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  • Oneiroscopy, issue II

    31. Mär. 2011, 19:52

    It has been almost two years since I wrote the first issue of Oneiroscopy. Since then I've always meant to write more, but other things happened, as they generally do. In that time I've unearthed new wonders and rediscovered old ones, and it's probably fair to say I have a backlog of pieces I'd like to feature here. For now, here are two, and also a quiet resolution to write more in the near future.

    Jakob - Solace

    Sometimes, albeit rarely, I find something that blows me away at the first listen. When I come across new music I'll put it on, generally while I'm doing something else, and then after a couple of repeats I'll start to recognise the motifs and patterns which resonate with me. But every once in a while I'll find something so good that during that first listen it filters through everything else, and makes me close my eyes and lose myself in the moment. I feel refreshed, like I'm hearing music for the first time and discovering all the stirrings it creates in me.

    Jakob's Solace was one such album, and even as I listen to it now I still get the same sense that I'm learning to love music all over again. There is a perfect balance between tender melodies and huge, driving chord progressions which doesn't so much invite that you get pulled along, but instead demands it. As post rock goes, this isn't anything new or experimental. What it is is an attention to texture and mood. It's something that truly is greater than the sum of its elements, because underneath the principle parts – the melody, the rhythm, the harmony – is an understanding of how to tell a story with music.


    Trist - Slunce V Snovém Kraji, Rozplývání, Echa...

    Winter is all about introspection. The cold draws me from my body and bears everything towards silence. The material world is held at bay and the numbness forces a clarity to thoughts, whims and notions. The result is both constructive and destructive: every time I go through this ritual of inner contemplation I strengthen some inner pillar of myself only to find that in doing so, I have worn at another. And then, for one brief moment in the year there comes the point where these two opposing forces are held in balance and I am at peace: a perfect equilibrium state.

    Slunce v snovém kraji, rozplývání, echa... is that equilibrium. It is winter embodied. Its steady, repeating motif is the cold shroud over the skin. The music is minimal, but it captures perfectly the cautious yet inexorable motion of winter. There is also a sense of distance with this album, which perfectly suits its impression of an otherworldly realm, empty and unsullied by life.

    While Trist operates by and large under the umbrella of depressive/suicidal black metal, this foray into dark ambient and minimal classical is in my opinion the most interesting of his work. The experience of listening to this album is completely kenotic, so I can only listen to it every now and again. But when I do, it is no less breathtaking than the first time.
  • Interview with Jeffrey Neblock from Vindensång

    7. Jan. 2010, 11:44

    Hailing from Pennsylvania in the USA, Vindensång are a definitely not an average metal band. Blending influences from a range of styles, Vindensång create beautifully crafted music that combines ambient with black metal and post rock. After two free-to-download EPs, they released their first album late in 2008. The album impressed me a great deal, so when I had the opportunity to conduct an interview, Vindensång were the first band that came to mind. I approached Vindensång's founder, Jeffrey Neblock, and fortunately he agreed.

    M: Hi, and thanks for agreeing to this interview. To start with, how would you describe Vindensång to somebody not familiar with the band?

    J: Vindensång is the aggregate of a wide spectrum of influence, but the sound is more focused in the areas of ambience and soundscapes. With this in mind, I tend to describe the sound as "Ambient-Rock", although this tag doesn't fully cover the array of influences that are coming together in the music. The primary influences range from Ambient, Neofolk / Folk, and Post-Rock, to genres like Black-Metal and the like, while still incorporating influence from much more than just those genres. The older material shows much influence from Ambient, while the new material demonstrates what I affectionately call "Soundscape-Metal", where vast, sprawling ambient soundscapes meet the aggression and power of metal- something largely unexplored in both the world of ambient music, and the metal scene.

    M: When you started Vindensång, did you have any particular goal in mind? If so, has this changed as you've progressed with the group?

