Thursday, 3 November 2016

PROMO 2003 / A NIGHT IN THE FOREST

 

Band: URUK HAI
Title: A Night In The Forest
Format:  A promotional version of an early mix of this album, released in 2003 in slimline case with hand-written silver CDr disc and bespoke black and white copied inlay.  Believed to have been an early demo that would have been sent around prospective labels prior to acceptance by The Drama Company for its formal release in 2004
Edition: Unknown, but very few

Track Listing:
01. Untitled  66.58

Note: The formal release subdivides the lengthy track into 4 'chapters', with a slight longer total running time: 
1. Chapter I: Enter Fangorn 17:27
2. Chapter II: The Spirit Of The Wind 15:00
3. Chapter III: Elevenpath 23:57
4. Chapter IV: A Light Into The Darkness 15:32


This is a fairly timely item to feature on Honour and Darkness given that there's been a 2016 reissue of "A Night In The Forest" on CD with all new singing and dancing artwork and layout, and Nazgul will be bringing that to you sometime before the end of the year.

Today, however, we feature another rare find - the sort of thing collectors dream of and which, even after all these years, can still appear unbidden out of the blue to surprise and delight.  The CDr you see here is believed to be an early promotional demo for this fabulous album, which would have been touted around record labels during the hunt for a suitable one to release it formally.  Which, as you will recall from Nazgul's original review, turned out to be Spanish label The Drama Company for the original CD pressing.  A subsequent 2005 tape release was also issued, with bonus track 'Fire', on Bulgarian A.M.F. Productions.

What's particularly interesting about this promo is not so much the music - which remains epic and lush and full of foresty goodness as ever - but the inlay itself.

For starters, there's no mention of songs being recorded in 'chapters' as they were delineated in the 2004 release.  As on the formal release it's still one long continuous track, albeit still interspersed with birdsong at the logical breaks between sections, but the actual titles for the individual parts are not yet named.

Also of interest is the alternative title given for this piece - "Promo 2003" - hence the dual title of this release in today's post.  The recognised title of "A Night In The Forest" does appear on the cover of the demo too, in grey script on the black and white cover image, but you could take your pick regarding the actual official title for this.

Of real interest though - particularly to mad collectors and fans (and you know who you are) -  is the mini-discography that Hugin helpfully adds to the inside of the cover inlay.  Whilst a number of these titles are very familiar to us all, there are no less than 3 referred to here that do not exist within the four walls of the Castle library, and furthermore 2 of these Nazgul had never heard of before!

Step forward the following:

  • "Nemesis Vol. I" tape cassette
  • "Cross The Stix Vol. I" CDr
  • "Only The Strong..." demo CDr

Now, over the years I've been doing this I've seen reference to the "Cross The Stix" release before, albeit I'm pretty sure that it was spelt differently ("Crossing The Styx", as in the fabled River Styx rather than incurring the wrath of US melodic rockers Styx) and I thought was a tape release.  So either Nazgul's memory is faulty, or there could be 2 versions of this release somewhere out there (or even 2 different releases with similar names, improbable as that would be).

Of the other 2 titles though ... not a clue, have never come across them before.  Oh dear *sighs* another couple of mysterious avenues to investigate further...!

The inlay also shows Hugin's old address in Leonfeldnerstrasse in Linz: a boon for a bit of cyber stalking and pure nosiness in these says of online everything.  But in a fittingly bizarre coincidence (or is it a coincidence....?) if you stick that address into Google maps and then zoom in a bit on the satellite map view, there's a building over the road from Hugin's old haunt that is a second-hand clothing store called Second Hand Boutique Stix.  How weird is that...?

This is the perfect time of year to listen to this demo really, just as the autumn colours on the trees entice you into leafy walks through the woods and forests in your own part of the world.  Nazgul has been listening to this CDr on the way to work in the morning for a week or two now, and it's as soothing and relaxing a way to get through traffic as anything else I've tried.  There are lovely melodies and real 'feeling' behind this music, and it will be interesting to see how the 2016 remastered and reissued album sounds by comparison some 13 years on.

Which will, of course, give us a good excuse to bring all 4 known versions of this release together for the traditional family group photograph, just in time for Christmas.

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