Friday, 30 April 2010

BEWEINE DEIN MADEL [V/A]



Band: B-MACHINA (amongst other artists)
Title: Bewein Dein Mädel
Format: Double CDr pressing on the SkullLine label (Germany), catalogue reference SLCDR020-08. A mixture of styles from this label, including spoken word, modern classical, neofolk, folk, ambient, dark ambient, military, power electronics, and experimental recordings.
Edition: This release is limited to 200 copies and came in a slimline DVD case. A special edition of 100 copies came in a black and red textile bag and included an additional hand-numbered insert.

Track Listing:

CD1
1.1 Grabstein - Kraft Durch Freude
1.2 In Scherben - Ein Letztes Mal
1.3 Para-Dioxin - 1942
1.4 Kenji Siratori - Nietzsche Girl
1.5 Chaoticum - Occultique
1.6 Bleiburg - Mirogojske Svijeće
1.7 Aywasscreaming - Sewastopol Bunkerlinie
1.8 Riccardo Z. - Einsamkeit
1.9 Triton 83 - Alptaum
1.10 Melek-Tha - Le Triumphe De La Volontée
1.11 Waffenruhe - Todgeweihte (BDM Version)
1.12 Hybryds - White Snow (Excerpt)
1.13 Heiliges Licht - Crime Against Humanity
1.14 Stormfagel - Mitt Hat (Fritz Version)
1.15 Genocide Lolita - Bilderberg Silent Order
1.16 SnowW.Wwhite - Der Fruehling
CD2
2.1 Zr19.84 - Non Un Passo Indietro ! (CCCP)
2.2 Kadaver - Heart Shaped Torture
2.3 Kammer Sieben - Altes Lied (Piano)
2.4 Rose Rovine E Amanti - False Priests And Homo Nazi
2.5 Manifesto - Discipline
2.6 Zynkali - Evakuierte Zone
2.7 Forthcoming Fire - Achtung Achtung (Wir Kommen Wieder)
2.8 Ich Hatt Einen Kameraden - Fields Of Honour
2.9 Der Feuerkreiner - Sie Gehen Daher Wie Ein Schemen
2.10 Nocturne - Winifred Wagner
2.11 B - Machina - Wilkommen Zur Gewalt 5.47
2.12 Life's Decay - Orguanium
2.13 B.L.O. - End Of The Game (Baader-Meinhof Mix)
2.14 Exemtum - Infestus
2.15 The Pride Of Wolves - Will You
2.16 Fourniersches Gangraen - Steyrermühlener Klangdruck
2.17 Krepulec - Warschauer 1944

"A DOCUMENT FOR ALL FALLEN WOMAN IN THE WORLD-WARS: THEY ALL HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIFE AND LOST THEIR INNOCENCE"

A few factors have contributed to this being a good time to cover this limited edition SkullLine release on the Blog. Firstly, although the standard edition of this album has been nestling in Nazgul's collection for some time it was only recently that an opportunity arose to purchase the special edition 'textile bag' version of this release. Coincidentally, that was around the same time that Nazgul had posted an article on the label's first anniversary release "WHW", so the time seemed right to double-up on SkullLine product in April in this, the final post of another busy month. It's been a bit of a B-Machina/Bonemachine-fest recently, methinks...!

Incidentally, the special edition in the bag offers no additional music over the standard release but certainly looks the more interesting album housed as it is in the black and red woven bag. Only 100 of these were made (Nazgul's is #58).

This "document for fallen women..." is a very worth idea on the part of SkullLine, and has been reviewed in a few places online over the past year or so. The most thorough overall review that Nazgul has found is the one at www.gothtronic.com in which it is written:

"After ‘Wieler Werkstaette’ I have again a compilation release from SkullLine. This time however it is comprised over 2CD's, and instead of staying within the boundaries of industrial and noise, now also the regions of neofolk and ambient are added. So ‘Bewein Dein Mädel’ should be an even more diverse listen. Since it’s a compilation, it is again available in 2 versions, the regular version of 2 cd’s in a slimline dvd case which has 200 copies, and the more limited version of 100 copies which comes in a textile bag with red ornament and includes an additional numbered semi-glossy BDM insert.

The compilation is also “a document for all fallen women in the worldwars they all have given their life and lost their innocence”. So it’s a concept album at the same time. Upon browsing through the long track list, I come across some very well-known names like Kenji Siratori, Bleiburg, Melek-Tha, Hybryds, Stormfågel and Krepulec. The first CD starts of with a track by Grabstein called ‘Kraft Durch Freude’. It’s not a very long track, just under 3 minutes. The song is basically made up of what sounds like samples from old Hollywood movie songs and German samples. Nearing the end of the song it changes into an industrial soundscape. In Scherben makes a neofolk song with ‘Ein Letztes Mal’.

The sound changes completely with a track by Para-Dioxin with the track ‘1942’. It really sounds like Converter has made a new song, somewhat resembling the song ‘Coma’ from the ‘Shock Front’ album. Albeit with less inventiveness. Then up is a track by cyberpunk author and internet über self-promoter Kenji Siratori. With ‘Nietzsche Girl' he created his familiar style industrial noise and heavily processed vocals. The audio equivalent of his writings and is a very good track. Bleiburg is a project you never to what kind of track to expect, which is a good thing! With ‘Mirogojske Svijeće’ they create a kind of rhythmic industrial track, though not really powernoise.

Another interesting track is ‘Einsamkeit’ from Riccardo Z. This is very nice and bittersweet minimal electro, which could easily have been found on ‘Minimal Baby’. Masters of occult black noise, Melek-Tha, deliver a very successful track with ‘Le Triumphe De La Volontée’. It contains their specific brand of heavy and deep percussion and dark samples. Hybryds never disappoint, and they create again a very nice track with ‘White Snow (Excerpt)’. The combination of sensual vocals and groovy sounds is always a pleasure to listen to. Genocide Lolita creates again a very harsh track. A successful combination of distorted vocals and sick sounds. A project to keep in mind!

Since this is a double album, we skip to the next CD for more audio goodness. After the sweet minimal sounds of Zr19.84 with ‘Non Un Passo Indietro ! (CCCP)’, we get a stab of sick noise from Kadaver. ‘Heart Shaped Torture’ is indeed not meant lightly, since we get an overdose of Merzbow-like static noise. Then we go again to the other side of the musical spectrum with Kammer Sieben’s German neofolk ‘Altes Lied (Piano)’, aided by a sad sounding piano. Another interesting piece of sound comes from Zynkali, who creates a very interesting industrial soundscape with ‘Evakuierte Zone’.

Forthcoming Fire with ‘Achtung Achtung (Wir Kommen Wieder)’ needs to be mentioned, because it sounds totally different from all the tracks that came before. It sounds old school 90’ rave with some EBM elements here and there and some German samples added for good measure. Der Feuerkreiner has an interesting track with ‘Sie Gehen Daher Wie Ein Schemen’, which sounds like martial industrial combined with some mild powernoise and techno elements. The rather new project Fourniersches Gangraen, has a very good soundscape to offer with ‘Steyrermühlener Klangdruck’. It’s a mildly intense rhythmic track, which sounds like something is trying to crawl towards the listener. The album ends with a song by Krepulec, ‘Warschauer 1944’, which contains their way of combining melodies and samples. A good closing song!

With 33 songs, this is a rather big release. The second disc is the most diverse and seems all over the place, moving from minimal electro to noise to neofolk. With such a massive amount of songs and styles, sometimes it can be a bit too much variety for some listeners perhaps. But for people who are open-minded for all kinds of genres this will be an interesting and adventurous listen. Though there seems to be a concept behind the album, it’s not always noticeable with every track.

As with lots of compilation albums, not all tracks are as interesting, but SkullLine have done a decent job with most of the tracks, combining well-known names with lesser ones. ‘Bewein Dein Mädel’ is also a good representation of what kinds of music SkullLine is releasing at the moment."