    J: I didn’t have any significant or long-term goals in mind when I formed Vindensång; however, and perhaps more importantly, I was simply consumed with the overwhelming desire to create and to express myself creatively. When I started the band, I was fifteen years old, and working in the basement of my parents' house. If you would have asked me to predict all of what has happened between the formation of the band and the present, I would have had no clue what to tell you or what to expect. I really didn't have much as far as equipment is concerned, but I would experiment with synth programs for hours on my computer, and eventually my experimentation turned into pieces of songs, which later grew into full pieces. However, after I had reached that point, the goals began to appear, and I've let them take me to the point that I'm at today. Now, the band and the music that we create are driven by goals that we've set- primarily, we strive to reproduce and capture atmosphere and emotion in our music, while blurring the lines between an infinite array of various genres. Secondly, we strive to preserve spirituality in music- not religious music, but rather music with spirit and music for the spirit.

    M: With ambient and neofolk styles, I have always found it easier to pick up on non-musical influences, when compared to other musical genres. I guess this is a result of the abstract nature of the music. What do you find inspires you? Have there been any main influences, either musical or non-musical, that have been instrumental to how you create music?

    J: As I've stated before, the spectrum of influence for Vindensång is nearly infinite, and that includes the array of non-musical influences that find there way into the music. A lot of the non-musical influence for this project is from the natural world, and this natural influence includes all aspects of the earth and also includes space and the cosmos. One particular instance of this influence is in the way that I capture and manipulate what I call "natural drones", which can be found almost anywhere in nature, but often require manipulation to draw out the resonant and droning qualities in these sounds. For example: one of the particular sounds that I've turned into a "natural drone" is the sound of a waterfall; after making the field recording, I edited the sample and applied a low-pass filter, various other equalization, reverb, and, lastly, used a time-warp tool on the sample to produce some of the ambience that you can hear in the track "Return my Flesh and Bones to the Earth" on "Terminus...". This is just one of the many different ways that "natural drones" can be made, and they can be made from nearly anything. Other influence simply comes from my admiration for the natural world, and my attempts to try to replicate various aspects of nature in the form of music. Lastly, I'd like to cover another important area of influence; with the ambient nature of my music, I am always trying to include new and obscure influences into the music, but mainly focus on interpreting and capturing new concepts, places, and emotions through music. It's basically as if I'm using the music as a lens through which these concepts, places, and emotions become visible, or in this case, audible.

    M: I've noticed that you recently recruited a new member into Vindensång. Had you always been looking for extra musicians? Also, how has this impacted how new music is written, if at all?

    J: Initially, I experimented with attempting to incorporate other members into the band, but I was consistently disappointed in working with other musicians. However, I've been working with D. Hussar for a long time, and he contributed a significant portion of session work to "Terminus...". After that album was released, and we performed together at the CD release party, we discussed the possibility of simply writing all of the music together, and he eventually decided to join the band in the winter of last year. Now that he's a permanent member of the band, we are writing all of the songs together, and each contributing half of the work. I suppose that the initial problem wasn't that I couldn't work with other musicians, but rather that I hadn't found the right ones to work with.

    M: On that note, could you describe your writing process a little?

    J: My writing process is fairly straightforward for the most part. I normally take a melody, and either expand or simplify it to suit the purposes of the song. "Terminus..." involved more subtle and evolving melodies, which are created by slowing incorporating new parts to existing melodies and layering them on top of one another, but the new material that we're currently writing is taking a slightly different approach to our writing style. For the new material we're infusing those "Terminus-esque" structures that slowly evolve with more prominent and structured parts to create evolving soundscapes that are, with any luck, much more powerful without losing the organic qualities that "Terminus..." had. I suppose the most important part of the writing process is getting myself in the right "mindset" for writing music. This can involve anything from meditation to creating a similar atmosphere in my writing space- for example, if I'm writing about fire, I'd gather as many items around me that produce those feelings in me. It's all about the atmosphere you immerse yourself into during the writing process.

    M: You recently released your début album, 'Terminus: Rebirth in Eight Parts...'. As a first full-length release, its maturity is impressive, especially considering the mixture of styles that have been employed. There's everything from field recordings to atmospheric black metal in there. Was it a difficult album to make? How do you feel about it now that it's finished and available to the public?

