Friday, 19 April 2013

An Interview With ... Bart Piette


It's been some time since Honour and Darkness featured an interview piece, so here's a little something in that vein to celebrate the arrival of Spring and the flocking of the vultures to Castle Nazgul, keen to feast on the carrion below the northern ramparts that has arisen as the result of some early Spring cleaning.  It's amazing just how many hobbit corpses a Ring-Wraith can accumulate over a prolonged Winter...

Anyway, our protagonist today is Bart Piette, known to Huginophiles for two notable reasons: he is half of Solid Grey, recently featured on these pages, and is also the driving force behind Dead Man's Hill, whose split release "Dead:Meat" with Hrossharsgrani was reviewed back on 29 July 2010.

Nazgul broke into Bart's busy schedule with some timely questions about his recent collaborations with Hugin, plans for the future, and other such invasions of personal privacy in order to shine a little more light on another creative influence on the manifold works of Mr Alexander Wieser...

Hails Bart, and welcome to Honour and Darkness
Hello... and thanks!!

Where in the world are you based?
I live in Belgium.

Tell us a little about your own music: the best known I guess is Dead Man’s Hill: what is the philosophy behind this project?
Dead Man's Hill is everything that i experience in life, put into music. When I'm in my daily life I can hear the music that has to be written and the sounds that have to be created. And later on the music becomes "materialised". It is mostly about Mother Nature and Her many aspects.

I’ve read descriptions online of DMH being “Ritual Ambient, Neoclassic and Bombastic Martial Music” and “post-Industrial”, but how would you describe it?!
The music of Dead Man's Hill is difficult to describe, since the sounds and the influences are diverse. Maybe the best way to describe it is Dark cinematic industrial.

Are you involved in any other musical projects or bands?

I've been involved in several other bands and projects in the past. The ones in which OI'm currently active are The Earth King, Dead Man's Hill, Kinderen van Moeder Aarde and Solid Grey.

Which of your songs would you recommend to someone who has not heard your music before?
I would recommend Road to Sweet Waters, To Jean Sandor, To Marinette Bois-Ch├ęche...actually it's difficult to choose!

What is a typical day in the life of Bart, the musician?
Hmm, a typical day? Getting out of bed early, visiting the forest and other places in Nature, playing the didgeridoo and trying to do everything that I do in peace.

Is music your full-time job, or do you have another career too?

It is not my full-time job. That would be very difficult in these styles of music. I write music when I have time, and when something really has to get out of my mind.

You've known Hugin for how long now?
I think we know each other for something about 5 or 6 years now.

When and how did you first get to know each other?
I cannot remember exactly. I was exchanging e-mails with Juris from Beverina Records. Since Juris and Hugin had just started their own record label together, I got in touch with Hugin too.

You’ve worked together recently in Solid Grey, whose album ‘Pull The Strings Tighter’ was recently reviewed on Honour and Darkness. Tell us a little about how that all came to happen?

I sometimes appear as a guest musician in Hugin's music. One day he asked me to add vocals, synths and guitars to a track that he wrote. It became a very Cure-like song and we both were very happy with it. In no time, Hugin created more tracks in this genre, and asked me if I could add vocals, guitars and synths again, and so Solid Grey was born. We didn't intend to start this project together, but things were going so well, and we liked to work for those tracks, so it all began.

And who is the bigger Goth-rock fan out of the two of you?!
Not sure, but I think we both are :)

Are any more releases planned from Sold Grey?
At the moment, nothing is planned, but it's always possible that there will come a new release in the future.

Are more split releases being planned – the last was the ‘Dead:Meat’ release from Hrossharsgrani and DMH I think?
That's the first one, and 'til so far the last one indeed. Nope, at the moment, no split releases are planned.

Tell us a little about Hugin the man - what is your perception of him?
I experience Hugin as a very open-minded guy with his heart at the right place, and with a healthy dose of creativity.