What you will have noticed, however, is that there is no mention of the B-Machina track! For this we must peruse the Chain DLK site for their brief reference to the song: "More and more Ambient tunes are following, some with Noise infiltrated (NOCTURNE, B-MACHINA) but all of them with that thematically fitting Military thing."

Not much to go on there, either! However, to be fair the track is just under 6 minutes of martial ambiance, in the way that B-Machina tend to create atmosphere rather than necessarily write songs. In its opening salvo there is more than a hint of that old chestnut 'Heimatleid' surrounding the cavernous notes but the piece goes on to become a distinctive track in its own right, echoing and clanking away like a good 'un!

A rather excellent compilation on the whole, and as Uncle Nazgul now has a two copies should anyone be interested in enquiring about the standard issue version please do come forward and ask....

Saturday, 24 April 2010

An interview with Alex...

It's been a while since Honour & Darkness posted a 'formal' interview with Alex / Hugin, and in the interim you've all been very patient listening to Nazgul's inane ramblings. So without further ado, let's catch up with our hero and see what's going on in the world of W.A.R...

Q1. Hails Alex, how are you?
I feel fine thanx – I'm very enthusiastic at the moment to re-arrange the "In Durins Halls" demo :-)
 
Q2. What's been keeping you busy recently?
As always my 2 kids :-)


Also I´m still on the hunt for new ideas to create music!

 
Q3. Tell us how the release party for Uruk Hai's "Black Blood, White Hand" went down at Sturmklang?
It was great, I meet a lot of nice friends there, and we also talked about a lot of projects we will run together in future! Some fans I saw for the first time there too – all great guys!


We started at 13:00 at the Sturmklang/Steinklang store in the mountains of Austria and all ended somewhere in the restaurant 'Alpenrose' with bottles of Beer & Zirbenschnaps, so you can imagine some black metal guys storming a old-fashioned restaurant in the alps of Austria - 100% fun :-)

 
Q4. Is the proposed wooden box version of this album still expected?
The wooden box looks awesome, its available since this week – a killer release, the best URUK-HAI release so far in my opinion! A black wooden box with logo on the top + T-Shirt, 3" Bonus CD – a must have! I love the work Max did with that release, its a great support from the label owner!
 
Q5. The digipak has some great photos on it - how did you come to work with this model?
I got in touch with her late 2009 and asked her to do some pics for the new URUK-HAI album, she is a nice and VERY good looking girl :-)


I asked her to do pics in the vain of Galadriel and I think she did a great job! Sad the she was not present at the release party – I think she wold been surrounded by all the man who be there!!!

The winter photos I have taken in January this year at a ski trip I did together with Roland (ex HROSSHARSGRANI guitar player) near my hometown!

 
Q6. Any funny stories from the party?!
Hmmm....I think the funniest thing was Dea & Alex's (from KLAMMHEIM) child playing a Barby DVD in the middle of all those soooo evil Black Metal fans and band members!
 
Q7. The Honour & Darkness 'Flag Counter' has visitors from over 50 countries logged now - have you been surprised about the extent of the worldwide interest in your music?
One Word: AWESOME!!!
I never imagined that my music would be interesting for so much people from so many different countries all over the world – but it's not only my work, it's also the great style that you write all of the blogs you've posted!
 
Q8. I suppose interest from Germany, France and the US might be expected as they are big 'metal' markets, but there are quite few fans logging in from places like Brazil, Mexico and Greece. Why do you think this might be?
Yes, they are big metal markets – but I know some great fans of my music since the beginning from Mexico (Hailz Barut) too.


I know that South America and also Greece have a huge metal market too and very true fans!!!

I saw IRON MAIDEN Flight 666 in cinema and I was surprised by the metal fans all around the world especially the for us called 'exotic' countries - there are tons of real true metal maniacs!!

 
Q9. There have been a lot of re-releases in the past 12 months through Wulfrune Worxx - it must be fun working with Skogen again?
Yes its great to work again with Skogen and we have many good plans for future releases: I think it will take years to get all this stuff released!
Skoken is a great guy, he has supported my project since the beginning in 1999 – Hailz to you my friend! Soon we will release an URUK-HAI series about Tolkien maps! But first we need to finish the Split series, expect some more great Split partners!!!!

Oh - a tape with cover-versions only will be out soon too!!

 
Q10. Why is this the right time for the reissues of so many past demos from your various bands?
A lot of people asked me about these re-releases: it happened to be the time Skogen asked me about some tape releases of my projects so we started together to re-release some old, rare or unreleased stuff at his label WULFRUNE WORXXX to remember the good old days of CHANTELOUP CREATIONS and hold high the banner of true underground!
 
Q11. Do you have a feel for how well those tapes (Split Series, & Honour & Darkness Series) have sold?
From my side it sold perfectly – my part of this releases is nearly sold out, some are totally sold out. I don't know how many copies Skogen has sold or traded but I think it runs pretty good!
 
Q12. Are there plans to reissue any of the more obscure projects - Raben Nacht, Heimatleid, etc?
No I don't think so, these 2 projects are dead and gone!
 
Q13. What is happening in the world of Uruk Hai at the moment - what's planned?
These days I'm working to re-arrange the complete "In Durins Halls" demo for a new CD release, you can listen to the re-arranged title track at www.myspace.com/urukhaiofficial. This release will also include the cover version of SUMMONING´s 'Over Old Hills' and Pr. Sergiy from MOLOCH will be a session member again on this new re-arrangement!
 
Q14. I understand you had some good news recently re. the long awaited Nachtkrieg split CD?
Hahahaha, don't remind me about this odyssey!!! (see the Nachtkrieg post for more! Suffice to say, if you've been waiting to get one of these split Uruk Hai / Forgotten Tomb CDs now might be a good time...! Nazgul)
 
Q15. Are there any developments you can share with us for your other projects - what's happening re. B-Machina, Hrossharsgrani, WACH, etc?
New B-MACHINA releases are out now and I hope Max and we can do some new recordings again in summer 2010! WACH is awake – Reverend Kim did some great new recordings, we will work for a new album on OEC soon too! The new HROSSHARSGRANI / DEAD MAN`S HILL split CD is out now too at www.steinklang.and it includes VENOM & BEHERIT cover versions too!! The Debut album from HREFNESHOLT „Uraungst"will be released as a digipak CD late summer at PERCHT!
 
Q16. Is the neo-classical Elisabetha project still alive - any new music on the way there?
ELISABETHA is also dead and gone, U.B. doesn't like to do music anymore, b
ut some old unreleased stuff will be released soon too!
 
Q17. Following the "The First Ring" CD release, will there be any more Manwe music on the way?
Not yet, but I think in 2011 MANWE will release the debut album, it will be much more Metal than the first demo from 2005!
 
Q18. The Depressive Illusions label has some interesting new releases from your work - can you tell us about how this relationship began?
This need to be a secret – but support this great underground label – here you can find some really rare and good quality Black Metal & Ambient releases: www.myspace.com/depressiveillusions for fair prices!!!
 
Q19. Readers of the Blog may not be as familiar with your Solid Grey and Drachenfeuer projects - what can you share with us about them and what you hope they will achieve?
SOLID GREY is a melancholic project of Piette from DEAD MAN`S HILL and me, the debut album will be released in the end of 2010. If you like THE CURE you will love SOLD GREY ;-)


DRACHENFEUER is an Epic Ambient project with strong Soundtrack atmosphere by Jim Kirkwood ( www.jimkirkwood.com ) and me – the double CD album is finally finished, now we search for a honest label to release this album on CD!
 
Q20. How do you find the time to pursue all of your different projects and live a 'normal' family life too - do you ever sleep?!
Sleep is for the Dead!
 
