A tribute to and catalogue of the works of Alexander "Hugin" Wieser, founder of ambient black metal band Uruk Hai and many other side-projects, including Hrossharsgrani, Hrefnesholt, Elisabetha, B-Machina, Ceremony of Innocence and more!
Here you will find my thoughts on his work and details on the releases as drawn from items in my personal collection, forming a fuller catalogue of his work than is currently available elsewhere online
There's an old saying that is common in most cultures around this fine world of ours - 'the pen is mightier than the sword'. This was modified in France circa 2002 (on the lines of 'Jean-Marie Le Pen is not mightier than Jacques Chirac'), but otherwise the general sentiment remains consistent.
Extensive empirical testing within the Castle Nazgul library, however, dispels this myth.
As clearly shown by the photographic evidence below, bringing a pen - even a B-Machina one- into conflict with a 6' broadsword only has one, inevitable result *
It all goes to prove 3 things: firstly, that you should believe little of what you hear, and rely on the evidence from your own senses. Secondly, that Nazgul clearly has too much time on his hands. Thirdly, that taking old sayings literally is rather missing the metaphorical point.
Still, it's a fun way of introducing the to the world the one (and apparently only) B-Machina biro pen, just the thing to complement the B-Machina stationery items that we saw at the tail end of 2011. Another item to add to the weird miscellany of things that form the Hugin museum.
It's a nice thing too, a black body bears the B-Machina crest and the legend "Industrial Folk Hymns", whilst the ink is as black as an orc's heart.
And if you're wondering about the origins of the sword, that too has a dark history in the deepest Alpine reaches that a future Blog update will doubtless be covering in due course...
...proves to be less mighty than the sword
* No pens were actually harmed during the making of this post
Band: URUK HAI Title: The Barbarian Format: 3" CDr pressing in 1st and 2nd editions, detailed below, both released in 2012. Both come with glossy colour inlay cards. Reason for update: CDr re-issue of Wulfrune Worxx tape demo Edition:1st pressing only 22 copies, 2nd pressing 25 copies
01. Theology And Civilization 0.57
02. Barbarians 5.56
03. Piano Suite 5.55
04. Anvil Of Crom 0.55
Back in September last year Nazgul plucked from the collection his very limited edition Wulfrune Worxx tape demo of "The Barbarian", noting that a CD re-issue was highly likely to arrive. This is that item, and in keeping with recent reissues from Uruk Hai in a 3" format it comes in a limited Smell The Stench (Australia) first pressing, followed by an almost equally limited edition on the Polish Tryby label.
Both are nicely packaged with colour inlays front and back, and in the case of the Tryby release an added touch of rustic charm is added with a length of twine being tied across the top of the package. The Tryby catalogue reference, for information, is 25/2012 which rather neatly gives away the fact that this reissue came in 2012.
As was noted back in the previous review, the music successfully melds both the fantasy elements of Uruk Hai's usual high-quality output to both samples and musical extracts from the original Conan film. Whilst it's not the longest CDr release you are likely to find, it is one of the more listenable as the familiar elements of the film score are nicely complemented by Hugin's additional touches.
As an aside, the Tryby label collected a number of their 3"CDr pressings into what might be seen as an unofficial box-set release earlier this year, which Nazgul will cover in a future post. In fact, so many unreviewed Uruk Hai box-sets lie around the Castle library at this present time it's scarcely possible to comprehend, so Nazgul really will have to get his finger out and stick a few up on Honour and Darkness for you (box-sets, that is, not fingers).
And with the 500th post rapidly approaching, your old Uncle Nazgul has got something very exciting lined up for you all ... but more of that anon!
