Narcosatanicos interview with Victor Kim and Tobias Holmbeck

September 10, 2014

Narcosatanicos interview with Victor Kim and Tobias Holmbeck

Narcosatanicos seem to take a distinct pleasure in a
clinical dissection of people’s expectations of what music should sound
like.  They toy with the concepts of a
lot of different styles, while tying themselves down to none of them.  The first thing that you’re likely to hear is
the menacing wall of distorted guitars meting out heavy dosages of stoner,
doom, and sludge followed by the full-tilt drums that pop and jump like frogs
in a dynamite pond and a bass that sounds like the rumbling echoes of a distant
clap of thunder.  The one thing that you
likely didn’t expect to hear is the mind bending saxophone work on the album.  It’s strange how well the horn blends into the
maddening cacophony of distortion and heady riff stew that Narcosatanicos is
quickly becoming world-famous for dishing out in epic proportions.  I have to admit that even as a veteran
explorer of music Narcosatanicos through me for a loop the first time I heard
them.  Oblique vocals mixed nearly into
oblivion, steadfast heady metal riff worship, and all of that teamed with a
saxophonist?  It took me a while to get
sold on the prospect, but there was something about the music that kept drawing
me back in for another listen, and that’s when I decided that there had to be
something to them, something I was missing or ignoring.  I’m admittedly not hot on horn sections and
it takes a lot for me to look past that, I am my father’s son and if it’s not
good old-fashioned guitar driven psych I’m likely to shut off.  Narcosatanicos is anything but old-fashioned
and while, at times they can be a challenging listen, this is some starkly
original music to say the very least. 
Turning heads and garnering attention after the release of their
Self-Titled debut album on Mastermind Records two of the three guitarists
responsible for the afore mentioned wall of guitar work, Victor Kim and Tobias
Holmbeck, took time to talk all things Narcosatanicos with me recently and I’m
totally stoked to be able to share the fruits of that conversation with you all
below.  Read on for tons of info on how
the band got started and some clues about upcoming recording sessions, plus
everything else under the moon, you know me by now…
Listen while you read:  
Who’s in
Narcosatanicos right now and what do you all play?  Is this the original lineup or have there
been any changes since you all started playing together?
Tobias:  The band
consists of Johannes Krøyer on drums, Zeki Jindyl on Saxophone, Mikkel Stenholt
on bass, and Victor Kim, Kasper Skotte and myself on guitars.  All of us also play various other instruments
in the band when appropriate.  Zeki,
Victor and I perform vocals.  The lineup
has essentially been the same from the beginning.
Are any of you
involved in any other active bands at this point or do you have any side
projects going or anything?  Have you
released any material with anyone in the past? 
If so, can you tell us a bit about that?
Tobias:  All of us
play in various other bands/projects, either whoring ourselves out as session
musicians or as permanent fixtures. 
Stylistically these are pretty all over the place… from bare-bones
folk music to black metal to jazz ensembles to harsh noise to Hindustani
classical music.  A few active examples
include Ærkenbrand, Hahn Kult, and Fallen Men.
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
Tobias:  All of us are
in our early twenties.  The others are
from Denmark, I’m originally from the States, but have lived here for many
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Did
you see a lot of shows or were you very involved in the local scene?  Did that scene play an important role in
shaping your musical tastes or informing the way that you perform at this
Tobias:  I don’t
know…  It’s really only in the last six
years or so that I’ve developed any kind of interest in the musical
community.  Before that, I tended towards
local disinterest and seeking out music that seemed far removed from what was
around me.  However, a kind of
convergence of the underground in Århus has occurred in recent years, in the
form of unifying DIY booking groups like Raum Eins and the like, and many of
the most interesting active bands sort of formed in the wake of that.  I think the focus on independence and integrity
was certainly an influence.
What about your
home when you were young?  Were either
your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or maybe just extremely
interested or involved in music?