Q21. Getting the right work-life balance must be tough?
Its impossible :-))
 
Q22. The Blog covered your "Rising Sun" tribute recently - do you have any other unreleased cover songs hidden away in the W.A.R vaults?
Yes, for example the ELISABETHA cover version of 'Transilvanian Hunger' from DARKTHRONE will be soon released as limited MCD!! It's a strange cover version with the lyrics translated in German!
 
Q23. How do you decide which songs to cover - are they for fun, or based on songs that have meaning for you? I only do cover versions of songs I really like a lot!
 
Q24. What other bands are you listening to regularly at the moment - who impresses you out there?
Currently I'm listening on my car stereo to SAMMY HAGAR & GARY MOORE (old stuff only) and THE CURE, METALLICA, SISTERS OF MERCY...
 
Q25. Any thoughts for the Blog readers before we sign off?
Thanx for your support all over the years – only the true underground keeps the music of my projects alive!! Fuck Off main-stream!!!

Badge of Honour

What's this, Nazul? A collection of badges from some of Alex's projects
Where can I get one? Try Alex's MySpace pages (see links on the main Blog page) for details, or some labels /distros may carry them

Following on from todays "Vogelfrei" post, it occurred to Nazgul that hidden away somewhere in the dusty alcoves of the library was a box containing a few badges relating to various projects of Hugin's, not least because of the limited edition 'Vogelfrei' badge that he recalled having seen in there some while ago.

And sure enough, after a little rummaging around said badges came to light, and form the subject of this short post. Most have been obtained directly from Alex, although some are also available from other sources, notably the T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!! store for B-Machina (http://www.tka-subdivision.org/tkasite/store.html#store)

The photo above shows the modest collection so far which, from top left looking across, are as follows:
  • Bonemachine "Vogelfrei" (limited to 40)
  • B-Machina / Meil Noir "Weiss" (limited to 40)
  • Elisabetha "Vampyr" bages
  • Hrefnesholt 'logo' badge
  • Hrossharsgrani "Sanguis" badge (which came with the die-hard version of this album)
  • Uruk Hai 'logo' badge
Besides those with limitations stated some of the others may well also be of limited quantity, and doubtless Nazgul will be reminded about these as soon as this post goes live!

Not withstanding these excellent badges, reference must also be made back to the wooden-box edition of Bonemachine's "Another Time" album, which had its own unique metal badge included in the set.

[Edit: Alex has just let me know the limitations on the remainder of the badges:
Elisabetha "Vampyr" bages LTD: 100
Hrefnesholt 'logo' badge LTD: 150
Hrossharsgrani "Sanguis" badge LTD: 100
Uruk Hai 'logo' badge LTD: 100]

VOGELFREI




Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Vogelfrei
Format: Released in a series of three digipak CDrs by the The Eastern Front sub label T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!! (Israel) on 7 July 2007. Series 1 came with a black-faced disc, Series 2 with a red disc and Series 3 with a blue disc. Five principal songs are present on each version, with two different bonus songs on each release. As well as being sold individually, there is also a deluxe engraved wooden box-set compiling all three discs together with an exclusive white 3" CD-r video disc.
Edition: Wooden box-set limited to 21 copies. In total, there were 77 copies of each Series produced (231 digipaks in total)

Track Listing:

Each disc in the series has the following tracks:
01 Feindschlag 2.59
02 Wir Wollen Krieg 9.32
03 Eugenik '43 18.54
04 ...Bis Sich Der Himmel Verdunkelt 7.03
05 Wir Wollen Krieg (Krawall Version) 6.17

Series 1 bonus tracks (black)

06. Jagdschauspiel 3.04
07. Einheitsklang 3.09

Series 2 bonus tracks (red)

06. Military:Desaster 10.53
07. Klang um Klang 0.36

Series 3 bonus tracks (blue)

06. Space Journey 25.36
07. Volksleid 4.03

3" video CDr - Der Letzte Weg 2.28

This wonderfully presented box-set is the product of the splendid people at T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!! and it really is a feast for the senses. It is lovingly crafted in a hard wood varnished box (with a most evocative - and no doubt hallucination inducing - varnish) and houses the 3" video disc on a soft-stud in the lid, with the three versions of the album nestling in the main part of the box. The Bonemachine logo is etched into the lid and as an overall package this must rate as one of the finest looking of any of Alex's releases, and that's saying something as there's some pretty stiff competition in that department. You may also remember that it was this label who released the brilliant wooden book/box set of "Another Time" by Bonemachine in a limitation of 7 copies (see Blog for 28.02.2009)

The title is an interesting one - if literally translated from the German Vogelfrei turns into something like "Bird Free", but as a compound adjective Nazgul suspects the alternative definition of "Outlawed" is probably nearer the mark.

The album was snapped up for release by Igor and Tanya at The Eastern Front and, as they noted in their previous interview with Honour and Darkness (24.10.2009), "The answer is very simple - "Vogelfrei" is one of the best Bonemachine’s albums in our opinion and we did not want to miss it! When Alex sent it us we had no doubt, we loved the music, we loved the artwork for this album which Alex prepared, and we loved the concept of 3 parts release. We developed it into the special edition of wooden box and we are totally satisfied with this release. It was rather small edition, so naturally it is sold out quite for a long time."

This is another one of those releases that has attracted much attention online so it seems a timely moment to consider some of this commentary, firstly from that staunch ally of all things neofolk and experimental, Heathen Harvest:

"Bonemachine is an Austrian one-man band powered by Alex Weiser. The first note I can make about Bonemachine is that this artist, although releasing multiple records a year, stays original and far more important: interesting. Every release of Bonemachine is strongly limited and mostly all of the material is custom, hand-made. "Vogelfrei" is relatively more within the listeners reach, with its limitation of 77 copies.

But that is not the only part remarkable about the release. "Vogelfrei" comes as three separate digifolds, simply named Series 1, 2 and 3... ...Bonemachine makes military industrial music, and I must say, it doesn’t get really better than this. Bonemachine is one of the many, many artists who is influenced by the second world war, but Bonemachine focuses more on the weaponry than on the ideologies and culture. And that is why Bonemachine is so different from most other martial artists.

Track one, 'Feindschlag' starts with an eerie sounding soundscape and a pounding beat far away. It sounds like you are in the basement underneath the street where soldiers are marching. The sound of an electric saw can be heard also, grinding through a metal pipe. But everything sounds far away, in the distance, approaching towards me. The song fades away and "Wir Wollen Krieg" kicks in with the famous sentence that [Joseph Goebbels] once pronounced. What follows is absolutely beautiful. A pattern of rhythmic drums can be heard, again in the distance. Heavy string instruments play a dramatic sounding classical piece. Through the song a crowd can be heard, reacting on the sentence 'Wollen Sie totalen Krieg?'. This song gave me a feeling, a feeling like I was beaten and lost and I couldn’t see what would come next.

The plus 9 minute song ends with a deformed sound of cannons going off, echoing through the night. Follow up is 'Eugenik ‘43'. This is the longest song of Vogelfrei (excluding one of the bonus tracks), with 19 minutes of music. The song continues "Wir wollen Krieg" in pattern and sound, which suited me fine. Only this version get’s much heavier, with more dark hitting interferences and factory sounds. Track four '…Bis sich die Himmel verdunkelt' was a song which surprised me, with a hiphop like beat on the background of the song. But yet, still industrial, it pleased me much. I can’t seem to deny that Vogelfrei sounds like it is played in a large hall. No sounds can be heard like it happens right next to you. The song ends with a sample of 'Das SS Lied' (if I am right) but overlapped by a noise sound.

The last song of Vogelfrei is a remix of 'Wir wollen Krieg', which simply means that the intro is kept with a great echo and delay on it, to be followed with 6 minutes of snaring, growling, screaming noise.

