Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nebelnest - "Zepto" [2006]

Artist: NeBeLNeST
Title: ZePTo
Label: Cuneiform Records
Genre: Avant-Prog
Country: France
Release date: 2006

Track List:
  1. Pillars of Birth
  2. Manjnuns
  3. The Old Ones
  4. The Thing in the Walls
  5. Fabric of Reality
  6. De Thriumpho Naturae
  7. Do What Thou Wilt
  8. Station 9

Another French avant-prog band, strongly influenced by Rock In Opposition movement (but significantly heavier than most RIO bands). Here's their third and most recent album, "ZePTo" (capitalization rule - all consonants are in capitals, unlike the vowels). Besides the obvious references to Crowley ("Do What Thou Wilt") and Lovecraft ("The Old Ones"), the album has a strong futuristic feel, and creates a "cosmic" atmosphere. Happy Cosmonautics Day, BTW!


Magma - "Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh" [1973]

Artist: Magma
Title: Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Genre: Avant-Prog, Zeuhl
Country: France
Release date: 1973

Track List:
  1. Hortz Fur Dëhn Stekëhn West
  2. Ïma Süri Dondaï
  3. Kobaïa Is de Hündïn
  4. Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanïk
  5. Nebëhr Gudahtt
  6. Mekanïk Kommandöh
  7. Kreühn Köhrmahn Iss de Hündïn

...And speaking of Magma - here's their most well-known album, "Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh", released in 1973. MDK is considered to be a seminal work for the whole zeuhl genre, and a very original release even by nowadays standards. At first listening, my impression was like "WTF am I listening to??!!", but after ~10 re-listenings it became like: "Wait... but this is great!!!". Need I say more? Here you can read a detailed review of MDK and an explanation of it's sci-fi concept. I can only add that the only downside of this release, IMO, is that the Kobaïan language turned out not quite as exotic as I expected. Bands singing in made-up languages always fascinated me, but Kobaïan sounds quite like Dutch or some weird German dialect, not something that I would expect from an extraterrestrial language...


Shub-Niggurath - "Les Morts Vont Vite" [1986]

Artist: Shub-Niggurath
Title: Les Morts Vont Vite
Genre: Avant-Prog
Country: France
Release date: 1986

Track List:
  1. Incipit Tragedia
  2. Cabine 67
  3. Yog Sothoth
  4. La Ballade De Lénore
  5. Delear Prius
  6. J'ai Vu Naguère En Peinture Les Harpies Ravissant Le Repas De Phynée

"SHUB-NIGGURATH was formed in 1983 and consisted of six musicians: Allan Ballaud on bass, percussionist Franck Coulaud, Frank Fromy on guitar and percussion, Jean-Luc Herve on harmonium, piano and organ, vocalist Ann Stewart, and a trombone/bass player Veronuque Verdier. The band released their first untitled demo on 1985 and got good feedback from critics. The promising debut album, "Les Morts Von Vite", was released on Musea label in 1987. The album received good reviews and is their finest moment: it caught the band at the peak of their creativity. Musea reissued this album on CD in 1997, including two rare bonus tracks. The debut sold well and later, in 87, SHUB NIGGURATH's song appeared on Musea's Zeuhl compilation "Enneade", a tribute to the legacy of Magma. [...] SHUB-NIGGURATH's best album is the debut, and it's also the best place to start exploring their music. However, their career has been fairly consistent and the other two albums are quality efforts. If you like dark, brooding mix of RIO and Zeuhl you will like SHUB-NIGGURATH. their avant-ish dark prog with a sharp edge is both unique and challenging"

While I can't say this album reminds me of Magma, it's definitely a classic and should be recommended to anyone who wants to hear some progressive rock that's really hard to get into. The atmosphere on "Les Morts Vont Vite" is quite dark, but what else to expect from a Lovecraftian band?..

Komintern - "Le Bal Du Rat Mort" [1971]

Artist: Komintern
Title: Le Bal Du Rat Mort
Genre: Avant-Prog
Country: France
Release date: 1971

Track List:
  1. Bal Pour Un Rat Vivant
  2. Hommage Au Marie De Tours
  3. Petite Musique Pour Un Blockhaus
  4. Pongistes De Tous Les Pays
  5. Fou, Roi, Pantin

One more album released in 1971 that was influenced by early hyper-progressive rock and radical politics of May 1968. Komintern, a French band formed in 1970 and disbanded in 1975, are often labeled as "the first Rock In Opposition band". While I can't fully agree with that (as the whole RIO thing started in 1978), Komintern definitely were one of the most important precursors to the whole RIO movement. Can't believe "Le Bal Du Rat Mort" was released in 1971!

P.S. Some members of Komintern were also active in an avant-garde act called Red Noise. While I couldn't find any of their recordings, their name sounds promising, and I wonder if they sounded at least remotely similar to the earliest 70s' industrial acts. The whole thing of mixing avant-garde (anti-music) and radical political imagery strongly reminds me of Throbbing Gristle, early Laibach and the early industrial scene in general. German Oak, Faust and Neu! were called "proto-industrial" on several occasions, but I think it can be applied to a much wider spectrum of 70s' avant-prog.


