Friday, 13 November 2009

BONEMACHINE / STIRNIR Split


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Untitled split release with Stirnir (Holland)
Format: CDr release in red paper sleeve inside black windowed envelope on W.A.R. Productions (Austria) from 2007.
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 23 copies

Track Listing:

01. Sirnir - Untitled I 5.31

02. Stirnir - Untitled II 6.25

03. Stirnir - Untitled III 7.45

04. Stirnir - Untitled IV 6.32

05. Bonemachine - War Poem 29.36

Judging by the simple fact that this release seems to crop up for sale quite often Nazgul can only assume that it wasn't one of the more popular Bonemachine releases from the vaults of W.A.R. Productions. This may have something to do with the lack of easy listening material from the Stirnir portion of this split, which to Nazgul's old ears is a blur of static and feedback which makes ploughing through over 25 minutes of the stuff difficult, to say the least.

Sadly, however, by spurning the release (and let's not be overly harsh on Stirnir - maybe the look of the item might have put potential customers off, although I rather like the effect) one of the better Bonemachine moments from this period would almost certainly have evaded your attentions. For 'War Poems' in all of its 29 minutes plus is yet another triumph of the meticulously constructed song in multiple sections that the band is known for.

Starting out with a sampled speech from Nazgul knows not where [Edit: Alex has just told me it's from the film The 13th Warrior], the focus being on warriors entering Valhalla where they will live on forever (this final phrase being repeated to form the whispered finale to the song nearly half an hour later) interspersed with mechanical sounds of heavy artillery, the song then produces an almost Buddhist-like "ommm" effect through the expedient of a single phrase - distorted, but periodically repeated throughout the track - echoing inside a synthesised beat. And then lots more goes on for the other 20-odd minutes!!

There's actually lots on offer with this lengthy track and it does generate quite a meditative state as it's played, allowing ample time for reflection on wars and conflicts past and current. A more appropriate title would be hard to find....

The release (this is #17 of the 23 by the way, and Nazgul has another mint and unopened one in his collection) was reviewed by Heathen Harvest in December 2007, and they had this to say:

"Although I got acquainted with Stirner’s style and manner not long ago with the help of Incubator of Hate release, I’m still not familiar with Bonemachine (a project of a man called A.W.), which is claimed to be a martial/industrial/dark ambient act. This time those two cooperated to issue a split CD. And maybe due to the presence of Bonemachine’s spirit this limited album sounds a bit more “melodic” if I may say so. Sure it won’t appear so to those who haven’t heard Stirner’s own works.

This album is issued on W.A.R. Productions, which has a nice looking militaristic website and seems to be keen on limited editions. By the way, this one is limited to 23 copies (symbolic number, certainly) and I got number 10. The thing with all those handmade copies of limited editions is that they have a personal touch – a number put by a hand in the corner of the package or some words written on the CD. It is not a matter of fan-hood or anything, just you feel that each piece has a personal touch. Another thing I like limited editions for is their covers. Here the cover is a black envelope with a red “booklet” (and a place for the CD at the same time) with a black sun on the front and a tracklist in the back.

So, now we slowly approach to what makes an album the album. The music. Or better to say anti-music. Again it is a set of frequencies, chaotically changing each other during 55 minutes and 46 seconds. Sometimes it seemed to me that melodies are hidden behind those patterns, just they are distorted so much that it is difficult to recognise anything. However, interesting thing is that from time to time Stirner managed to create a melody (although primitive) from the sounds which were not meant to be any melodic. First four tracks seem to be composed (or rather constructed should I say, because it more looks like a Lego-game, a complicated structure built from numerous bright bricks-sounds which shape remains unclear, very abstract) and one 29 minutes long track called War Poem that has clear martial and industrial influences and composed in quite a traditional way – speech samples, the samples of hostility, pieces of heroic music in the beginning and hypnotizing industrial/dark ambient-influenced soundscapes (which made me think about Deutsch Nepal for the moment) during the rest of the track.

Somewhere in the middle of War Poem clear rhythm appears for the first and the last time on the recording. I think I quite liked that part, because when it comes to noisy music I prefer having the rhythm – straight, broken, anything for the ear to catch.

In conclusion I should say that this album is really specific and probably will be appreciated by the admirers of the genre. As far as I’m not among them I cannot say that I was impressed by the images I got while listening to it or by the marvellous melodies and harmony, but rather by the sound volume and the effect this release had on my whole family – they thought hi-fi is saying its last goodbye. However, the guys did their job and managed to issue a CD. Who knows, maybe one day I get the CD out and while listening to it realise the message I couldn't get many years ago."

For Bonemachine fans (and fans of static hiss....) then this would be a release well worth seeking out whilst a few copies are still out there, as the length of the 'War Poems' track will most likely keep it off most compilation albums and as far as Nazgul can tell this split is the only place that you will find it - and finding it is well worth the effort.

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