The bonus tracks are something different. Every disc has two bonus tracks, which are all evenly good as the normal tracks. Everything sounds, once more, very militaristic. It did notice me that Bonemachine used more political samples this time than in other records, which is of course no problem, but I didn’t really expected it from Bonemachine. Something I thought was very funny, was the longest bonus track 'Space Journey' (25 minutes +), which surprised me all of a sudden when I heard the famous Darth Vader soundtrack. To give you my overall thoughts about Vogelfrei: I think Bonemachine is one of the better military industrial artists I heard and that I will most definitely keep checking Bonemachine for new releases. I can only suggest you to try to get your hands on Vogelfrei now it’s still available. The price, packaging and (absolutely not to be forgotten) the music is worth it. Bonemachine should be in every Martial / Military Industrial collection and my wild guess is that this isn’t the last thing we have heard from this excellent artist."

And this review makes a great point - not only is the packaging and the presentation spot-on, but the music also lives up to this high standard.

Just to add to this Heathen Harvest review, the Sportpalast or "total war" speech was delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully-selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II was turning against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies. It is considered the most famous of Joseph Goebbels' speeches. The speech was an early admission by the Nazi leadership that Germany faced serious dangers. Goebbels exhorted the German people to continue the war even though it would be long and difficult because he asserted Germany's survival and the survival of Western Civilization was at stake. The relevant part of his speech read, "Ich frage euch: Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg? Wollt ihr ihn, wenn nötig, totaler und radikaler, als wir ihn uns heute überhaupt erst vorstellen können?" [I ask you: Do you want total war? If necessary, do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even yet imagine?]

Whilst we're on the clarification trail (and at risk of this becoming a historical dissertation) track 3, 'Eugenik '43', derives its title from the theory of Eugenics, widely popular in the early decades of the 20th century but largely fallen into disrepute after having become associated with Nazi Germany. Since the post-war period, both the public and the scientific communities have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation, and the extermination of "undesired" population groups. However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about the meaning of eugenics and its ethical and moral status in the modern era.

It's worth stressing again here that Bonemachine is neither a political organisation nor does it espouse neo-nazi opinion. It uses the history of warfare as a medium to convey the music, that's all.

The bonus tracks are a curious mixture, some of which have previously seen the light of day - 'Jagdschauspiel' and 'Military:Desaster' both appearing on the 3"CDr "Bombardements", for example - and some of which are unique to this box-set. The curiousity lies in the running times, which are a tad uneven if the unwary buyer has opted for just one series variant over another: consider, for example, the respective value-for-money offered by the 25 minute plus 'Space Journey' as opposed to the sub 1 minute 'Klang Um Klang'. Of course, by buying all three you are supporting the cause and ensuring a full-house of songs, and Nazgul would always endorse such an approach.

However, to do so now - given the release has pretty much sold out - relies on being able to find second-hand copies, and Nazgul notes that the last time he saw all three Series digipaks being sold as a set (without the box or the bonus 3"CDr too, it must be said) the price was in excess of £50. Having said that, the individual digipaks do turn up on eBay and Discogs from time to time, so a cheaper route to purchasing all three might well be possible with diligence and patience.

Nazgul has only seen 2 of the box-sets for sale since it was released in 2007, one of which is the one you see above (#3 of the overall edition of 77) and the other - well, that was also purchased by Nazgul but as a gift to a certain prolific Austrian musician by way of tribute and partial thanks for all of his one-off creations for Nazgul over the years!

By way of conclusion, the exclusive-to-this-box 3" CD-r video disc contains the bonus track 'Der Letzte Weg', shot in a grainy black and white format with rotating squares overlaying the already hazy image beneath! A short, rhythmic yet static-heavy noise track to finish off this most excellent box-set.

Friday, 23 April 2010

WHW [V/A]


Band: BONEMACHINE amongst various artists
Title: WHW (Winterhilfswerk)
Format: Double CD released by SkullLine (Germany) in 2007, cat ref CDR010-07 in two versions, one a slimline DVD case and the second in a box-set with t-shirt and other gifts.
Edition: Only 200 copies in total, of which 64 were in the box-set format

Track Listing:

CD 1
01. TT – WHW (intro)
02. Kaliber 9 – Neurotoxin (RMX)
03. Berkana – Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling (Lyric of August H. Hoffmann)
04. Einheit 731 (S.T.A.B ELECTRONICS INC.) – Last Glint
05. Rose Rovine E Amanti – Noi Ritorneremo
06. Von Thronstahl – Returne your Revolt into Style (Boss / Lagerfeld Mix)
07. Standgericht – Total Discipline (V2)
08. Bleiburg – Der Meldereiter (RMX)
09. Shift69 – Arbeit
10. Heiliges Licht – Untitled
11. Zyankali – Zyklon
12. Triton 83 – Insolent Ungodliness
13. Life’s Decay - Regimental
14. MDMA – Vengeance
15. Bonemachine – Rhythmus der Einsamkeit
16. Manmachine – We Love in Still
CD 2
01. Mark Lane – Atomium
02. Genocide Lolita – Haganah Whores
03. Lady Morphia – Widerstand (symphonic version)
04. Melek-tha – Complaint de la Terre Brulee
05. Nejet Nok – Singen, Lachen, Töten
06. Hybryds – Resistance
07. Von Liebenfels – Sailing Homeward
08. Zhark – Eisenzeit (C-64) Dedicated to Josef Maria Klumb/Von Thronstahl
09. Kenji Siratori – Rebirth
10. Exemtum – Tribute to Club Moral
11. Camisole – Recycle the Dead
12. Contagious Orgasm – The Fall
13. Iron Youth feat. The 120 Days – White Comfort (Re-2007)
14. Lonsai Maikov – Coup de Grace (demo)
15. Schallgewalt - Electrocabinette (RMX by Bleiburg)

This release celebrated the SkullLine label's first anniversary in 2007, and compiled 31 previously unreleased tracks. The label and mailorder service (www.skullline.de) specialises in neofolk, industrial, dark ambient and 80s elektro releases and is well worth checking out for music in these genres (and a few hard to find Bonemachine / B-Machina releases too in their store).

The version Naxzgul owns is the standard slimline jewel-case pressing (#51 of 200) and it has a home in the Castle library due to the presence of the exclusive Bonemachine track 'Rhythmus der Einsamkeit' (Rhythm of Loneliness). This song, to lift the description from the Heathen Harvest review of the album is "noise / experimental / industrial dominated by an intense horror sensation, reminiscent of Nordvarg’s 'Not One Of Us' at some points. Certainly something you can use to evoke all types of disturbing, unusual images."

As for the remainder of the album, there are many bands represented here that are unfamiliar to Nazgul and, as a consequence, playing the two discs leads to the odd "Christ, what the hell was that?!" moment (in both a good and a bad way!) as the album unfolds. For more of a critique, however, let me direct you to some web reviews of the release:

"This rather tasty and very substantial compilation was released to celebrate the first anniversary of German label and mail-order outfit SkullLine. Check it out – 31 tracks, all previously unreleased or exclusive remixes, well over two hours of music, and contributors including Von Thronstahl, Rose Rovine E Amanti, Lady Morphia and Bleiburg. Oooh, you know you want it, baby. I’ll just whet your appetite a little further with some of the highlights of the collection.

