Tape 2 bonus tracks
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 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.