Saturday, 28 November 2009

URUK HAI




Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Uruk Hai
Format: Cassette-tape only demo, self-released in 1999 by Hugin with photocopied black and white inlay (signed on one panel) with gold accents, with hand-lettered tape label.
Edition: Only 6 copies

Track Listing:

1. Uruk Hai 7.09
2. Nordhimmelstag 3.10
3. Moria 6.41
4. Kortirion 5.45
5. In Durins Halls 4.37

Possibly the most significant early demo that Hugin ever recorded, in as far as this was the genesis of Uruk Hai - probably the most well received and highly regarded of all of Hugin's various projects and bands amongst music fans the world over.

The original "Uruk Hai" demo tape was, of course, intended as a Hrossharsgrani release and made in a tiny quantity of only 6 tapes (this one being #6 of the 6). However, the story goes that back in 1999 when Hugin played this for friends the general consensus was that it was so far removed from the battle-machine that was Hrossharsgrani, and so ambient and ethereal by comparison, it shouldn't be issued under that bands name. So it was that the original six demo tapes were retained by this close-knit circle, and the demo was formally issued under the band name Uruk Hai, and was re-named "In Durin's Halls".

This demo was reviewed in Honour And Darkness back on 10 March 2009, and you'll see there that it was expanded to a seven track release (with the addition of the lengthy 'Luthien' and 'The Unknown') and given a different running order. Three subsequent reissues of this demo have occurred, as the Blog has outlined in past posts, most recently on the tape release of "Lost Songs Of Middle Earth".

However, this specific tape is where it all started, where the original Uruk Hai tracks were laid down and recorded for the very first time, and as such it's a hugely important part of the history of both projects. Nazgul is very grateful to Alex for making available this particular tape, as let's be honest they're are rare as the proverbial hen's teeth and in over 6 years of looking I'd never even seen a sign of one for sale before. Indeed, it's fair to note that this was one of the hardest items to find of all of Nazgul's collection.

Musically much has been written about these tracks already, and with some of them having reappeared in different reissues or revised formats ('Moria' most notably) over the years. The keyboard elements are both melodic, ambient and atmospheric, the release is free of vocals (except for a spoken word element at the end, which we'll come onto momentarily) or much percussion, so you can see why it was such a shock to the system for those initial listeners back in 1999 when compared to Hrossharsgrani output up to that date.

After 'Durins Halls' ends on this tape there is a short (2.17) piece of German narrative that seems to be a sampled extract from something, but the question is what?! The narrative is not present on the 'In Durin's Halls' Uruk Hai demo from 1999 so is unique to this Hrossharsgrani tape. Whether it constitutes an additional part of the 'Durin's Halls' track, or is a separate uncredited outro is not clear, but it's certainly interesting.

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