I assume the title WHW refers to the Winterhilfswerk, a German charitable association of the Third Reich period which held annual fundraising drives to provide food and fuel to the poor. Unsurprisingly, then, WHW has a distinctly martial industrial flavour, including such acts as Heiliges Licht, Life’s Decay, Lady Morphia, who present a symphonic version of ‘Widerstand’, which is one of their best tracks, Von Liebenfels and Contagious Orgasm. However, there are plenty of other musical styles on display here, ranging from the wistful, delicate acoustic neo-folk of Berkana’s ‘Sehnsucht Nach Dem Frühling’ and the sweepingly passionate ‘Noi Ritorneremo’ of Rose Rovine E Amanti, through the dark ambient of Melek-Tha and Kenji Siratori, to dancefloor-friendly techno from Zhark, Schallgewalt, Shift69 and MDMA. Von Thronstahl’s Boss / Lagerfeld mix of ‘Return Your Revolt Into Style’ is a menacing, chugging piece of drum’n’bass which samples the refrain from ‘They Walked In Line’. Zyankali’s ‘Zyklon’ is hard, rhythmic noise, as is Camisole’s ‘Recycle The Dead’ and Kaliber 9’s remix of ‘Neurotoxin’.

Overall, WHW provides a good overview of the range of music available from SkullLine, which is fast consolidating its reputation alongside VAWS and Tesco as one of Germany’s most interesting post-industrial labels."

Judas Kiss www.monkeyhouse-recordings.co.uk

and, of course, the typically thorough and insightful review care of www.heathenharvest.com:

"WHW is the 1-year anniversary compilation of the German label Skullline. It contains among others unreleased songs, demos and special remixes. There is a great diversity in these two CDs, so I will more or less try to refer to each track individually, to give you a complete idea of what it is like. The intro is a short atmospheric synth track, catching the listener's attention and getting them into the atmosphere. Kaliber 9 picks up with heavy noise industrial in 'Neurotoxin, and then Berkana alters the ambience completely, with 'Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling', which is a poetic, acoustic guitar track. The lyrics are taken from August Heinrich Hoffmann's poem with the same title (Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling).

The pattern of alteration between more traditional forms of music and electronics (at least on the first CD) starts to show with the fourth track, which is again an atmospheric, effective synth track. This one has a touch of a horror feel to it, that makes it quite interesting. Rose Rovine E Amanti need no specific introductions, 'Noi Ritorneremo' is another one of their wonderfully written, impeccably executed, highly dramatic melodies. If you like them in general you will surely love this one as well. And then, the highlight of the compilation: my personal favourite track, a remix of 'Return your Revolt into Style' by Von Thronstahl which is a hundred times better than the original… And this comes from a die-hard Von Thronstahl fan who has been listening to them for years, so you can understand how good it is. Cold, detached vocals and an intensified rhythm, along with the usual intensively sarcastic, razor sharp lyrics, and there you have it, a masterpiece! If only for this song the compilation would've been worth listening to.

Standgericht’s contribution is a harsh power electronics / industrial track with a military feel to it, that surely cannot go amiss with the fans of the genre. Bleiburg most of you will probably already be familiar with by now, as they have recently provided the scene with some good releases. 'Der Meldereiter' is a very rhythmic industrial / power electronics track with German spoken word samples. 'Arbeit' by Shift69 caught my attention immediately; it is a very good mixture of electronics and old school industrial, that among other things could serve as a good club track. 'Untitled' by Heiliges Licht is exclusive to this compilation, and is a down-tempo, atmospheric track with a bit of a ritualistic, repetitive feel to it.

'Zyklon' on the other hand is strictly harsh noise / industrial, mercilessly pounding the ears of the listener until the end. I usually don’t like this type of music but this one has a strong rhythmic base to it that makes it somehow different from the rest. 'Insolent Ungodliness' continues on the same tone with a harsh industrial track, containing some spoken word samples and extracts of catholic male choirs. Life’s Decay are one of my favourite projects in the neoclassical / industrial genre, and I was very happy to discover that 'Regimental' is an exclusive track for this compilation. The industrial element is more emphasized in it, but the neo-classical strings and the piano mix with the female vocals to add a theatrical dash to the whole. 'Vengeance' is another old-school industrial track, also very danceable, while Bonemachine’s 'Rhythmus der Einsamkeit' is noise / experimental / industrial dominated by an intense horror sensation, reminiscent of Nordvarg’s 'Not One Of Us' at some points. Certainly something you can use to evoke all types of disturbing, unusual images. Manmachine end the first CD in the same manner that it had started, in a slow, heavy and threatening atmosphere.

Off we go then to the second CD, which makes a promising start with Mark Lane, a minimal electronics / ambient artist you should definitely make time to discover. His music is at the same time innovative, soothing, thought-provoking and powerful. In its subtlety it has the ability to transport the listener to another universe. Genocide Lolita resumes on a harsher note, in another noise industrial / experimental effort, while Lady Morphia hails us with a sweet-toned, melodic, pleasant track. Perhaps it's just me and my ecological conscience, but I would like to believe that 'Complaint de la Terre Brulee' (the complaint of the scorched earth, in a rather liberal translation) is a protest against the destruction and continuous neglect of the environmental health of our planet.

Neget Nok I am listening to for the first time, but I liked the track enough to google them and visit their Myspace profile for some more previews of their work. Synthpop / electro with a bit of old-school industrial thrown in. Makes for a very promising combination. The Hybryds track is similar to the previous one, while 'Sailing Homeward' is a romantic, epic instrumental that can serve very well as background for a bit of daydreaming. Your daydreaming time is over with Zhark, as 'Eisenzeit (C-64)' is a fast-paced, dancey industrial club track, guitar riffs included, that is guaranteed to get you moving, even a little bit. Now Kenji Siratori is a special case, personally I find the sheer amount of his production overwhelming, and not in a positive manner. It is rather awkward to say the least, that everywhere you turn you find his name involved in one collaboration or the other. To me it is quality, not quantity, that counts, and the result is seen in this track as well. A flat atmospheric, horror ambient track with distorted spoken word on top of it. Perhaps I would've liked it if I hadn't heard the same thing from the same artist so many times. A minor flaw however compared to the rest of the track and artist selections.

Accurately enough, things are corrected with the next track, which is difficult to apply a genre tag to – if I really had to I would say neoclassical / neofolk, with distorted vocal extracts. Exemtum were also new to me, and I will be sure to listen to some of their other songs as well. 'Recycle the Dead' would be very comfortable as part of the soundtrack for a Japanese horror movie, consisting mainly of static and weird, muffled sounds, creating an intimidating atmosphere. 'The Fall' by Contagious Orgasm is another experimental, dark ambient track, with spoken word samples in what I’m guessing to be either Japanese or Korean. A smooth transition for 'White Comfort', which is more on the harsh noise / electronics side of things. Lonsai Maikov contribute with 'Coup De Grace', an acoustic guitar piece with dramatic synth samples and poignant, melodic male vocals, and the CD ends with Schallgewalt, in a totally different tone: a synthpop / electronics track with robotic male vocals and spoken word samples, in the vein of Cabaret Voltaire and the likes - no complaints from me there! An outstanding club track in my humble opinion.

The second CD is definitely more down-tempo than the first one, the music intending to create an ambience and to lure one’s mind into all sorts of peculiar imagery and mental locations. This is indeed a very good compilation, almost everything in it is good music, and even if one or two tracks aren't exactly 'good', they are certainly not indifferent either. It contains some of the most influential bands in their respective genres, along with new ones that have made quite an impression.

It will give you a clear idea of what these bands are like, will surely introduce you to some new ones you will want to look further into, and you will keep enjoying and listening to it long after this has happened. There is enough diversion and interest in it to maintain your attention for quite a while. The packaging is very attractive as well, so in a few words, if you intend to make some similar buys for Christmas, you will not regret including this in your list. It will be a very satisfying present to spoil yourself with. It’s limited to 200 copies, so be quick about it!"

You can find this release at a few of the 'usual' online distros and retailers, and most likely direct from the label itself still, although Nazgul suspects the box-set edition will be long sold-out now. Should any of the review above grab your attention and fire your imagination then it's a release well worth an investment of time and money.