Looking across Hugin's range of bands, do you have a particular favourite album or demo from his many recordings?
I don't know all his recordings, but from the ones i know, i like Uruk-Hai the most, the album Black blood, white hand is definitely my favourite.

If you were to record one cover version of each other's songs, which of yours should Hugin record and which of his would you cover?
That's a very difficult question to answer. Covering tracks of other bands is a very complicated procedure for me. So when I'm planning to make a cover of another band's track, I start working on it immediately after the idea is born. Since I haven't done this yet for Hugin's tracks, it's a difficult question to answer..

I noticed on the DMH ‘Spirits’ release that Hugin did the video for the song ‘Road to Sweet Waters’: how was that video planned, and what did you think of the final edit?
I love the video, Hugin did really great job on that! It all started because I sent him the newest track from Dead Man's Hill at that time, and said that i was going to try to have a video clip, but didn't know how to start. Then Hugin proposed to make one, and I told him what the track is about, and what I wanted in the video. So the video fits in perfectly with the music.

Turning back to you, Bart, what is your view of the current music scene? Is it a healthy one for bands such as your own and Hugin's, particularly in the light of illegal/pirate download sites?
The only good thing about that, is that the artists name's going around But when looking a bit deeper, you can see that it isn't good for the record labels, because they sell a lot less CDs, so some of the record labels will have to quit. And when record labels quit the artists will have no platform anymore do distribute their music. So that's not good, because we can get nowhere with our music then, and the music will not reach the audience anymore.

In order to stand out, some recent underground have been cleverly packaged. If money was not a problem, what would be your ultimate format for a release?

No idea, it depends a bit from album to album. But a digipack is always beautiful :)

What musical ambitions have you left that you want to achieve?

I'm not having a lot of musical ambitions to be honest. At the moment, I'm working on meditation/healing music, but it all goes very slow because the inspiration which is needed for this music is very specific. For the rest will see what happens. I don't have much time and in the first place, music is for me a way of getting things out of my head. But of course, when there comes an interesting challenge, I go for it .

Tell us Bart - what was the first album you ever bought, and the last?
The first album I ever bought was "Is Dit Nu Later" by Stef Bos.  The last one I bought was "The 5000 Spirits of the Layer of an Onion" by The Incredible String Band.

And your favourite album cover of all time?
No idea, there are a lot of great album covers. But some labels are standing out in it: Midnight Productions for example, always provide their releases with a wonderful album cover.

If you were stuck on a desert island for a year and allowed only 3 albums and 2 books, what would you wish to have with you?

When I'm on a deserted island I need only a bit food, a spring for clean water and my didgeridoo.  The rest of my needs,happiness and entertainment will be given to me by Mother Nature.

Where should people look to find out more about you and to access/buy your music?
There's a lot of information to be found on www.bugscrawlingoutofpeople.com/deadmanshill or on www.facebook.com/deadmanshill. Ordering albums is possible via the record labels, via myself (rokersvalley@gmail.com), www.discogs.comor or via several gothic / industrial web-shops.

Many thanks for your time and insights, Bart, and good luck with your future endeavours.
Many thanks!!

And there we have it, a small glimpse into the world of another of Hugin's musical conspirators and surely not the last time that Honour and Darkness will be hearing from this talented musician....

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

NO NEVER NOT


Band: CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE
Title: No Never Not
Format: A 3" CD on a plain white disc, housed between 2 colour cards in a small windowed envelope.  This was a 2012 release on the Smell The Stench label (Australia), no catalogue reference.  Vocals and lyrics on this song are by Nick Diak, with music by Hugin, recorded between October and November 2012.
Edition: Limited to 25 numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. No Never Not  9.48

New logo, new approach - that's a brief synopsis of this latest release from occasional side-project Ceremony Of Innocence (COI).

