Saturday, 1 January 2011

URUK HAI / MHNUNRRN split

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Eponymous split CD with Mhnunrrn
Format: Professional CD release, pressed in special A5 triptich packaging on the Le Crépuscule du Soir label (France), cat ref LCDS019, and released in June 2010. The fourth song on the album is by Mhnunrrn, a raw and primitive Black Metal project from the Czech Republic, fronted by Klat Ba.
Edition: 50 unnumbered copies

Track Listing:

Uruk Hai
1. The Fate of Man 8.57
2. Lebensende:Winter (different version) 11.14
3. Gil-Galad (remastered version) 11.05

Mhnunrrn

4. II 20.26

So, you - the Honour and Darkness readership - voted for an Uruk Hai release to be the first post in 2011. Here it is - namely, the split album between Uruk Hai and the Czech Republic's finest, Mhnunrrn. And before we begin our review in detail, let Uncle Nazgul be one of the first to wish you all the best for the New Year ahead.

Released in summer 2010, this album contains three tracks that had previously been released by Hugin on a variety of Uruk Hai demos and albums in the year just ended. That said, the three particular tracks chosen for this release are collectively interesting as they each show rather different perspectives on the contemporary Uruk Hai sound.

Opener 'The Fate Of Man' has far more of a edgy, black metal feel to it than its two counterparts, courtesy of the buzzing guitar tones and rasping vocals of guest musician Lord Messir (Dark Domination). 'Lebensende: Winter' - here in its alternate 'different' version - manages to cunningly combine harsh vocal parts with spookily effective keyboard effects, the latter especially notable near the beginning of the song where chime-like effects generate a most pleasing ethereal atmosphere. The final track 'Gil-Galad' is a rhythmic and hypnotic keyboard-fest of a track, being far more in keeping with the lengthy musical panoramas recently penned by Hugin on Wulfrune Worxx releases such as "The Lord of the Rings", and is largely instrumental in nature save for some sampled narrative from the Lord of the Rings films.

For reference, the tracks in question can also be located on the following releases:

'The Fate Of Man' - on the "Dragon War" split tape with Bestia (in a non-vocal first take version), on the "Angband" 4CD compilation release, and on the CD pressing of "Black Blood, White Hand"

'Lebensende:Winter' - also appears on "Angband", and on both the CD and tape releases of the self-titled "Lebensende:Winter" demo

'Gil-Galad' - the original version was on the 2008 split release "Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder" with Moloch, but in re-mastered format appears on the self-titled "Gil-Galad / Bounded By Blood" split with Hugin, on the split CDr with Sieghetnar, on the "Angband" compilation, and on no less than two very recent tape releases: "Gil-Galad" on Depressive Illusions, and "Gil-Galad (The Whole Story)" on Wulfrune Worxx.

Given the variety of the three Uruk Hai songs on offer, this is a worthy release for anyone looking for a good representation of what this project is sounding like circa 2010/11. Assuming that you haven't already got a copy of "Angband" then you really might want to add a copy of this album to your collection. Whilst 'Gil-Galad' was fast becoming the ubiquitous Uruk Hai song of 2010 - still, better ubiquitous than iniquitous one would suppose - the other two tracks are not so easy to track down and as an overall listen you could do far worse than spend half an hour of your life in the company of this trinity

It's apposite that the "Vereint Durch Die Kraft Uralter Wälder" should have been mentioned in that round-up, as a first glance at the artwork to this split release shows a edged border quite reminiscent of the jute bag that the split 3"CDr with Moloch came packaged in. The remainder of the artwork struck Nazgul as being somewhat similar to the famous Lascaux cave paintings, a setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic drawings. It's not often that Nazgul hits the nail so squarely on the head (ususally it's more a case of squarely on the thumb) but as we shall see later in this post that initial impression was pretty much on the money.

To complement the Uruk Hai tracks we have a lengthy piece from a band previously unknown to Nazgul, Mhnunrrn. Now, knowing nothing about this project (and assuming the majority of you to be in a similar position) Nazgul took to some online sleuthing to track down the man behind the music - Klat Ba - and put him through the now-traditional 'ordeal' of a mini-interview to enlighten us further on his intriguing music.

This interview is produced below, complete with a few images of Klat Ba himself together with some of his art work:

Klat Ba (Mhnunrrn)

Q1: Can you tell us about yourself, and where you are based?

