Saturday, 12 January 2013


Title: Die Schworzeichn II
Format: CDr single in A4 sized packaging released on 7th April 2012 by the Catgirl (Historical) label (Germany), cat ref HISTORICAL #004. The release has two colour covers, one for each side, housed in a transparent envelope, and contains 6 artwork/information inlays on photographic paper.
Edition: 20 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Joe Matera * Travellin' West 02:36
02. Hrefnesholt * Die Schworzeichn II 03:21

The original 'Schworzeichn' was a four-minute song on the 2011 "Kreuz" demo and later on the splendid "A Haund Voi Dreck" compilation CD. 'Die Schworziechn II' is the reworked and shortened return of this blackened folk song, forming half of a split single release with Australian guitarist Joe Matera. On the face of it this seems an unlikely mix of bed-fellows: a 'clean' played instrumental rock guitarist combined with the slightly fuzzy percht-folk of Hrefnesholt - as unexpected a combination as Lemmy recording a single with The Nolan Sisters, but one that works just as well (for those of you old enough to remember the 'Don't Do That' single from Young & Moody, you'll know what Nazgul's blathering on about). When you realise that Joe is now signed to Hugin's W.A.R. Productions label for his European distribution, it begins to make more sense.

Whilst you don't get much music for your money - in terms of duration that is - the release does provide some nice inlay cards and an A4 colour cover for both releases. Nazgul is an extremely lucky chap as you'll have seen from the photos as his copy (#20 of the 20 produced) is signed not just by Hugin but also by Joe, being autographed in the Castle Library following Joe Matera's recent UK Tour.

Amazingly enough, given the usual dearth of reviews of Hugin's material, some thoughts on this particular release have been posted online in a couple of places! Firstly, there is the review on Metal Archives, courtesy of Rotorschnee (aka our old friend Nick Diak), so let's hear what he has to say:

"Schworzeichn II is a 2 track split release between the Hrefnesholt project of Austrian musician Hugin and Australian musician Joe Matera, who is a recent addition to Hugin’s W.A.R. label’s line-up.

The first track on my copy of the split CD is actually Joe Matera’s track, an instrumental entitled 'Travellin' West' [Nazgul's note: same here, hence the track listing above reflecting this fact]. The track is built around a melodic acoustic guitar, accompanied by some effects, such as rattles. The song has a pastoral quality to it, and with a title like 'Travellin' West', it’s not hard to conjure South Western United States imagery with the song.

The Hrefnesholt track has a folk vibe to it, starting off with a repetitive guitar and effects with some background percussion that recalls imagery of more primitive drums being beat. In all, the first half of the song has characteristics similar to Alpine group Allerseelen. Halfway through the song the pace becomes quicker and beatier, but still seems canonical to the first half of the song. The lyrics change as well, become more like a traditional structured song. An ambient treat over all.

While the two tracks on the CD are quite good, the packaging for this release falters. In a true fashion of releases put out by Catgirl, the packaging is extremely DIY. The CD comes in an oversized DIN A4 transparent envelope. If the envelope is not sealed, than you have no worries, but if it is, it’s impossible to open without cutting or tearing into it, ruining the packaging. The CD itself is a generic CDr with no labels or printing on it. Inside the envelope, aside from the CD proper, are 6 pieces of art on photo quality paper. 

Two photos act as the front and back of the release, with Hrefnesholt representing one side and Joe Matera the other. The artwork isn't so bad: the Hrefnesholt is of a moss covered cave entrance while Joe Matera is of a South-western Desert, but the actual image quality suffers. The other cards include a cute anime girl thanking the buyer for purchasing the release and stating the number their release, a card with lyrics to the Hrefnesholt track (a rare treat to have lyrics to follow along to), and a card advertising Joe Matera.

The split itself is limited to 20 copies, and the music itself is quite polished and pleasing to listen to. I can only hope these tracks wind up on other releases under their respective musician’s repertoire."

The lyrics to 'Die Schworzeichn II', referred to above, are as follows:

'Dunkla Bam allan im Woid

die Nocht da Tog die Hoell – ois is heit schworz
da Huemmel des Wossa des Feia die Soeö de Stimm de Musi
de Perchtn de Leit da Brauch da Woid de Bam des Gros
da Sturm da Wind des Liad da Berg de Stoa da Foes
de Todn de Leich da Soarg de Eichn des Blattl da Ost

A second review of this release appears on the French site Forces Paralleles, the content of which reads broadly as follows (after being tidied up through online translation software):

"The production discography of Hrefnesholt -, project pagan/ambient of the Austrian musician Alex Wieser- is linked to the black/folk/pagan über-underground scene, which continues to publish albums in vintage audio format and that often produces discs limited to 20 copies for a public of sorted aficionados. This new publication of this project musical does not breach therefore to the rule: going out in only 20 copies through the German label Catgirl Historical, it groups together under the form of a split-single two unique titles, the first one being an instrumental track of the Australian guitarist Joe Matera (a big friend of Alex Wieser, and a recognised rock journalist), and the second being an unpublished title of the project Hrefnesholt. If this disc interests you, rummage therefore a little on the Net and you should discover a copy or two, with luck!

The first track, "Travellin' West " by Joe Matera, is purely an instrumental title, with guitar played only by the Australian musician without any backing band (one will note some discreet percussion in background). The melodies and the arpeggios march and the airplane takes off: we fly above the big spaces of the American red desert, Matera using here a melodic blues feel, ambient and poetic, aerial and never sentimental. It is necessary to signal that this song is not unreleased. In fact it has already been published before in 2010 as a simple single, in an Australian edition. This re-issue in the company of a Hrefnesholt song gives him another flavour, since it is confronted with a very different universe.

If old Joe chooses to takes us across the New World in company of his guitar and its delicious arpeggios, Alex Wieser on the other hand brings back us to more European territories , if not necessarily better know ones; the second track, "Schworzeichn II" (I remember very well the release on which the first part came) is in fact a flood of forest moods, heavy with strange moods and mystical colours. This is very intriguing, one hears didgeridoo, accordion, guitar, it envelops us in the middle of a cloud of pagan/folk ambient experimentalism and conceptual music. This is rather fresh. The project Hrefnesholt obviously rich in finds, especially when one knows the other discs of Mister Wieser.

One takes pleasure to putting these two tracks in opposition, one evoking the New World and its big spaces, the other evoking the old Europe and its dark forest atmospheres."  

Promo CD single of Travellin' West, not included in this release ...
Two great reviews, both complementary about these two very different songs. It really isn't hard to imagine storming down Route 66 when you crank up the Joe Matera song, and in keeping with Joe's other instrumental tracks you get some memorable melodies and the apparently effortless ability to conjure up your own lyrics to put to the words. 

Oftentimes instrumental releases can be a bit cold and remote, but no chance of that here. And if the big skies and muggy weather get too much on your desert voyage, skip to the damp and mossy reaches of Hrefnesholt and lurk in the shadowy corners of the most remote Austrian cave networks...both are sure to pleasure and delight in equal measure.

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