Tobias:  I believe
most of us, besides Victor, come from families largely devoid of musicians,
Victor:  My father is
a guitarist and fortunately one with good taste.  I had the privilege of borrowing a lot of
decent gear early on.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
Tobias:  For myself, I
have these very early memories of hearing Gregorian and liturgical choirs on a
shitty car stereo.  And like, Enya or
Victor:  My father
played me Jimi Hendrix early on.  I
originally thought he was this old skinny white guy because my dad told me he
was a junkie.
If you were to
pick a moment, a moment that seemed to change everything for you, inspired you
and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities that music presents, what
would it be?
Tobias:  Hard to
answer.  To me, music discovery and appreciation
usually seems more like climbing a stair than jumping off a cliff.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what
brought that decision about for you?
Tobias:  Like many
others, shambling early attempts at wringing something out of instruments
together with a few equally musically stunted acquaintances…  I think it was fucking terrible, but it was
apparent that you could be doing a great many things in crude and repugnant
ways and still enjoy it, still find value there.
Victor:  Essentially
the same.  I found some people who were
into good music and it was just a natural progression to start writing and
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
Tobias:  I bought a
piece of shit guitar when I was twelve. 
It’s pretty mangled now, but it’s been of great use.
Victor:  Again, my
father helped me out and bought me this little guitarlele when I was a
kid.  Then, I started receiving musical
education in school and was so traumatized by how dry and boring it was that I
basically didn’t want to play music again until years later.
How and when did
you all originally meet?
Tobias:  A few of us
know one another from childhood.  Others
are somewhat more recent acquaintances.
What led to the
formation of Narcosatanicos and when would that have been at?
Tobias:  We originally
formed in 2012, when Victor and Kasper decided to drink and jam Brainbombs
riffs.  They asked Johannes and I to join
them.  Days like that became recurring,
and it almost immediately warped into this other thing…  Zeki and Mikkel joined soon thereafter and we
ended up finding a bit more clarity of expression.
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
Tobias:  There is no
overt mission statement…  Our own
common sense and understanding of one another is usually enough to keep us on
track.  It’s important to us to minimize
blatantly negative compromises, though.
Let’s talk about
your name a little bit.  I can guess at
the amalgamation of words that led to it, but what does Narcosatanicos mean or
refer to?  Who came up with it and how
did you go about coming up with it?  Were
there any close seconds or runners up that you can think of?
Tobias:  The name was
the local term for a drug-worshipping murder cult in Matamoros.  It was led by a charming individual named
Adolfo Constanzo and was essentially a church of fanatical addicts and dealers,
enthusiastically playing God through the use of narcotics and violence.  The name sounded primitive and fucked, and
sort of fit with what we were playing, being a bastardization of violent and
psychedelic music.
Victor:  As mentioned,
the band wasn’t exactly the most serious thing in the beginning, so any
alternatives that we came up were mostly fucking stupid.
Where are you all
located at right now?
Tobias:  We are based
in Århus, Denmark.
How would you
describe the local music scene where you’re at?
Tobias:  Alive and
breathing, I think.  Many
bands/performers that have been around for a while are doing some of their best
work, and various newer bands continue to push things forward.  There’s a strong culture for mutual support,
largely regardless of genre, and in general, the underground isn’t particularly
relegated to genre exclusivity.
Victor:  Lots of the
country’s best punk and psychedelic groups have sort of spawned from it.  It’s hard to see where it’s going exactly,
but it’s always interesting to follow and see new bands.
Are you very
involved in the local scene in your opinion? 
Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything?
Tobias:  Well, all of
us go to shows when we can and we’re good friends and collaborators with many
excellent bands here.  We occasionally
organize shows under various monikers, most notably events like Doom Under
Ringgadebroen and Skovgilde Festival.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any local music at all?  If so, can you tell us briefly about that
Tobias:  While there
are some venerable sound people and smaller record labels here, we’re primarily
involved as musicians, and if we release any music personally, it’s usually our
own.  It’s more than enough work for now!
Has the local
scene played an important or integral part in the sound, history or evolution
of Narcosatanicos in your opinion?  Or do
you all feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you
do regardless of your location or surroundings?
