Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: Troubadours of the Apocalypse edited by Troy Southgate


Good day everyone!

Been a while since I’ve posted here, time to rectify that!

I’ve been busy, both on the neofolk front and other academia front. I’ve been working on an essay about Meteorite-Horror films (such as The Blob, Monolith Monsters, The Deadly Spawn) for inclusion in another edited anthology, so that’s been a huge focus for me. I’m also working on an essay to celebrate the 20 year anniversary (which is today!) of the movie Hackers.

I’ve had a few non-neofolk genre article published at Heathen Harvest since my last post. First, I did a concert report on the KMFDM tour this summer, their stop in LA with Ravens Moreland and CHANT. You can find my write up here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/08/26/live-report-kmfdm-chant-ravens-moreland-in-los-angeles/

Next I did a review of the tanz-metal album Unternehmen by Giftstrauch. That review can be found here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/08/28/giftstrauch-unternehmen/

However, the most important thing I’ve done was my book review of Troubadours of the Apocalypse, which was published last night.

Troubadours of the Apocalypse by Troy Southgate
My personal copy of Troubadours of the Apocalypse - signed by Troy Southgate and Richard Leviathan


This is a book edited and self published by Troy Southgate of H.E.R.R. It's a collection of essays by many musicians in the genre, such as Gerhard Hallstatt from Allerseelen, Robert Taylor from Changes, Richard Leviathan from Ostara and Raymond P. from The Days of the Trumpet Call.

It came out earlier this year and has long been sold out, but I got the opportunity to review it now. I’ve done one other book review, Simone Castaldi’s Drawn and Dangerous for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics under Taylor and Francis, so this was a nice opportunity to do another book review and pursue it in an academic fashion.




I’m extremely proud of this review, it’s very in-depth and detailed. So I hope yall enjoy reading it too!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Hidden Place - Retrospettiva: 2004 - 2014

Bam! Two reviews in mere days of each other!

I got a review uploaded at Heathen Harvest for the best of album, Retrospettiva: 2004 - 2014 by Hidden Place. I know it's more of a synthpop band, but the members have strong ties to the neofolk scene (via Lupi Gladius), and plus they did appear on the neofolk compilations Credo in Unum Deum and the tribute album Georg Kolbe Bildwerke.



The review for the compilation can be found here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/07/28/hidden-place-retrospettiva-2004-2014/

But don't forget, I did an interview with the beautiful Sara Lux not too long ago which can be found here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/05/18/a-day-without-time-an-interview-with-sara-lux-of-hidden-place/

And my original Lupi Gladius review too:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/03/02/lupi-gladius-veritas/

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: Green Elder - Offering & Massenhysterie - selftitled

Good afternoon everyone!

It's late in the summer season, and how appropriate - I have a new review published at Heathen Harvest that is about the summer.

I had the fortune to review Offering by Green Elder, an Appalachian neofolk band that's the side project of Paul Ravenwood of Twilight Fauna. I used my personal copy of the vinyl, and I have to say, it's a stunning release.

Personal autographed copy of Offering

You can read the review here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/07/26/green-elder-offering/

Also, though it's not neofolk, but more dark-EBM-industrial-dance, I reviewed the sexy and sultry debut of Massenhysterie.

She's so dreamy!

Please give that a read too - it's also a great project.

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/07/04/massenhysterie-massenhysterie/

Friday, June 26, 2015

Concert Report: Ostara and Caitlin Danenhauer - Los Angeles 2015


Hello everyone!

I have a new article published at Heathen Harvest – a concert report! The other month, Richard Leviathan of Ostara was in Los Angeles working on his next album and performance a one man acoustic show. I was there to document the event, and that is now published here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/06/26/live-report-ostara-richard-leviathan-in-los-angeles/

However, I want to create an addendum to this concert report. One of the preceding acts before Richard Leviathan was a local musician, Caitlin Danenhauer. While I devoted some of the write up to her, I only got to quote and use some of the responses from her when I was composing the article. I’d like to publish the other questions and answers I had in dialog with her to my blog here, so please enjoy this addendum to the Ostara report with this focus on Danenhauer:

You had mentioned from me you had split from your prior band and were performing solo right now. Perhaps you can elaborate on this?

Kybele was my first-ever music project, and when I was choosing a name I saw her myth as a metaphor for what I was experiencing inwardly -- the legend that she was abandoned in the woods as a baby and raised by wild lions was the first of hers that I came across.  In the myth she becomes such a powerful witch that she evolves into an immortal goddess.  I find a lot of my own sources of power and inspiration coming from nature and animals, and for a long time I was exploring my inner states and creating from the center outward.

