Band: URUK HAI
Format: There are two versions of this short demo existing at the time of writing: the first is a 3" CDr release from Smell The Stench (Australia), no catalogue reference, released in 2015. This comes sandwiched between two colour inlay panels, and comes as a plain white 3-inch disc. The second version is a cassette tape on the Wulfrune Worxx label (France) also released in 2015, cat ref WW466. This comes as a standard C60 style tape with a black and white copied inlay.
Edition: The CDr is limited to 15 unnumbered pieces; the tape comes in a hand-numbered edition of 44 copies
Both formats contain
01. Moriquendi 14.54
Tape-only bonus track:
02. Radagast 6.14
There's nothing as traditional as the old Uruk Hai one-two punch: one strike coming in CD format, with a parallel hit from an old school tape. So it's a welcome return to the 'good old days' when releases came in dual format with bonus tracks and we can sit back and jaw about the ever-evolving style of Hugin's most popular musical project.
"Moriquendi" (more about the odd title momentarily) comes as a single song CD EP in a tiny edition of 15 copies, befitting the tiny disc that's housed within. There's a whiff of magic about the old 3" disc format, one that Nazgul has always been partial too but which we seldom see anywhere now. Remember the days in the 1980's when major bands routinely issued their CD singles in this format, or where the bonus disc on a limited edition album in the old 'fatbox' style case might come in this reduced size. Aaah, the halcyon days of yore!
If you were to invest your funds in the Wulfrune Worxx tape pressing then you'd add a bonus song to the mix in the shape of 'Radagast', but you'll lose out on the colour covers present on the CDr version. Of course you could buy both, thus swelling the coffers of the labels concerned and generally making Hugin a happy man, and that surely is the elegant solution to such a format-based conundrum?
Before we touch upon the music, let's consider the titles of the songs in question.
The Moriquendi (which is the plural, fact fans, with the singular being Moriquende) were the Elves of Darkness, those who did not behold the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor. The term usually referred to the Avari, the Elves that did not join the Great Journey over the sea and remained in the East, or passed the Blue Mountains and lingered on the shores of Middle-earth. However the term included also the Úmanyar, the Eldar who originally started on the journey but for various reasons did not finish it.
The Silmarillion is a good place to get the required Tolkien reference:
'Radagast', on the other hand, is the name of one of Middle-earth's wizards, who came from Valinor around the year 1000 of the Third Age and who was one of the Maiar. His original name was Aiwendil, meaning 'bird-friend' in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya. The Vala Yavanna forced the wizard Saruman to accept Radagast as a companion, which, Tolkien says, may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him, to the point of scornfully calling him "simple" and "a fool". However, he was an ally and confidant of Gandalf, who describes him in The Hobbit as his "cousin".
Radagast lived for much of his time in Middle-earth at Rhosgobel in the Vales of Anduin, on the western eaves of Mirkwood, between Carrock and the Old Forest Road, near the Gladden Fields. Radagast had a strong affinity for – and relationship with – wild animals, and it seemed his greatest concern was with the flora and fauna of Middle-earth. He was wiser than any man in all things concerning herbs and beasts. It is said he spoke the many tongues of birds, and was a "master of shapes and changes of hue". Radagast is also described by Gandalf as "never a traveller, unless driven by great need", "a worthy Wizard", and "honest".
And do the two songs respectively convey the darkness of the elves and the birdiness of the wizard? And, for point of reference, is this 'Moriquendi' song different from the one that appears as the third track of tape release "Felagund", as previously reviewed in Honour and Darkness? Read on, dear friend, and we shall find out as Nazgul places the disc into his death-deck for an initial listen....
The striking thing about the title track is that it is hauntingly familiar, yet Nazgul can't immediately place it to a specific album or demo. It is not the "Felagund" song though, Hugin assures me, so it may just be that the rolling waves of keyboards and gently ambient undulations are classic Uruk Hai melodies and thus broadly familiar to these ears. There's rather an odd bit at the end though, with a knocking on wood effect that fades to silence, a little like someone being locked in Gandalf's outdoor toilet banging away on the door until being overcome by fumes....
'Radagast' on the other hand is utterly bird-free in its construction , and is a panoply of ambient effects and sounds that piece together into a moderately long song of noble intentions without, perhaps, achieving any lasting impact.
A strange little release, though fittingly so given it's a strange little label that issued it. Almost certainly long sold out, it's not one that will garner a huge amount of attention in the overall sphere of all things Uruk Hai yet at the same time it does no disservice to the name of the project that spawned it.