Knutna Nävar - "Internationalen & Andra Revolutionära Arbetarsånger" [1971]

Artist: Knutna Nävar
Title: Internationalen & Andra Revolutionära Arbetarsånger
Label: Proletärkultur
Genre: Folk / Progg
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1971

Track List:
  1. Internationalen
  2. Arbetarmarseljäsen
  3. Demonstrationssång (Roter Wedding)
  4. Röda fanor
  5. Visa att sjungas i fängelse
  6. Om jag någonsin ska strida
  7. Dialektikens lov
  8. Arbetare och förtryckta
  9. I ena handen hackan
  10. Rorsmannen
  11. Sång om Kina
  12. Kampsång (Warschawjanka)
  13. Lappen och rocken
  14. Lär av historien
  15. Proletären

Another early-70s progressive rock band, this time from Sweden, known for their heavy use of extreme political imagery. "Internationalen & Andra Revolutionära Arbetarsånger" is their debut album, and probably the best in their discography (they also have at least one more LP, "Svarta Listornas Folk", and a couple of singles). Some tracks on it are Knutna Nävar's original material (my favourite is "Visa att sjungas i fängelse"), some - cover versions of well-known revolutionary songs like The Internationale, Marsellaise, Roter Wedding, and Warschawjanka. As you might already know I always liked such songs covered by rock and punk bands (like Banda Bassotti or Leningrad 44), and it's definitely great to hear these songs sung in Swedish - although my favourite version of Roter Wedding is the original German version performed by Ernst Busch, and my favourite version of Warschawjanka is in Hungarian (by Magyar Néphadsereg Művészegyüttese). Don't know for the rest of numerous Swedish political progressive rock bands (known as the "progg" scene), but Knutna Nävar's music is hardly rock at all - in my opinion, it'd better be called "riot folk". Their tunes are relatively simplistic, yet very catchy; + I like the female vocals in some of them.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

German Oak – "Nibelungenlied" [1976]

Artist: German Oak
Title: Nibelungenlied
Genre: Krautrock, Avant-Prog
Country: Germany
Release date: 1976

Track List:
  1. The Heroic Deeds Of Siegfried
  2. Nibelungenlied I: Siegfried & Kriemhild
  3. Gunter & Brunhild
  4. Hagen Von Tronje
  5. Siegfried's Death
  6. Dankwart, Ruediger & Hildebrandt
  7. Dietrich Von Bern
  8. Nibelungenlied II
  9. Lament

The second and unfortunately the last album by German Oak, which is even more amazing than the s/t debut. While the debut one was ispired by WWII history, "Nibelungenlied" is based on... guess what? Right, The Song of the Nibelungs (which also was one of the main sources of inspiration for R.Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" cycle of operas).


German Oak - s/t [1972]

Artist: German Oak
Title: German Oak
Genre: Krautrock, Avant-Prog
Country: Germany
Release date: 1972

Track List:
  1. Swastika Rising
  2. The Third Reich
  3. Shadows Of War / Rain Of Destruction
  4. Airalert
  5. Down In The Bunker
  6. Raid Over Dusseldorf
  7. 1945 - Out Of The Ashes

"In the strange Olympic summer of 1972, the Düsseldorf instrumental group (community of 5 hippies / open mind artists) German Oak entered the Luftschutzbunker (or Air Raid Shelter), in order to record their eponymous first self-titled LP. The purpose of recording in a bunker was to recreate the feelings experienced by German soldiers during the Allied invasion of 1944. The strange acoustic conditions in the bunker made the music, which was a series of long, spacious guitar jams, sound distant and filled with echo. The cover of album (a militaristic image which is a portrait of the third Reich military force) provides an illustration of anger expressed by the WWII’s young generation against their parents. Julian Cope, in his in-depth review of the album, describes the bands sound in unequivocal terms: “…imagine a brutally recorded, brazen and ultra-skeletal industrial white funk played with all the claw-handed technique of the Red Crayola recording their famous Hurricane Fighting Plane. By consequence German Oak’s music is very tortured, dark and weird, dominated by heavy, “distorted” guitar solos & rhythms. The background creates “painful” & “ambient” sequences thanks to delay echoes, electronic “fuzzy” noises & repetitive bass lines. A funkadelic / jazzy felt punctuates with discretion this grandiose. In a rather discretion they also recorded (1972-76) the moody, cloudy and experimental epic-kraut Nibenlungenieg.""

IMO, German Oak are notable primarily because they were probably the first cryptofa band. While I dislike the whole cryptofa movement (mostly because they were too aggressive when forcing CF as a meme), I also admit that there's a lot of people fascinated by the history and symbolism of totalitarian and genocidal regimes, but not being fascists themselves. The industrial (and especially martial industrial) scene is full of such people, and I like German Oak's hyper progressive rock as much as I like early 80's industrial acts. I won't listen to such kind of music every day, but I think it's a must to know such classics.