Saturday, 24 April 2010

VOGELFREI




Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Vogelfrei
Format: Released in a series of three digipak CDrs by the The Eastern Front sub label T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!! (Israel) on 7 July 2007. Series 1 came with a black-faced disc, Series 2 with a red disc and Series 3 with a blue disc. Five principal songs are present on each version, with two different bonus songs on each release. As well as being sold individually, there is also a deluxe engraved wooden box-set compiling all three discs together with an exclusive white 3" CD-r video disc.
Edition: Wooden box-set limited to 21 copies. In total, there were 77 copies of each Series produced (231 digipaks in total)

Track Listing:

Each disc in the series has the following tracks:
01 Feindschlag 2.59
02 Wir Wollen Krieg 9.32
03 Eugenik '43 18.54
04 ...Bis Sich Der Himmel Verdunkelt 7.03
05 Wir Wollen Krieg (Krawall Version) 6.17

Series 1 bonus tracks (black)

06. Jagdschauspiel 3.04
07. Einheitsklang 3.09

Series 2 bonus tracks (red)

06. Military:Desaster 10.53
07. Klang um Klang 0.36

Series 3 bonus tracks (blue)

06. Space Journey 25.36
07. Volksleid 4.03

3" video CDr - Der Letzte Weg 2.28

This wonderfully presented box-set is the product of the splendid people at T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!! and it really is a feast for the senses. It is lovingly crafted in a hard wood varnished box (with a most evocative - and no doubt hallucination inducing - varnish) and houses the 3" video disc on a soft-stud in the lid, with the three versions of the album nestling in the main part of the box. The Bonemachine logo is etched into the lid and as an overall package this must rate as one of the finest looking of any of Alex's releases, and that's saying something as there's some pretty stiff competition in that department. You may also remember that it was this label who released the brilliant wooden book/box set of "Another Time" by Bonemachine in a limitation of 7 copies (see Blog for 28.02.2009)

The title is an interesting one - if literally translated from the German Vogelfrei turns into something like "Bird Free", but as a compound adjective Nazgul suspects the alternative definition of "Outlawed" is probably nearer the mark.

The album was snapped up for release by Igor and Tanya at The Eastern Front and, as they noted in their previous interview with Honour and Darkness (24.10.2009), "The answer is very simple - "Vogelfrei" is one of the best Bonemachine’s albums in our opinion and we did not want to miss it! When Alex sent it us we had no doubt, we loved the music, we loved the artwork for this album which Alex prepared, and we loved the concept of 3 parts release. We developed it into the special edition of wooden box and we are totally satisfied with this release. It was rather small edition, so naturally it is sold out quite for a long time."

This is another one of those releases that has attracted much attention online so it seems a timely moment to consider some of this commentary, firstly from that staunch ally of all things neofolk and experimental, Heathen Harvest:

"Bonemachine is an Austrian one-man band powered by Alex Weiser. The first note I can make about Bonemachine is that this artist, although releasing multiple records a year, stays original and far more important: interesting. Every release of Bonemachine is strongly limited and mostly all of the material is custom, hand-made. "Vogelfrei" is relatively more within the listeners reach, with its limitation of 77 copies.

But that is not the only part remarkable about the release. "Vogelfrei" comes as three separate digifolds, simply named Series 1, 2 and 3... ...Bonemachine makes military industrial music, and I must say, it doesn’t get really better than this. Bonemachine is one of the many, many artists who is influenced by the second world war, but Bonemachine focuses more on the weaponry than on the ideologies and culture. And that is why Bonemachine is so different from most other martial artists.

Track one, 'Feindschlag' starts with an eerie sounding soundscape and a pounding beat far away. It sounds like you are in the basement underneath the street where soldiers are marching. The sound of an electric saw can be heard also, grinding through a metal pipe. But everything sounds far away, in the distance, approaching towards me. The song fades away and "Wir Wollen Krieg" kicks in with the famous sentence that [Joseph Goebbels] once pronounced. What follows is absolutely beautiful. A pattern of rhythmic drums can be heard, again in the distance. Heavy string instruments play a dramatic sounding classical piece. Through the song a crowd can be heard, reacting on the sentence 'Wollen Sie totalen Krieg?'. This song gave me a feeling, a feeling like I was beaten and lost and I couldn’t see what would come next.