With Betty Petty, my new project, I'm more interested in starting at the surface of things and seeing how that reflects back at me and the people watching or listening. I'm more inspired right now by what we can perceive from outward appearances and how these impressions effect us for better or worse.  I think I'll always work on Kybele, but for now I wanted to take a new direction with my music.  I won't actually be performing as Betty Petty solo, ultimately, but as I've been writing new songs my band is on tour with their other project, The Cigarette Bums.


Would you like to share your set list of that performance?

I don't actually remember everything I played that night, but I would like to share a video I made for Kybele.  I shot it totally by myself on an iPhone, did all the music except for the bass and some slide guitar, and edited it, and I feel like it communicates so much about what I was trying to do with Kybele. YouTube: Kybele "Wheels" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDy6_Mxjx4c

What did you hope to accomplish with your performance?

It was an unusual show for me because normally with Kybele I'm pretty committed to connecting with her vibe -- communion with nature spirits, fortitude, wildness -- but I was also trying out a lot of new material that was Betty Petty, and that's a whole character I'm just getting into. It was also the first solo show I've had in a while, so I was really just trying not to butcher the songs.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review/Interview: Changes & Autre Que - Ride the Tiger


Introduction / Preamble

Greetings everyone!

I am extremely happy that this year has been one of my most prolific ones in regards to my writing. I’ve been contributing content to Heathen Harvest (I’ve had seven reviews and one interview published so far, with many more in the pipeline), and I’ll soon be working on my next essay for print publication in an anthology, which may either be on Italian space horror films of the 1960s, or meteor horror films.

While I am excited for all this writing, it also means my writing here has been a little more neglected. I’ve been working on some essays for a long time now, and I’ll confess it’s tough at times. We shall see how I juggle what I do here, but I’ll definitely keep posting links to my Heathen Harvest articles here since in the grand scheme of things, it is helping me be a better scholar and writer about neofolk music.

This entry is on the Changes Ride the Tiger vinyl. After concluding the Changes portion of the Terra Fria split CD with Andrew King, doing a rather quick essay and review of this vinyl seemed a proper way to bookend the Changes material. The two tracks of this vinyl are canonical to the Terra Fria split, so it is the hope that this document along with the prior essay (which can be found here: http://heiligetod.blogspot.com/2014/09/terra-fria-retrospective-changes.html ) provides the definitive account of these songs. This essay will also shine more light on the French Autre Que label that released Ride the Tiger. Sincere gratitude goes to both Nicholas Tesluk and Nathalie of Autre Que for allowing me to interview them for this essay.

Biasness

As with the Terra Fria essay, I will overtly state my biasness in this essay is due to my long term friendship with Nicholas Tesluk. I’ll also say this review is coming from the most academic and democratic lens possible.

Packaging

Ride the Tiger is a 7” picture disc that was released by Autre Que in the Fall of 2013. The A side displays an original artwork by R. N. Taylor that depicts a tiger inserted inside a yantra. The B side of the vinyl contains both credits for the record but also a chronological order of tour dates and locations Changes played at during their Ride the Tiger tour in 2013.

Changes - Ride the Tiger from my personal collection


Changes Partnership with Autre Que

Though Changes has had a rich past with the Austrian Hau Ruck! label, who has released a bulk of their albums, Changes also has a great relationship the French label Autre Que, who not only released the Ride the Tiger vinyl, but also coordinated the ambitious Ride the Tiger Tour. Autre Que was born from the ashes of the webzine Heimdallr and is considered a not-for-profit cultural association per French law.1

Tesluk reflects on how the partnership between Changes and Autre Que came to be:


It was truly an interesting evolution.  When Changes performed at the Flammenzauber Festival in Heldrungen, Germany in 2004, a compilation CD was produced of all of the bands that would be performing.  They had also asked for any material that each of the members may have done outside of their respective group.  Fortunately for me and my other incarnation with Phase II, Robert Taylor submitted, along with a side project of his own, tracks from Phase II’s public access radio program from 1978 to Axel Frank, one of the organizers of Flammenzauber.  Thus, two of the early Phase II songs were used on that compilation. 