Tobias:  It’s hard to
say to what degree we’re influenced by our immediate surroundings, honestly.
Victor:  There’s
always a strong enthusiasm and openness towards new bands here I think.  A persistent interest in what we do is
motivating, of course.  It goes both ways
as well.  It’s nice that there’s never
any agenda, people show up and lend a hand when needed purely out of mutual
You all have an
extremely interesting and unique sound to say the least.  While there’s some elements of stuff that I
can recognize you all kind of took stuff apart like a Lego set and put it back
together in the way that best suited you. 
I’m really interpreted to hear who you’d cite as your major musical
influences as I can pick some stuff out, but I get the feel there’s a lot going
on that I’m not wrapping my head around quite yet.  What about influences on the band as a whole
rather than just individually?
Tobias:  Well, some
musical influences we all have in common, other things come more from individual
sources of inspiration.  Major musical
influences we tend to cite include The Stooges, Brainbombs, Can, Swans, Glenn
Branca, Electric Wizard, Suicide, Amon Düül, Huun Huur Tu, Krzysztof
Penderecki, Chrome, etcetera.  Beyond
that, I’d say we’re influenced to varying degrees by certain kinds of
literature, ritualism, surrealism and the pitfalls of mind expansion.  Generally though, we don’t consider any
particular source of inspiration to be something to aim for.
Victor:  Generally, we
have a lot of influences in common, but as individuals we naturally also have
different preferences and ways to contribute to a song.  Ultimately, it all blends together in the end
and we think it works.  We don’t really
question each other when it comes to what influences the way we play.
Speaking of being
original and having a unique sound.  How
would you describe Narcosatanicos’ sound to our readers who might not have ever
heard you all before?
Tobias:  A cacophonous
mess, really.  Genre-wise it’s a kind of
noise rock, I think.  This guy in
Copenhagen told me he thought it sounded like something involving “Hammers,
LSD, Amphetamines, and degenerate intercourse”. 
I think I’ll go with that.
Victor:  That sort of
proto-punk weird energy is there, but it draws a lot on various kinds of
surreal/psychedelic music as well as different kind of massive-sounding music;
doom and the like.
What’s the
songwriting process with Narcosatanicos like? 
Is there a lot of jamming that takes place where you all just get
together and kick ideas back and forth until you all kind of work out a song
together as a cohesive unit?  Or is there
someone who usually comes in with a riff or a more complete idea for a song to
work out with the rest of the band?
Tobias:  Typically,
one of us will bring a single riff or segment of some kind in and then we
collectively beat the shit out of it until we’re fairly satisfied.  We work out the general shape and improvise
within that.  We very rarely spend time
on completely open jams in this group; our rehearsals are grueling enough that
we usually lack the patience for too much meandering…
Victor:  Sometimes
ideas are more abstract, sometimes they’re more concrete.  Generally though, I prefer to start with a
stripped down but understandable starting point and then see what people bring
to it individually, rather than starting with telling the others what to play
specifically.  Often enough, some people
arrive later than others and a few of us flesh it out a bit first.
What’s recording
like for Narcosatanicos?  I’m a musician
myself and I think that at least most of us can appreciate the end result of
all the time, hard work and effort that goes into making an album when you’re
finally holding that finished product in your hands.  But getting to that point though, getting
stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want it to, especially as a band
can be extremely difficult to say the least. 
What’s it like recording for Narcosatanicos?
Tobias:  Hard work,
typically.  As much as possible, we want it
to be indicative of the live experience, which is a difficult sound to nail
down while retaining clarity.  All of us
being face to face during recording is essential, recording individually would
be useless, there’s just no connection.
Victor:  We are not a
band who enjoys doing very many takes of the same track.  Usually, three is the absolute maximum…  It’s important for it to feel spontaneous and
intuitive to us.  It loses a lot of vigor
if it starts to get too clinical.
Do you all prefer
to take a more DIY approach to recording where you all handle the technical
aspects of things more on your own time and turf than having to compromise or
work with anyone else’s ear?  Or do you
all like to head into the studio to record and let someone else handle
everything else, so you can just concentrate on getting the best performance
out of yourself and things sounding the way that you want them?
