Wednesday, 24 July 2013

OUR FIRE BURNS

Band: CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE
Title: Our Fire Burns
Format: CDr released in DVD-sized case with colour covers on the W.A.R. Productions label (Austria) in 2013, cat ref WAR079.  The set comes with lyrics on a numbered paper inlay, together with a large match!  The photographs on the covers were taken by Michele Brittany, partner of COI member Nick Diak.
Edition: 50 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Our Fire Burns 02:44

This, the second collaborative release under the COI banner between Alex Wieser and Nick Diak, develops the neofolk leanings of the project still further and moves it away from more traditional synth-pop roots and into richer, more complex areas of musicality.  Built over a spiky and fractured guitar hook, some fine acoustic guitar and a killer solo or two, the song comes bounding out of your speakers like a prowling feline, looking to catch you in its melodic claws and smother you in velvety vocals.  

Repeating the combination on their debut release as a pair ("No Never Not"), Nick again takes the vocal lead (based on his own lyrics, more of which anon) whilst Alex handles the musical elements.

The result?  Probably the best COI song that you'll not hear all year.  With only 50 copies out there - and unlikely to be a strong seller from the W.A.R. Productions catalogue - it might seem ill-fated to reside in a twilight world of relative obscurity unless this post can summon the faithful Hugin hordes to rush to their email and send the requisite 5 Euros (+shipping) to W.A.R. to support the cause?  

And you know, you really should, as this is genuinely of interest to anyone with tastes broader than metal - and Nazgul's guessing a lot of you like Hugin's music for this exact reason.

Being the 21st century (at least outside of Castle Nazgul) there is opportunity to sample the song at Youtube so perhaps you might find the time to stop by and have a listen...?  

The description accompanying the video states that you'll come across "A hint of Sisters of Mercy gothic flavour mixed with acoustic and dream pop sentiments from "The Waking Dream" era of Chandeen combined with Neofolk inspired vocals done in classic Boyd Rice spoken word style".  Now, this is where Nazgul lumbers into unfamiliar waters as apart from the Sisters (who - in today's moment of random trivia - Nazgul saw live with Depeche Mode almost exactly 20 years ago to this very day) I have no idea about Chandeen or Boyd Rice. 

The former, I gather, is a musical project from Frankfurt am Main, founded in 1990 and popular in the darkwave scene in their early years, in a self-styled delivery of 'electronic poetry'.  Boyd Rice's bio, on the other hand, records that he is an American experimental sound/noise musician who has used the name of NON since the mid-1970's, and is an archivist, actor, photographer, author, member of the Partridge Family Temple religious group, co-founder of the UNPOP art movement and current staff writer for Modern Drunkard magazine!  

Well, that all sounds perfectly acceptable...!

The lyrics to 'Our Fire Burns' are handily printed on the accompanying insert (pictured above), and read as follows:

In the night
The cold rains blow
The thatched roof leaks
But we're never cold
In the hearth
Our fire burns

The smithy strikes
Toils over coals
The hammer echoes
Resounds with the blows
In the furnace
Our fire burns

The doors are bolted
The shutters closed
The walls are manned
The gates are lowered
In the beacons
Our fire burns

The streets are empty
The markets closed
We're always safe
We'll find our way
In the lamps
Our fire burns


Nick Diak's personal commentary on the song can be read at the new COI site but are reproduced here for your edification:  "The second song I've written lyrics for, completed in February 2013. The song is greatly influences by the title of Werkraum's seminal album Unsere Feuer Brennen!  I had an idea of a call-and-response type song, were someone would say a line and the response would be 'unsere feuer brennen', and my original draft was going this direction, but wasn't quite working. So I switched to English and started to compose around that.
As in a true neofolk fashion, the song is about fire (who HASN'T done that?), but I'd take solace in that I think I am talking about it in a different capacity. The song is obviously about unity. The subject matter is a town of an unspecific era, late at night, and its inhabitants. From the common man, to the workers, to the soldiers, to even the inanimate street lamps, they all work together and fire is the common linkage. I almost view this song as a sister song. maybe even a counter piece to "The Ride" as performed by Blood Axis. I would posit they take place in the same universe."

Nick explained to Nazgul his rationale for such explanatory notes:

"It's important to me at least to put some descriptors at the COI website talking about the songs. There's actually many reasons, the first being to always protect the integrity of the songs. What I mean is, lots of bands in the neofolk, military pop, dark wave/etc scenes get called fascist or something along those lines - look at controversy over Von Thronstahl, Days of the Trumpet Call, Death in June, you name it. All bands whom I adore and probably emulate - but the stuff I've written doesn't straddle any controversial lines - and I think a good way to keep anyone from misinterpreting anything in such a fashion, why not just put my intention up while writing it? The other reason is I just got done a year ago completing my thesis and my masters, and I was always hounded on "what do you think this film means?" and "what do you think this film-maker intended?" Ugh! So I am putting our my thoughts/feelings on the songs out there so no one else has to go through that!"

Nick also gives an interesting insight into the creative process of putting together the final song with Alex:

"As for the music - I didn't hear the music beforehand. I had submitted vocals and lyrics to Alex and I believe he had an instrumental on hand that he folded into. The music department is all Alex. In fact sometimes when I've done a song, I'll give him the vocals at like 6 pm at night. Then I'll go to bed at 10 pm. Wake up at 6:30 the next day with like 6 emails from him - 'oooh here is a version, no scratch that last version, here is a "BETTER" version, nope scratch that, try this one out, nope ok ok ok this is the final awesome version BAM!'   Ok, those aren't his words, but you get the idea. I think it's funny!"

We've noted before the apparently time-bending abilities of Hugin's recording process, and this lends additional circumstantial evidence to that theory!

The revitalised Ceremony Of Innocence project is certainly one to watch, and with a new release "Passing Through The Interstellar Gas" literally just out at the Catgirl label this week the next chapter in the story will soon be available for examination!

A small anecdote to finish the piece: with the arrival of baby Nazgul at the Castle the normal pattern of listening to music at night has had to chance for obvious reasons, and Nazgul has started the habit of listening to CDs in the car on his various journeys out and about.  Originally the 'Our Fire Burns' track had only ever been played in the car, where through some curious looping cycle the track kept playing and replaying over and over, giving the impression it was of vast length.  Nazgul genuinely believed the piece to be about 30 minutes long and more until a quick play on a different stereo revealed that this was, in fact, not the case at all.  Most peculiar, and perhaps a cunning device from W.A.R. to keep COI on the radio at all times!?

Never one to outstay his own welcome, Nazgul will sign off for the day with these wise words: check out the online clip, then send money to Alex to purchase a copy of your own! 

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