Band:BONEMACHINE Title: Untitled (split release with Flutwacht) Format: CDr pressing on the The Tourette Tapes label, cat ref TT#36, released on 1 January 2012. Colour inlays and white-faced CDr disc (stamped with catalogue number), coming in a plastic wallet with a paper insert with pressing and label information. Edition:33 hand-numbered copies
Track Listing: Bonemachine
01. Krieg Der Spielleute 10:24
02. Niederschrift Eines Seelenjägers23:46 Flutwacht
03. untitled 08:06
04. untitled 08:50
05. untitled 07:11
06. untitled 06:06
A rare excursion for the Bonemachine juggernaut here, this time on a limited edition CDr split release with German band Flutwacht. This release is available in a hard-copy of only 33 units, but is also available (at least at the time of writing) as a download onthe Bandcamp site of The Tourette Tapes (http://thetourettetapes.bandcamp.com/album/split).
Literally translated, the titles of the two Bonemachine songs are 'War of the Minstrels' and 'Written Record of a Soul Hunter', which will give you very little insight into the musical dimensions to be unveiled on playing the disc. However, as a hardened Honour and Darkness veteran you will doubtless be well on the way to understanding the chronic drone pulsations, repetitive vibrational tunes, morbid explosive impacts and other sonic terrorism that unfurl themselves from the speakers in much the same way that mustard gas rolled inexorably across the Somme. A Bonemachine musical trip is rarely for the faint-hearted, and these two lengthy pieces (one hesitates to call them songs in the usual sense of the word!) fit the bill perfectly, conjuring up various moods and leaving anxiety and disharmony trailing in their wake.
Flutwacht (the solo project of German musician Daniel Simon) has been described as "a contemplative dissolution of sounds with a personal charisma which has made this one of the most interesting acts coming from Germany" and over the years the project has released a high quantity of releases. In style they inhabit a pure dark industrial ambient, very complex, ever changing and very engaging:dense, obscure and transgressive, at times venturing into industrial styles but with much more complexity than most albums in that genre.
Band: URUK HAI Title: Long Before The Creation Of The Sun & Moon Format: There are 3 pressings of this release currently existing. The first 3"CDr pressing was on the Smell The Stench (Australia) label. This was followed by a second pressing with the same artwork (with an alternative shade of green for the artwork) on the Tryby label (Poland). A tape version also exists,on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France), cat ref WW315. Both CDr pressings have colour front and rear inlays, the tape inlay is black and white. Edition: 1st CDr pressing in an edition of 13 hand-numbered copies; 2nd CDr pressing in an edition of 25 hand-numbered copies. The tape pressing is also limited to 25 numbered copies.
01. Long Before The Creation Of The Sun & Moon 20.38
One night in week just ended, Lord and Lady Nazgul escaped from the blood-curdling wails of baby Nazgul in order to pillage the local town for drinkable cocktails, and visit the local moving picture emporium where Prometheus is currently being shown. A supply of expendable serfs was laid in for the evening for young Nazgul to sharpen his teeth on, whilst an evening of culture and terror was enjoyed by all outside of the Castle.
The reason for mentioning this rare outing is that during Prometheus it became evident that the sort of music that accompanies this sort of film is eminently suitable to be provided by Uruk Hai on releases such as this. Those epic 'huge-spaceship-moving-effortlessly-through-space' moments, or the 'intrepid-but-soon-to-be-killed-explorer-enters-vast-alien-craft' bits are always accompanied by suitable scores that give the impression of great distance and immutable time and space. Ridley Scott could have saved himself a few quid on the budget of this film by taking the first 11 minutes of so of "Long Before The Creation..." to use to this effect (and if you're reading this, Ridley, and the sequel is being planned, then you know where to go).
Truly epic in scope yet simple in construction, this EP effectively comes across as an ambient journey into the formless clouds of stars at the beginning of the universe (hmmm...the effects of those excellent cocktails are clearly still being felt!) and ranks amongst the best ambient creations of the band in recent years. From the mid-point of the song is heard a regular percussive beat, followed by vocals coming in near to the end, which pulls the sound of the song back into more 'standard' Uruk Hai territory of Lord Of The Rings ambiance (not least as it becomes more synonymous with past recordings).