Monday, 19 April 2010

THE LONG GREY ROAD


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: The Long Grey Road
Format: Cassette tape release on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) in 2010, cat ref WW113. Black and white copied inlays, part of the Split Series. The other side of this release is the re-release of Uruk Hai's "Valkyrian Romance" demo.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 66 copies

Track Listing:
01. Fimbulwinter 15.06

02. Intro 1.47

03. The Long Grey Road 9.24

A quick update to Honour & Darkness on this gorgeous spring day here in England, as Nazgul basks in some rare seasonal sunshine on the turret of Castle Nazgul. The view from here is just dandy - one can see the carrion crows feeding in the graveyard below, and the churning inky-black waters of the river tempting reckless youths to their doom on such an unseasonably warm day.

So to celebrate Nazgul thought he would share with you another tape from the Split Series released in 2010 by Wulfrune Worxx, namely "The Long Grey Road". Come to think of it, there's a long grey road visible from up here too, snaking off into the middle distance into the haunted forest, but I suspect Hugin's road is a different one from that...

To quote from the sleeve notes, 'Fimbulvinter' is "the missing link between "Ancient Tales" and the "...Of Battles, Ravens & Fire" albums" and will be known to long-time readers of the Blog both from the review of that latter album as well as the special edited version that Hugin very kindly made for Nazgul some years back (look for the post on 21 May 2009 for more detail). Here the song appears in its full 15 minute version, and is replete with some classic movie samples and awesome music to make it an unmissable experience.

'Intro', on the other hand, is a relatively short piece at under two minutes duration, and is a 2007 recording previously unreleased. Whilst there's a limit to what anyone can fit into such a short song, there's plenty of atmosphere on offer and it's piece of music that bears repeated listening despite its brevity.

Final track 'The Long Grey Road' (also a 2007 recording) is described in the inlay as the "Last part of the LOTR trilogy after "The Secret Fire" and "Schattenkreiger" albums". Given the relatively slick commercialism of the latter album, the casual listener might be expecting more of that polished sound. Instead, what you have here is a very happy medium between the higher production standards of "Schattenkreiger" and the soul of the original Hrossharsgrani project.

This is a song that - were Nazgul more of a technical whiz - would be ideal to accompany this tribute Blog as you navigate around its many pages. Underpinned by a eerie piano/synth melody, the songs opens out and 'blooms' over its nine minute plus duration like a fantastical rose coming into flower. The song builds, slowly and ominously, and really sinks into your consciousness, augmented by a weaving and wailing electric guitar and funky percussion as it progresses to its climax. Well worth the price of admission alone, and a must-listen for any fan of Alex's output.

All in all then, a recommended release from Wulfrune Worxx and bearing a rather striking cover image too, of a mysterious winding woodland path disappearing into the fog-shrouded distance. Nazgul's copy is #10 of the limited series of 66 tapes, and there are very probably some available either from the label or Hugin himself, so there's no excuse not to experience this for yourself.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

EXPERIMENTUM SOLARIS




Band: WACH
Title: Experimentum Solaris
Format: CD in 6-panel digipak released in 2009 on the Old Europa Cafe label (Italy), catalogue reference OECD128. Recorded between September 2008 and April 2009. CD contains bonus video clip of track 05, 'Destroyer Of Worlds'.
Edition: Hand-numbered and limited to 100 copies

Track Listing:

01. Escape From Solaris 4.22
02. Difference 6.39
03. Where No Man Has Gone Before 6.12
04. Experimentum Solaris 5.40
05. Destroyer Of Worlds 5.24
06. 100110 5.36
07. Deconstructed 3.31
08. Sonata Absurdum 3.39
09. Nostromo 4.33
10. Isolation 3.55
11. Prophets Of Doom 7.40
Bonus video clip: Destroyer Of Worlds 4.26

As the Old Europa Cafe website (www.oldeuropacafe.com) nicely puts it, "WACH are back with their 3rd full-length album EXPERIMENTUM SOLARIS, an epic journey through eerie soundscapes, doomy drones and oppressive isolation. Following the long forgotten tale about Solaris, wandering at the limit of your conscious state, from the origin to the apocalypse. This is definitely an album that you can throw on and get completely lost in for 55 minutes. Eleven Songs - One Seamless Experience."

And one seamless experience it is to be sure, bringing all the unworldly and unsettling elements of preceding WACH releases into a new arena, outer space. Nazgul understands, following a little online digging, that there is an underpinning story to the release, based on the 1961 novel 'Solaris' written by Stanisław Lem (1921–2006), a Polish science fiction writer, in which it imagines the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. In probing and examining the oceanic surface of the world named Solaris from a hovering research station the oblivious human scientists are, in turn, being studied by the sentient planet itself. In due course, Solaris probes for and examines the secret, guilty thoughts of the human beings scientifically who are analyzing it.

Solaris has the ability to manifest their secret, guilty concerns in human form, for each scientist to personally confront, while the self-aware planet studies their responses to its psychological experiments. Solaris is pervaded by a powerful, poetic sense of the physical remoteness of outer space. The sense of loneliness that this engenders is among Lem’s philosophic explorations of man’s anthropomorphic limitations.

Together with the Solaris theme, there are some interspersed samples from the 'Aliens' film (Ripley is heard in track 1, seeking clarification that 'they' are going out to exterminate the Alien species, not to study it and bring it back) and - as you've doubtless spotted - track 9 is 'Nostromo' (the name of the mining ship from the original Alien film). Taken as a whole, adventure at the outer limits is the order of the day!

Unusually - and most likely as this is a recent release - there is a fair amount of internet coverage of this release, so here are some random thoughts from other web-sites to give you a broad view of what the world at large felt about WACH's magnum opus from 2009:

"The techniques and elements used to articulate an apocalyptic scenario could be anticipated these days, fortunately Wach approached slightly different and picked different parts from the dark ambient genre and some additional portion from Post industrial opening the way to be not merely rhetoric and predictable like most bands in the genre but severely eloquent in painting the darkness with sound and style. Sophisticated organic drones will conform the nuclear system for the structuring of the general sound and main element of the atmospheric texture from the whole album, the drones vary from incandescent like textures to windy sections and tectonic tremors, all this conforming a whole arsenal of options that continuously mutates its form"

Heathen Harvest

Clear as crystal, eh?! Nazgul entreats you to try this one:

"Where the band's past musical focal point was Dark Ambient in combination with Drone, 'Experimentum Solaris' reveals another and/or additional alignment - abstract 'Space Ambient' - that reminds one in isolated moments of Stephen Parsick [Nazul's note: Stephen Parsick is a member of 'Ramp, a German band that excels at creating soundscapes of portentous moodiness. Parsick's solo work continues to pursue this ambition with remarkable results. Most of his releases are extremely limited edition items featuring distinctly unique packaging. They are intended to delight fans of extremely dark ambient music.]

'Experimentum Solaris' suggests consistent further development of WACH, [with] the protagonists Reverend Kim & Herr Insomnia for the first time sampling dialogue in order to convey the context of this mesmerizing 'soundtrack', that grips the listeners from the first to the last second. Whoever would like to understand and/or grasp WACH's "Experimentum Solaris" really must commit to several complete listens of the album.

Conclusion - WACH present a bright light with 'Experimentum Solaris', that through complexity, density intensity & tension convinces the listener that this is already one of the significant releases of 2010 – my absolute recommendation!"

That, I think, is a bit clearer!

There is also this thought, from the Zero Credibility site (www.wp.vondur.net)

"This one fell on me unexpectedly. The man who delivers music to me recommended it, i dug into interweb to investigate and found out that this one is quite a peculiar project. So I've bought this CD. This is quite solid dark ambient release with space-industrial theme. Track titles like “Nostromo” or “Destroyer of Worlds” might give you a hint what kind of theme this ambient is."

