Saturday, 16 April 2011

DEMO 1/2010

Title: Demo 1/2010
Format: Tape release in two editions: The first edition was released at Wulfrune Worxx (France), cat ref WW178, with a xeroxed cover on matt light blue paper. A second edition was released at Depressive Illusions Records (Ukraine), cat ref cut162, with a full colour cover on glossy paper. Both releases have the same track on either side of the cassette.
Edition: Both versions limited to 99 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:

01. Eismond 32:22

"This one is ice cold!" proclaimed Alex on the cover of my Depressive Illusions version of this tape (Nazgul has both editions nestling on the library shelves), whilst the inlay to the Wulfrune Worxx copy states, "Aller Eis - All Ice". However you cut it, there's a cold wind of change blowing through Castle Nazgul this afternoon and it's not the Scorpions whistling their early 90's cash-cow either.

Eismond is yet another project from the artist who surely has taken multi-tasking to new heights. Quite what prompted Alex to consider that yet another project was a good idea is a mystery at the moment, not because it's unwelcome (hell, new work from W.A.R. Productions is always cause for celebration here) but simply because the risk of not having the time to fully devote to it must be alarmingly high.

Leaving personal life away from music to one side, this is a man who not only already has a range of full time bands on the go (Uruk Hai, Hrefnesholt, Hrossharsgrani) but some part-time ones too (B-Machina, WACH, Ceremony of Innocence, Elisabetha and Manwe) and still others that are also new ventures needing time to develop (Drachenfeuer, Solid Grey). You'd have thought another band/MySpace page to worry about would have been about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit, but undeterred our Austrian champion soldiers on!

So here we have it, the debut recording from Eismond (a name, incidentally, that translates as Ice Moon). Two pressings on different labels with the same half-hour song (packaged differently only through the use of colour) is an ambitious beginning - 198 copies in total even for an established artist like Hugin would not necessarily fly off the distro shelves even given his pedigree with the mighty Uruk Hai. It possibly reflects more the support offered by these two labels - Wulfune Worxx and Depressive Illusions - than it does any realistic ambitions to physically sell that many copes, although perhaps time will prove Nazgul wrong. I'd certainly like to think so, and if you can find a few spare Euros to throw at either distro to secure your own copy then bully for you.

The band's MySpace page (intriguingly titled, presumably because the suffix Eismond is already in use elsewhere on MySpace) suggests the listener should be expecting some ambient black metal whilst investigating this first demo, cunningly entitled "Demo 1/2010". This is useful information, as there is nothing else of much worth to be found anywhere else in the cyber-ether. Not untypical, sadly, of the usual coverage afforded to Hugin's projects in the main but hey - that's why Nazgul sits at his oak desk well into the early hours, enlightening the world at large about this arcane and obscure releases. So grab yourself a glass of your favourite tipple and pull up a comfy chair, as we're about to go exploring together...

The musical offering is a cold and wholly ambient experience - it's the soundtrack to blizzards falling in the upper Alps, of glaciers creaking in the dead of night, the musical accompaniment to trekking through strange and desolate mountain reaches on a Lovecraft-inspired expedition in search of those Great Old Ones still frozen in the icy tundras of the north. Occasionally there is a very brief interlude of almost a pseudo-industrial noise or a short percussive beat, otherwise 99% of this recording is fuelled by frosty keyboards in repetitive, stark passages. Personally speaking, to Nazgul's ear this new project has much in keeping with the sounds of recent Uruk Hai demos more than any other of Hugin's bands, with a faint touch of B-Machina and a unique twist of ambient-drone in the escalating and repetitious music.

A half hour debut track is pretty ambitious for any new act, but such trivialities have never deterred our Austrian maestro in his quest to release his musical musings. So, does this demo 'work'? Well on most levels yes it does - it's not too dissimilar to Hugin's other instrumental forays, but that cuts both ways: it won't alienate much of the potential audience for the work, but conversely offers nothing that could be called radical and different. It's a bleakly ambient track, never quite creating the mystical atmosphere of something like Wongraven's "Fjelltronen" for example, yet it grows on you over time.

Listening to this demo as a warm spring breeze wafts through the library window and vultures mournfully squawk outside does not perhaps give the music the right environment in which to blossom. Nazgul shall return to it in the chill depths of winter, to listen to it afresh as the snow silently falls to pile up against the Castle ramparts, as that is surely the time for the Ice Moon to flourish...

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