Interestingly, and going off on one of Nazgul's now traditional tangents, there may in reality have been a time in living memory on Planet Earth that we were without a moon! There are currently four (make that five) theories of the origin of the moon:
(1) The Moon originated at the same time as the Earth, being formed substantially from the same material, aggregating and solidifying in orbit. [Boring!]
(2) The Moon was formed not in the vicinity of the Earth, but in a different part of the solar system (or galaxy),and was later captured by the Earth's gravity pull. [Better.]
(3) The Moon was originally a portion of the terrestrial crust and was torn out, after the formation of the Earth,leaving behind the bed of the Pacific Ocean. [Possibly, but the specialeffects would be tough to duplicate.]
(4) The Moon is an artificial satellite,which was brought into the vicinity of Earth by extraterrestrials in order to carry out some unknown agenda. [Yes!]
(5) The Moon is made of green cheese,and was placed in space as a NASA PR stunt. [Tell Kenji Siratori. He just might believe it.]
Giordano Bruno (a 16th century Italian philosopher) is reputed to have written in De Immenso: (Bk IV, x, pp. 56-57): "There are those who have believed that there was a certain time (as our Mythologian says) when the moon, which was believed to be younger than the sun, was not yet created. The Arcadians are believed to have been in existence before it (the moon)." Theodorus writes in his first book that the moon had appeared a little while before the war which was fought by Hercules against the giants. Aristochius and Dionysius Chalcidensis, in the firstof their works, confirm the same. Mnaseas said that the Arcadians were born before the moon, and so they were called 'proselenian'; meaning,'before the moon'.
Velikovsky has discussed this same idea by noting that one of the most remote recollections of mankind is in regard to the period of Earth’s history when it was Moonless. Velikovskyquotes everyone from Democritus and Anaxagoras to Aristotle and Apolloniusof Rhodes to show that such a pre-Hellenic time existed. Those humans living at the time were called Pelasgians, Proselenes (“before the Moon”),and Arcadians (pre-Danai and pre-Deukalion). They were said to have dwelt in the mountains, fed on acorns, and lived as aborigines.
Plutarch, Hippolytus, Censorinus, and a doubting Lucian wrote of pre-Lunar people, as did Ovid, who said that the Arcadians possessed their land before the birth of Jove, and were older than the Moon. There are even Biblical references (Job 25:5 and Psalm72:5) which allude to a Moonless Earth - or at least can be so interpreted. The memory of a Moonless Earth is contained in the oral traditions of such Indians as those of the Bogota highlands in the eastern Cordilleras of Columbia, i.e. according to tribesmen of Chibchas, "In the earliest times, when the moon was not yet in the heavens" and, finally, references to the aboriginal nature of the pre-Moon folk, and the fact they lived before "the birth of Jove" are particularly noteworthy.
So, make of that what you will. Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems...
Back to this release, as you can probably now tell Nazgul personally enjoyed it a lot, and it's become a regular fixture on the Castle death-deck. It even apparently sooths the voracious demands of Nazgul-junior, which is no bad thing let me tell you. Copies are still around for sale online I notice: Glorious North Productions(www.gloriousnorth.co.uk)had one listed in their store, and I'm sure the usual source of Hugin himself might prove fruitful in sourcing yourself a copy.
Band:URUK HAI Title: Darkness And The Blood Of Trees Format: Split tape release on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine) in October 2011, cat ref cut387. Glossy colour cover, standard C60 style tape. The other side of this split is with Italian project Wear and Tear. Edition:100 hand-numbered copies
Track Listing: Side A - URUK HAI
02. The Sound of Gondor
05. Emyn Muil Side B - WEAR AND TEAR
We've not seen a split release in a while from Uruk Hai, so here's an interesting one on the Ukranian label Depressive Illusions (this copy, incidentally, being #1 of the 100) featuring Hugin's most popular project alongside a band new to Nazgul: Wear and Tear from Italy.
First off the bat, there's some excellent artwork on the cover of this release, with the sort of photo that immediately puts you in the mood for something atmospheric and mysterious. So far, so very good...