I received a message from Nathalie of Autre Que shortly after the CD’s release, inquiring about Phase II and asking if there was any other material in our published repertoire.  This began a life-long friendship between Nathalie and me, and consequently between Nathalie and Changes.2

Autre Que itself has been around for a few years, having released Ô Paradis’ El Juengo Negro and a re-release of Rûna by the legendary Fire + Ice. These releases have received extremely beautiful treatments under Autre Que’s own Nathalie’s stewardship, who also coordinates tours of various bands, such as the Fire + Ice Fractured Europe Tour. The quality behind Autre Que’s releases and the ability to take on coordinating touring really sets the label apart from the pack, as is evident in the label’s name proper. Nathalie elaborates:


Autre Que means what any reliable dictionary would translate by “other than” or “different from”. It is also an ancient oral expression from the south of France known mainly by the elders and used to show one’s emphatic agreement with someone else’s opinion. Therefore, it happens that I sometimes hear these two words in the mouth of people who know nothing about my activities. I picked this name for each and every [one] of these reasons.3

The beautiful picture discs of Autre Que are a hallmark of quality, but they are also extremely limited in their production. For instance, Ride the Tiger was limited to 240 copies. Vinyl, as medium of choice, harkens back to the pre-Autre Que days with Heimdallr:


It is also under the Heimdallr banner that I had my first experience with a vinyl production through the Europa Aeterna LP compilation, released in 2006 as a vinyl testimony to the six years of activity with the webzine.
With hindsight, they were the necessary and inescapable years of learning in the process that lead to the last and present actions of Autre Que.4

The roster of Autre Que thus far includes Changes, Fire + Ice, and Ô Paradis’, and seems as exclusive as their releases, but Nathalie clarifies this:


It is much easier to do a lot than to do little. Exclusivity is probably a strong word as Autre Que doesn’t exclude anyone although I certainly don’t strive to work with the whole scene either or to build up the largest catalogue possible. Quality is above quantity in my book and I avoid mediocrity like the plague. The genuine and unique nature of [these] bands and the fact that they certainly haven’t become a parody of themselves but have improved and transformed for the better instead is one of the reasons why they feature on Autre Que.5


Genesis of Ride the Tiger

Much like the Terra Fria split CD, the Ride the Tiger vinyl came about as a unique way to help finance the Ride the Tiger Tour that Autre Que was coordinating, while at the same time providing an exclusive release for concert goers. Tesluk elaborates the practicality of the vinyl:


It was to be a special Autre Que release for Changes and would consequently be a merchandising highlight and special souvenir or keepsake of the tour, similar to a one time published program of a theater performance.  Surely, it would have also been a great financial aide, not only for the tour, but to reimburse Autre Que’s considerable expenses incurred in producing the disc.  Even more than the T-Shirt and any of the other items of merchandise, however, this picture disc truly was a very special item.  We sold more at the locations where our friends/fans were more interested in vinyl than at the places where people shunned vinyl for CDs, but it is a coveted item and worthy of purchase, even if never played.6

Tesluk further clarifies the importance of making a vinyl picture disc:


Our intent was to do a vinyl 7-inch from the start instead of a CD, since we only had the two songs with which to work as they were very fitting to the concept of the tour.  The original idea was to make a colored vinyl 7-inch with a picture sleeve.  The thought was to use yellow/orange vinyl with black stripes running through to simulate the tiger of our tour logo.  Then, the idea evolved into the possibility of a picture disc.  I own several 12 inch picture discs and they are very special to me, one in particular is a picture disc by Sting’s group, The Police, which is cut in the shape of a policeman’s badge.  My thought was that a picture disc would be a very special keepsake indeed.7

Production of the Vinyl

As with the Terra Fria release, the best laid plans tend to hit snags. The actual creation of the picture disc ran into a huge critical problem:


Nathalie checked with the fine German company that produces all of Autre Que’s vinyl and they said they did manufacture picture discs.  So I designed the graphics and we were ready to roll with it.

What the record company didn’t tell Nathalie was that they, in fact, don’t produce picture discs themselves and were farming it out to another company in the Czech Republic.  This wouldn’t have been a problem, per se, but due to the chain of communications and processing and shipping delays, we soon discovered that we would definitely not have the shipment ready for the start of the Ride the Tiger tour.  This devastating news, along with other stress factors at that time was quite a depressing and disappointing revelation since we were definitely counting on picture disc sales for the entire tour. 

Consequently, we didn’t actually receive the shipment until we arrived in Austria.  We had already performed at the great MJR Festival in Lithuania, returned to Nice for a few days, traveled to and performed in Genoa, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark and did two performances in Germany, all of which would have been great venues at which to sell the picture discs.  If there was one factor that could be called disappointing for the Ride the Tiger Tour, this was it.8

Ride the Tiger - reverse side 

Regardless of the setback, the vinyl saw the light of day and was available during the tour, with a few copies left over to be sold online. Though the record pressing proper ran into problems, the design work of the vinyl was much smoother. Tesluk provides insight into the creative process of designing the vinyl (along with other Changes works):


As with most everything I’ve done in life, I’m autodidactic with graphical software such as Photoshop, Paint, etc.  So back in the day of the creation of the Orphan in the Storm album, I quickly developed my abilities in digital layout while working on the graphics of that album.   I have then done all of the work on digital text layout and the graphical work of all of our albums and advertising posters, advertisements and banners ever since.  Speaking of which, when the Orphan in the Storm album was released, as it was our follow-up to the original Fire of Life album which had the graphics created by Michael Moynihan, he paid me the highest compliment by saying that my graphic work on the Orphan album stood as a perfect complement to his work on Fire of Life. 