Tobias:  A middle
ground I think.  The sound engineers
we’ve recorded with have been good friends of ours that have seen us live many
times.  They know their respective
studios well and are essential in an optimal recording setup.  We are entirely involved with everything
throughout the process, though.
Victor:  As much
freedom as possible during recording is preferable, of course; Control is
important and we honestly don’t react well to being bossed around.  That can be frustrating for certain people,
like the occasional disgruntled venue sound guy.  But for recording, we purposefully use good
people who know how we work and that goes a long way in making it enjoyable.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into working out exactly how a song’s going to sound
when you head into record, or is it more of a situation where you all get a
good skeletal idea of how it’s going to song while allowing for some room for change
and evolution during the recording process?
Tobias:  Definitely
the latter.  Improvisation keeps it alive
and intense, but we almost always have a framework to build on.  Some songs though, like
‘Halluzinationsrausch’ on the first LP, just come into being of their own
accord during the recording process.
Victor:  Many times it
would probably be a lot different if people didn’t play like they did during a
particular take with last minute suggestions or random improvisational ideas
becoming the final formula.  Of course,
there’s still a lot of room for improvisation when we play live, but we also
tend to lean a lot on how the “final” take goes.
Do psychoactive or
illicit drugs play any role in your songwriting, recording or performance as a
band?  With a band that combines the
words Satan and narcotics it would stand to reason that you may perhaps intake
or imbibe a little something, something to say the least.  I’m curious if you all utilize the altered
states the aforementioned substances produce?
Tobias:  Not everyone
in the band indulges in drugs, but for those of us who do I’d say it’s a
definite influence.  For myself, extreme
hallucinogen use has certainly impacted the way I approach and experience the
sonic, visual and conceptual aspects of a group like this.  The immersion in cacophony can, at its most
potent, be an experience not altogether dissimilar from the self-annihilation
attainable through the hallucinogenic state. 
To me, the best of it should be sonically reminiscent of a bad trip; the
realization that the experience is utterly out of control and that you are
Victor:  Drugs have
definitely been involved in both making and recording a lot of songs.  At the first concert we played, we and half
of the audience were tripping on mushrooms.
You all released
your debut album this year, the self-titled 12” Narcosatanicos for Mastermind
Records limited to 500 copies.  Can you
tell us about the recording of the material for Narcosatanicos a bit?  When and where was that recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for
you all?
Tobias:  It was
recorded over two separate sessions in two very different studios, Cable Hell
and Sonic Studio, by Jonathan Højgaard and Thomas Mee, respectively.  Both take a different approach, one recording
entirely analog in a rehearsal space in Århus, the other an old WW2 bunker
rebuilt into a digital recording studio. 
The recording of the first LP was an addled experience…  Substance and hallucinogen use, as well as
sleep deprivation, warped the process. 
Not negatively, but noticeably… 
When we were
talking not to long ago you mentioned that you all were recording at that point
for an upcoming 12” release.  Are there
any details about that you can share with us at this point?  Are you still recording that material?  Where’s that getting recorded?  Who’s recording it?  Have you all settled on a name or anything
for it at this point?  Who’s going to be
releasing it?
Tobias:  We were working
out several of the songs that will appear on the new record before the first
one was released, and have performed some of them live in recent months.  About a third of it is already recorded,
again with Thomas Mee.  It will be eight
songs and most likely be released on Mastermindrec, who also put out the first
one.  We actually already have too much
new material for the length of a vinyl LP, so we’ll have to choose what fits
the entirety the best.
Did you all try
anything radically new or different when it came the writing or recording of
the material for the upcoming 12”?  Was
it very different than the session(s) for the self-tlted album?  What can our readers expect from the new LP?
Tobias:  The second LP
will differ from the first one in many ways. 
On the first record repetition was the central tenet.  One riff equals one song.  On this second record the songs twist and
turn more, many different and often abrasive shifts.  We’re also making use of a much wider range
of instruments, Citera, Surbahar, fretless guitar, Esraj, and various
percussion instruments to broaden the variance in the noise.