    J: I feel very relieved to have that album finished, and also very accomplished as well. It was a tremendously difficult album to create for numerous reasons, the first of which being the fact that when I started the album I had significantly less songwriting experience, and was trying to wrap my head around a good way to capture the concepts and sounds that I had imagined for the album. The most difficult part of writing "Terminus..." was perhaps the abstract nature of the album, and the sheer volume of influence. I spent a great deal of time simply searching for a comprehensible way to work out everything that I had hoped to do. Altogether, the album took me just about three years to write, record, mix, master, and have released, but it was absolutely worth all of the time and effort. Now that it has been released, the reaction has been almost universally good- it has been well accepted by many different fans of various genres, and in all sorts of "scenes". It was important to me that I make the début album of this complexity and nature because it represents the scope of all the things that I'd like to do with the project more accurately than a half-decent début like some bands release. Lastly, the writing and recording process for "Terminus..." was especially painful for me; given the amount of energy and emotion that I had invested in the album, it was very cathartic to finish it and move on. It was almost as if the album captured an entire stage of my life, and once it was finished I could move on, both in my music, and my life.

    M: At the release party for 'Terminus: Rebirth in Eight Parts...' you played a live set. How do you feel your music translates as a live experience? Do you plan on doing more live shows?

    J: With the proper equipment and preparation the music can translate well as a live act. As we did with the release party, our live sets often involve other sensory elements such as visual cues to accompany the music and to intensify the experience as a whole. For the release party, we had prepared an entire film to compliment the music as we played, but for future live performances we will not limit the sensory stimulation to music and visual, but rather we will add in other sensory cues such as scents to really complete the whole experience. We definitely plan to start doing more shows in the near future though, and instead of a more stripped down two-man set (like the release party) we will have a whole five-piece band for these performances.

    M: Lyrically, 'Terminus...' deals with the cyclical nature of life, and transcendence. Would you say you are a spiritual person? If yes, do you find it plays an important part in how you create music?

    J: I am a highly spiritual person, and I find that it plays a very important role in the music that I make; however, I don't try to make my music overtly spiritual, but rather I try to have the music subtly resonate some of the beliefs that I hold. This makes it more palatable for a wide range of fans, and also for those who appreciate music that is made with a careful attention to detail and the world around them. The music mainly embodies my belief that the natural world should be held as something sacred, and the music also contains many other metaphysical qualities that make it "spiritual". It's that I am going out of my way to create spiritual music as much as it is that I am making music that happens to embody my own spiritual beliefs.

    M: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think 'Terminus...' also deals quite strongly with the concept and nature of death. Although this subject matter is often considered clichéd, I always find it interesting to see how it's portrayed in art and music. Was death a deliberate concept for this album? If so, how did you decide to approach it?

    J: The cyclical nature of life and death was a deliberate concept for the album, and I decided to take a more balanced, and less clichéd approach to applying it. Most of the music that I've come across that deals with either life or death in any manner tends to favor one over the other, or at least not accurately represent that both life and death are equal parts of a whole- or better yet, that they are one in the same. My approach to covering the topic was more metaphysical and more of an Eastern approach to viewing life and death. The album isn't meant to fixate on death as many might think that an album about dying might, but rather it was meant to serve as a guidebook for living properly in order to come to terms with the ultimate realization and nature of death. I had been reading heavily into The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and it's American reinterpretative counterpart, The American Book of the Dead, while working on "Terminus...", and I'd like to think that it serves a similar purpose as both of those works do- to prepare the listener for death, and to ready them for passage into whatever is next in store for us after dying.

    M: Previous to 'Terminus...', you've released two EPs that have been available free to download. What are your feelings on the role of the Internet in distributing music, and how do you feel this affects you as an artist?

    J: I feel that the internet has both aided and hindered my progress as a musician. In many aspects, I wouldn't be nearly as successful as I am now without help from networking sites and the internet, but the availability of free downloads makes selling legitimate albums much more difficult at times. However, the benefits of the internet seem to outweigh the negative aspects for me at this point. Recently, "Terminus..." leaked to the internet, and because of the leak the fanbase has grown significantly, and I have sold more albums because of it. With all that being said, I plan to strategically employ the use of free downloads for certain releases to help build the fanbase, and also employ the use of simultaneous downloadable / purchasable releases in the future. I suppose that if the times are changing for musicians and the way that music is obtained / listened to, we might as well change with them!