This 3" CD was released on the Smell The Stench label in a tiny edition of 25 copies, and indicates a move away from the synth-pop of recent COI outings ('recent' in the sense of being within the last 3-4 years, you understand!).  Here, Hugin has teamed up with American writer and fellow-fan Nick Diak (see the Friends of Honour and Darkness post of 18 March 2011) to produce this new song, "No Never Not", featuring lyrics and spoken-word vocals from Nick with music from Hugin.

It would be lazily straightforward to label the music as more neo-folk in feel, given this rather generic and all-encompassing description covers a multitude of sins within a pretty diverse genre, but in truth it does sound like the COI vehicle is crashing that particular party.  Nazgul is by no means a seasoned neo-folk aficionado, but the various songs that have come across the Castle death-deck hold a similar feel to this one, so being lazy as I am that's the immediate pigeon-hole this one has slipped into.  

And very enjoyable it proves to be too, with the clean vocal style adding something more to what has already been an exciting and eclectic project, and the acoustic guitars predominant throughout giving a relaxed and mellow vibe to the proceedings.

And with the existence of lyrics, it gives something for Nazgul to get his fangs into to explore further.  They read:

The lyrics of the song are:

"The fire's not forthcoming
No one ever died in June
The time’s may be a' changing
But it's not happening very soon

The trumpet call has faded
Revealing what was hidden with the moon
That you can have your victory
And your vengeance too"

So what in blue blazes is that all about, you wonder?  Nazgul put the question to Mr Diak to save you the torment of uncertainty, but kicked off a small interview by wondering how the collaboration had come about in the first place:

"I had written these two verses many years ago (late 2000's?), but never got to realise them into something else until late last year when I submitted them to Hugin who really liked them, " recalled Nick.  "He asked me to record them, which I was hesitant at first because I have kind of a feminine voice, plus I can’t carry a tune. He suggested doing it spoken word style, so off to a secluded part of the apartment, and using the iPhone’s voice recording app, I gave it my best.  Pretty low tech.  Hugin had an instrumental for his COI project he thought the vocals would work for, added them to it, and he really liked the results!"

So, what do the lyrics mean?

"At first glance, the song seems pretty misanthropic, maybe even a little pretentious, the type that pseudo-intellectuals might read to each other at coffee houses [Editors Note: *ahem* pseudo-intellectuals in coffee houses?! P'ah!  Nazgul scorns such nonsense and gazes balefully out over the barren landscape beneath the Castle!]  The irony here is that the song is a complete spoof! There is a lot of word play here, but almost each line is a jab at a neofolk, martial, or dark wave band. There’s maybe a hint of homage, but it's mostly having a bit of fun at the expense of some of the bands in the scene, especially bands who take themselves quite seriously. And let’s be honest, there are many that do.

The first like is a jab at Forthcoming Fire, a gothic band from the 90's. It's frontman, Josef Klumb would go on to do Von Thronstahl.

The second line, and one I am very proud of, is a jab at Death in June. Part of the mysticism of Death in June is no one knows the meaning about it, and Douglas P. isn't open about it. So I decided to dispel any multifaceted meanings about it by saying it doesn't mean anything.

The third line is a jab at the American neo-folk band, Changes, and probably the only band that knows that they got spoofed.  Nicholas Tesluk was very enthusiastic about the song, and his encouragement along with Hugin's really boosts my esteem.

Line five is a knock at The Days of the Trumpet Call, a neo-classical band fronted by Dennis P. who also was integral to Von Thronstahl.

Line six is a jab at The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud. I really wanted to do a jab at Der Blutharsch, since I find their lack of song titles amusing, but Der Blutharsch didn’t really lend itself to the word play I could come up with.

Lines 7 and 8 lampoons VNV Nation, more of an EBM, futurepop band, but deals with some similar subject matter and shares the same fan base as some neo-folk bands. VNV Nation’s acronym stands for “Victory, not Vengeance”, so I decided to subvert that a bit.

I really wish I could’ve come up with a 3rd or even 4th verse, but the many of the band names were not lending themselves to more word play. I would love to have poked fun at more bands like Allerseelen - I’m gunning for you next time!

