Thursday, October 20, 2016

From The Forest - demo [2016]

Artist: From the Forest
Title: demo
Genre: Post-Rock
Country: Russia
Year: 2016

Track List:
  1. Road to Sanda-Gora
  2. You Are Here!
  3. Sharya
  4. Three Angels Are Sent To Kologriv
Nothing is known about this band, except they're from Kostroma and they're playing instrumental post-rock inspired by the nature of their home region and its Meryan heritage. The Merya were an ethnic group inhabiting the territory between modern-day Moscow and Kostroma about a millenium ago. Next to nothing is known about them or their language, except for the fact of their existence, yet they're generally assumed to be Volga Finno-Ugric people, probably related to the Mari people.

The area formerly inhabited by the Merya is well known for having a lot of apparently non-Slavic toponyms with no clear meaning and etymology, which most likely come from some unidentified non-Indo-European languages. Quite a lot of these place names (especially those ending with -ma, -ksha, -khta) appear to come from a single language whose word structure and phonetics are surprisingly similar to what's reconstructed for the hypothetical Proto-Uralic language. Some people assume it to be the Meryan language, although it's highly dubious. This demo is fully instrumental anyway, so the knowledge of Meryan isn't required to enjoy it :)

From what I could gather, the band was planning to release a 5-track EP titled "A Morbid Tale", but there were no news from them since May 2016, so I don't even know if they still play together. Anyway, these 4 tracks are good (especially the last two ones), and I'm definitely going to listen them in my future trips to Kostroma, Sharya, or elsewhere in that region :3

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Goblin - "Suspiria" [1977]

Artist: Goblin
Title: Suspiria
Genre: Avant-Prog, Jazz-Rock
Country: Italy
Year: 1977

Track List:
  1. Suspiria
  2. Witch
  3. Opening To The Sighs
  4. Sighs
  5. Markos
  6. Black Forest
  7. Blind Concert
  8. Death Valzer
  9. Suspiria (Narration)
  10. Markos (Alternate Version)
  11. Suspiria (Intro)
  12. Suspiria (Daemonia Version)
There are several progressive rock/RIO releases from 80s and late 70s which were claimed to be "some of the scariest music ever recorded", i.e. "Heresie" by Univers Zero and "Les Morts Vont Vite" by Shub-Niggurath. Although Goblin never were a part of the RIO movement, many of their works deserve to be on that list too - especially this particular album, which is a soundtrack for Dario Argento's 1977 movie "Suspiria". Without the soundtrack and the unusual color scheme, "Suspiria" would be just an ordinary horror movie like many other, but the combination of vibrant colors and blaring music created a very intense atmosphere (because of which, "Suspiria" is often considered to be one of the scariest horror films of all time).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Luigi Russolo - "Die Kunst der Geräusche" [2000]

Artist: Luigi Russolo
Title: Die Kunst der Geräusche
Genre: Noise, Avant-Garde Classical
Country: Italy
Year: 2000 (composed during 1910-20s)

Track List:
  1. Risveglio Di Una Città
  2. Crepitatore
  3. Ululatore
  4. Gracidatore
  5. Gorgogliatore
  6. Ronzatore
  7. Arco Enarmonico
  8. Antonio Russolo - Corale
  9. Antonio Russolo - Serenata
  10. Francesco Balilla Pratella - L'Aviatore Dro Op. 33: Fragmente 2. und 3. Akt für Klavier, Rombatore, Sibilatore, Scoppiatore, Ululatore und Stimmen
  11. Giacomo Balla - Macchina Tipografica
  12. Fortunato Depero - Canzone Rumorista
  13. Riccardo Santoboni / Rossana Maggia - Omaggio a Luigi Russolo für Stimme und digitale Intonarumori
Many people who are interested in noise and industrial music know the name of Italian futurist Luigi Russolo, whose 1913 manifesto "The Art Of Noises" laid the foundation for the noise music scene. However, not many actually have listened to his noise compositions, until the German label WERGO, specialized in avant-garde classical music, has released this book/CD set in 2000. I think it should be listened by everyone who's into avant-garde music, and it won't take too much time anyway (the whole album is less than 25 minutes long). It features 7 original compositions by Luigi Russolo (mostly quite short), and 6 tracks by other futurists which generally sound less noisy and more like conventional music than Russolo's ones.

