Friday, 17 February 2012

KRIEGSRYTHMEN


Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Kriegsrythmen
Format: Cassette-tape only release from 2006. There are no label details on the inlay but this is a self-released demo from W.A.R. Productions, with cover artwork drawn by Hugin and a paper sash around the cassette case.
Edition: 30 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Vereinite Österreichische Eisen & Stahl Werke 4.56
02. Bis Zum Tode 1.24
03. Knochenwerk 17.58

This demo release from 2006 had completely slipped through Nazgul's usually carefully cast net until one fateful afternoon a few months ago, when Hugin emailed through a list of W.A.R. Productions releases from 1999 onward. Scanning the list and nodding appreciatively, Nazgul spotted no less than 2 tapes whose names didn't sound familiar, and sure enough a couple of gaps were found to exist in the collection. Heresy! However, with his usual unbounded generosity, Hugin made available his own copies of both releases and the moment of crisis swiftly passed.

And so onto "Kriegsrythmen", which one might safely presume literally translates to meaning the rhythm of war. Recorded in the 2006 period, it sports 'classic' hand drawn artwork which, as we know from the post back on 5 June 2009 comes from Hugin's own hand, and is hand-numbered in an edition of only 30 copies. Being Hugin's own version, this edition is #1/30.

After the strange encounter in our return to Durin's Halls recently catalogued, Nazgul is pleased to report that things are very much back on track with expectations when it comes to a review of this Bonemachine tape. Quite literally throwing the kitchen sink into the mix, the soundscapes are both expansive and claustrophobic in turn, with pounding percussion and harsh industrial sound being streamlined into the sort of mechanised maelstrom that this project was known for prior to evolving into B-Machina. A harder man than I might argue that some of Bonemachine's recorded output sounds like a man laden with steel pipes falling down a staircase, but that would be unkind and not a little disparaging to the efforts involved in composition and execution.

This is exemplified admirably by the opening track. The lengthily titled 'Vereinigte Österreichische Eisen-und Stahlwerke AG, Linz' (abbreviated to VÖEST) translates as the United Austrian Iron and Steel Works, and what better way could there be to capture the internal machinations of such a plant than through the medium of a Bonemachine instrumental song?!

It has an interesting history (the plant, that is, as opposed to the song): Founded on 4 May, 1938, as a subsidiary of "Reichswerke" in Berlin under the improbable name of "Reichswerke AG für Erzbergbau und Eisenhütten Hermann Göring Linz", it merged in May 1938 with Alpine Montan AG. In July 1938, building construction began on the smelting plant at Linz, the first blast furnace was blown in on 1 October, 1941, 3 more blast furnaces were completed by 1944. Dredged from the depths of the internet, here's a picture for your edification:

The Eisenwerke Oberdonau AG weapons factory was built on the site (supplying components for tank hulls and turrets) and, as a result, from July 1944 onwards the plant was destroyed by successive air raids. It's assets were confiscated by the occupying American troops and re-named "Vereinigte Österreichische Eisen-und Stahlwerke AG" (VÖEST) in July 1945, re-nationalised and handed over by the Americans to the Austrian authorities in 1946. From 1947, VÖEST experienced a formidable upswing as a sheet metal manufacturer and became an export-oriented model enterprise of Austria's nationalised industry.

The former VÖEST plant apparently continues to operate as VÖEST Stahl Linz AG, located in Voestalpine Straße 3, 4020 Linz, presumably just the throw of a handful of rivits away from the 2006 residence of one Mr Alex Wieser...!

My goodness, a history lessen into deepest Nazi industrial history - who knew?! Anyway, enough of that: let's get on with the rest of the tape. The aural assault continues to the death with 'Bis Zum Tode' (meaning, ermm, 'to death'), something of an oddity in as far as it briefly combines the frenzied drum patterns and vocals of a death-metal track with a background of industrial noise, disappearing into the ether as rapidly as it arrived. Definitely an unusual song, and not a stylistic approach followed in the rest of this demo.

And so to the epic 'Knochenwerk' (translating quite literally as 'bone work'). It's a fascinating amalgamation of ideas, sounding at the outset like an interstellar radio transmission and then running through the gamut of many of Bonemachine's trademark sounds. There's something fresh to listen to at every turn, and rather than becoming a parody of itself the song actually works rather well as a demonstration of the varied and often indescribable music that this project has produced. There is a distinctly rhythmic nature to much of this song, mirroring the title of the tape itself rather nicely.

As a collector who has pretty much everything Bonemachine has officially produced (and some releases unofficially released) it's a great pleasure to report that even in this one short rehearsal tape there's still plenty of new material to enjoy alongside the familiar refrains of Hugin's industrial wing.
The sash around the tape must be a recent addition, not least because it's been dedicated to Nazgul (an impossible feat if it was originally with the piece back in 2006) and is numbered in silver rather than in gold as on the red inlay. As it sits nicely amongst the other Bonemachine demos with similar bands - "Veteran" and "Blutgrund", for those of you keeping score - Nazgul certainly isn't complaining!

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