Wednesday, 20 July 2016

BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON, BY THE RAY OF THE STARS


Band: URUK HAI / JOE MATERA
Title: By The Light Of The Moon, By The Ray Of The Stars / Louder Than Words (Lauter Als Worte)
Format: Professionally released double a-side split CD single on the Winterwolf Records label (Germany) in 2016, cat ref WWP0203. Double sided inlay (each artist having their own cover), colour inlays and picture disc.
Edition: 100 hand-numbered copies

Track Listing:
01. Joe Matera  *  Louder Than Words (Lauter Als Worte)  4.19
02. Uruk Hai  *  By The Light Of The Moon, By The Ray Of The Stars  4.06

It's not the first time these two artistes and friends have worked together on a split CD (you may recall the 2012 collaboration "Travellin' West / Schworzeichn II" between Hrefnesholt and Joe), but now they're back and this is a very welcome return to them sharing their music with the world and each other. Timely too, coming as it does ahead of Joe's 2016 European Tour (more of which later).

Winterwolf Records have done a nice job with this release, which comes limited to just 100 copies (mine being #9) and has a reversible front inlay booklet so you can display it with your artiste of preference to the fore!

Two songs on offer, one from each camp, so let's follow the natural running order of the disc and kick off with Mr Matera's contribution.

And knock me down with a sausage sanger if this isn't a prime cut of melodic rock from the bandana wearing axe-slinger, with a German chorus no less. Check that, then, maybe I should have declared myself knocked down with a bratwurst buttie on this basis instead, but I digress. It's a really nice mid-tempo rocker, excellent melodies and a strong hook, and the sort of thing that radio stations across the west like to play. Let's hope it might get a bit of radio airplay over summer during his tour.

The sort of song that you'd be more than happy to have on as you cruise through big-sky landscapes in the USA or Australia in your open top muscle car, the wind in your hair (or ruffling your bandana depending on headwear preferences) and the sun on your back. It's also very catchy, so you can't help but feel there should be some very positive reaction to this one.

The Uruk Hai track is ... well, not to put too fine a point on it, rather odd!  This isn't to say bad, but it's not at all what you might expect so conversely you need to be mentally fleet of foot to get your head around the fact that this isn't your normal Hugin style sound!

Occasionally this incongruent sound emerges in contemporary Uruk Hai recordings, and really can be traced back in time to the collaborative Uruk Hai anniversary album "With All The Magic & Might He Brought" when a host of guest musicians led to the sound evolving in all manner of directions. This song is similarly influenced, having the guitar input of the aforementioned Joe Matera plus the slightly left-field vocals of Bart Piette (Dead Man's Hill) too. The overall result is an unusual track with lots going on but little of which really sounds like a our hero Hugin was necessarily even in the room at the time, so low in the mix are his traditional keyboards and synths.

It all starts with an acoustic guitar (to my ears sounding not unlike a Status Quo intro, though Joe has a different take on that as you'll read!) before a rather less party-like drum solemnly kicks in ahead of Bart giving it the beans on vocals.  And the vocals have a punky nature to them that feels quite strange within the song generally, until you change your mind-set about what you expected to be hearing.

Only then does it begin to make a bit more sense, though the overall impact still leaves you a tad shell shocked. Add in some other musical weirdness (a short almost ghostly whispered passage; a seemingly random drum section that could be straight out of the Stray Cats playbook) and you have a truly odd creation indeed.

If the Cramps and the Meteors had a jam with Die Toten Hosen and the outpourings were mixed by Al Jourgensen then you might approach the general idea...

Like many of the results in the 2016 European football tournament, not what the audience expected. Indeed, to keep the football metaphor alive, were this a World Cup qualifier the less charitable media might report this outcome as an Australian win in the head-to-head, courtesy of a bizarre Austrian own goal...?!

What you really want to know though is what Joe and Hugin think of each others songs, so let Nazgul enlighten you on this score.  Firstly, Hugin on his contribution to this EP:

"My own track is an outtake from the "...And All The Magic..." album [Nazgul's note: Aha!  Told you so!], it was an instrumental track and I first asked Tony Dolan to do the vox but he sadly was too busy and so it was not been finished in time to make it on to the album. Later the track laid on ice for a while then I asked Piette from Dead Man's Hill to do the vocals and he did it immediately and in perfect time to release it as a split with Joe's track"

And what does Joe Matera make of this Uruk Hai song, on which he plays guitar incidentally?

"When Alex asked me to contribute guitar to this Uruk-Hai track, I was totally honoured. Basically all I had to work with was the backing track tack with no vocals but Alex gave me carte blanche with it. So I felt I wanted to bring to the track some garage-y punk guitar, with blistering power chords that really added to the track's atmosphere and feel. It is also something totally out of the box for me, since my own playing is more rooted in the melodicism of old school classic rock, I wanted to go a different route with this track.

I wanted to enhance rather than try and shape the track into more of my style which would be a disservice to the track. The last thing I wanted was for the track to sound like a Joe Matera track! I wanted to keep to the trademark Uruk-Hai sound but bring my own unique touch, albeit different approach to it.

I think my guitar brings an edge to the track, which fits perfectly with the vocals and overall sound of the track. The opening double bend riff, gives a kind of ominous almost Sabbath-ish touch and the double-note riff that follows stamps a classic rock touch to proceedings, and in some way, is my subtle nod to the kind of riffs that inspired my own guitar playing that echoes Deep Purple and ZZ Top."


And of course let's not forget to repay the complement, with Hugin's view on Joe's song:

"I really like his song and it is great to hear him singing German in the chorus 'Lauter Als Worte'.  I remember back in 2013 I taught it to him and he performed it live first time in Hamburg's BaRRock at his gig there – it was amazing how fast he learned it and he pronounced it absolutely right just after 2-3 takes! There are 3 versions of that song, the full band version, the acoustic version heard on the "Louder Than Words" digipak CD out on W.A.R. Productions/ Mercury Fire Music, and this full band version with German chorus on our split out at Winterwolf Records."

And here's a timely reminder: Joe's out on tour again in Europe from the 25th July, so you can catch him at a number of dates around the continent.  And Hugin will be there too - what more could you ask for?

As they stand at the date of typing, the tour dates are as follows:

'Now And Then' Acoustic European Tour: July - August 2016

  • Wednesday July 27 - Vinyl Corner, Linz, Austria
  • Thursday July 28 - Open Air,  Elia Solar City, Linz, Austria
  • Saturday July 30 (Afternoon) - Wings& Wheels Festival, Airfield Uetersen/Heist, Germany
  • Saturday July 30 (Evening) - S.A.M. Musikertreff, Garstedt, Germany
  • Tuesday August 2 - Speiches Rock und Blueskneipe, Berlin, Germany
  • Sunday Aug 7 - Salon Irkutsk, Munich, Germany

It would be well worth your while pointing your browser towards Winterwolf's site though to grab a copy of this ahead of booking a ticket to see the show in person.


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