If you want to know more about Italian futurist music of the early XX century, you may also want to check out the compilation "Musica Futurista: The Art Of Noises" which isn't hard to find on the net, but it mostly consists of more or less conventional piano music, with only Russolo (and maybe also Marinetti) being truly "avant-garde" artists. As for Russian futurist movement of the same time, it was mostly about poetry and (to a lesser extent) visual art, and its ideology differs significantly from that of Italian futurists; however,the early Soviet Union did produce several interesting avant-garde musical works, like this one:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ганс Зиверс - "Кровавый Навет" [1986]

Artist: Ганс Зиверс
Title: Кровавый Навет
Genre: Neofolk, singer-songwriter
Country: USSR
Year: 1986

Track List:
  1. Астарот
  2. Аннабель
  3. В советском подвале
  4. Пубертатная революция
  5. Les structures de la pensee alchemique... (Диссертация)
  6. На острове Лесбос
  7. Нарцисс
  8. В розовом стакане
  9. Эверс
  10. Кадиллак
  11. Агасфер
  12. Нога (Песня о матери)
  13. Гелиополис
  14. Палестина
  15. Танго СА
  16. Москва 1982
  17. Золушка
  18. Гарпия
  19. В садах Гесперид
  20. У маркиза де Сада
  21. Violette
Yet another rare artefact of the Soviet underground scene, whose significance would probably be hard to understand outside the cultural context within which it was created, but which I'll post here anyway just for the sake of completeness. It's 30 years since this album was released, and the person behind this project is an internationally famous (or rather infamous) and controversial politician now. I'll leave finding out his real name to you (in case if you're interested ofc.), and will rather focus on the music, which is possibly the only example of Soviet neofolk (good or not). As for the pseudonym under which this album was published - it's a portmanteau of "Hanns Ewers" and "Wolfram Sievers".

The songs on this album were written during 1981-84 and recorded in 1986 with a cheap tape recorder. In 2000, the album was released on CD by Ur-Realist Records. Of course you shouldn't expect much from it: when it comes to music, it's just typical "one man and his acoustic guitar" type of songs which was the most common type of independent music in 1960-80s USSR, and just like in case with most other singers-songwriters of this kind, there isn't much to listen to if you don't understand the lyrics.

The lyrical content of this album, however, is starkly different from almost everything released in USSR (no matter officially or unoficially) before. The lyrics are inspired mainly by XIX century Romanticism and gothic horror literature, as well as ancient mythos, medieval occult literature, and the 3rd Reich mysticism - basically, everything that projects like Death In June took their inspiration from (although I seriously doubt that anyone in the USSR knew about DI6 or Currect 93 in the early 80s). Ultumately, it's one of the most provocative and unusual releases in the Soviet underground scene before the late perestroika, and it deserves a place in history no matter if you love or hate it (or its author).

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Izakaron - "Chaoschrist" [2000]

Artist: Izakaron
Title: Chaoschrist
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2000

Track List:
  1. Hunting On Troyan Path
  2. Aphrodite Of Hatred
  3. Woods Of Thy Might
  4. Thou Art Incarnated Souls
  5. The Origin
  6. I Am Of The Serpent
  7. The Profound
  8. Cold Kingdom
  9. Benighted / At The 9th Gate
Surprisingly good symphonic black metal from the same era as the Valhalla album I'm posted here a couple of days ago. The band was formed in 1997 not so far from me - in Dzerzhinsk, a place that isn't very famous for its metal scene, and they were one of the first in my region to play black metal (along with Drauggard, which were formed in 2003, and whose early releases weren't nearly as good as this one). At least some of the band members were professional musicians (although I doubt if any of them still play any sort of music). Here's their only photo I could find, probably taken shortly after they have formed (later they've recruited some additional members, including a female keyboardist). It's so 90s :)

Fortunately, their music is much better than this photo, even if the quality of production isn't perfect (but fairly good for its time). "Chaoschrist" was one of the first black metal albums I've heard in early 2000s, and it left a strong impression on me at the time. Today, after I've listened to a myriad of metal albums, it doesn't impress me as much, but I still think it's a shame they haven't released anything beside this album (+ a couple of demos in late 90s)...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Valhalla - "Winterbastard" [2000]

Artist: Valhalla
Title: Winterbastard
Genre: Black Metal, "Forest Metal"
Country: Russia
Year: 2000

Track List:
  1. Winterbastard
  2. Dreams of Apocalypse
  3. ...Fireshine of Lightnings
  4. Wintry Dreams
  5. Towards the Eternal Unlight ...on Black Wings of Death
  6. Ins Nama'v Great Fyr
  7. Requiem to the Welkin
  8. Starflaming Heart of Ural
  9. Eve of Winterdawn
There's a shitton of bands called Valhalla: alone lists 21 of them (counting the exact matches only). This particular one were pioneers of Urals black metal scene, along with Thy Repentance. I won't bother with writing their history down, because it's already done on their official site. It mentions a demo tape which should be released in winter 2001-2002, but apparently it never was, so this album and the earlier demo "The Wolfish Nocturne" remain Valhalla's only releases.

Today, Valhalla is remembered mostly because Satt aka 121 was in their line-up since autumn 1997. Later he went on founding several other projects including Velehentor, as well as his own webzine where he mostly tears apart shitty obscure black metal releases from all over the world. On "Winterbastard", he mostly plays keyboards, but he also has performed vocals in 3 tracks which were recorded after Valhalla's original vocalist was fired from the band in early 2000.

