Monday, 20 January 2014

SPIRITS (FROM THE PAST)

Band: URUK HAI
Title: Spirits (From The Past)
Format: Cassette only release on the Depressive Illusions label (Ukraine), cat ref cut183, released in January 2011 and recorded as a demo in 2010.  Comes in professionally printed colour covers, and standard C60 style tape.
Edition: 111 hand-numbered copies

Track listing:
01. Eihwaz  

Do you know it was over 2 years ago since the partner release to this EP, "Spirits (From Ancient Worlds)" was reviewed on these hallowed pages?!  Nazgul had always intended to review the pair separately, but not quite with such a long period of time between them.  How time flies....

Here then, is something of a blast from the past.  Housed in a cover that wouldn't look amiss on a Saturn Form Essence release (also on the Depressive Illusions label), what manner of musical journey has Hugin conjured up for our delight with this release from early 2011.  Well, with cryptic songs titles in runic form, not much is to be gleaned from reading the inlay unless perhaps you're of Viking descent or in the habit of speaking in Elvish or Dwarf.  If so, Nazgul tips his hat to you.  The translated version of the rune is Eihwaz and was a Proto-Germanic word for the yew tree.  The rune is sometimes associated with the World tree Yggdrasil, which, imagined as an ash in Norse mythology, which may formerly have been a yew or an oak.

This track - taking up most of a single side of the cassette - is not one that you put on to bounce around the house to.  It is ambient in the extreme, a repetitive and soothing lullaby of a song that starts and ends with nary a bang, and potters around for a bit in the middle.  It would polarise opinion even amongst Uruk Hai fans, Nazgul would imagine, as it's certainly not the more spirited (if you'll pardon the pun) keyboard noodlings of many an instrumental release, nor is it an early demo in that spartan style that Hugin employed at the outset of his career.  

It is well composed and well played, and whilst not the most attention-grabbing thing you've ever heard, it is excellent for some mood music in the twilight of the evening when you can get on with some useful activity (re-roofing the Castle being one of the most frequent at the moment in this neck of the woods) and let the music waft around you.

There will be those naysayers, of course, who'll point and shout about simplistic chord progressions, repetitive and boring passages, and a lack of progression.  To those, Nazgul merely shrugs and utters 'each to his own'.  The cover artwork should really be the clue to this piece: in the vast emptiness of the eternal void of space, such gentle ambiance is the natural rhythm of the universe...

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