So basically for the layout of the Ride the Tiger picture disc, I received the specifications from the pressing plant and proceeded to fit Robert’s tiger image to the front of the disc.I had previously taken Robert’s oil painting which was very similar to the final graphical image and made the edges of the design perfectly symmetrical for the Ride the Tiger tour use, so that redeveloped image was inserted on the front of the disc.  For the back of the picture disc, I took only the layer of the outer design of the tiger image and darkened it so that the typeface would be easily visible on it and then added the text of all of our tour dates to that. 

Nathalie and I had agreed that it is always very risky to list tour dates as often dates and venues change after the item has gone to the printer or in this case the pressing plant, but we were fortunate that there was only one small change. The date we had listed for us performing at the MJR Festival in Lithuania changed from August 24, as listed to August 23.  But, as I told Nathalie, it wasn’t likely that anybody would use the picture disc as their reference for any of the concerts of the tour, and as aforementioned, we didn’t have the disc for the MJR festival anyway.9

Mahabharata of the Soul

“Mahabharata of the Soul” was extensively reviewed on the Terra Fria split essay that was published back in September 2014 and can be found here: http://heiligetod.blogspot.com/2014/09/terra-fria-retrospective-changes.html

The re-mastered version of “Mahabharata of the Soul” that appears on Ride the Tiger is clearly the superior of two versions, but both incarnations stand out as seminal Changes tracks.



Terra Fria version on Youtube

When the Sun Kings Reign Again

“When the Sun Kings Reign Again” is a composition unique solely to the Ride the Tiger vinyl, appearing on no other Changes release or compilation.  Taylor’s lyrics to “When the Sun Kings Reign Again” can be found in book two of his Lyrical Ballads chapbook.10


Song from the official Autre Que Youtube channel

As with “Mahabharata of the Soul,” “When the Sun Kings Reign Again” combines both apocalyptic elements with heroes/legendary figures elements. The apocalyptic elements are a bit reversed in the song however, as the lyrics are more optimistic. In this song, the (literal or figurative) apocalypse has already happened: the arrival of the Kali Yuga, the death of the West, which dragged the rest of the world with it, or the total takeover of modernity over traditionalism (take your pick). But the yugas are cyclical and will restart with the coming of the Satya Yuga, an age ruled by the gods, an in the case of this song, the Sun Kings, who provide the legendary/heroic component.

The lyrics of this song are a perfect compliment and conclusion to “Mahabharata of the Soul,” with Tesluk confirming the sequel nature of this song. Taylor composed the text while Tesluk composed the music. Tesluk clarifies this song writing configuration and will make the distinction more overt on future releases:

So far in our musical discography, any song that is co-written by Robert and myself (and in the case of Phase II, between Mark and myself) I am always the musical composer and each of them has written the lyrics.  Starting with the Changes’ Psychonautika album and the Phase II Fleeting Spirits album, I will start to indicate the lyricist and music composer on all of our co-written songs.11

In regards to the actual musical composition and drawing inspiration, Tesluk goes into great detail about creating “When the Sun Kings Reign Again”:

On “Anthem to Freedom” since the entire song is mine, I could give a synopsis of the whole creation.  With “Sun Kings” since I just set the lyrics to music, I will mostly tell of my part of the song.  When Robert wrote the lyrics, they were meant as a sequel to “Mahabharata of the Soul” with “Mahabharata” being the world’s civilization and culture moving towards the darkness, and with “Sun Kings” being the return from the maelstrom and the hope that that triumph entails.