    M: These two EPs: 'Themes of Snow and Sorrow' and 'The Descent of Man' are both rooted in quite varying styles, with the former being a strictly ambient work and the latter containing strong elements of martial industrial. Despite being so different, neither sounds out of place next to the other or 'Terminus...'. Do you think the underlying ideas behind your work lend themselves to being interpreted in many different styles? Is this something you have to work hard on, or is it more of a natural process?

    J: I think that it's important that the music suits the topic that we're dealing with, and that means that the styles will be constantly adapting and changing. While certain aspects of each album will seem drastically different in comparison to one another, there will always be common elements that each album will contain- mainly the soundscaping aspects of the music. With each new album we're trying to find different ways to give life to the music and create soundscapes that constantly evolve. While it takes a certain amount of work to figure out which style(s) would suit a particular idea best, it is, for the most part, natural. Once the idea comes to mind, the rest usually just "falls into place".

    M: You have also contributed a song called 'The Reaper and the Seed' to the 'Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer' compilation, which also features -- among others -- groups such as Agalloch, Fen, and October Falls. How did your involvement with this project come about?

    J: My involvement with the 'Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer' compilation came about due to my friendship and communication with the organizer of the compilation. He had taken an interest in Vindensång from the start, and had purchased the demo album. When he organized the project, I was one of the first to be contacted, and also one of the first to commit to contribute to the compilation. I don't need to explain how good of an opportunity it is to be included on the album with such class acts; it will probably do wonders for our fanbase.

    M: 'The Reaper and the Seed' sounds quite distinct from the music on 'Terminus...', with a strong element of neofolk. Is this a direction you're planning on taking further?

    J: There is always the possibility of adding more elements of neofolk into the music, however, I don't see the band fully taking a turn toward the "realms" of neofolk. Given that folk and neofolk are great influences to me, there will always some elements in the music though. I do plan to explore more of folk and neofolk in a new project that I plan to create, which is tentatively called "They Shall Have Stars". In this project I'll embrace a more straight forward singer-songwriter type of sound, with various other influences. In this project I can also focus more on "everyday life" themes, as opposed to the lofty concepts that I seem to cover with Vindensång; it should be a refreshing change of pace, and a perfect compliment to my other works with Vindensång.

    M: So, what's in store next for Vindensång?

    J: The two of us will be working on writing new material for the next few months, and then we'll be in and out of the studio for several more months after that. We plan to be all finished with this new album in time for release in Summer 2010. After that EP is released, we'll probably focus on performing live for a short period of time before returning to working on the next full-length.

    M: Well, thank you very much for your time. Any parting thoughts or messages?

    J: Thank you for taking the time to interview me, and for supporting my musical endeavours. I'm very much looking forward to the chance of doing another interview with you in the future! Your questions were all very poignant and quite engaging. Also, expect updates regarding new Vindensång material in the near future. Ad astra per aspera!

    Official Vindensång website: http://www.myspace.com/vindensang
  • Oneiroscopy, issue I

    4. Apr. 2009, 3:25

    For as long as I can remember, I've always been fascinated by a certain kind of music. Whether it was hearing The Wall as a child while my father listened to the LP – I would close my eyes, lying on the floor, and let myself daydream to the music – or discovering the glorious world of at the age of sixteen, I have always looked for a certain quality in music: the element that slows time down and draws me into myself, exciting my imagination and arousing my senses.

    I can only describe this music as . Now, I realise that all music is atmospheric in some way, but the beauty of such descriptions is that they do better to explain the effect the object has on the person describing it, rather than to accurately assign an objective property to that which is being described. And that is my aim for this little webzine: to review, discuss or even just share stories around the music that touches me in this way. It may be different for you, or it may be similar: in either case please leave a comment, or send in a review of what touches you. Or even write your own articles. It is my hope to foster a community that appreciates this aspect of music, whatever genre or period it may belong to.

    AnathemaEternity

    Sepia photographs in late September evenings, deep purple skies withering away into night, solitude in melancholy and hope beyond hope. Eternity is about all these things. There would be many an evening where I would arm myself with my minidisc player, Eternity and a jacket, and I would walk through the stretch of countryside next to my house, often repeating the album twice before I returned home. It is perfect for those crystaline moments where you know everything there is to know about yourself – your hopes, your fears, your rights and your wrongs – and you are in complete acceptance of who you are at that moment in time. You can accept the melancholy without being self-indulgent, you can accept the beauty without falling into arrogance. That is what this album is for.