So on the whole, I think the online review sites liked it, and so does Nazgul. It is somewhat different to the other WACH releases in that it uses space and silence to feed the imagination of the listener rather than trying to find the right 'effect' to fill the void, and it all the better for that as a long, ambient piece of music.

The digipak is very nicely presented in a run of just 100 copies (Nazgul's is #5, and has been signed by both Herr Insomnia and Reverend Kim on an inside panel). It also contains the short video clip for 'Destroyer Of Worlds' - a dark and sparsely filled video it must be said, presumably echoing the endless blackness of infinite space, completely with a shadowy blue craft spotted at the beginning and end.

A well crafted and critically acclaimed release, long may WACH reign over us.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

ISTEN SZEK! - update



Band: ELISABETHA
Title: October
Format: Split CDr on the Odium Records label (UK) from 2004, catalogue reference OD006. Black and white copied inlay, silver CDr disc.
Edition: Unknown - possibly unlimited

Track Listing:

October
01. Untitled 03:46
02. Untitled 00:39
03. Untitled 03:06
04. Untitled 01:05
05. Untitled 02:54
06. Untitled 02:10
07. Untitled 02:40
08. Untitled 01:53
Elisabetha
09. Isten Szek! 45:46

Were you to cast your eye back a year or so (19 April 2009 to be exact) then you would find Nazgul's original Blog on the Werwolf Productions release of the Elisabetha demo "Isten Szek!" In that post you would see a reference that read "A CDr version with alternative cover artwork apparently also exists", a fact confirmed by the inner cover of the tape pressing - shown in the last photo above - as a split recording with October.

It's taken Nazgul about a year therefore to finally track this item down, but thanks to Phil at Odium Records the split CDr in question has finally been obtained!

Phil describes the October portion of the release on the Odium webpage as "Grim Soundscapes" and the overall album is described thus:

"Created for my own gratification, a collection of experimental tracks. Originally intended for ODIUM, was later branched of and given a life of its own. Further,more experimental noise avenues have been explored, yet the works remain unavailable. Eventually a split with Elisabetha will see the darkness."

Contrary to everything that Phil wrote to me in his self-depreciating accompanying emails whilst we traded a few releases, the music by his own band October is actually very atmospheric and aptly fitting to the epithet "grim soundscapes". Synthesised and immeasurably gloomy at times (with other parts oddly reminiscent of the MenInBlack sound of The Stranglers) Nazgul has been avidly listening to this split over the past week or more, and is very grateful that Phil also included some other October material his parcel to Castle Nazgul, more of which in another post perhaps.

The Elisabetha track is the same massive 45 minute plus epic covered back in April 2009, which Nazgul described as

"a rich and atmospheric wander through strange electronic/synth landscapes and ambient scenes, leading to an overall feeling of unease and foreboding due to the nature of the occasionally discordant passages and pseudo-vocal synth pieces: some of these sound like tortured souls screaming for mercy"

Another small mystery solved, Nazgul retires to his armchair happy in the knowledge of a job well done...

Saturday, 10 April 2010

ABSINTHE


Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Absinthe (oder das andere Licht der Wahrheit): A tribute to Georg Trakl
Format: CD pressing on the Beverina & WAR label in 2009, catalogue reference BW013, with absinthe-green colour CD and inlays designed by Chris H. at Kunstgalerie. A split album with individual tracks (and one collaborative work) between B-Machina and Israeli band Kreuzer.
Edition: 50 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:
01. B-Machina * Der Abend 7.38
02. Kreuzer * An Einen Fruhverstorbenen 4.15
03. B-Machina /Kreuzer * Im Osten 8.56
04. Kreuzer * Die Verfluchten 6.01
05. B-Machina * Die Nacht 5.51

It's been a while since we've had a B-Machina release here on Honour And Darkness, but you know what they say: "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder." Yes....? No...? Oh well, enough with Nazgul's feeble attempts at humour and on with the post!

This 2009 release on B&W came in a slightly surprisingly limited edition of 50 copies: surprising as (i) the release had taken quite a while to be released since being initially advertised, so presumably there was quite a groundswell of anticipation for it, and (ii) it's had the full treatment in terms of it's production (excellent covers from Chris H, and an innovative wrap-around page from a Georg Trakl book to complement the theme of the album). You feel more than 50 would have been snapped up by the discerning readers of this Blog alone, let alone the wider music-loving public at large....? Then again, B&W (much like W.A.R. Productions) is known for the red-carpet treatment of its releases, so perhaps the excellent packaging herein is to be expected for even small volume releases.

Nazgul's copy bears the cover of the book of Trakl's poems as its insert, so that's probably a good excuse for calling this copy #1 of the 50, unnumbered or otherwise!

Now, Nazgul's pondering aside, you're probably already keen to learn the answer to the obvious question - who is Georg Trakl? Well, allow Nazgul to enlighten you...

"Georg Trakl (1877–1914) was an Austrian poet and dramatist. While the eminence and influence of Georg Trakl's poetry has been widely discussed, his work is best known for its lyrical qualities. His controlled use of colors, sounds, and ciphers blending into brooding meditations, as well as the exquisite tone of his cries against man's doomed existence are two hallmarks of his work.

These tendencies closely align him with German Expressionism, and both Ranier Maria Rilke and French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud were inspired by his work. Conversely, Trakl's writing exhibits many of the techniques and themes employed by the Imagists, Surrealists, and Impressionists, making his work difficult to classify. Many critics believe he was a modernist before his time, citing as evidence his paratactical lines which break free from traditional poetical modes to follow musical forms and expressions to a great degree.

Trakl, born in 1887 in Salzburg, was the son of affluent parents. His brief, troubled life spans years of great upheaval: the apex and decline of the Habsburg monarchy, the Jahnhundertwende of 1900, and the outbreak of the first World War. While this period gave rise to much artistic and cultural innovation—Freud, Mahler, Wittgenstein and Klimt were among Trakl's contemporaries—this turn-of-the-century era was in spirit marked by an awareness of the decay of all social structures and of the danger this change posed to the future of mankind. In this vein Trakl's verse proceeds: he was exceedingly aware that his world, personal as well as external, was "breaking apart," entzweibricht, a term he coined, causing "Leid," a state of suffering. This mood prevails in his poetry. The disparity in ages between his parents, his mother's opium habit, or the Catholic schooling he and his brothers and sisters received although growing up in a Protestant household—these may have caused deep disturbances in Trakl's personality, and contributed to the schizophrenia from which he suffered. This condition, coupled with his drug and alcohol use, led Trakl quickly to his end.

By age fifteen, Trakl was experimenting with chloroform and had begun drinking heavily; by 1905 he had left school prematurely. Both he and his sister Margaret, the sibling to whom he was the closest, found the paths of middle-class life unendurable compared to the towers of their art. Their relationship, debatably incestuous, haunted him even as it nourished him. Her figure appears often in his work as "the sister," an alter ego, a beloved, a mirror-image or doppelganger. Even though she married and was able to play the role of the bourgeois wife, she herself committed suicide a few years after Trakl did. After being forced to leave school, Trakl began an apprenticeship in a pharmacy that, unfortunately and ultimately, fed his future addiction to narcotics. From this point onward, events in his life are inextricably woven into his poetry.

His increasing addiction to narcotics is reflected in his use of images, synaesthesia and an inscrutable personal mythology. Likewise, his experiences during World War I also gave rise to a prolific period, but eventually proved too much for his fragile mental condition. In August of 1914, Trakl went to Austrian-controlled Poland as medic under the command of incompetent Austrian generals. After a bloody defeat at Grodek, Trakl was left to care for ninety wounded throughout two days and two nights, and without supplies or attending physicians. The battle at Grodek caused Trakl to suffer a psychotic episode upon the unit's retreat. He threatened to shoot himself in front of his fellow officers but was disarmed and restrained, and in October, ordered to the hospital at Cracow for observation. His mentor, Ludwig Ficker hurried to Cracow to secure his release because he knew that confinement would only cause Trakl's condition to deteriorate. Unable to secure the release, Ficker later received a letter from Trakl and a copy of "Grodek" and "Lament," Trakl's last two poems, the former considered to be one of his greatest lyrics. A week later, Trakl died of an overdose of cocaine.

