From Record Collector - May 1994 (page 143)
Mr. Doctor has rarely given interviews. His band, Devil Doll, are totally unknown in Britain, and even in their area of Venice (in Italy) and in Slovenia), the group avoid conventional gigs. In fact, Devil Doll only came into being in 1987, yet by the end of 1991, their fan club had mushroomed past the 1,000 mark, with members spread across 17 countries, and fanatics were offering small fortunes for their early albums. In short, Devil Doll are probably Europe's most important cult act of the 90`s. Those who've sampled the music of Devil Doll, or even glanced at the elaborately packaged albums, will understand why. An obsession with theatrical/Victorian Hammer horror gothic imagery and a vicious sense of the sinister and the mysterious pervades the designs. The music is even more dramatic. A collision of musical styles, drawing heavily both on the prog rock of Peter Hammill/Van Der Graaf Generator and the sombre early 80s industrial-folk sound of bands like Current 93, Devil Doll incorporate classical, punk and heavy metal passages into their elaborate, bombastic music. The result is a dizzying assault on the senses, topped by the spineing, operatic vocals of the ban`s mastermind, Mr. Doctor. Cloaked in mystery and intrigue, the Devil Doll story is already the stuff of'legend, but now, for the first time, the truth can be revealed.
A native of Venice, a certain Mr. Doctor. first hatched his unique musical vision around, the mid-80s. By 1987, a basic line-up of local musicians had been assembled, and their groundwork was laid for Devil Doll's first project, The Mark Of The Beast; Mr. Doctor. then created a second musical collective in Ljubljana in what was then Yugoslavia (now Slovenia), where he came to the attention of local producer (of Laibach) and sound engineer Jurij Toni. Having recovered from what he described as an immersion into the labyrinth of my mind', Toni teamed up with Mr. Doctor, to record "The Mark Of The Beast" at the local Tivoli Studios. In February 1988, a single copy of the album was pressed, housed in a hand-painted sleeve; and that was that. In the spring, Mr. Doctor composed a new piece, "The Girl Who Was ... Death". A suite in 17 parts which obsessively explored themes derived from the late 60s cult TV series, 'The Prisoner', this was recorded at Tivoli in September, using Italian and local musicians. The LP was then previewed in Ljubljana when cassettes were handed out on stage. When the vinyl edition surfaced in March 1989, on the new Hurdy Gurdy label, 150 copies were distributed at a 'Prisoner Memorial Party', but rumour has it that the rest of the run of 500 was then ceremoniously destroyed. Current estimates suggest a value of ?300+, although the fan club has since pressed a limited reissue of the album without its dramatic intro and outro. Soon afterwards, rehearsals began for a new composition, 'The Black Holes Of The Mind', a 45-minute mix of 'esoteric quotations and subliminal messages'. Then in August 1989, a live performance of the Devil Doll frontman's tribute to a German composer, 'Mr. Doctor Sings Hans Eisler', taped with a view to release, but the project only reached the test pressing stage. lnstead Devil Doll returned to Tivoli in the autumn to record a new LP, but rehearsals were interrupted by the growing civil unrest. Nevertheless, the album was completed: "The Black Holes Of The Mind" was retitied 'Mr. Doctor' and edited down to fit on one side, while a new title piece, 'Eliogabalus', filled the other. The LP was eventually issued in May 1990. The first edition was limited to 50 copies and came in a die-cut sleeve depicting an old-fashioned theatre - through the holes in the sleeve, the viewer could spot inspirational figures like Arthur Lee, Iggy Pop and Vic Godard. Described as 'an authentic sabbath of musical and philosophical insanity', the LP took quotations out of magical and sacred texts and crossed them with 'ancient and damned' 'triton' harmonies; and via a more widely available edition in July, sold well in the Orient and the U.S., as well as Europe. A fan club edition, limited to 900 copies and housed in a completely different cover, was also exported - and is now selling for ?60 - while both commercial and fan club CDs were pressed. Early in 1991, proceedings in Ljubljana were disturbed when Slovenia was invaded by Belgrade troops, but Devil Doll managed somehow to tape another album later in the year. Excerpts from 'Sacrilegium' unveiled in three live performances before LP was issued the following March.
To promote it, Devil Doll staged a 'frightening videoltheatre performance' in the town. Slovene national TV even aired part of the show with excerpts from the band's forthcoming video, The Sacrilege Of Fatal Arms, and the first, albeit heavily censored TV interview with Mr. Doctor. 'Another visionary travel into the inner unknown', the LP prompted one American reviewer to tag Mr. Doctor as the David Lynch of modem music - praise indeed. The rest of 1992 was spent finishing The Sacrilege Of Fatal Arms, video, described as where the universe of 'Sacrfiegium' expands into a torrential sound-and-vision nightmare'; and the soundtrack CD was given a limited release the following January. Since then, the Devil Doll fan club has been busy. It has grown from the original core of nine in 1988 to over 1,000 fans from all over the world; 2,000 orders pre-empted a special fan club vinyl edition of 㓡crilegium", which was soon joined by a reissue of "The Girl Who Was... Death" both on vinyl and CD. Meanwhile, tragedy struck as Devil Doll were completing a new recording in Tivoli. A fire broke out in the studio and completely destroyed the building; the band escaped but the sessions for the prophetically titled "The Day Of Wrath" were lost forever. This disaster was just another chapter in one of rocks strangest stories - maybe Devil Doll were stepping just that bit too close to the mark. If so, only the gods can foretell what 1994 brings for Devil Doll.
(Thanks to Dave Wilson)
The Devil Doll Fan Club can be contacted at
San Marco 5499
Remember this is now an old address!