    While often overlooked in Anathema's discography as a transition towards Anathema's more acclaimed Alternative 4 and Judgement albums, Eternity is itself a marvelous work, tinged with the heaviness of their previous output yet absolutely saturated in unrestrained emotional content. There is no apology for the despair, sadness or hope. While I'm sure many would disagree with me, I feel this album has some of Anathema's most powerful songs. Far Away is a touching encounter with depression, the struggle between wishing for an end and not wanting a finality; the Eternity suite (Eternity, Part I, Eternity, Part II and Eternity, Part III) a story of love lost forever, with all the injury and self-doubt it involves, and yet there is also a stubborn refusal to give up on life.

    While Anathema remain my favourite band, and I could never choose a favourite album by them, Eternity will always stand out for the reasons above.

    The Angelic ProcessComa Waering

    Listening to this is like being painlessly seared on the surface of the sun. If you could ever imagine music as being oppressively hot, this is it. Heat blasts through asbestos skin, purifying by annihilating anything not able to withstand the fierceness of the fire. I understand the album is conceptually about death: however I feel it extends beyond that. It is about endings beyond endings, circular movement and rebirth. Nothing else exists while listening to this: it can't because the whole world becomes a writhing mass of lava, bearing you upon your journey towards complete kenosis. There is no such thing as time, the future or the past; everything occurs within this one moment that stretches out in either direction endlessly. You are within a world of absolute certainty, and that certainty burns.

    It is very hard to select individual tracks from this album: like most concept albums the whole is far more than the sum of its individual elements. However, I would like to highlight two glorious points in this album. One in the title track, Coma Waering, where the conceptual lava flow picks up speed. It becomes a torrent of energy, and it is impossible for me not to close my eyes and concentrate upon the musical movement of it. The other is in the final track, Mouvement: Shielded By Death / Suspended In Light, where the flow stops and is replaced by the echos of the journey: this is what purity feels like.

    Vindensång - Terminus: Rebirth in Eight Parts...

    There is something wonderfully humiliating about the cosmos and nature. No matter our status, our place in life, or our hopes and dreams, we are an infinitely small part of the universe. Seeking music that mirrored such truths, I delved into the worlds of music and field recordings. Perhaps my most interesting discovery to date has been Vindensång. I hesitate to use abstract terms when describing anything, as it is often just a sure sign that I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I will make an exception here. In a word, this music is organic. It grows, slowly, almost imperceptably, changing without you even realising. To me, this is a plant in the night, stretching under a canopy of stars towards the unknown. Oblivion, the void... these terrifying concepts break down into pure fact: endlessness is all there really is, and life is just playing at immortality.

    With concept albums it's hard to pick out individual tracks. With this album it's next to impossible. I have listened to it through so many times and every time I am caught up in it until the end, unable to recognise the separate tracks bar one: The Origin: the Point of Return. In this, what I perceive as the heady fruition of the album, endings become new beginnings and the whole cycle repeats itself.
  • Copyright extension in the UK

    12. Dez. 2008, 22:00

    The following post contains political content. If you don't care about politics, you probably won't find this interesting. If you do get through this post and have any thoughts on the situation, please comment. Especially if you disagree with me.

    I read in the news today that culture minister in the UK is backing a 20-year extension to musical copyrights. This pushes the term from 50 years to 70 years, and is being backed by various artists, perhaps most vocally by Cliff Richards. Earlier this year he called for the extension when it became clear his 1958 hit "Move It!" was due to enter the public domain. The argument: it's morally wrong that he should no longer earn royalties for the recording he made 50 years ago. Note: this is only relevant to the 1958 recording of the song. If anybody covers it, he is still entitled to royalties, and other later recordings of his song are still protected by the current term of copyright.

    I am firmly opposed to this extension, for a number of reasons. The extension is completely unnatural and at odds with any other profession. To use the example of Sir Cliff's recording: the original recording engineers certainly aren't being paid continuously for every use of the song. Consider other professions: builders do not make money every time somebody buys a house they have built. I am not being continuously paid for work I did even a year ago. And why should I be? What incentive do I have to work further if I am constantly being paid for something I did in the past?