The lyrics of “Sun Kings” conveyed the jubilance of celebration within me of the darkness turning to light, new dawn spreading its wings, etc.  Thus I wanted it to be set to celebratory music to capture that feeling.  It doesn’t always happen, but when I sat down with the lyrics and my guitar, the music and chord progressions just flowed out.  It’s always a good feeling when it works that way, because it seems that the song was in my head already, waiting to burst forth.  The first song that happened with was our iconic and poignant song, “The Saddest Thing,” where it has been noted that Robert penned the lyrics in a few minutes, and when I later arrived at his house to rehearse, I vividly remember sitting at the table with my guitar and immediately composing the music exactly as it has always been recorded and performed.12

Nathalie also shares sentiments about this track, with it being her favourite of the two:

“When The Sun Kings Reign Again” may be my favourite because it was unreleased before and I perfectly remember the feeling of joy when I played it for the first time. The guitar melody is absolutely beautiful and the lyrics immediately sounded as a new Changes anthem to me. This song was certainly an abundant source of energy and well-being during the months of work that preceded the tour.13

Miscellany: Typeface, Layouts, and the Iconic Changes Logo

A final curio, a little bit outside the scope of the Ride the Tiger vinyl, but still of importance, is Tesluk’s role with graphics, being working with Autre Que on layouts or creating the iconic Changes logo. For Autre Que, Tesluk had been involved with the layout for Ride the Tiger and Fire + Ice’s Rûna re-release along with other graphical assignments. Tesluk explains how this particular partnership came to be:

It turned out that when preparing the Fire + Ice vinyl release for Autre Que, the person with whom Nathalie had worked for the graphics of their previous releases became unavailable, so Nathalie asked if I could work with her.  I was honored to be asked and it turned out that Nathalie and I work very well together in the process as we both seem to have the same vision in everything we undertake.  I also worked as a consultant in her Ô Paradis vinyl release and recently worked with her on all of the advertising and graphics for the Fire + Ice/Knotwork Fractured Europe Tour.  It is a pleasure and refreshing to work with someone who has a similar strive for perfection.  We can each be honest with each other offering suggestions to change and improve the design we’ve started with, without offending each other as it is all part of trying to get everything perfectly the way we each envisioned.14

Fire + Ice - Runa (from my personal collection)

Nathalie compliments Tesluk’s contributions to Autre Que:

Nicholas is a close and long time friend. To ask him if he would be willing to get involved in the layout of the vinyls came naturally and our collaboration started with the Rûna LP. He is intelligent, perfectionist, skilled and capable to cope with my requirements: all the qualities I look for in people I work with. It is always a joy and a pleasure for me to work with Nicholas whatever the project.15

Tesluk’s interest in creating typography spans back to the 1960s when Changes was in its infancy:


It all started back in the mid-sixties when Robert and I started teaming up on posters that we planned to publish.  The first one we did together had Robert’s illustration of a pen and ink portrait of Henry David Thoreau behind bars for tax evasion and a quote below, faulting his friend, Emerson, for neutrality in light of the present oppression.  That was the first time that I realized that I had a real knack for shaping and spacing of letters in calligraphic form.  Again, autodidactic in calligraphy of all forms, but I did study a lot about the art in various books.  As with everything at which I’m self-taught, though I don’t have formal education on the subjects, I can’t say that I learn everything by trial-and-error, since I do usually have several reference books that I’ve learned from and use when I hit a roadblock.16

Changes logo from their official website


The Changes logo has been on every Changes album, and can also be found on shirts, merchandise, promotional material, and so on. Along with the colour purple, it’s an iconic and important component to the duo. Its genesis needs to be highlighted:


Much of what I’d done previously was based on traditional typestyles, both serif (like Times or Palatino) or a san-serif (like Arial or Helvetica) lettering.  When Robert and I decided on the name of the group, Changes, in 1969, I wanted to create a logo that would depict the feeling of what “Changes” meant.  In the original idea, my thought was to have a caterpillar entering on the left side of the logo and a butterfly emerging from the right.  Unfortunately, a caterpillar done in line drawing looks a bit too much like an earthworm, so that part of the idea was abandoned.  However, I think, early on we did have a butterfly that Robert had created emerging from the right side. 

Anyway, part of what I was trying to create with the logo style itself was a free-formed organic (though I don’t think the word “organic” was used as ubiquitously as it is today) typestyle.  Something that is not quite as obvious with the Changes logo itself, but since I have inked all of the titles of our albums in what we’ve come to know as the “Changes Lettering Style”, it becomes more apparent that depending on the position of letters in the title affects how that letter is formed along with the adjacent letters, some growing around the letter or some merging with the letter.  As Robert has said, it would be difficult to put the Changes Typestyle into a fixed reference alphabet, since there might be six different styles of say the letter “E” depending on where it falls within a word. 

