Friday, 17 July 2009

SANGUIS





Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title:
Sanguis
Format: Digipak CD release on the Beverina & W.A.R. label (Latvia/Austria), 2008, catalogue reference BW010. Limited edition including a badge and 2 postcards, and ultra-limited edition including the same plus a poster and t-shirt.
Edition: Total pressing of 500 copies, of which the ultra-limited edition are hand-numbered 1-5.

Track Listing:
1. Pax Vobiscum 17:31
2. Libera Me 10:19
3. Silentium 10:46
4. Nosferat 09:09 *

5. Carpe Noctem (bonus video clip)

* bonus rehearsal recording from 1998

This is rather a clever idea. It's been 10 years since the release of the original 'Blut' demo by Hrossharsgrani, and allowing for the limited edition tape reissue of 2003 (previously covered in this Blog) the demo has effectively been 'lost' for a decade.

So given the current market trend of dusted-off and re-mastered reissues you might expect to see this demo re-released with a new cover and - hopefully - a new target audience, right? Wrong!

Taking a different tack, Alex has taken the original multi-song demo (there were 15 songs on the 2003 cassette) and re-worked the music into 3 long composite pieces, thereby re-energising them and giving them a new lease of life. For added value you also have a bonus track from a 1998 rehearsal session added in, plus a video track to boot, all pressed in a collectible quantity of only 500 pieces.

To add some more grist to the mill, there is an ultra-limited fan edition of 5 hand-numbered pieces (and yes, Nazgul was fortunate enough to grab one) of which mine is #4 which came with a t-shirt of the album artwork, plus a poster of the 'bloody hand' design shown on one of the accompanying postcards.

What you also see above, in the final photo, is the design on the front of an alternative t-shirt that was piloted by Alex for the finished product and which is, I'm proud to say, the only one in this design that was ever made. A hardcore limited edition of 1, you might say, which Alex was kind enough to let me have some while ago.

So, as ever, great care and attention has been paid to the packaging for this item, and kudos must be given also to partners in crime Juris Silders at Beverina, and Chris Huber for the revamped Hross' logo design. But what of the music, you might reasonably ask.....?

Well, stitching together composite tracks from an original base of 15 short tracks is not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to achieve I would imagine, especially given that the originals would have been recorded 10 years ago and were probably not digitally crystal-clear in the way that more modern recordings would be. In order to facilitate the exercise there is a certain amount of what I can only call 'noise' over the top of the recording, analogous to the 'glue' that ties the separate pieces of music together and gives the recording some consistency.

The only detriment really is that this overlying effect gives a rather unsettling resonance to the recording, and in many ways is similar to the noise of that strange tube that dentists pop into your mouth to withdraw saliva - a sort of 'sucking sand-through-a-straw' effect that sits on top of the music underneath. Sometimes it's hardly noticeable, particularly where the tracks are more fulsome in volume, as (ironically) on 'Silentium.' But you certainly can pick up on it, and my initial listen to the CD made me wonder if I had a faulty pressing as it's so prevalent in places it detracts from the music struggling to get out from underneath.

So overall does it work? Well, as a concept I think this is really rather innovative and well worth the investment of time that it must have taken to prepare it. Equally, the quality of the presentation and the accompanying items that come with the set (in either version) show that a great deal of care and thought has gone into this release. Musically I enjoyed the 2003 tape pressing of 'Blut' so it's fun to be able to hear revised versions of the same music in different arrangements and compositions, so a thumbs up there too. Just not sure about the overall sound quality underpinning the album at the end of the day as it's ultimately distracting at times, which is a shame.

Still available for sale - you'll see copies on eBay and direct from the Beverina label - it's worth investigation for sure, but personally I'd probably be more inclined to pull the original tape from the collection for purity's sake. Of course, if you insist on digital audio and CD is your only option then this is the only way to appreciate the original 1999 release....

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