The year 2002 was an apparently abnormal year in Hugin's unusually prolific recording history. Whilst the period 1999-2001 positively blossoms with Hrossharsgrani demos and Elisabetha vinyl - plus the odd Raben Nacht tape - and the period 2004-2006 sees the start of the fertile period of Uruk Hai demos (particularly 2004) and Hrefnesholt releases, the middle period of 2002-2003 is a relatively quiet one, by comparison. One notable development in 2002, however, was the genesis of the industrial project Bonemachine.
Now, it's written on the Bonemachine/B-Machina website that the project originally recorded under the name Heimatleid in the late 1990s, and indeed the first "Trummer Aus Stein" demo was examined in Honour & Darkness back on 24 September 2009. You may recall Nazgul's surprise on listening to that particular tape for the first time that the demo actually proved to be a recording straight out of the Hrossharsgrani viking-metal mould circa "Kampf" and "Krieg", and as the precursor to Bonemachine it bore little aural relationship at all to the project we now associate with that name. Heimatleid recorded another demo (technically just the one, although there are two differently titled recordings on the one tape as a future post will reveal) in a similar vein before, at some point around 2001-2002 becoming re-christened as Bonemachine.
This vast, sprawling demo track - over an hour and seventeen minutes in length - is the result of that transformation. It's a world apart from anything that Hugin had recorded (or - at least - recorded and published) before, and showed a different side to the artist from the more 'traditional' metal releases preceding it. There is no guitar, and the unpredictable, undulating aural landscape is punctuated only by the sounds of synths, samples and strangeness. This is Bonemachine 'as was', well before the involvement of Max on acoustic guitar, and prone to unexpected convergences of industrial/mechanised rhythm with dark, sparse keyboard passages and eerie samples/voice effects. There is an element of 'everything but the kitchen sink' about this demo, natural enough perhaps in so far as it must have been a massive release valve for Hugin to commit to CD these alternative musical outpourings that clearly were waiting to get out!
It's pretty much impossible to try to describe the music to you, as you can't really translate 77 minutes of this sort of stuff into straightforward prose. Well, Nazgul can't - but here's an attempt from one online site who were clearly feeling more able to have a stab at it:
"Sympathy for the Devil" is a strange journey through ambient landscapes. A release that features one song which is lasting for 77 minutes, very hard to listen to and maintain yourself focused to what is happening there, and there aren't many things that you'll notice because there aren't too many variations here and when a new element theme appears in the music there is the tendency to repeat and repeat that theme until you say that you've had enough. I don't know if anyone is interested in this kind of release but anyway everyone is free to say what he wants to say... isn’t he?" 6/10
Whilst they may not be overly complementary how refreshing to see some coverage of early Bonemachine material online, for once!
Appropriately, this original release came though Smell The Stench, a label renowned for its pressings of the more esoteric and unusual side of the musical spectrum. Nazgul imagines that a quick trip to the STS distro lists would most likely identify this release as still available, and for a modest outlay. You may also be interested to learn that a re-mastered version appears on the first disc of the Bonemachine 2CD compilation "Erste Rotation (Eine Retrospektive von Krieg und Zeit)" from Sabbathid Records (Japan), also yet to be reviewed in Honour and Darkness but still widely available.
The inlay design on this original Smell The Stench release, incidentally, is from the prolific pen of former Elisabetha member and artist Neon Ästhet, and begins the war-themed artwork typically associated with the early Bonemachine releases although, of course, Hugin himself penned many of the covers of the next few immediate releases such as "Monolog & Rhythmus" and "Soldat".
Hand on heart it's not a release amongst the many that Nazgul possess that often is given a spin on the Castle death-deck: the sheer size of the song precludes you being able to do much with it other than dip in and out occasionally if the CD is playing in the background. It's too big, too difficult to get to grips with on a regular basis and certainly not the sort of material that you'd whistle in the bath. It is interesting though, as it is clearly the beginning of an entirely new project that would ultimately appeal to a largely different audience from Hugin's more familiar work - much like WACH in fact. Indeed, Nazgul suspects that of the readership of this Blog the vast majority of you are Uruk Hai fans, with a minority only being able to boast much Bonemachine or B-Machina in your collections. This type of release might be why - it's not easy, and it's certainly not on the same planet as the ethereal Uruk Hai material of recent years. The happy ending, as it were, is that this demo is the 'grand-daddy' of some of the later more accessible Bonemachine output, of which there is plenty - and if you're inclined to want to dig deeper to hear it drop Uncle Nazgul a line and let him give you some pointers....