Though I create all of our album graphics digitally now, I still hand sketch the Changes style titles on paper, scan them in to the computer and then digitally fill them in and color them according to the artwork used for the album covers.  Not that it isn’t possible to do it digitally using a Wacom device, but I just feel more comfortable creating and sketching the flow of the characters on paper.17


1.     Nathalie, email message to Nicholas Diak, February 2015, 22.
2.     Nicholas Tesluk, email message to Nicholas Diak, August 2014, 3.
3.     Nathalie, email.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Ibid.
6.     Tesluk, email.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Ibid.
10.  Robert Taylor, “When the Sun Kings Reign Again,” in The Lyrical Ballads of R.N. Taylor Book Two (West Union, WV: The Red Salon, 2014), 46.
11.  Tesluk, email.
12.  Ibid.
13.  Nathalie, email.
14.  Tesluk, email.
15.  Nathalie, email.
16.  Tesluk, email.
17.  Ibid.

Links

http://www.nmia.com/~thermite/ - Official Changes website
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialChangesPage - Official Facebook page for Changes
http://www.nicholastesluk.com/ - Nicholas Tesluk's art and gallery page




Monday, June 1, 2015

Interview: Lisa Duse of Porta Vittoria

Hello everyone!

A new interview I've conduced has been published at Heathen Harvest. This time around I had the honour to interview Lisa Duse of Porta Vittoria.

Long time readers of this blog will know my unabashed adore for Porta Vittoria and have reviewed them twice:

The first time here, for The Summer of Our Discomfort:

http://heiligetod.blogspot.com/2013/10/review-porta-vittoria-summer-of-our.html

The second time here for Die Bruecke:

http://heiligetod.blogspot.com/2015/02/reviewessay-porta-vittoria-and.html

And of course I incorporated them into my TSIDMZ essay here:

http://heiligetod.blogspot.com/2014/02/review-analysis-tsidmz-ungern-von.html

The honour to interview Lisa is extremely important to me. Porta Vittoria is one of my favourite bands, so this is an extremely important interview for me. I hope everyone considers reading it here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/06/02/world-crashing-down-an-interview-with-lisa-duse-of-porta-vittoria/

One of my favourite pictures of Lisa Duse

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: The Way to Light - Cleansing Silence

Ahoy everyone!

Another review has been published at Heathen Harvest, this time around I tackle the album Cleansing Silence by the American Dark Folk / Dark Ambient band The Way to Light. Check it out here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/05/28/the-way-to-light-cleansing-silence/

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: Stone Breath - Werewolf Songs

Happy Memorial Day-eve everyone!

A new review I composed has been published at Heathen Harvest - the Werewolf Songs EP by the psych-folk band Stone Breath. I had bought the limited edition version of this EP and fell in love with it, and I simply had to submit a review for it (it was also good to do a contemporary review as well). I hope everyone checks it out!

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/05/24/stone-breath-werewolf-songs/

My copy of the limited edition of Werewolf Songs

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Interview: Sara Lux of Hidden Place

Good evening everyone!

I hope this entry finds everyone doing fantastic. I recently had the honour to interview Sara Lux of the Italian synthpop / new wave / electro band Hidden Place for Heathen Harvest. She also has a few guest appearances on the new Lupi Gladius album (which is made up mostly of Hidden Place members).

We talk about Hidden Place, the Italian music scene and her Electro Femina organization which is designed to promote women in the music scene. Sara is a fascinating person and a great singer, and this interview should be a good document of that. Please, check it out!

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/05/18/a-day-without-time-an-interview-with-sara-lux-of-hidden-place/


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review - Waffenruhe - Stuka

Good evening everyone!

I have a new review that has been published at Heathen Harvest. The German band Waffenruhe just recently released a 3 track digital EP for download for free. Check out the review at Heathen Harvest, I'd be appreciative!

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/04/23/waffenruhe-stuka/


Da unten sind sie backbord unter uns... Stukas!
Los geht's, wir greifen an!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Concert Report: Rome, Worm Ouroboros, Daemonia Nymphe - Los Angeles 2015


On Friday April 10th Rome kicked off their California Campaign 2015 tour, with San Francisco-based Worm Ouroboros and Greek project Daemonia Nymphe as the opening acts. What follows is a document of this performance: my own record, thoughts and musings of the event complimented with photography by my girlfriend Michele Brittany.

I had the opportunity to see Rome perform on their first California Campaign back in 2012. This was their first performance here in the states, and it happened to be in the basement under a Yoga studio in Riverside, California. The heat was unbearable and we all sat on the floor between box fans that tried unsuccessfully to keep things cool. It was a surreal, but also intimate setting, as all the bands including Jerome and Rome would mingle. The experience did feel quite punkish, perhaps a D.I.Y. style.