Most critics concur that Trakl's work had a major impact on German Expressionism. Many others agree that his later works were modern in nature, exhibiting an aggregate of rhythms, grammatical structures like musical scores, and poetic logic of colors, phrasings, and figures all his own. As he developed in his craft, his poems become more impersonal, devoid of the first-person pronoun, employing what some critics call "mythic objectivity." Indisputably his work is despairing, violent, obsessive, even perverse at times, but many argue that his Christian faith may yet serve to provide possible redemption in his work. Trakl saw himself in a hell from which he had no "absolution" to leave, his visions of heaven always too distant from earth. The nearest Trakl comes to expressing an affirmation of life comes from his pantheism, learned from Hölderlin, which imbues his work with compassion."

So there you have it - quite the character! The music on this release mirrors the nature of the poetry to a significant degree, being in turn a myriad of influences and textures in its own right. The Kreuzer tracks are more narrative driven (Nazgul presumes the the quoted narrative throughout all of the tracks are drawn from Trakl's work, although not being a scholar of the man's poetry he couldn't attest to this for certain). Kreuzer as a band, incidentally, cite on their MySpace site that they "make noises of history and drones of art." Worth checking out, at http://www.myspace.com/kreuzermusic.

In respect of the B-Machina material, the opening track 'Der Abend' is redolent with sound effect and industrial noise, charged with staccato flamenco guitar from Max that is very similar to that heard on the band's "Other Visions" release - no bad thing there. Final track 'Die Nacht' is a classic B-Machina affair, echoing effects and vocals, strange soundscapes hanging in the air and defying all logical interpretation, again augmented with the flamenco acoustic strummings that takes the music to different levels.

It's not always an easy listen, this release, but then as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Trakl's patron, once said of Trakl's poems, "I do not understand them; but their tone pleases me. It is the tone of true genius."

Very appropriate...

Friday, 9 April 2010

GONE WITH THE WIND



Band: URUK HAI
Title: Gone With The Wind
Format: CDr pressing by Hugin (no catalogue reference, but self-released) with colour inlays and hand-crafted artwork! CDr also came with a price/release list of available Uruk Hai titles to date.
Edition: Only 5 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

1. A New World Is Born (Intro) 5.29
2. In The Beginning.... There Was Fight 7.40
3. Thangorodrim 3.20
4. Then The Gloom Gathered, Darkness Growing 10.07
5. Ringgeister 1.32
6. Kor 2.14
7. ...Of Thingol & Melian 21.03
8. In Battle 1.43
9. Durch Die Schwarze, Dunkle Nacht 2.27
10. Soul 2.15
11. Elvish Dream 1.10
12. Over Dead Sea And Withered Land 1.37
13. Feuerstanz 1.05
14. An Lenore 4.50
15. Dragontales (Outro) 0.42

As the spring sunlight streams in through the library windows and illuminates the darkest recesses of Castle Nazgul, it's proprietor - your host on this humble blog page - cannot feel but a sharp pang of sorrow to remain ensconced within these four walls. For as he types, a release party is underway in the snow-capped Austrian alps, wherein the "Black Blood, White Hand" album is being issued to the world on this very day, along with other goodies, at the new metal-shop opened by Sturmklang Records. If you are reading this, Nazgul can but assume that you too were unable to attend this event to meet your Austrian musical hero. Having said that, if you are reading this and are at the party, then buy the man a drink from your old pal Nazgul...!!

To alleviate such sorrow the prudent course of action seemed to be to grab a release from the library shelves and share it with you - my faithful and honoured readers. Todays offering is an old one, being Uruk Hai rehearsal tracks recorded between 16 October 2000 and 19 November 2000 and set down on CDr with hand-drawn artwork in a limited edition of only 5 copies (this being #1, obtained directly from Hugin) for posterity.

The release is dominated by two tracks in length terms - the 20 minute plus '...Of Thingol & Melian' and the 10 minute plus 'Then The Gloom Gathered, Darkness Growing". The remainder of the songs are either short pieces, expressing particular ideas or riffs, or longer tracks that also appear on demo releases from the project around the same time: a number appear on the "Darkness" demo tape of 2001 including the aforementioned two epics, plus 'Kor', 'Over Dead Sea and Withered Land' and a shortened version (in title, if not duration) of 'An Lenore', which became simply 'Lenore' for the tape version.

Musically it is a mixed bag - there are some fairly strident moments of almost punk-ish guitar (the beginning of 'In The Beginning ... There Was Fight' after the sword is drawn, for example) as well as the odd track of pounding drum ('Soul'), but in the main the ethereal and elegant keyboard melodies, whispered vocals and occasional samples of nature carry the demo into relaxing and enchanting territories. The differences in the work on offer shows the variety of directions that Uruk Hai could have gone down - history shows us how the project eventually turned out, but some of the other influences lingered down the ages and also turned up in other projects (Hrossharsgrani and Hrefnesholt in particular) along the way.

Of course, like the majority of early demos from Uruk Hai this is impossible to find anywhere now. Nazgul is eternally grateful to Hugin for releasing his own copy from the vaults of W.A.R. Productions to find a home in England.

Edit: Alex has just emailed to let Nazgul know that the cover of this release was, in fact, painted by Adelheid Bagar, the girl who also painted the HROSS logo (the one on "Secret Fire" etc..), the HREFNESHOLT logo and the first URUK-HAI logo. Talented lady! She also painted the HREFNESHOLT "Hrefnesvinter" Cover and the "Ancient Tales" Tape cover and T-Shirt!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

It's that time of year once again, folks...

Hugin, contemplating another birthday, deep in the Austrian woods

Fellow Huginophiles, we gather here once again to pay annual homage to the mighty Alex Wieser, who celebrates his birthday on 7 April 2010. It's been another busy year for the Austrian maestro, with more than a few releases finding their way into general circulation over the past 12 months and from virtually all of his various projects, side-projects and collaborations!

It's a sobering thought that in the period from 1999 to 2010 Guns N' Roses managed to release just 2 albums, one of which was a live compilation: in the same period, we've seen - at a conservative estimate - ooooh, at least 4,000 tapes, vinyls and CDs from our man Alex and his various bands! Well, maybe not quite that many of course, but a goodly number to be sure - Nazgul's library shelving is literally groaning on a regular basis now with the weight of his burgeoning collection, yet still they come...and long may this continue!

I'm sure all of Nazgul's readership will wish to join with him in wishing Alex a rousing "Huzzah" to celebrate his momentous day, and to wish him all good health and fortune over the coming year in all of his endeavours, musical and personal.

As tidings of goodwill are positively spilling over at Castle Nazgul, a small but perfectly formed competition is the order of the day as one lucky Blog follower has a chance to win an original numbered copy of the 2010 Uruk Hai cassette demo "Under the White Hands Flag", a split release of only 66 copies with Estonian horde Bestia released by the esteemed Skogen at Wulfrune Worxx. This has yet to be reviewed on Honour and Darkness and is hot off the press!

Simply email Nazgul with your answers to the two simple questions below at the usual address (tall_dai@ntlworld.com) and the winning entry will be chosen at random by the Castle's resident monkey. The closing date for entries to be received is 12pm on Tuesday, 13 April 2010.

All you have to do to win is to tell Nazgul:

(1) What do the three initials in W.A.R. Productions stand for?

and

(2) What are the names of the 2 members of WACH?

(the answers are available in past posts on the Blog)

Happy Birthday, Alex!