The Uruk Hai side of the tape is easy enough to document, as it features the songs previously reviewed on the "Felagund" post (see post of 13 May 2012) and jolly good they remain too. As this particular tape was released in a larger edition than the preceding "Felagund" releases, and still seems readily available online, there's a good chance for you to get your sticky fingers on the music now if you've still not made the plunge!
There's also a quotation from a philosophical Hugin on the inlay, which Nazgul repeats for your edification here:
"Fact in life is that, although through circumstantial events you can decide when you die, or better said, decide now how long you wish to live..."
The Wear And Tear side is essentially an ambient/drone creation, although with some more varied orchestration than many bands in the genre including the effective use of piano. It's also rather good, so much so that Nazgul went off in pursuit of Dave (the solo artist behind the project) to find out a little more about it, just for your entertainment, honoured reader. And a very pleasant chap he proved to be too, so without further ado let's meet Wear And Tear:
Q1. Welcome to Honour and Darkness, Dave - tell us a little about the origin of your solo project, Wear and Tear? A1. My solo project WEAR AND TEAR was born in 2009 . It's a solitary project that was created with the intent to communicate all the discouragement that we receive in our society and and above all by the people who compose it, with its dark and melancholic sound, designed to highlight the rotten movement of the human being.
Q2. What are your aims and ambitions for this project? A2. My major goal is to communicate something to people, as sad and happy emotions or feelings, I do not care being famous. The most important aim is to sensitize people and make them think about all those horrible human beings, rotten from birth, in the world we live in and in the creatures that surround us.
Q3. I believe you also play in the bands Deadly Carnage and Misere Nobis - how do they differ from Wear and Tear? A3. The Deadly Carnage are a doom\black metal band active since 2005 (ATMF label). The band is composed by 5 members with me on guitar, but the issues are sometimes very similar to my solo project Wear and Tear. The Misere Nobis are a a Roman depressive\ black metal band (Pest Productions), I'm the bass player, the themes are quite different but it is such a great liberation, I can announce that a preview will be out soon for our first full-length release. Wear and Tear is my own personal contentment, where I am the only person to decide everything from the music to the issues.
Q4. This split release with Uruk Hai - how did that happen? Was it through the label or through knowing Hugin? Q4. I knew of Uruk-Hai, I thought about contacting Hugin and suggest a split. He immediately accepted, I contacted the Depressive Illusions label who agreed to print 100 copies in a split tape format. All very simple and smooth. Thank you again Depressive Illusions records for giving us the chance to release this split and I would like to thank also for the other two prints in the tape that I did: -Wear and Tear \ abstinentia split Divinorum - Alone and Hopeless tape 100 copies - Wear and Tear - Vacuum tape 100 copies
Q5. Are you a fan of any of Hugin's bands, and if so what are your personal highlights? A5. I love ambient music and all its branches so it's very pleasant to listen to such projects as Uruk-Hai, and I congratulate Hugin
Q6. How would you describe "Darkness and the Blood of Trees" to a stranger in just one sentence? A6. Close your eyes, free your mind of all prejudices and be cradled by the sounds.. . Forget to exist and begin to wander into this sea of sensations, experiencing happiness, sadness, anxiety, fear .. Upon awakening you will understand if you're alive or dead, if what you experienced is real or not and if time really exists ..
Q7. Are any more split releases with Hugin's bands planned...? A7. Not at the moment, but in the future if they could talk ... let the fate do it's will.
Q8. Do you have a message for Hugin? A8. Yes, I thank him for his work and once again I offer my congratulations for his band! Hi, Hugin!
Q9. Do you have a message for the readers of Honour ad Darkness? Q9. I thank the entire editorial staff, my fans and all the people who are close to me. Soon will be out my fourteenth album: Wear and Tear - "Black Drone" digipack by SBRT records also tell you that I'm already working at fifteenth and shortly I'll publish the title on my Facebook page.
My continuing and dissonant noise will make you regret being born.