A1: Zdravice! I am Klat Ba, and I am the main person behind many musical projects. I am also a painter and poem writer. I am from a little town in the east of the Czech Republic in Wallachia, part of a region called Moravia. You perhaps already know, this region is also known from Romania: Wallachian shepherd tribes migrated from the area of present-day southern Romania (along the Carpathian arc to the west) in around the 14th-17th centuries.

Q2: Can you tell us what is the philosophy or purpose behind Mhnunrrn?

A2: Prehistory, Atavism (Nazgul's note: the reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes), and the Stone Age.

Q3: I have to ask of course - where does the name Mhnunrrn come from?

A3: So, this word is from my own mind. Mhnunrrn is word from prehistory, word of prehistoric man, and means "affirmative grunts" or "satisfied grunts". Try to imagine: In an old cave sits a Neanderthal, make something new with stones, bones, woods sticks, something good for him. And when he makes something of interest to him, this man say for himself "Mhnunrrn" – a word for success and satisfaction.

Q4: I'd never have guessed that! The band logo is perhaps the most obscure I've ever seen, and that's amongst some stiff competition in the Black Metal genre - why is this?!

A4: Yes, this is my own font for prehistoric words (it is very similar to calligraphic forms or runes). The logo is simply a calligraphic record of the band name.

Artwork of Klat Ba, part I

Q5: How would you describe your music in general, and in particular the track "II" on this split release?

A5: Raw and primitive in lo-fi form. I use only basic recordings, I don't have any professional equipment. This song ("II") is only instrumental, but on my first split with another band from Czech republic (Kruh) I used improvised vocals in my own language. The song on the Uruk Hai split is an invocation to the Ancient Ones, the first of the Gods. It is ritual, hypnotic, ending with a total eruption of primitive power.

Q6: You designed the artistic layout of this album - tell us a little about the theme you were looking for?

A6: I am an amateur painter and graphic artist. I paint in very primitive form (mostly action painting). For this split I used my collection of old water colours used for landscapes and cave paintings. So, I am deeply into Prehistoric art, this is for me the best art in whole history of art. In another way I am follower of abstract expressionism, 'brut ar', outsider art, tachisme, structural graphics, etc.

Q7: How did you first come across Hugin's music?

A7: I think in about 2000, through Uruk Hai and Hrossharsgrani. I have from this year some Uruk Hai cassettes, and also one or two Hrossharsgrani CD's.

Q8: How did this split release come to be?

A8: I approached Hugin to ask if he would like to contribute to a split release. He was happy to do so, and quickly sent me the three tracks that feature on the final album. I had previously released an album on the Le Crepuscule du Soir label with my band Fonnia, so a deal was quickly done for this split release.

Q9: Do you have a favourite band and/or recording that Hugin has made?

A9: So, in the past I occasionally listened to old ambient stuff from Uruk Hai and Hrossharsgrani, but this music is only for a special listen, not for everyday. And this is a good thing: I listen to Uruk Hai music festively, not every day. Hugin is a total maniac - too many recordings, too many releases - but not all is good (for me), I prefer quality over quantity. But overall Hugin with all of his musical projects makes good work (and I don't have the overview, only a summary of what has been released). For this, your Blog with a list of Hugin's work is a good thing! Hugin is a good person, totally dedicated!

Q10: Clearly releasing a split with Uruk Hai and featuring in Honour & Darkness puts you well on the way to success!! What will 2011 see from Mhnunrrn and any other projects you are involved in?

A10: At the beginning of the year 2011 will come another split release - Mhnunrrn / The Law (great poisonous black metal from Czech republic). On this recording I will use live drums for the first time, and Mhnunrrn on this split will be very harsh and totally lo–fi. My music is from the dawn of time, and falls back into the abyss of history...
Artwork of Klat Ba, part II

Q11: Do you have any thoughts for Hugin that you'd like to put in print on the Blog...?

A11: Alex, old times, good times! Barracuda!!

Q12: ...And any thoughts for the readers of Honour and Darkness?

A12: Support all forms of D.I.Y. and make your own music, do not buy others! And for you : Nazgul flies!

Q13: Thanks for your time, Klat Ba

A13: Great, thanks for your interest, and all good to you!

Incidentally, the label that this album was released on - Le Crépuscule du Soir (literally, The Twilight of the Evening) - is an small-budget, independently-run, underground record label from France. Their stated goal is to release underground music, mostly original dark art, and the release roster is based on their own personal tastes and beliefs. It is a label worth checking out, which you can via http://lecrepusculedusoir.yolasite.com

Also shown for your delight is a copy of the original label advertisement for this split release:

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