The plus 9 minute song ends with a deformed sound of cannons going off, echoing through the night. Follow up is 'Eugenik ‘43'. This is the longest song of Vogelfrei (excluding one of the bonus tracks), with 19 minutes of music. The song continues "Wir wollen Krieg" in pattern and sound, which suited me fine. Only this version get’s much heavier, with more dark hitting interferences and factory sounds. Track four '…Bis sich die Himmel verdunkelt' was a song which surprised me, with a hiphop like beat on the background of the song. But yet, still industrial, it pleased me much. I can’t seem to deny that Vogelfrei sounds like it is played in a large hall. No sounds can be heard like it happens right next to you. The song ends with a sample of 'Das SS Lied' (if I am right) but overlapped by a noise sound.

The last song of Vogelfrei is a remix of 'Wir wollen Krieg', which simply means that the intro is kept with a great echo and delay on it, to be followed with 6 minutes of snaring, growling, screaming noise.

The bonus tracks are something different. Every disc has two bonus tracks, which are all evenly good as the normal tracks. Everything sounds, once more, very militaristic. It did notice me that Bonemachine used more political samples this time than in other records, which is of course no problem, but I didn’t really expected it from Bonemachine. Something I thought was very funny, was the longest bonus track 'Space Journey' (25 minutes +), which surprised me all of a sudden when I heard the famous Darth Vader soundtrack. To give you my overall thoughts about Vogelfrei: I think Bonemachine is one of the better military industrial artists I heard and that I will most definitely keep checking Bonemachine for new releases. I can only suggest you to try to get your hands on Vogelfrei now it’s still available. The price, packaging and (absolutely not to be forgotten) the music is worth it. Bonemachine should be in every Martial / Military Industrial collection and my wild guess is that this isn’t the last thing we have heard from this excellent artist."

And this review makes a great point - not only is the packaging and the presentation spot-on, but the music also lives up to this high standard.

Just to add to this Heathen Harvest review, the Sportpalast or "total war" speech was delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully-selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II was turning against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies. It is considered the most famous of Joseph Goebbels' speeches. The speech was an early admission by the Nazi leadership that Germany faced serious dangers. Goebbels exhorted the German people to continue the war even though it would be long and difficult because he asserted Germany's survival and the survival of Western Civilization was at stake. The relevant part of his speech read, "Ich frage euch: Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg? Wollt ihr ihn, wenn nötig, totaler und radikaler, als wir ihn uns heute überhaupt erst vorstellen können?" [I ask you: Do you want total war? If necessary, do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even yet imagine?]

Whilst we're on the clarification trail (and at risk of this becoming a historical dissertation) track 3, 'Eugenik '43', derives its title from the theory of Eugenics, widely popular in the early decades of the 20th century but largely fallen into disrepute after having become associated with Nazi Germany. Since the post-war period, both the public and the scientific communities have associated eugenics with Nazi abuses, such as enforced racial hygiene, human experimentation, and the extermination of "undesired" population groups. However, developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised many new questions and concerns about the meaning of eugenics and its ethical and moral status in the modern era.

It's worth stressing again here that Bonemachine is neither a political organisation nor does it espouse neo-nazi opinion. It uses the history of warfare as a medium to convey the music, that's all.

The bonus tracks are a curious mixture, some of which have previously seen the light of day - 'Jagdschauspiel' and 'Military:Desaster' both appearing on the 3"CDr "Bombardements", for example - and some of which are unique to this box-set. The curiousity lies in the running times, which are a tad uneven if the unwary buyer has opted for just one series variant over another: consider, for example, the respective value-for-money offered by the 25 minute plus 'Space Journey' as opposed to the sub 1 minute 'Klang Um Klang'. Of course, by buying all three you are supporting the cause and ensuring a full-house of songs, and Nazgul would always endorse such an approach.

However, to do so now - given the release has pretty much sold out - relies on being able to find second-hand copies, and Nazgul notes that the last time he saw all three Series digipaks being sold as a set (without the box or the bonus 3"CDr too, it must be said) the price was in excess of £50. Having said that, the individual digipaks do turn up on eBay and Discogs from time to time, so a cheaper route to purchasing all three might well be possible with diligence and patience.

Nazgul has only seen 2 of the box-sets for sale since it was released in 2007, one of which is the one you see above (#3 of the overall edition of 77) and the other - well, that was also purchased by Nazgul but as a gift to a certain prolific Austrian musician by way of tribute and partial thanks for all of his one-off creations for Nazgul over the years!

By way of conclusion, the exclusive-to-this-box 3" CD-r video disc contains the bonus track 'Der Letzte Weg', shot in a grainy black and white format with rotating squares overlaying the already hazy image beneath! A short, rhythmic yet static-heavy noise track to finish off this most excellent box-set.

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