As Dave is such an obliging sort of a chap, here is some additional information to help you explore his work in more depth:
1- Wear and Tear - Il declino della società moderna ( ex Blacken )( Aggressive Prod.Italy) CD 2010 \ sold out
2- Wear and Tear - Abyss ( special pack black bag )(Aggressive Prod.Italy) CD 2011 \ sold out
3- Wear and Tear - Vacuum ( by Depressive Illusions Records Ukraine ) TAPE 2011
4- Wear and Tear\Uruk-hai split - Darkness and the blood of trees ( by Depressive Illusions Records Ukraine ) TAPE 2011
5- Wear and Tear\AbstinentiaDivinorum split - Alone and Hopeless ( by Depressive illusions records Ukraine )TAPE 2011
6- Wear and Tear - Il declino della società moderna ( Second Press )(Aggressive Prod. Italy) CD 2011 \ sold out
7- Wear and Tear - Iperuranio ( CD \dvd case )(Aggressive Prod. Italy) 2011 \ sold out
8- Wear and Tear - Follia (CD\dvd case )(Aggressive Prod. Italy) 2012
9- Wear and Tear\Lueur Morte split - Violence Psychologique (Unlight order prod.France) TAPE 2012
10- Wear and Tear - Black Drone ( Digipack ) ( SBRT records Italy )2012
11- Wear and Tear - Utopia ( CD\ dvd case ) (Unlight Order Productions .France) 2012
12- Wear and Tear\Thanatos split - Everything was destroyed ,the end is near ( AggressiveProduction Italy ) Tape 2012
13- Compilation SlowFest 2012
14- Wear and Tear - Abyss ( Second Press - special pack \ double cover with felt ) (AggressiveProduction Italy) CD 2012
Format: Cassette reissue on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) in 2012, cat ref WW303. Black and white photocopied inlay, together with a round (blood) red sticker on the front of the case with the issue number (which also shown on the rear of the inlay as usual).
Edition:66 hand-numbered copies
01. Ozeane der Zeit
02. Kalte Nacht
03. Die Karpaten
05. Der Pfähler
06. Sehe deinen Tod
07. Ein Meer aus Schmerzen
08. Herr über die Winde
09. Aufstieg verlorener Seelen
10. Blut I
11. Blut II
According to numerous website reviews of the original demo: "In the cold winter of 1998 the battle machine HROSSHARSGRANI formed for their first hit in shape of the rehearsal demo "Blut". In the beginning Hrossharsgrani wandered the worlds of dark ambient music to tell stories of creatures that walked the night, the undead, vampyres... He paid tribute to the bloody heritage of Lord Byron and Bram Stoker."
Now, even though Nazgul may be prone to 'bigging-up' Hugin's output on occasion the words "hit" and "Blut" aren't common bedfellows in my lexicon, it has to be said. It was a perfectly respectable demo, mind you, and contained some memorable songs that were later reworked on the Sanguis CD with mixed results (see that post of 17 July 2009). Whilst my memory is prone to fail on occasion, I don't recall "Blut" lighting up the European charts in the way that a 'hit' record is supposed to, and even within the underground scene I doubt a straw poll would generate a significant amount of recognition for the work.
Which is, perhaps, all the more reason to celebrate this re-release on the ever-supportive Wulfrune Worxx label of the 2011 re-mastered version of the demo. If this pressing seems familiar then there are two reasons for this: Firstly, the recent review (8 March 2012) of the box-set "The Ancient Path" contains these same re-mastered tracks, whilst secondly the cover artwork of this demo will be familiar from Nazgul's previous post on 9 January 2010 of a unique version of "Blut" with the original demo on one side and the tracks from "Sanguis" on the other. This self-same artwork also adorns the excellent blood-spattered t-shirt that Hugin created for Nazgul some years ago, and remains an excellent piece of artwork.
Frankly, any opportunity to get your hands on old Hrossharsgrani material is one you really ought to take advantage of if you are interested in the project, as the majority of it is now long sold-out and consequently a bit of a bugger to find.
This particular tape, Nazgul is proud to report, is #1 of the 66 made, and sits proudly in the collection next to earlier releases of its brethren.