Tuesday, 21 July 2009

LOST SONGS FROM MIDDLE-EARTH


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Lost Songs From Middle-Earth
Format: CD pressing through Aphelion Productions (England), catalogue reference AP034, whilst the cassette version was released via Winter Solace Productions (USA), catalogue reference Solace021. CD release was in 2008, cassette release somewhat later but in the 2008/09 period. The CD version has a nice picture disc, which mirrors the artwork from the Ancient Battles t-shirt.
Edition: CD version limited to 1000 un-numbered pieces. Tape limited to 300 numbered copies

Track Listing:

1. Ecthelion 5.54
2. The Last of the Dragons 8.56
3. When Daylight Is Gone 4.46
4. The Last March of the Orcs 16.49
5. The Shire 7.38
6. The Nazgul 3.47

CD bonus track is 'Die Legende...' from the "Honour" (orignal 2004 demo)
7a) ...von Elbenwald
7b) Khazad-dum
7c) Ein Licht geboren ward
7d) Nordhimmel
7e) Die Berge
77) Der Ring

Tape bonus tracks from the 'In Durins Halls' (original 1999 demo):
7. Luthien
8. Kortirion
9. Durins Halls
10. Uruk-hai
11. Moria
12. Nordhimmel
13. The Unknown

By happy chance Nazgul had planned to review the CD version of this 2008 release a month or two ago - but for a variety of reasons postponed the posting - and in the interim the long-awaited tape version of the album arrived so a double-Blog seemed far more sensible.

In the long tradition that Hugin has for supporting the cassette tape format - the mainstay of the underground for so many years - it's really nice to see different bonus tracks on the tape and the CD pressings of this album. For listeners glued to the digital age, the CD offers you the original demo tracks from Side B of the "Honour" demo of 2004, which is all but impossible to find as the original tape was only issued in a edition of 40 pieces. This is an excellent track, and one that really benefits from being transferred to CD so that more people will be able to experience it. Battle magic indeed.

For the tape bonus tracks, you are privileged to hear the original 1999 demo "In Durin's Halls" - see previous Blog posts for this one - that again came initially in a release of only 33 tapes, meaning few had a chance to hear the original versions. Incidentally, the tape was apparently originally supposed to be released by long-time Uruk-Hai promoter A.M.F. in Bulgaria, but as Alexander has ceased to release albums it was eventually passed to Winter Solace in the USA to release. For reference, Nazgul's tape is #3 of the 300.

Nazgul detects something of a reissues programme afoot at W.A.R. HQ at the moment, what with limited edition Bonemachine tracks seeing the light on a recent CD release, long-lost Hrossharsgrani demos being reworked into new material, and these Uruk Hai tracks being presented for a wider audience. One can't criticise Hugin for this mind you: the material still stands the test of time and frankly making it available to a wider audience can only be a good thing. Those precious collectors amongst us who might cry "foul" that their limited edition is suddenly accessible to the masses have rather missed the point (and anyway, you'll still have the original in your collection after all, won't you?)

So onto the meat and potatoes of this particular release - tracks 1 to 6 , originally recorded back in 2005 (for reference, the time in the band's history of the "War Poems", "Northern Lights", "Dragons of War" and "The Battle" full-length releases, plus a smattering of demos). Heard here for the first time, they are truly cinematic in quality and surpass virtually anything else from this project for sheer technical brilliance and sound quality. You really could be watching an epic Lord of the Rings blockbuster here, as this music transports you straight into Middle-Earth, whether it be to the homely nature of 'The Shire' or to atmospheric height previously uncharted in the other tracks. Simply outstanding.

Being a more recent release, there is more Internet critique of this album than of many of Uruk Hai's previous output. Here are a few typical comments from the online community:


"New Austrian top ambient project inspired by by Tolkien's "The Lord of the Ring". Calm dreamy ambient which brings you slowly inside a world of Elfs and Orcs. A real sound movie, cinematic sounds very close to Raison D’Etre and Nordic style. Comes with 16 page coloured booklet full of Nordic wood magic"
Old Europa Cafe

"Uruk-Hai is one of my favorite Tolkien-related bands as the man's output is 90% Middle-Earth and the only real sad thing is that his stuff is nigh-impossible to find. Anyhow as I state in the tags this stuff sounds exactly like Summoning would if they never had guitars or vocals. And to drive the point home even further, all the liner notes on this album are written in Dwarvish; YES"

Lucid Media blog-site

"Amazing never before released 2005 album from Austria's No. 1 ambient project. Epic soundtrack of Tolkien inspired Medieval, Battle Ambient / Dark Ambient to take you on a journey to forgotten worlds. Comes with beautiful 16 page booklet and has the 2002 demo "Die Legende..." as an added bonus. For fans of Za Frumi, Vinterriket and Summoning"
Cold Spring Records

A tour-de-force from Uruk Hai, and one release that you can get your hands on fairly easily if you hunt around a bit online. The CD pressing is readily available on eBay, at Discogs.com and also via the label directly at www.aphelionproductions.co.uk (although Nazgul would note that the latter site caused his virus software to chew it up and spit it out, so be careful). The tape, in more limited numbers, is probably the harder to find but Winter Solace are still advertising it as available so have a look.

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