Saturday, 28 March 2009

FIREDANCE ON A DEAD MANS GRAVE

Band: WACH
Title: Firedance On A Dead Mans Grave
Format: Limited editions in both A5 digipak packaging (with postcard and sticker) and standard jewel-case pressing, both released on Beverina & W.A.R. (Austrian) on Halloween 2008, catalogue reference BW011.
Edition: A5 digipak limited to 100 numbered pieces, the jewel-case pressing limited to 200 unnumbered pieces

Track Listing:

Both versions

01 Kyrill II 6:22
02 Frenzy 6:49
03 Flammenmanifest 21:09
04 Clouds And Whispers 4:09
05 Slave The World 5:37
06 6 Nails Into The Body 5:00
07 Einsamkeit 3:32

Enhanced video track: Flammenmanifest 20:00

Not the sort of release that musically you can simplistically review and put into a generic 'box', this is the latest offering from Austrian project WACH, released in 2008 in only 300 pieces in two different formats. As you might expect, I have the pair, with my digipak being #81 of the 100.

Online reviews point out that this release straddles the Industrial, Drone, Dark Ambient & Noise genres with equal aplomb and this is a fair comment: there is a wealth of material in different styles on this album, and you will move from repetitive elements in the Drone style to downright eerie moments that fall into more ambient territories. Equally, there is a healthy Bonemachine-esque industrial flavour on occasions, and some quieter moments that lull you into a false sense of ease before the next section drags you kicking and screaming into a nightmare of your own devising.....

Although there are 7 separate tracks on this release I always think of it as a single piece of music, as to me it creates a particular mood and atmosphere that is augmented by playing the CD in one go and absorbing the whole entity in one go.

From the outset - howling winds and bleak, disorganised soundscapes - it feels like living through a post-apocalyptic episode in the vein of the film '28 Days Later': it feels barren, lonely and harsh, but as the music progresses the different sounds and samples gives me the impression of exploring this desolate plain and coming across sounds of both machine-made derivation and possibly man-made origin (church bells) that hint at movement and life elsewhere in this wilderness. But is there? Perhaps it's merely the wind blowing the bells rather than human hand tolling them......how do you know for sure what lurks in this intimidating realm...?

Great stuff for a cold, dark night with headphones and a nervous disposition!

The video bonus track is in similar vein actually - an exploratory journey around a gothic/religious ruin, which lends itself well to the theme the music creates. The video was directed by Herr Insomnia, which is an apt time to talk a little about the band WACH itself, comprising as it does Herr Insomnia and Reverend Kim. The band creates around itself an air of myth and mystery, so it's not my place to reveal the arcane secrets that inspire the music and creative process behind the scenes. I was, however, lucky enough to chat with Reverend Kim about some of the background to this project, and I hope the following might sate some of your curiosity:

Q1: How did WACH first come to be?
A1: Sometime back in 2006, I received an email from somebody named Alex, from Linz, which is only about 150km east of Salzburg where i live. He mailed because he got one copy of a CD I published not so long before - the Split Release "PolterGEIST", which we made with my band 'the Sounds of Earth' and the well-known German band Flutwacht. Since Flutwacht already had excellent contacts, they managed to get our CD distributed widely, and then somehow, Alex received it from the Australian Smell the Stench label. That was really funny, but amazing at the same time for me, and he and I started to trade some of our releases and writing mails every day. Later then, at the beginning in 2007, I organized a small noise festival here in Salzburg, and i invited him to visit us, that was the first time we met. At this evening we also talked about creating a project between us and a week after that, we started to work on our first song. Luckily, we both liked where much how it turned out and we didn't stop making music together from that point.

Q2: How did the name of the project come about?
A2: There is a story there, but it is currently a closely guarded secret! What I can tell you is that WACH is also the German word for 'awake', and most of our song-themes are about the state of wakefulness, of dreams, nightmares, fears, etc.. To this end, our debut CD was called "The End Of All Dreams" which fits with our name perfectly!!

Q3: Tell me a little about some of the earlier WACH releases
A3: A few months after this point we had enough material for more than one full length release so I selected the tracks that fitted together best and compiled them onto CD. Alex managed to get a label in Germany (Klangfeld Seuchentrieb) to release it - we absolutely wanted a distinctive and unique look, so I made a logo design for our band WACH and we also got a wax stamp with that logo engraved on it (I made all of the wax seals by myself for that release). We also wanted to have a kind of special packaging, so ultimately we came up with a leather slipcase, that was also handmade by Klangfeld Seuchentrieb.

Q4: This all sounds like a pretty time-consuming process?
A4: Of course this whole process took a lot of time, and in the meantime we had finished some more tracks and Alex made a great short film called "The Fear", which we then released on the Israeli-based label The Eastern Front again with our unique style wax seals, now in 4 different colors. Each colour version - there was orange, blue, green and silver - had a different bonus track.

Q5: HonourAndDarkness will be reviewing earlier WACH releases in due course! Tell me about future projects?
A5: We finished an 18 minute long track called "Nordwand" which should have been released already, but due the lack of a label nothing has ever happened [note: Herr Insomnia has commented that he hopes a 2009 release is on the cards for this one!!] We also have a forthcoming album in the summer of this year.

Q6: Any last thoughts on the WACH project?
A6: Our process of making songs is very free, without stress, and with no borders. It's really a pleasure to make songs this way, and at the end, most turn out great, at least in our opinion :)

I hope that future Blogs will feature more thoughts from this enigmatic individual!

The bottom line to a release like this is whether you like your music to be free of the need to concentrate and think about the atmospheres and energies evoked, or whether you want to immerse yourself in a world of dark, foreboding passions and emotions. If you fall into the latter school of thought, then I commend WACH to you utterly and demand that you seek them out! As a helpful starter, try their MySpace pages at www.myspace.com/wachsein or at http://www.wach.net.tc/ and go from there :o)

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