Musically, it's definitely black metal inspired by Scandinavian bands of the 90s, but the band members themselves preferred to call it "Forest Metal". I can see where they were coming from: "Winterbastard" is too atmospheric and has too much keyboards to be counted as "trve" black metal by 90's standards. Thanks to Satt's keyboard work, at times it sound surprisingly similar to Rakoth's "Planeshift", which also was recorded in late 90s, and features lots of keyboards too. I have no complains about both of the vocalists (Schur and Satt) as neither of them sounds annoying to me (which is often the case with melodic/symphonic black metal, sadly), but my personal favourite on "Winterbastard" is the instrumental epic "Starflaming Heart of Ural". As for the album's name, it's a wordplay which unfortunately was lost in translation.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Velehentor ‎- "Boeing: There And Back Again" [2004]

Artist: Velehentor
Title: Boeing: There And Back Again
Genre: Dark Ambient, Power Electronics, Rhythmic Noise
Country: Russia
Year: 2004

Track List:
  1. Opening The Womb Of Enola Gay (Lullaby For The Empire Of Rising Sun)
  2. Eternity Of An Instance
  3. New Sun Is Setting Over The World
  4. Wargasm 911
  5. Flights Grounded
  6. 168:1
I already have posted a short overview of this project (which is one of the most professional and best known dark ambient / industrial / noise projects from Russia) a couple of years ago, but I think it'd be timely to post this particular release on this day. Its name is an obvious pun on "Hobbit: There And Back Again", and the track names suggest such sources of inspiration as the Hiroshima bombing (#1-3), the 9/11 attack (#4-5), and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 (#6). Musically, it's quite diverse, ranging from pure dark ambient (#2) to rhythmic noise and power electronics, and generally fits the whole "anti-human electronic music" line of the whole Velehentor's discography - although the project is best known for releases like "Stonewells of Aeternity" and "Dyatlov's Pass", which are more or less pure dark ambient.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Xmal Deutschland - "Fetisch" [1983]

Artist: Xmal Deutschland
Title: Fetisch
Genre: Gothic Rock, Post-Punk
Country: Germany
Release date: 1983

Track List: 
  1. Qual
  2. Geheimnis
  3. Young Man
  4. In der Nacht
  5. Orient
  6. Hand in Hand
  7. Kämpfen
  8. Danthem
  9. Boomerang
  10. Stummes Kind
  11. Qual (12" remix)
  12. Zeit
  13. Sehnsucht
The debut full-length album by Xmal Deutschland, generally not as interesting as the subsequent two releases, but all the trademark elements of XmalD sound and atmosphere are already present on this one. "Hand in Hand" is an especially good track, albeit very minimalistic.

Xmal Deutschland - "Viva" [1987]

Artist: Xmal Deutschland
Title: Viva
Genre: Gothic Rock, Post-Punk
Country: Germany
Release date: 1987

Track List:
  1. Matador
  2. Eisengrau
  3. Sickle Moon
  4. If Only
  5. Feuerwerk (31·Dez)
  6. Illusion
  7. Morning (Will There Really Be)
  8. Manchmal
  9. Polarlicht
  10. Ozean
  11. Dogma I
  12. 4
"Viva" is the 3rd album by Xmal Deutschland, released 3 years after their best work "Tocsin". In terms of sound and atmosphere, it's somewhere between "Toscin" and XmalD's late 90's new wave works that had more to do with 80's pop than gothic rock. That said, "Viva" is 100% old style goth rock/post-punk, just a bit "lighter" than XmalD's first two releases, and with more English lyrics. If you follow my blog closely, you probably already are familiar with one of the best songs off this album, "Polarlicht" (which was covered by Coptic Rain on their "Discovery" EP). The two opening tracks are awesome too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Xmal Deutschland - "Tocsin" [1984]

Artist: Xmal Deutschland
Title: Tocsin
Genre: Gothic Rock, Post-Punk
Country: Germany
Release date: 1984

Track List: 
  1. Mondlicht
  2. Eiland
  3. Reigen
  4. Tag für Tag
  5. Augenblick
  6. Begrab mein Herz
  7. Nachtschatten
  8. Xmas In Australia
  9. Derwisch
  10. Incubus Succubus II
  11. Vito
Xmal (or X Mal, X-mal) Deutschland were an important old-school gothic rock band from Hamburg, Western Germany. I already have mentioned them in connection with Coptic Rain, but this album (the best in their discography, in my opinion) deserves its own entry.

Xmal Deutschland started in 1980 as an all-girl band, and while this album had a different line-up, all vocals on there are female, performed by Anja Huwe with her unique "howling" style. XmalD are often compared to Siouxsie & The Banshees, but I think their music is much darker, more "gothic" than "(post-)punk" or "new wave" etc. In particular, this album sounds exactly how the classic gothic rock should sound IMO. I well remember showing it during mid-2000s to the people whose idea of "gothic rock" were HIM-like bands :) Too bad XmalD had to split up in early 1990s (just like many other interesting 80s' acts), and didn't receive the recognition they've deserved. Still, they managed to release this album on 4AD records, which gave them some international recognition (which wasn't that easy for a band singing primarily in German). The atmosphere on this album is just amazing, which might be the reason why it left a much stronger impression on me than many much better known releases by British goth rock bands from the same epoch.