Narcosatanicos have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on
a compilation or a demo that I might not know about?
Tobias:  The first LP
is currently our only release.
With the release
of the upcoming 12” that you all are recording coming up are there any other
releases planned or in the works at this point?
Tobias:  Besides the
second LP, we’re also working on a 12” EP that Copenhagen’s Bad Afro Records
will release next Spring.
With the
completely insane international shipping rates that just don’t show any signs
of letting up I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for
picking up music as I can.  Where’s the
best place for our US readers to score your stuff?
Tobias:  Currently I
think the best option is via our label’s distro.
What about our
international and overseas readers?
Tobias:  Probably the
same.  There aren’t very many of them
left at this point, but I know they still have some.
Victor:  The limited
red ones are definitely scarce by now. 
There will be another 300 on translucent orange available at some point.
And where’s the
best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news like
upcoming shows and album releases from Narcosatanicos at?
Tobias:  Despite the
limited nature of the particular outlet, our Facebook page is our main tool for
communication with anyone interested in what we do.
Are there any
major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or
Tobias:  We plan to
finish these two records, hopefully be proud of them, and continue to chase the
live high; that sort of thing.
Victor:  Hopefully
some kind of tour in Europe and generally more gigs outside of Denmark.
Do you all spend a
lot of time out on the road touring?  Do
you enjoy being out on the road?  What’s
life like touring for Narcosatanicos?
Tobias:  We rarely do
extended tours, but we play a lot of individual gigs, so we’re still on the
road a lot every month.  Despite the
obvious frustrations and drawback of traveling to and from gigs that any band
could tell you about, we largely enjoy it. 
There’s typically a fair amount of excess and like many people, reining
in the blatant self-abuse doesn’t always occur to us…  Performing live is an essential experience to
us though, and we always make it a point to be professional about it.
Victor:  We try not be
too fucked up and make a mess of the concerts, but sometimes there’s just not
much else to keep you occupied waiting to play a late gig.  Also, I’m the only one with a driver’s
license, so getting at least five hours of sleep and sobering up a bit is
required, for me at least.
Tobias:  …A fact the
rest of us both appreciate and take hearty advantage of.
What, if anything,
do you all have planned for the rest of the year (2014)?
Tobias:  Besides
completion of the second LP, we’ll be making a number of live appearances.  We will be busy.
In your dreams,
who are you on tour with?
Tobias:  Fuck, I don’t
know.  There’s no shortage of bands and
artists I’d like to share a stage with. 
Any of the above influences obviously, and a ton of others.  Mostly, I look forward to the ones we
actually play with often, like Get your Gun, Fright Eye or Acid Twin.
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to
share here with our readers?
Tobias:  Most of it’s
weird enough that it probably doesn’t make sense out of context, or off
substances.  Our friends tend to be the
ones who wreak the most havoc and make things way fucking strange on gig
nights, which probably says just as much about us as about them…
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent
like fliers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that
you’re trying to convey with your artwork? 
Do you all have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need
when it comes to that kind of thing?  If
so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?
Tobias:  The visual
aspects are definitely important to us. 
I make pretty much all of it myself, including album art, gig posters,
and shirt designs.  Most notably, we
utilize extensive visual projections when playing live, which I assembled out
of footage from basically hundreds of sources, including everything from 70’s
arthouse pornography and surrealist drug imagery to visual psychiatry
experiments, subliminal messages, brain surgery footage, etcetera,
etcetera…  Visual noise or something,
it’s not epilepsy friendly.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to and or purchasing music?  If
you do have a preference, can you talk a little bit about why?
Tobias:  We prefer to
release our music on vinyl.  It’s been
stated by so many of course, but besides the axiomatic, if subtle, superiority
in quality, it just sort of feels like that’s where the music is supposed to be
sitting, you know?  But for the sake of
availability we use other formats as well, of course.
Do you have a
music collection at all?  If you do, can
you tell us a little bit about it?
