterious character. He has never given any interviews nor has he been in the media spotlight in a long time. On the 8th of March, 1992, excerpts from ďThe Sacrilege Of Fatal ArmsĒ performance of four days earlier were broadcasted by Slovene National Television, along with a heavily censored introduction by Mr. Doctor.

Only a few articles about the band have been published various places on this earth, but none give the answer as to who Mr. Doctor is, nor will this article. Nevertheless, this article is meant to open up some doors into the mysterious world of Mr. Doctor.

To obtain information about the band and the mastermind behind it, Mr. Doctor, could be compared to the quest for the holy grail. On this quest, I contacted the bandís fan club, which is located in Venice, Italy. (Mr. Doctor himself lives in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.)

"The Devil Doll sect" began in 1987 under the guidance of Mr. Doctor. In those early days the band was split in two parts - one based in Italy and the other one in Slovenia. In the same year the band recorded "The Mark of The Beast" but only one copy was pressed, a copy for which Mr. Doctor handpainted the cover and kept for himself. In 1988 the band began working on "The Girl Who Was Death" (with producer Jurij Toni, who is most known for working with Laibach), a suite in seventeen parts that explored themes from the cult British TV show "The Prisoner". In 1989 the album was released by the fanclubís own label, Hurdy Gurdy Records. This was followed by a second live performance of "The Girl Who Was Death", and at the concert 150 of 500 copies of the album were given away to the audience, while the remaining 350 copies were destroyed by Mr. Doctor.

Two other releases also saw the light of day in 1989 - "The Black Holes of The Mind" and "Eliogabalus" - which were released together. The two sects of Devil Doll were united in 1991 when the war broke out in Slovenia. After this, Devil Doll recorded the superb "Sacrilegium", which were released in 1992. In 1993 "The Sacrilege Of Fatal Arms", the soundtrack to a film written and directed by Mr. Doctor, was released and 900 copies were sold out within 72 hours.

All this was done without any advertisement at all. Tragedy struck Devil Doll as they were completing a new recording in Tivoli Studios, Ljubljana. A fire broke out in the studio and the building was completely destroyed. The band escaped, but the sessions for "The Day of Wrath" were lost forever. This disaster was just another chapter in one of the strangest stories of musical history. The material was re-recorded in September 1994 and was released under the title "Dies Irae".

In their first four years of existence, the bandís fanclub, with no advertising, passed the 1000 member mark, and by the summer of 1996 they had almost 3000 members from all over the world.

"In order to conquer the Future, and Destroy it! I go back - once more - into the abyss of my Nothing.
You know, the Dead have the virtue of looking like each other.Ē

(excerpt from the album Sacrilegium)

Some have described Mr. Doctor as the David Lynch of modern music. This is no small tribute to the manís talent. As much a mystery as the band, Mr. Doctor is a legendary character, cloaked in intrigue. The closest you can get to an interview with him is to send your questions to the fanclub, and hope that they are able to get the answers for you. Mr. Doctor is the total opposite of a rock star. He does not believe that "music" and "business" belong together. Heís a man totally commited to artistic purity and art as a way of life, and cares not if Devil Doll sell even one record.

Mr. Doctor insists on recording his vocals in the first take, and then in a state of trance. That way he does not know what will happen next in the performances their recordings are.

Devil Dollís music has been described as "an elaborate and bombastic collision of styles" and "a perverse, yet brilliant soundscape of some forbidden netherworld". Devil Dollís albums are a journey into the unknown theatres of the unexplored soul and mind, they are like a sick cabaret of unsuspecting and, at times, soul-possessing opera. Mr. Doctor has been cited as saying his influences include early English punk; classical composers (such as Bartok and Wagner); Bernard Hermann (the man behind the "Psycho" film score); Edgar A. Poe and Ambrose Bierce.

Devil Doll is like a drug which you canít get enough of, an intense mix of metal, opera, and classical music with gothic overtones, a sense of theatre which you canít and will not be without once youíve had your first taste of it. Lyrically, Mr. Doctor is a poet with class, a master of twisted thoughts with whom few can compare. His vocals are as life itself, constantly changing. They contain everything: growls; screams; shouting whispers; enchanting calls; a voice whispering like the wind of autumn; speeches; all in order to be able to touch you in a way which makes the hair in your neck rise, or comfort you with a possessing lullaby. Devil Doll is a superior kind of art filled with a beauty only the few who have experienced it know about. You can only find this sort of music (as Mr. Doctor says) in two places... In Heaven.... Or Underground!

I certainly didnít take a trip to heaven when I for the first time became familiar with Devil Dollís many masterpieces!!!

YOUR JOURNEY INTO THE ABYSS IS ABOUT TO START ..... YOUR DESTINATION IS UP TO YOU. THE NEXT STEP COULD BE TO WRITE TO:

THE DEVIL DOLL FANCLUB, SAN MARCO 5499, 30124 VENEZIA, ITALY


Guest Writer, Mr. Karsten Hamre.