Conceptually, the song is very much like 'Inane' by KMFDM, a band I hold in high esteem that I’ve listened to for almost a decade and a half. Overall I think this is a playful song, and I hope deep down that other bands might follow suit a bit, and instead of singing about 'the sun' or 'fire' or sampling WW2 speeches or European identity, perhaps they can make a not-so-serious song and have a laugh."


There is more collaborative writing afoot between Messieurs Wieser and Diak, so I guess we should all watch this space for more in the evolving story of Ceremony of Innocence.



Sunday, 7 April 2013

Happy Birthday!

Record signing session in Castle Nazgul, 2012
Happy Birthday Alex!

The 7th April is, of course, an annual feast-day in Castle Nazgul, for on this very day many (but not too many!) years ago our Austrian warrior Hugin came into the world.  One can only imagine the scene at the birth as the heavily tattooed baby Hugin was born: kicking and screaming, with a broadsword in one hand and a keyboard in the other...

Each year Nazgul makes a point of sharing this good news, and also sharing with you some random photograph or other to mark the event.  This year the photographs of choice come from the 2012 tour of England with Joe Matera, and features Hugin in a variety of pictures with the rich and famous down to the poor and infamous.  Nazgul will leave you to decide which is which!

So enough of the ramblings of the Dark Lord, let's simply wish Hugin a happy birthday and all the best in health and fortune for 2013.  Rock on, brother!

In unprecedented action, Joe Matera, Tony Dolan and Hugin have a 3-way tie in the 1st annual heavy metal 'rock-paper-scissors' competition
Hugin celebrates a successful UK Tour with a tattoo of Prince Charles, with Tony Dolan aghast
Shocking news as Germany votes overwhelmingly against an Atomkraft summer tour
Trevor Sewell (ex-Tygers Of Pan Tang, ex-Venom) and Hugin wait patiently for the hapless (and hopeless) photographer to strike
Plans are well underway for the tribute statue to Hugin, due in London circa 2017
Cockney Rebels Steve Harley and Alexander "D'oh!" Wieser enjoy a chat
Inspiration strikes Hrossharsgrani for another unlikely cover version ... ABBA fans beware!

Friday, 5 April 2013

NOVASAK/BONEMACHINE split tape - update III

Band: BONEMACHINE
Title: Bonemachine/Novasak split tape
Reason for (another!) update: Todd Novasad's own copy breaks cover...

The short version: Nazgul, obsessed with finding or collecting all variants of this Bonemachine/Novasak split tape release, pesters Todd Novasad until he sends a photo of his own copy to shut Nazgul up!

The longer version: We've seen 4 variants of this awesome split release on Honour and Darkness over the years.  Three copies are housed safely in the Castle library, including Hugin's own personal copy (#1/16), and a further tape was culled for review from the Club Debil website.  Whilst that left 12 other copies at large somewhere round the planet, the obvious place to start looking for more detail was with the other artist involved in the recording, Todd Novasad himself.  And in pursuit of bringing to you, my loyal readership, the most up to date items and news, Nazgul periodically emailed Todd over the space of a few months to see if a photo could be made available (during which time Todd was actually moving house, so had everything in boxes and doubtless really appreciated some mad Englishman pestering him about an old split tape).

And Lo!  Todd - bless his patient heart - did uncover his version of the release (presumed to be #2 of the 16 in the set) and sent the photograph above over to the Hugin archives for preservation.  And in keeping with the others in the series so far, it's different again in terms of layout and content, with some interesting copper wire/tube gubbins to the top left, and cylindrical structures that must make the case entirely unstable and prone to falling over at the drop of a hat.

So that's now five of the little blighters recorded for posterity - if you have one ,and would like to have it featured in these hallowed pages, then drop your old uncle Nazgul a line and let's share your treasure with the world.

My thanks once again to Todd - why not check out his little spot on the web and see what business you can put his way....?  


Todd Novasad, finally hunted down by Nazgul!