Saturday, 8 May 2010

WOID & GEIST


Band: HREFNESHOLT
Title: Woid & Geist
Format: Tape release in 2010 on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine), catalogue reference cut042, with glossy colour inlay
Edition: Hand-numbered edition of 33 copies only

Track Listing:

Side A
01. Furchtelmandl 29.40
Side B
01. I Bin Da Woid 13:00

Another high quality release on the Depressive Illusions label, who are rapidly building a reputation for the quality of both their packaging and the music contained within it. This short demo release (Nazgul's copy being #2 of the 33) has been dedicated on the cover by Hugin with the phrase "Im Woid bist nie alanig", which translates as 'In the forest you will never be alone'.

The longer track 'Furchtelmandl' comes from the self-titled tape release covered on 5 December 2009 in this Blog, where Nazgul made the following pseudo-prophetic comment:

"Released in a tiny pressing of only 6 copies, which seemingly sold-out at almost the exact moment that the title was first advertised by Alex (Nazgul's copy is #4), this is a sure-fire future collectible and - unless a future Hrefensholt compilation brings the track back from obscurity - is destined to be one of the hardest releases from the band to lay your hands on."

Well, being resurrected not on a compilation but on a subsequent demo is pretty close!

The track was reviewed in detail back in December, but the pertinent paragraphs from that Blog still ring true for both of these songs:

"Somewhat epic in length at a touch under half an hour, it's actually a very hard song to put into words. The best analogy Nazgul can offer is that the whole piece brings to mind sitting in the deep woods being initiated by a tribal elder into the arcane secrets of a mysterious sect - the track is primarily scored using what sound like pretty authentic folk instruments with a smattering of keyboards too, and is narrated in a deep, sonorous voice (in German) inducing a semi-hypnotic effect.

It's a combination of the pagan / ambient aspects of the band's history with a more cultured musical backdrop, effectively a neo-folk style accompaniment if you will. Nazgul thinks it works rather well, and despite the length of the track there is plenty of musical innovation and soothing harmonies on it to keep the listener entertained and interested throughout."

'I bin da woid' is recorded in a very similar vein - even more so, if anything - and the opening section of the song is filled with the sounds of native woodland fauna, to the point where it began to remind Nazgul of the beginning of "The Garden" by John Foxx. Again, the combination of calm narration and ambient sounds lulls the listener into a peaceful state, and the two tracks really do complement each other well.

Both songs are also featured on another 2010 Hrefnesholt demo 'Uraungst', yet to be covered here, and 'Ich bin da woid' also crops up as one of two Hrefnesholt tracks on the 2010 split release with Firinghuman. Quite a convoluted set of demos over the last 6 months from Hugin's Href' project, but rest assured Nazgul will try to keep pace with it all and let you know what's what!

Incidentally, Hugin tells me that the language on this release is in fact native Austrian, with the title translating literally as "Forest & Ghost", with 'Ich bin da woid' therefore becoming 'I am the forest'.

On one piece of publicity material for these recent Hrefnesholt demos the phrase 'extreme Perchtn' music from Austria' is used to describe the style - musicial and artistic - of these latest releases. From what Nazgul can glean, this links to an ancient tradition in Bavaria and many Alpine regions: young men dress up as scary, creepy monsters with heavy, wooden masks. They are called "Perchtn" or "Perchten" and go from house to house, from farm to farm. They dance old dances, tell stories and sayings while they go and make an unbelievable noise with their drums, rattles and (cow) bells. This should chase away evil spirits from house and home. Every mask symbolizes a different character: the main is the "Percht" or "Berchta" who goes from house to house with her huge crowd of other characters.

The "Percht" is - according to ethnic study researchers -a pagan goddess, related to an unknown Celtic goddess, maybe related to the famous "Frau Holle" ("Mother Hulda ). The Percht punishes laziness but rewards diligence and helpfulness.

With thanks to Hugin, the lyrics for 'Ich bin da woid' are reproduced below:

'I am the Forest
I am the homeland
Dark and so beautiful
I am the forest
Green and musty cold
I am ancient
Enrooted in this earth
I am so magnificent
Imprisoned in one place
I have seen everything
From gruesomeness to beauty
I am the moss
Growing everywhere
I am the forest
Magnificent and ancient
I am heartbroken or
I am as miserable as sin
Rotten, not green any more
I am a stone
Grey and covered in grime
I was a mountain
Now I am small
Once I lived
But now I am dead
I can’t feel my branches
Nor my leaves
I can’t cry
There’s no water for tears
I was the forest
Once magnificent and ancient'

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