01. The Smell Of Napalm 21.57
With it's Manga-esque cover art Nazgul had long thought this to have been released through a Japanese label (talk about making two and two add up to whatever you want them to), so imagine his surprise when research for this post discovered that Ambolthue is a Norwegian label! Possibly the connection between label and artist was formed after the split CDr release between Bonemachine and Norwegian noise terrorists Maskinanlegg, but however it came to be this limited edition CD contains over 46 minutes of music - not bad for a two track release!
Ambolthue means "Anvil Head" in Norwegian, and the label motto is "Don't Get Annoyed, Get Inspired!". The main idea of the label is, and I quote, "to release as much good music as possible, and to inspire people all over the world to make, and listen to experimental music. This is meant to be a happy-label!"
Amazingly enough it's one of those rare releases that has actually received an online review somewhere outside of HonourAndDarkness, so let's hear what Vital Weekly had to say about it:
"Bone Machine has a sustained rhythm throughout its industrial reverberated wash of industrial clanking, annoying like the alarm that continually sounds at the atomic plant at Windscale - now renamed Sellafields - well change the name and the radioactivity might go away, anyway as long as you hear the alarm everything is OK - when it stops you're dead, this then might be a release celebrating the infamous event 50 years ago in the reactor which was being used to make Britain's A Bomb - (hooray! And God save the Queen!) 'On the morning of Friday October 11 and at its peak, 11 tonnes of uranium were ablaze.' Hummm - kept that quiet but I digress - that might have helped my coming to terms with the piece - but this all too rhythmical work with its cinema horror voice-overs is not convincing."
Now this seems a little harsh to Nazgul, not least because the phrase "cinema horror voice-overs" is suggestive of poorly-narrated pieces of 6th form prose, whereas what you actually have here are samples from the classic Apocalypse Now! film (hence the tie in with  the album title and  the napalm theme). Set to a suitably ominous musical background they provide a very appropriate medium for enjoying the overall work, and Nazgul would balk at the description "all too rhythmical" too given the diversity of sound on offer.
Indeed, digressing for a moment, it would be fascinating to understand how Alex actually composes his Bonemachine/B-Machina material, particularly in the pre-Max days when the industrial sound was dominant in the mix. There's simply so much going on at times it takes a good few listens just to immerse oneself in it and try to work out what's going on. Taken as a whole the music works, but it surely must be a nightmare to construct it in any meaningful (and listenable) way...?
There is certainly a wash of industrial sounds and resonances on this album though, and whilst not exactly easy listening it does lodge itself in your mind after repeated plays! As usual, however, it's a virtual impossibility to describe on paper without listing endless effects and/or potential origins of the sounds on the tracks to try to put into words what your ears are hearing. The easiest thing is for you all to go out and buy a copy to experience yourself!
One notable thing about both songs on this release is that neither has appeared on either of the "Rotation" compilation CDs that have come out in recent years, despite many other Bonemachine/B-Machina songs from equally limited edition releases having done so. Therefore this CDr is currently the only place where you'll get to hear either of them, and a few copies are still being advertised by the label (www.ambolthue.com) so it would be well worth checking out that link if this genre floats your boat.
Incidentally, Nazgul's copy came directly from the artist, with a dedication from Alex on the clear plastic wallet holding the inlay, which reads "with the heat of napalm."
Nazgul received an email reply this evening to his enquiries about this CD from the very cool and affable Kjetil Hanssen, founder and owner of Ambolthue, so here is a further glimpse behind the scenes of how this release came to be:
(1) Can you tell me a little about your label, and what drives you to run it?
Well, Ambolthue Records was started in the summer of 2006, mainly to put a label on my own releases as I do some recordings myself (mostly under the name Torstein Wjiik). Ambolthue is Norwegian and means anvil head (head made out of an anvil, whatever), which I though was suiting for the music I wanted to get out. I quickly decided to start asking friends and people I just like the music of to release stuff on my label. I soon made a website and got a few new contacts through the internet, and started releasing music from different artists and bands from around the world. I wanted my label to focus on different kinds of experimental music and also try to get out stuff that to me felt like "happy music". There is a term used by i.e norwegian noisers Lasse Marhaug and Tore Honoré Bøe called "happy noise" which I felt was exactly what I was looking for. Some noise acts use their noise more as a way of expressing anger and violence, while I look at the music as pure beauty. Well we do have some noises that are quite harsh for the ear drums and not very pleasent eighter, but to me it's interesting, and also I'm very into sounds and music that makes me happy in some way. To me music is something I really enjoy as a fenomenon, so I'm using a lot of my listening time to actually check out new stuff no matter what genre and ideology. People may make something that is supposed to make me feel uncomfortable that I feel is just good sleeping music and the opposite way around. So for me to be able to actually do releases with different artists from around the world with completely different styles and attitudes towards music is fantastic. Big or small I don't care as long as I like their music.
(2) How did you first come across Alex's music - were you aware of his work before the "Right Now!" release?
I have to admit I didn't know of his music before he contactet me. I got an e-mail from him telling me he had something he wanted to release and asked if he could send me a demo. The demo was the "Right Now!" release (as it is on the final product if I'm not completely wrong), and I liked it. I think the connection between my label and Alex is that he had released a split 3" with a good friend of mine, Maskinanlegg, which was actually the first artist other than myself that I got to release something with on Ambolthue. Maskinanlegg makes music I've never heard anything like eighter before or after I got in touch with him. All his work has to me got something I would describe as a very dirty sound. Lo-fi in a hi-fi way which has made me a fan of his work. It's very much variety in his works, but it all has the sound of Maskinanlegg to it. Unique stuff. Well anyways, when Alex contacted me I quickly found out about the split and was interested in checking out the demo he wanted to send me.
(3) What are your personal thoughts on the release?
Well, when I first head Alex calling it what he would refer to as "war noise" if I remember correctly, I thought it was gonna be something dark and unpleasent. If that's Alex's intention, then I have to say I'm sorry, 'cause I find it quite suiting. I definitiely agree, it is dark, and is very likely to be looked at that way by many listeners. But to me it's the industrial sound-style and grooves that makes it interesting. I feel I go into a factory and I get to stand in the middle of the room and just listen to the rhythms and changes from the machines working. It's evolving and evolving and I feel I can stand there listening to the grooves and go into my own world. It works on me on a euphoric state where I get energy from listening to it. The most important part is it works very well all together.
(4) Are any future releases of any of Alex's music/bands planned?
Not now at least. Maybe sometime in the future, who knows, but at the moment I'm trying to take back the catalogue holes and release all the planned stuff, before I maybe even take a break to focus on other side-labels and my own music. I don't wanna get tired of music, so lately I've listened to everything from metal to pop to jazz to folk to get some other inputs than just noise and experimental music.
(5) Do you have any words/thoughts for Alex that you'd like to pass on via the Blog?
Keep up the productivity and music. Hope to see your discography expanding and expanding in the future!