Tuesday, 31 May 2011

WEIß





Band: B-MACHINA
Title: Weiß
Format: Larger format 'hardpaper' digipak CDr released in 2008 on The Eastern Front label (Israel), cat ref Front015. Colour printing throughout, the format includes fold-out panels and is a split release with Bulgarian band Miel Noir.
Edition: 300 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
Miel Noir
01. Miel I
02. Miel II
03. Miel III
04. Miel IV
05. Miel V
06. Miel VI
B-Machina
07. The Colour Of My Innocence
08. Fahne Empor!
22. Wald Aus Stein & Rost

It's been a fair time since Honour and Darkness had B-Machina product to review, and part of the reason for that is because the Castle Library was rapidly running out of new material to cover. With time and other pressures having to lead to some small sacrifices somewhere along the line, the upswing in Uruk Hai and Hrefnesholt material (which is a good thing) has led to a decline in the output for other projects, B-Machina included. This is a less good thing, though entirely understandable in the circumstances.

So it is that this split release with German-Bulgarian group Miel Noir has been held back for a while, as once it's come and gone there is little else new on the B-Machina front to cover on the Blog *sniff*. Happily for us, "Weiß" is a good place to draw a temporary line under B-Machina reviews until the next surge in post-industrial recordings emanate from W.A.R. Productions, and has received favourable critique online from most sites that have reviewed it.

It does sounds a little like the beginning of a joke - along the lines of 'So there's a Bulgarian and an Austrian, and they walk into this Israeli record label...' - but the results are far from comical. Indeed, this is a fine split release and a credit to both projects that it works so well. Without further ado let's start out with a few of the online reviews, beginning with this one from the pages of Chronicles Of Chaos:

"Miel Noir is the project of Dimo Dimov, who has been associated with a number of metal bands, including his own blackened folk metal project Svarrogh. Of late, he has done an Ulver and moved away from the metal scene towards post-industrial. At the moment he is the live drummer for Allerseelen (no less), and Svarrogh has been transformed into a neofolk project.

Miel Noir gives expression to his ambient inclinations, but with a nod to his roots; a distorted guitar playing hypnotic riffs is an important component, possessing a harshness that only one intimately familiar with black metal could provide, but never losing the ambient aura. There are some spoken word passages, but I suspect those are samples, rather than Dimov's own voice. Sometimes he ups the ante and provides a more dissonant track that is closer to industrial than ambient, yet always with a ceremonial or ritual flair.

B-Machina is a more orthodox entrant with a less harsh sound, but possessed of an adventurous spirit that elevates it above the norm. Their three songs are fairly varied: "The Colour of My Innocence" consists of competing waves of drone and dissonance, whilst the next track is centred on industrial clanging. Their best track, and the highlight of the split, is their third and final track, which consists of more industrial pounding but with a repetitive yet evocative acoustic refrain. All three tracks perfectly capture the mood of being inside an abandoned warehouse or deserted factory in the dingy industrial area of town. Overall, an excellent split with neither side letting the other down."

and this offering from Chain D.L.K.

"WEISS is a split release which gathers Miel Noir (side project of Svarrogh's Dimo Dimov in its first official appearance after their first demo) and B-Machina. The first six tracks are Miel Noir ones and they are titled "Miel I" to "Miel VI". They sound totally different from Svarrogh and the project sounds like being Dimo's industrial/ambient/metal outlet. The track are based on melancholic melodies played using synthesizer pads where Dimo add industrial rhythmic parts, samples, treated vocals, distorted guitar and electronics. The tracks create a nice ambience and they sounds fresh enough to listen to them with interest.

B-Machina aren't newcomers to the industrial ambient genre and on this release they deliver three new proper track spaced out by 13 title less short tracks containing few seconds of silence and placed between the second and the third track. The concept behind these short silence moments I think is contained into the title of the first track titled 'The Colour Of My Innocence', because when innocence is lost there's only an overwhelming silence left. Musically the tracks sound like distant industrial ambient noises where repetition is the main scheme. The third one, 'Wald Aus Stein & Rost', alternate industrial reverberated percussion with acoustic guitar phrasings. An interesting unconventional solution which will make them appreciated by experimental/industrial lovers."

All of which is pretty fair comment and leaves little to be added. The last B-Machina track "Wald Aus Stein & Rost" may ring a few distant bells with some of you, and if so then you may be recalling that the track appeared on a unique 4-band CDr that Hugin put together for Nazgul and which featured on these pages back on 3 November 2009. Personally, Nazgul's favourite song is 'The Colour Of My Innocence', which evokes a sensation of being entombed inside a vast mechanical beast as it comes alive: you can hear and literally feel the breathing as the track progresses. Marvellous stuff.

For balance, it's also fair to note that not all reviewers 'got' the B-Machina tracks on this release as we see, for example, in these thoughts from the JudasKiss webpages:

"...And so to B-Machina. I’m not so familiar with the previous work of this Austrian project, but the B-Machina part of "Weiß" consists of three tracks. The first two of these, ‘The Colour Of My Innocence’ and ‘Fahne Empor!’ are tracks seven and eight of the disc, and the third, 'Wald Aus Stein & Rost', is track 22, being separated from the others by 13 short tracks of silence for some unfathomable reason. The press release for "Weiß" claims that 'the other 13 tracks they are very short powerful musical phrases completing perfectly the concept of the album', but I checked them all out and I heard nothing but the sound of silence. Am I missing something here?

Anyway, allow me to concentrate on the three tracks with music on them. B-Machina is a duo consisting of Alex on vocals and synth and Max on guitars. Their MySpace page describes their music as ‘medieval industrial’, but I can’t really detect a medieval flavour to it. ‘The Colour Of My Innocence’ is noisy industrial ambient with a swooshing rhythm like heavy breathing behind it, animalistic grunting sounds, and an overall effect similar to Horologium or Oxyd. ‘Fahne Empor!’ has prominent, deep, reverberated guitar notes over a churning background of industrial ambient whoops and crashes. ‘Wald Aus Stein & Rost’, the lengthiest track at over 11 minutes, opens with a quiet plucked guitar melody and slowly building background ambient atmospherics, which gradually build into another noisy industrial piece, incongruously interspersed with bursts of classical Spanish guitar.

I must confess, I didn’t get much pleasure from B-Machina’s part of "Weiß". I like both noisy, rhythmic industrial music and melodic, acoustic guitar music, but both at the same time? That’s like having a pickled onion in your ice cream!"

Mmmmm....pickled onions....

As relevant additional information, B-Machina tells us that they have adapted classical songs from the likes of Jaspar Sang, Henry Purcell and J.S. Bach in their compositions (Nazgul, being pig-ignorant of classical music, can neither confirm nor deny this), whilst Miel Noir want us 'drenched in white honey and wite ashes'. Hmmmm - very interesting...!?

This release is readily available online with both Steinklang Industries and The Eastern Front advertising stock at the moment, and copies usually being readily available in the other usual haunts (eBay, Discogs) as well. There's little excuse not to dip your toe into the neofolk/industrial worlds of these bands for an affordable price, so be bold and jump in!

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