Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A NIGHT IN THE FOREST - update

Band: URUK HAI
Title: A Night In The Forest
Reason for update: A reissue for this classic album, on the Valgriind label (Russia) in 2016, cat ref VG59.  The release comes in full colour covers with brand new artwork, and is re-mastered from the original 2003 demo.
Edition: Unknown - not stated on release

Track Listing:
01. Enter Fangorn
02. The Spirit Of Wood
03. Elvenpath
04. A Light Into The Darkness

It was only a short while ago that a promotional CDr of this album was unearthed for your edification, which was though to have been the early version of the 2003 demo that was touted around labels until being picked up by the Spanish Drama Company for the official full release.

Here we are, a mere two months later in the world of Honour and Darkness but a full 14 years in the Uruk Hai canon, with a re-mastered and revamped pressing of this legendary Uruk Hai album.

It boasts new artwork - credited on the inner sleeve to Burgi Brandstetter - and with layout and logo by Hugin.  A little light online sleuthing determines that Ms Brandstetter is a graphic designer from Solar City, Linz, and thus practically on Hugin's doorstep.

Revisiting the music on this album has been a real treat, actually.  The opening song, 'Enter Fangorn', for example has almost an ecclesiastical feel about it, as if you were listening to music in church.  Perhaps it's symbolic of a great cathedral of trees in which the listener stands whilst the sounds of nature and ambient music flow freely.  Reminds me somewhat of an early John Foxx album, "The Garden", in feel.

One point that's a shame is that the available recording length of this CD prevents the inclusion of the track 'Fire', which was the bonus song on the AMF Productions cassette version of this demo and - to my recollection - is the only place that this particular track features.  It would have taken a 2-disc pressing to include it on this 2016 re-mastered version, which wouldn't have been beyond possibility but presumably would have added to the cost of production overall.  A bit of a shame, as that bonus track is left languishing in history now, as opposed to being a nice bonus element to entice new customers to this CD who may already own the original Drama Company pressing.

Speaking of the older version, the review below comes from a Russian website and was partially cited in Nazgul's original 2009 post about this album.  For the sake of completion, and to give you an alternate view of the music other than mine, here it is for the first time in full:

"A sunny day in the deepwood..." (92%)
_ImNachtUndNebel_ on September 10th, 2007

"The first time I heard Uruk Hai was on the split with Vinterriket and Nak’kiga, "Ira Deorum Obliviorum". I very much like Vinterriket, even in their most 'ambient' and monotone pieces, and as I listen to much other similar music I decided to try Uruk Hai's "A Night In The Forest".

Ambient music is a difficult kind of music, it can be listened only in particular moments, or can be played as a 'background'. There aren't other ways to enjoy it; you can't listen to an ambient album and expect to have fun or whistle along the melody or do headbanging as you can do with a power metal work or Motorhead. You must be in a special kind of mood, have the will to use your imagination intensively and for long periods, and nothing less than that. Or, you can put it on in the background and let it create an atmosphere for the room you are in, as an incense stick would.

Now this work may seem monotone and boring to anyone who isn't familiar with ambient music. Nevertheless, all the ambient music lovers will be satisfied. It's a great piece of music. But I must say that it doesn’t respect its title at all: except for a few moments, this music is very open-space and serene. It doesn’t speak about a 'Night' in the forest to me it seems rather a sunny day in the forest instead, with just a little bit of fog!

It's very funny that Uruk Hai puts the sound of rain between the tracks, because the notes are very sunny and shining. It is similar to Jon Mark's work "The Deepwood" for example, or it may remind you of the serenity of Brian Eno's "Discreet Music", or also something by Vinterriket (obviously, this album is not metal).

Long, open streams of chords and widely expanded notes upon a carpet of special effects similar to little bells ringing; that's all you can expect from this work from a 'technical' point of view. However, the atmosphere is really convincing and captivating; you'll find yourself in the middle of a misty, spiritual forest with the rays of the sun that penetrate slowly between the deepwood and the tall, secular trees. Infinity and loneliness. Very enjoyable, but only for experienced listeners of ambient music."

It's rather nice that some of the older releases from the early days of Uruk Hai are now available again via Valgriind.  You may recall their reissues of "Upon The Elysian Fields" and "Lothlorien" in 2009, plus the 2-disc pressing of Hrossharsgrani's "Ancient Battles" in the same year.  More recently came Uruk Hai's "Northern Lights" in 2011 and latterly "The Battle" in 2016.  Many of the original pressings of these releases are fairly hard to find now, so any chance for a fan to lay his or her hands on a copy of the albums has to be a positive thing.

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