Saturday, 30 April 2011

Nazgul's Top 10 B-Machina cover art

As it's nearly the end of yet another month here on Honour and Darkness, Nazgul thought he would celebrate the passing of April with another one of his infamous Top 10 lists. These always provide Nazgul with yet another feeble excuse to have a rummage through his collection, but hopefully entertain at the same time.

Todays list is based around Nazgul's favourite B-Machina / Bonemachine album and demo covers. Now, in saying that they are my favourite does not necessarily mean that they are the best covers in purely artistic terms. If the list included the definitive range of technically expert covers, then we might be looking at inclusions from releases which were professionally done. However, Nazgul being the 'square peg in round hole' sort of chap that he is often prefers the more abstract, unusual or not-so-obvious cover illustration and as such this list is a personal compilation of the pictures that I find most entertaining.

You will doubtless disagree, and may indeed end up fuming that your favourite cover was omitted ("how could Nazgul have not included %$&^....!!!") or consider that the top ten choices are just plain crazy ("why has Nazgul included ^£"%....??!"). Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles, of course, and if you'd like to send Nazgul your personal list of favourites then perhaps that could lead to an updated post in a few months time....
Anyway, enough of the rambling and onto the list, presented here in traditional reverse order:

10. Ganesha

Simple, clean, Indian. Three adjectives that have never been used to describe Nazgul, but which apply rather nicely to this split release with Rose Rovine E Amanti. The simple but striking design of Indian art complemented the theme of this release perfectly, and is most unusual compared to the rest of the band's 'normal' artwork. This makes it both memorable and refreshing, hence it edges into our top ten countdown.

9. Mystified vs. Bonemachine

Very obviously triangular, and award yourself a gold star if you can name the only other release of Hugin's to sport a triangular inlay*. Whilst there's not too much to say about this cover (which is housed inside a large cloth bag, so technically whilst it is the cover it's not really on view) Nazgul has always liked it so what the heck, here it is!
* A gold star if you answered Elisabetha's "Morella"

8. The Iron Stallion

The concept of iron goes together rather well with the B-Machina project, evoking images of industrial rigidity and strength. There's a track on the "Mystified vs. Bonemachine" split called 'Iron Age', rather proving the point. So it should be no surprise that the theme of "The Iron Stallion" fits perfectly with the band's imagery, and how better to show it that through this beautifully lit cast statue of, well an iron stallion. It has drama, movement and strength - as did this excellent release.

7. Little Boy

The Depressive Illusions re-issue of the classic Bonemachine demo came with a cover of perfect imagery - the devastation of the post-atomic landscape in Japan, the harrowing photo of a mother and her child in the smoldering ruins, and the classic double-headed Bonemachine logo. One of the most appropriate and well executed covers in the band's discography.

6. War Against Banana

Apart from having what could just be the most ridiculous name of any of Hugin's releases (although a firm favourite of the resident monkey at Castle Nazgul, who as I type is delirious with excitement in seeing this release make the list), it is certainly a notable cover. There's just 'something' about it that grabs old Nazgul's attention, so congratulations to our old friend Chris Huber at Theremin Noise Club for the design. Top banana, you might say...

5. Anti-Genesis

Of the 6 entries covered so far, 4 have been split releases and here's the latest of them: "Anti-Genesis" featuring Ukranian ambient project Saturn Form Essence. A touch of divine inspiration perhaps for this one, as the effect of the whole cover is perfectly balanced with the astronomical leanings of SFE and the prophetic utterances of B-Machina.

4. Schicksalswinde

Hell's teeth, another split release of sorts! This tape release came from the very limited and rather expensive Moloch box-set "Traumklange Und Klagelieder" and to this day remains exclusive to that particular release. It features Bonemachine remixes of 3 Moloch songs, and has an absolute peach of a cover attached to it with the Jester of Doom (or perhaps the Harlequin of Hades) playing away in front of what looks like a canal scene. Perhaps this is the Venetian version? Anyway, come what may this is a sufficiently striking image to garner #4 on the top ten list...

3. Burn Down Psychosis

Now, to be fair this is rather an odd cover. It's always struck Nazgul as a bizarre image - an old metal worker using his bare hand to manoeuvre a near-molten bar of metal, pulling the sort of face you might imagine following such a daft feat - but for reasons doubtless grounded in complex psychology I rather like it. Anyone with insights into why this is the case should email immediately!

2. Bittere Erkenntnisse Durch Nahtod

One of the more recent Bonemachine acquisitions to the Castle library this one, but one of the favourites too and only kept off the top spot by Nazgul's all time favourite (have you guessed what that is yet?) A really beautifully executed cover this, retaining a hint of the industrial in the tunnel yet bringing in the ethereal angels to literally illuminate the piece. Stunning.

1. Novasak / Bonemachine split

I just think this is such a clever idea for a tape cover: take one old circuit board, dissect amongst the 16 tapes in the edition so each one is unique, add some green-coloured inlays and tape and there you have it - the perfect release. Nazgul would love to see some of the other 15 copies out there to see how they compare to his tape, so if you are the proud owner of another please do drop me a line. Sure, the tape is a nightmare to store (being unbalanced, it falls over more readily than Nazgul after a night at The Witch's Head tavern) and yes, it collects dust like you wouldn't believe. But Nazgul forgives it all of these issues as part of it's mad charm and inspired design.

Errata: having come to the end of this lengthy post, it is quite typical that another release has just come to Nazgul's attention that probably should have made it onto the list. It is the literally out of this world cover from "Extraterrestrial Death", as posted on Honour and Darkness way back on 24 February 2009. Being an internet-only release, poor old Nazgul's ailing mind had forgotten to include it at the deliberation stages. Go and take a quick look, and consider it to come around =8 on the list.

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