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.



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