    The issue here isn't that artists shouldn't be rewarded for their work. They should. But to be rewarded continuously, over such a long period, is purely excessive and only benefits a few select people rather than culture as a whole. The whole point of copyright was that it would protect an artist's interests for a short while so that they would have a continuous incentive to create works, after which the work would become part of the public domain so it would benefit society as a whole. Now it has been turned completely about-face. It should come as no surprise that the main organisations backing this copyright extension are the major music labels: after all, they are the ones who stand to gain most from this.

    Why am I so opposed to this? Well, primarily it is because I consider music a cultural asset. There is no value in music if there is nobody to listen to it. A piece of music could be one of the most beautiful pieces created, but without anyone to listen to it, spread the word and share it with others, it has no effect. It may as well have not existed. So for me, the most important aspect of music is its cultural impact. You cannot separate music from culture: without culture, music would not exist. What's more, once a piece of music becomes a cultural asset, it inspires others, who create new music, which then becomes a culture asset and inspires more. This cycle is why we have such diverse, beautiful music in the first place. Now, people are willing to reward artists who create something that touches them: either through seeing that artist perform, or through buying recordings and other merchandise. I definitely am. However, without the benefit of this musical culture, we would never have come to the situation where people are exposed to music that touches them, and inspires them to create their own or to reward artists for their contribution. So in order to benefit from music, whether you want it to be something that enriches your life, or simply a financial tool, you need to give back to society and culture.

    The current situation with musical copyrights does exactly the opposite. It concentrates on music as a business in its own right, rather than music as a cultural asset that can be monetised. There's a difference between these two. Treating music simply as a commodity will ultimately lead to the stagnation of music.

    At this point, I feel I should stress that I am not opposed to people making money from music. Not at all. I am, however, opposed to music as a commodity, because this is directly detrimental to musical culture as a whole. Music is one of the most important things in my life, and for countless other people too. But whether you treat music as an enjoyable pasttime, as something that colours and adds something fulfilling to your life, or simply as a form of revenue, the stagnation of musical culture affects us all.

    It is clear that the current business model for music is unsustainable. This is evident from witnessing the explosion of music being shared on the Internet. People are now questioning why they need to pay £12 for an album when they have only heard 2 of the songs on the radio, when they have no idea what the rest of the album is like, and when there is a strong chance that the album contains 3 good songs and 9 fillers. Now, with the existence of file sharing or Internet stores like iTunes, people are able to decide what music they want, and would like to support. But the vast majority of music created is still marginalised in favour of the mass-produced, instantly accessible pap that is considered commercially viable. For too long, music written purely for financial gain has been encouraged by those seeking to mass-market it. Extending copyrights simply rewards this faulty model and becomes a detriment to music as a whole.

    Music is one of the biggest parts of my life. I love it. I will continue to create music regardless of my financial status. Earning money from my music would be wonderful, but whether I do or not, I will still create it with the same love for this art form as I always have.

    To that end, all my music will be released under a Creative Commons license. I don't wish to bore you with the legal details of it, so I will summarise what you are allowed to do under this license: anything. You can use it for videos, commercials, on compilations. You can play it in public, on the radio, whatever purpose you can think of. You can charge for anything using the work, or release it for free. You can remix my work, or use it to create your own. All this you can do for free. The only condition is that you tell people about Gid and if possible make some reference to the original piece. A simple credit or link to this page would do. For more information on the Creative Commons license, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/uk/.

    When I release 'The Saturnine EP' I will also be making the separate tracks available for any of you who wish to remix or rework it. In fact, I would love it if people did. So if you do remix/rework any of my music, drop me a message and let me know, because I'd love to hear it. Let's keep the spirit of creating music as a cultural artefact alive.
  • Anathema gig review

    10. Nov. 2008, 13:43

    Fri 7 Nov – Anathema, Demians

    I'm so glad I went to this gig. It is, without a doubt, the best one I have been to in a few years. Anathema played beautifully and covered songs from pretty much all their eras while still managing to make the gig sound cohesive. There were some lovely surprises in the set list, and I left the gig feeling wonderfully buoyed and satisfied.