Tobias:  None of us
are obsessive record collectors or anything, we’re quite poor by Scandinavian
standards, but I make a point of buying physical records from bands I feel
ardently need the support.  Sometimes,
you hear a record or see a band live and they just have an air of importance,
of urgency, and you are compelled to help make that work for them.  The vast bulk of our respective music collections
are digital for convenience, though.
I grew up around a
good collection of music and my dad really encouraged me to listen to anything
that I wanted to when I was growing up. 
He used to take me out all the time and just puck up anything for me
that I wanted and I would go back to out house, kick back with a set of
headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover art and let this whole
trip carry me off on this whole trip. 
It’s something I never outgrew and in my growing age I’ve grown a bit
addicted to I think.  There’s just
something about having a physical release to hold in my hands and experience
along with music that makes for a more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with
physically released music?
Tobias:  Yes.  It gives you a sense of having the ‘finished’
version of an album, or at least, the notion that the music was worth the
effort of physical materialization.
There’s no denying
that digital music is here, and in a big way! 
When you combine it with the internet you really have something crazy on
your hands.  Together they’ve allowed an
unparalleled amount of communication between bands and their fan bases as well
as eradicating a lot of geographic boundaries that were present only a few
years ago.  However, while people may be
exposed to more music than ever before, they’re not always super interested in
paying for it and for a lot of people are beginning to see music as this kind
of disposable entertainment to be used and then discarded and forgotten about
when you’re done.  As an artist during
the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and
Tobias:  Well, it’s a
conflicting subject.  I guess I mostly
just feel sympathy for artists and bands who have worked hard for decades, only
to see the medium change so drastically. 
We’re comparatively young and only started releasing music after the
mass digitization of recent years, so to me it’s really just the way things
are.  But to older performers and labels
I imagine it’s been a bitter fucking pill to swallow…  I always listen to digital music the same way
I listen to physical records though; all the way through and with due
enthusiasm.  The most vital thing
release-wise, is that it’s easily available. 
Victor:  Personally, I
don’t give a shit if you download it from the Pirate Bay or pay for it in any
format.  What’s important is that it’s
available and if people want to support the artist then they certainly
can.  It’s not just the music that has
become more available.  The means of
making, recording and distributing music have become far easier with digital
media and even going old-school, with tape recorders and old analog mixers are
options available for a fraction of the original price, is something almost
everyone can manage.  For a DIY musician,
times have never been better.  If making
money from it is really that important to you, then you’re probably better of
in another business.  
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s not enough time to keep
up with one percent of the amazing stuff out there right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of?
Tobias:  We could
recommend a billion things but as far as current things from Århus goes, I
think diverse groups like Shiggajon, Ærkenbrand, Spökraket, Tongues, Hahn Kult,
SOL, Morgan Square, Acid Twin, Space Program, Headreel, etcetera have all been
interesting and compelling entities to follow.
What about
nationally and internationally?
Tobias:  Fuck, I
wouldn’t know where to start honestly. There is just so, so, so much, past and
Thanks so much for
taking the time to do this interview, it was awesome getting to learn so much
about where the band came from and I hope to hear a lot more from you all in
the future!  I swear I’m done, no more
questions from me.  But, before we call
it a day and sign off is there anything that I could have possibly missed or
that you’d just like to take this time to talk to me or the readers?
Victor:  That’s all
for now I think.  You’ve been quite
Tobias:  Thanks for
the interest in what we do.  We
appreciate it.
(2014)  Narcosatanicos
– Narcosatanicos – digital, 12” – Mastermind Records (Red Vinyl 12” limited to
100 copies, White Vinyl 12” limited to 400 copies)
(201?)  Narcosatanicos
– TBA – 12” – TBA (recording now)
(201?)  Narcosatanicos
– TBA EP – 12” – TBA (writing now)
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
One Comment
  1. Jules

    Amazing band. Saw them twice at Roskilde Festival this summer. Weird that they seem laid back and articulate, I imagined them as total LSD wrecks, haha!

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