And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the dawning of a new era in the musical output of our hero, Hugin. The project Drachenfeuer (literally Dragon Fire) was put together with English musician Jim Kirkwood (www.jimkirkwood.com) in 2009 following both individuals contributions to the excellent Lord of the Rings based CD "The First Ring" (hails, Fabien!). You can read more about that particular collectors item in the Blog post of 9 October 2009.
Currently they are looking for a label to release this album (and if you run a label, or know someone who does, then may Nazgul suggest you head straight to your email and offer these guys a deal?), this great promotional set was kindly sent over to Castle Nazgul by Hugin last year. Since then, it's been on regular play in the Castle death-deck and it is not an overestimation to say that this must be one of the best albums that Alex has put his name to. He must be proud of it too, judging by the fact that we have the rather formal declaration that this is "Jim Kirkwood & Alexander Wieser's Drachenfeuer" on the card inlay.
There aren't many new projects who would get away with trying to release a double album as their debut, but then these aren't mere morals we're talking about here! Jim has been releasing excellent ambient and ethereal music for many a moon, and if you have any doubt of Alex's musical credentials then Nazgul can only imagine that you must have surfed onto the wrong page in error!
How might the music herein be described? Well, there are clear influences from both Alex and Jim at work - there are some passages that are pure Uruk Hai, for example - yet between them they've managed to create something that transcends both individuals and becomes a pseudo-cinematic experience in its own right. If Hollywood are looking for film scores for future LoTR films they could do far worse than give these guys a ring, quite frankly. A wealth of musical nuances are found within, from the gentle sounds of nature to the ethereal female chants and choirs that lifts one spirits to the heavens. There are limited vocals on this album - the aforementioned choirs - and so the synthesisers are left to carry the load and create the imagery. This they do to magnificent effect!
Nazgul asked Jim about the background to this project and what his thoughts on it were back in August 2009, when news of the recordings became known. Here are his thoughts:
"As you have heard, Alex and I are collaborating on a JRR Tolkien inspired project, which came about because of our mutual interest in this author and our both appearing on The First Ring CD to which we contributed a track each. Fabien suggested we get in touch with one another and see what happens! I think Alex and I are very much on the same wavelength, so to speak. It is early days yet, but we have completed two tracks so far and there are a number of others in the pipeline. It is an exciting way to work, and very fast.
So far Alex and I have two tracks done, 'Touch not the water' and 'All will love me and despair'. With a bit of luck we might have two more done today, 'Father of Dragons' and 'The Black Gate'. I think it is a safe bet that we will have enough material for a CD in the next three weeks if not sooner. I keep my fingers crossed that it will make it"
In terms of the musical style, Nazgul pondered, what might be expect?
"The style is difficult to pin down exactly. I might describe it as symphonic/ambient with a dark edge, but that will probably not be adequate. We have talked briefly about an album and Alex has come up with a logo, so I am hopeful of that outcome."
When this one finally hits the streets - which it will if there is any justice in the world - then you really need to buy it. In fact, Nazgul is tempted to instigate a fund of fan's contributions to get this album released, in much the same way that Marillion fans manage to help fund and support that band's releases. Now there's a crazy idea...!
Unless you have the eyes of a hawk the biog details on the back of the promo card might be hard to read, so allow Nazgul to assist in that as the content is fascinating:
"In 2009 when the sun was beating down on the earth like the fiery breath of a dragon the project Drachenfeuer was created by Jim Kirkwood and Alexander 'Hugin' Wieser. Since the early 80s both musicians have collaborated with other well known bands/projects and have a long list [of] releases.
Drachenfeuer began with a composition for "The Black Land" - an epic tale based on J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' and 'The Silmarillion'. This concept makes it possible to flee from the grey everyday life to a better glorious world full of magic and wonders. Classical melodies combined with iron rough edges of metal march on a crusade through Middle-Earth. Jim and Hugin tell of mystical, enchanted woods, of fire-breathing dragons whose wings conquer the clouds, of gleaming swords of kingdoms of the north and of power and its true strength found in dark battles.
It is the year 2009 and the blood freezes in the veins at the sound of clenching steel and a further, greater battle is fought. The way of the warrior is contained in the flesh and steel, baptized in fire and ice. The Dragon Lord portrayed in Drachenfeuer rises with iron force to fight his battle in the land of shadows. Symphonic dragon hymns, mystic and bombastic choirs of battle lead the listener to deadly moors, rise up high in the sky and chase dark creatures through enchanted woods. Powerful choirs, drums of war, cymbals and fanfares build a symphony like the ride of a Valkyrie.
Drachenfeuer's first work consists of the symbiosis of heroic battle hymns and soundtrack-like passages full of mystic characters. This epic tale crosses the borders of the known arts into a world beyond where flesh, steel and courage do not yet lie hidden in the shadows. "The Black Land" is a new ode to Mordor as well as a further manifestation of the violence of the Dark Lord. This album will attract every single dragon warrior.
Flesh & Steel
Jim Kirkwood & Alexander Wieser"
An interesting read, not just for the insight into the original working title of the piece. And yes, if you were wondering where you'd seen this cover art before, it is the full-colour version of Uruk Hai's "Dragon War" demo tape, reviewed yesterday on Honour and Darkness. Nazgul's efficiency surprises even himself, sometimes...!