This CD is one of the more recent acquisitions in Nazgul's horde, and to be truthful with you it wasn't on the list of items to be posted on the Blog quite so soon - but eventually Nazgul had to bite the bullet and realise that it's such a good album that it would be quite unfair not to feature it in the Blog as to delay might limit your chances of being able to lay your hands on one of only 1,000 units being pressed. And so here it is!
Wonderful in all ways - as a homage to Tolkien, as a compilation of emotive and eclectic music, and in its design and execution - you could be mistaken for thinking that this is the work of a seasoned hand in the CD business. But no - Notturno is (and I don't think he'd mind me saying this) essentially a fan first, and a party in the music business second.
Nazgul was fortunate enough to exchange a few emails on the release of this momentous album, focusing primarily (of course) on the connection with Hugin's two projects. So here, with suitable fanfare and rolling out of red carpets, is another HonourAndDarkness exclusive interview with the man behind "The First Ring":
Q1: Can you tell Nazgul a little about how your The First Ring project got started- it's origin and what you were trying to achieve?
So how to help Alex, and why not to help other musicians too? In time the concept to make a compilation CD was born. I knew Alex would always be there to help me, and he appreciated too the idea to widen this idea to other groups and musicians. I started to see whether indeed others would be interested in a compilation - the answers were positive and with this compilation seemed animated by creative spirit and thus far from being a simple compilation."
Q2: When did you first come across Alex's music?
Q3: Which project of his (Uruk Hai, B-Machina, Hrossharsgrani, Manwe etc etc) is your favourite, and do you have a favourite track / album of his?
Q4:How did the plan to record together happen?
Q5: How did the tracks Alex contributed to this album come to be - did you give him a specific concept or theme to work to, or did he compose with you?
Q6 Are you planning to record anything further together?
Q7: What would you say about Alex and/or his work for the benefit of the HonourAndDarkness blog readers?
Nazgul is delighted to bring you this small interview, and wishes Notturno all the best with his future endeavours.
And so to the music - opening the album is 'Fangorn' from Uruk Hai [in Tolkien's Legendarium, is a forest located in Middle-Earth and is the home of the tree shepherds, the Ents. It was named after the oldest Ent, Treebeard or Treebeard after it (Tolkien does state there is confusion about the two). The Forest of Fangorn provides an important role in the Third Age, a time where Sauron challenged Middle-Earth to battle and domination] and this is almost as much a natural history excursion into the depths of the woods as it is a musical piece!
Plenty of atmospheric bird, creature and nature sounds abound as the listener is taken down dark enclosed pathways and into overgrown glades. Some delicate keyboard touches add a sense of wonder and danger, culminating in a delightful flourish (strongly reminiscent of Ceremony Of Innocence, actually) before the journey is over, all too quickly.
And hail - the return of Manwe! Not seen on vinyl/tape or any other recording medium you could care to shake a stick at for far too long, the track 'Great Spirit' is a very welcome return and whilst brief, is memorable and most enjoyable. Following a rumble of thunder and a slow, deliberate opening melody the track blossoms into a synth-driven piece with echoing distant screams and some very catchy keyboard sections. A promising dimension to what Nazgul hopes is a new era for this seemingly long-forgotten project.
And when the 2011 festival dates are released, as Nazgul is certain they will be, look for the castle-like pavilion in the field of tents somewhere in deepest France, with pennants snapping brightly from the turrets and ravens circling overhead - for Nazgul will be there!