Thus is it was imperative to see Rome on this tour performing at an actual venue, with a sound system and normal concert comforts and accommodations. The location was The Complex in Glendale, a city between Los Angeles and Pasadena. The building looked completely innocuous: a plain building with no signs or windows, right next to a framing business. If it wasn’t for a gaggle of metal fans waiting outside the door and Google Maps insisting the address was correct, we would’ve passed right by.

Outside The Complex, Glendale CA.

We took our place in queue and began the very important task that everyone does waiting in line: people watch and eavesdrop! Not many military or uniformed looking folks, most patrons in line and later inside looked to be legit-goths (not the Hot Topic variety), and metal fans wearing vests covered in patches. Standing in line and eavesdropping allows one to take in the musings of other attendees. According to the folks around us, apparently Death in June is the worst band ever and their concerts attract bears, and there has been no good horror films in over 20 years.

Though the doors were supposed to open at 9:00 pm, they actually opened at 9:30 pm. While the majority of the folks in queue ahead of us went to the bar, I shot straight to the merch booth to procure as much unique swag and CDs as possible, just in case they were in danger of selling out.

CDs, patches, vinyl and other goodies form all three acts for sale. 

Merrick Testerman, the voice and brains behind the influential (but sadly now concluded) Aural Apocalypse podcast was manning the booth solo, keeping up with the outstretched hands of cash wanting Rome hoodies and T-shirts. She was also the powerhouse behind coordinating Rome’s west coast tour as well, and she was front and center to ensure this performance went smoothly.

Since Worm Ouroboros and Daemonia Nymphe had not performed yet, they were not in the merch stall to handle transactions, so folks would have to wait until after their sets to buy their merchandise. In the meantime, I purchased a Rome patch, 2 Rome buttons, a T-shirt, a sticker, and the unlimited edition of A Passage to Rhodesia.

Setting the stage.

The venue was on the small, intimate side of the spectrum. Looking at the website for The Complex, it looks like it caters mostly to small bands and karaoke nights. The bar was easily half the space, with the other half being standing room for the stage and merch table.  The stage was already setup with chairs, speakers, many effect pedals, drum sets, and mic stands with white yuletide lights curling up them. The lights were purely for atmosphere during Worm Ouroboros’ set, however the equipment would actually wind up being used by Rome, who during one of their encores thanked Worm Ouroboros for the use of their instruments. It was a fine example of camaraderie between bands in the underground scene.

Lorraine Rath on bass

Worm Ouroboros took the stage at 10:00 pm, with Lorraine Rath stage right, Jessica Way stage left, and Aesop Dekker on drums in the back. The lightning of the venue was so dark, and the drums setup so far back that Dekkar almost became an invisible drummer.


Jessica Way


Rath and Way stood as two confident but introspective looking front ladies, eyes closed - deep in thought and mood. In contrast, Dekkar in the back was wailing on the drums, his hair a flutter and a huge intense grin on his face.

He was a wild man!

Aside from a few Youtube videos, I had not heard Worm Ouroboros before, so their performance was entirely new to me. This put me at the disadvantage because I would not be able to identify any of their songs (when I would later go and purchase a CD, Way would say the majority of the songs they played were from their Come the Thaw album). The best way I could describe their music is a shoegaze-folk version of The Minibosses doing their cover to the theme of Metroid. If this sounds negative, it’s absolutely not: the Minibosses are amazing and the music from the Metroid games are some of the best from video game music canon.

Rath also did the art and design for Come the Thaw

The introspective look, the walls of reverb guitar work, the illumination from the Yuletide lights and occasional sups of red wines the ladies would partake in all gave the performance quite the ambiance. Between songs they would adjust their instruments and effect pedals, and engage in a little light banter with the audience, but mostly remained reserved and soft-spoken.

Playing with passion

Worm Ouroboros put on a good show and I was impressed. I approach the duo at the merch booth after their set to congratulate their performance, express my appreciation for them coming down to the LA area and to purchase a copy of their Come the Thaw album. They had a vinyl version that looked simply beautiful, but alas I went with the CD format instead. Both Rath and Way courteously autographed the cover to my copy.

Evi from Daemonia Nymphe

Daemonia Nymphe took the stage at 11:00 pm. Michele and I had been extremely excited to watch this act perform after being wowed by their Youtube videos. Usually Daemonia Nymphe performs with a much larger crew, but as Spyros and Evi took the stage, Evi cheerfully expressed the uniqueness of their performance for the evening: it was their first performance in the states, first time in LA, first time performing as an acoustic duo, and the first time performing without their masks. This was going to be a rare treat for us indeed! Joining the duo was performance artist Denise, who was wearing a mask, and would be dancing and miming to the music.

