Wednesday, 30 June 2010

NAZGUL


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Nazgul / Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit
Format: Split cassette released by the Eisenwald Tonschmiede label (Germany) in 2004, cat ref EW004, featuring tracks by Uruk Hai and Vinterriket (Germany). Full colour reversible inlay for both bands, and colour panels on face of tape.
Edition: 400 hand-numbered copies only

Track Listing:

Uruk-Hai
1. Die Legende... 14:46
(a) ...von Elbenwald
(b) Khazad-dum
(c) Ein Licht geboren ward
(d) Nordhimmel
(e) Die Berge
(f) Der Ring
2. Nazgul 02:00
3. Orkisch Blut 06:32
4. Elbentod 05:33

Vinterriket

5. Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit VII 11:08
6. Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit VIII 11:09
7. Stille I 08:42
8. Stille II 06:20

Just take a look at that cover artwork - magnificent, is it not?! A cracking Lord of the Rings style illustration, showing Nazgul on his way back to the Castle after a hard day's blogging. Or something like that! A great example of how a label (in this case Eisenwald Tonschmiede) can greatly add to the release by investing a little money and effort in the presentation stakes. Nazgul has no idea whose original artwork it is, but personally he could look at it for hours. [Edit: the artwork is by Ted Nasmith, Alex informs me. Thanks!]

To Nazgul this 2004 split release with Vinterriket defines the archetypical early Uruk Hai sound, alongside the 2004 demo "Honour", which contains many of the same tracks but was a promotional release rather than a formal label pressing. There are few vocals here, and limited use of anything but keyboards/synthesiser and light percussion. The music created is similar in some ways to Vinterriket's style, which gives us an indication perhaps of one of Hugin's early influences for this project.

The saga that is track one, 'Die Legende', resurfaced on the 2008 CD (and tape) release "Lost Songs From Middle Earth" but here in it's original tape release there is a underlying charm and warmness to the music that really does take you deep into Tolkien territories of wooded glades and craggy peaks. Again, less is more in many ways as there is plenty of scope for your own imagination to help transport you to all places magical as the music swirls around you.

It's normally a fair bet to suggest that you won't easily find a copy of a demo of this vintage, as only 400 were made (this being #33), and in any event it's well worth tracking down the CD pressing of "Lost Songs..." from Aphelion Productions to hear 'Die Legende..." in all it's digitised glory. That said, however, a quick Google search does bring up a few distros with the original "Nazgul" tape listed on their books, one example being Ancient Path Records found via http://morker.se/apr/tape.html so getting your hands on an original tape may still be an exciting possibility!

The remaining three tracks are all in a similar style to the epic opener, and were covered in Nazgul's review of the aforementioned "Honour" demo. There is a great similarity between the two releases ("Honour" - a promotional only release through Werwolf Productions - adding in 'Gondolin Falls (Part 1-3)' and 'Nebelberge (Part 1 & 2)' to boot). All create a simple yet evocative atmosphere of realms beyond, the sort of music that you can have playing in the background for those times when you're feeling creative and inspired.

If you've come into Uruk Hai quite recently through Hugin's later releases - "Black Blood, White Hand" for example - then don't expect the 'goblin-esque' vocals and multi-layer production of his collaborations with Pr. Sergiy and others. This is far more simplistic but at the same time has many of the hallmarks and refrains that will be familiar to long-time listeners of Hugin's work.

The beginning of 'Nazgul' is good value too, and your scribe really should adopt the clarion call of "Nazgul...!" at the outset as the official phone ring of Honour & Darkness! It was from this very release, as you might have already supposed, that the Nazgul nom-de-plume was taken from this particular release.

A quick word on the Vinterriket side of this demo - as always, Cz manages to create those cold, bleak ambient soundtracks for desolate winter places and the four compositions on offer here are no exception to that. I've lost count of the number of times that the track 'Stille' has appeared in various versions on albums and compilations featuring Vinterriket, but notwithstanding that you really get you value for money on this split given the quality and length of the tracks on offer.

Incidentally, there was an interesting and exciting development around the "Nazgul" release that your old uncle Nazgul will bring to you in a future Blog - another of Hugin's legendary one-off specials for your delight!

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