Saturday, 1 August 2009


Title: Tawantinsuyu
Format: Digipak CD on Morningside Records (Spain), catalogue reference TEMPLE 002, released 2006. Double cassette tape edition on AMF Productions (Bulgaria) / Oskorei Bild Und Tonkunst (Germany), cat ref AMF037 / OBTK013 including additional tracks, first 100 of which have a black and white Uruk Hai badge, also released in 2006.
Edition: Digipak CD limited to 1000 unnumbered pieces. The double tape version is limited to 200 copies only

Track Listing:

CD and Tape 1 feature:
01. Introduction
02. The Land Of The Four Suyus
03. The Ceque System
04. Viracocha (The True Sun)
05. Mountains Of Palpa
06. Catequil (God Of Thunder And Lightning)
07. Flight Of The Condor
08. Ka-Ata-Killa
09. Arrival Of The Gods
10. ...From The Stars
11. The Lake
12. Gold (The Sweet Of The Sun)

Tape 2 bonus tracks

13. The Dream Goes On
14. Signs Of The End
15. Indian Spirit
16. The Arrival Of The Conquerors
17. Occupation
18. Years Of Darkness
19. End Of It All

Nazgul's big word of the day: "Transcendental"

That's what this album is, and why it's well worth a place in anyone's collection when you're in need of a mood-changing piece of ambient music.

Alex has shared with me that his wife, Elisabeth, spent some time with the shamans in Peru - presumably based near Machu Picchu looking at some of the photos in the inlays - and was much taken by the Inca culture and especially the legendary Nazca Lines. The latter, a series of geoglyphs located on plateaus in the Nazca Desert, are a series of literally hundreds of figures only really appreciated from the air (and created at a time many thousands of years before flight), possibly as a religious appeasement or tribute to their gods.

Being suitably inspired by this journey, and sharing an interest in the mystic origins of the Lines, this album followed and pays homage to both the music and atmosphere of this barren, lofty plain. Indeed, the word "Tawantinsuyu" is the Quechua name for the Incan Empire, and literally translates as 'The Four Regions'.

Without turning this into a proto-archaeology dissertation, there are different schools of thought about how the Nazca lines were formed, from the basic rope and stick design methodology through to more esoteric solutions such as the 'Ancient Astronaut' hypothesis of Erich Von Daniken and others. All that is certain, however, is that the Lines are incredibly impressive and make a real cultural statement at a time when most of the rest of humanity were rooting around in the mud looking for a tasty mealworm or two for dinner.

Also incredibly impressive is this album - it is referred in the inlay as a "monumental ethnic-ambient" album, which sums it up pretty well. All tracks are mixed into one single long song on the CD and Tape 1, although there are clear definitions and breaks between the sections and you have a clear idea of where you are in the 'chapters' (rather than song numbers). It's pretty much impossible to describe really, and would not in many people's minds sound at all like you might imagine. Nazgul's advice is to go and buy a copy and let it wash over you - it is at the same time the most chilled-out yet uplifting piece of music that Uruk Hai have ever produced, in my humble opinion.

Speaking of buying one, it's notable that if you were to put this album into Google you'll find literally dozens of the CD version for sale, either on eBay or distros worldwide. Given only 1000 were made Nazgul sometimes wonder if he was the only person to have actually bought a copy, so rife are the remaining ones for sale. Put this situation right immediately by purchasing yours now!

What is a fascinating - and largely unknown fact - however, is that the album was originally conceived as a double-CD release but because of funding difficulties at the Spanish label Morningside Records only the single disc was released (albeit in rather nice digipak packaging, with Elisabeth's photographs from her trip used in the inlay booklet). The tape release, on the other hand, is a double-tape because it includes the full Tawantinsuyu recordings and thus you get the same tracks on Tape 1 as the CD and then 7 further bonus tracks exclusive to Tape 2. If ever there was a reason needing to be stated to keep the tape format alive than this may be it, so if you've not experienced the full wonder of this release try to seek out the tape version - again copies are advertised online - and buy that too!

The first 100 of the tape pressing came with a nice black and white Uruk Hai badge, and as Nazgul is clearly getting senile in his old age he's just noticed that the photo above omits the badge despite it being in my collection (I have 2 sets of the tape releases, #20 and #30), so I'll cover that and some other memorabilia some other time.

The bottom line is that whilst on the surface appearing to be a rather intimidating piece of music (one single track of nearly 80 minutes length on CD format is not the easiest thing to listen to in one sitting, and a lack of track segmentation means you either have to pause it or stop...and start again) the results of the listening experience outweigh any residual concerns that you'll have.


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