Denise provided a theatrical element to the performance

Music-wise, Daemonia Nymphe nailed it, but they had so many factors working against them. The small stage simply was not enough room for all three of them. Denise negotiated around the microphone stands and chairs proficiently with her many routines, but I have a feeling with more space, she would have had more artistic freedom. Spyros had to contend with a mic stand that refused to stay steady and kept becoming loose and rotating away.

Spyros gets the microphone to obey (for now)


I felt sorry for the band when they put down their instruments and Evi informed the crowd they were going to recreate the sound of the forest. Evi would hum into her mic, Spyros on a wind instrument, and Denise blowing powder into the air. Conceptually, it looked nice, but the forest mood was not achieved, for their efforts were drowned out by the mummer and chatter of folks in the bar drinking and in the rear of the stage area chatting. Had this been in a normal theatre (with folks giving them both silence and attention), the effect would have been amazing, so I feel bad that the band was given the respect during this performance as they deserved. Daemonia Nymphe concluded their set with Spyros on bagpipes, which was a delight to hear.

Recreating The Forest



After their set, I approached Evi in the merch book and bought a copy of their Psychostasia album. Her proud face was beaming ear to ear and she said hello and wrote a Greek passage and autograph in the digipack, wishing me a happy and joyous life.

Evi was very courteous

The magic of Daemonia Nymphe


Rome took the stage at midnight. I didn’t think the stage area could get more full with patrons, but I was wrong. It was packed, shoulder to shoulder. Returning from the merch table to my spot in the front, I would politely say excuse me and pardon me. However, one person, whom I suspect may have been tipsy, was unable to keep his footing and fell onto another girl. I apologized profusely, and smiles and fist bumps were had by all.

Rome during their acoustic set

The configuration of Rome for this performance against their Riverside performance was radically different. Borrowing Worm Ouroboros’ instruments meant the upright bass I was privy to last time was missing. Patrick, who had played percussion in Riverside, was now on bass guitar. Tom the keyboardist was standing at his keyboard, rather than sitting with the keys on his lap, and ergo may have been more comfortable. Since Patrick was not on percussion, a new person was using the drum kit whose name eludes me.

Keeping the rhythm



Cheers, jeers, and shouting erupted as the band took the stage. The first half of Rome’s would be on electric instruments, with them opening with “The Accidents of Gesture” followed by “Der Brandtaucher”. The versions of these songs were definitely more rock oriented and sounded great, even when compared to studio versions. After a few songs, Jerome put away the electric guitar and brought out the acoustic to begin a new set. This acoustic set started with a brand new song, projected to be on the next album followed by a nice acoustic version of “Neue Erinnerung”. In fact, Rome would actually debut a second world premiere song in one of the ad hoc encores the band performed.

Patrick was also a crowd favourite

Sadly, nary a pair of knickers were toss on the stage

Jerome engaged in banter with the audience, with women yelling out “I love you”, to which he would reply back in kind. Between encores ladies would turn into hysteric cats, pawing at each other to steal the paper set lists. This ended amusingly when Rome returned for an encore, looked around for their set list, with Jerome asking who stole it. They had to hide their lists after that. Rome concluded their final set with the classic “Swords to Rust – Hearts to Dust”, with the show coming to an end around the 1:30 am mark.





At this point, Michele and I were exhausted and began our hour-long trek back home to Orange, with a quick stop to grab some soda lest we accidentally fall asleep while driving.  All three bands had performed well and were impressive, with both Worm Ouroboros and Daemonia Nymphe making me a convert to their music and Rome solidifying my adoration for them.



Official Links

Worm Ouroboros

Daemonia Nymphe

Rome

Aural Apocalypse

Michele Brittany



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Review - Legionarii - Europa Rex

Good evening everyone!

I have been attending Wondercon these past three days. It has been a blast, it's great to be attending the comic book conventions - supporting great writers, artists, cosplayers and small press folks. But on your feet for 3 days, your feet get pooped and your wallet drains.

Over the weekend, a new review got published at Heathen Harvest: Europa Rex by the martial industrial group Legionarii. You can read the review here:

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/04/05/legionarii-europa-rex/

So far, this album has been one of the most dissapointing release I've had to review at Heathen Harvest, it seems to have generated quite a stir. I think that's great! I hope yall enjoy it.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review - Black Light - Night for Day

Good evening everyone!

I have a new review published at Heathen Harvest, this one for an American dark folk act. Check out my review for Night for Day by Black Light!

http://heathenharvest.org/2015/03/23/black-light-night-for-day-2/

Black Light's Night for Day album