    Set list:
    Parisienne Moonlight (as the intro)
    Deep
    Closer
    Far Away
    Angels Walk Among Us
    A Simple Mistake
    Anyone, Anywhere
    Empty
    Judgement
    Panic
    Shroud of False
    Lost Control
    Hope
    Flying
    Are You There?
    One Last Goodbye
    Angelica
    Sleepless
    Hindsight
    Fragile Dreams

    The entire gig was a highlight, but there were some particularly memorable parts. Hearing Hope and Angelica played live was brilliant, as was the acoustic version of Are You There?, which Danny did solo. In fact, while the original version of that track was good, I think I appreciate it so much more since hearing the acoustic version. Seeing it live gave it a whole new dimension; it was incredibly touching and personal.

    Anathema looked like they were having a great time; they had so much energy and really got into the music. Their energy and enthusiasm carried over into the audience, and there was a wonderful feeling of camaraderie as people all around me were joining in with the lyrics and getting caught up in the music.

    I don't think I could have asked for a better gig, really. The memories are going to keep my spirits lifted for quite some time.
  • The Angelic Process

    3. Okt. 2008, 9:45

    One of the exciting new finds for me over the past few weeks has been The Angelic Process. I'd heard the name mentioned before, but it was only this week that I heard anything by them, and now I wish I'd known of them sooner.

    I found myself with a copy of Weighing Souls With Sand, and I was hooked after the first listen. It's like a flood of music: I was drenched in a thick wall of sound that carried me off into my imagination and memory. I've thought long and hard about how I can describe this album, and there seems to be only one way that is fitting. It feels like a painful memory, fondly remembered because the simple process of feeling that pain reminds you that you can still feel, and for that you are thankful. It's a perfect musical representation of how melancholy is at once both tragic and beautiful.

    The only problem I've had with the drone genre is that listening to it is an emotionally draining experience. That's what I love about it; but it also means that I can't listen to it too often because it takes so much out of me. This album is by far one of the most emotionally engaging albums of its genre that I have come across, so while right now I can listen to it I am sure that in a few days I will be unable to because it has emptied me. I wouldn't want it any other way either.

    I don't think it does The Angelic Process justice to compare them to other bands, although at a stretch I can say I hear similarities to My Bloody Valentine and Jesu. In fact, the atmosphere The Angelic Process create is reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails' A Warm Place.

    Unfortunately, with the discovery of this wonderful band came sad news. Earlier this year band member Kris Angylus passed away. I won't go into a false-sounding eulogy for him; I feel it would be disrespectful. However, I will say that I feel a sense of loss from knowing that someone who can create music this beautiful and powerful is no longer with us. The Angelic Process touched me, and that is perhaps the greatest respect I can pay to this man and the people he has left behind.
  • Novembre live review

    6. Dez. 2007, 12:50

    Wed 5 Dec – Paradise Lost, Swallow the Sun, Novembre

    I should admit first and foremost that I was at this show to see Novembre. As I had to work the next day I didn't stay beyond Paradise Lost's third song.

    Novembre's setlist was as follows:

    Anaemia
    Triesteitaliana
    Cold Blue Steel
    Child of the Twilight
    My Starving Bambina
    Bluecracy
    The Dream Of The Old Boats
    L'epoque noire (March the 7th 12973 A.D.)

    Despite some sound problems during the first song, my overall impression was that it was a really strong live performance. There were a good selection of songs (although I'm a little disappointed that they didn't play anything from Materia). They got a good crowd response too, especially since it seemed most people there weren't familiar with them.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the show. They definitely have a good energy on stage and they enjoy the music they play. I'm just glad I got to see one of my favourite bands play live, even if it was just for 45 minutes.
  • Review: Forest of Shadows - Departure

    1. Sep. 2007, 15:33

    It was about a year ago that I first heard this album. I was already familiar with Niclas' music through Ningizzia, and when I heard that Forest of Shadows played a similar genre I was immediately interested. I got myself a copy of Departure and put it on, half-expecting something similar to Dolorous Novella. What I heard blew me away.

    The album's opening track immediately caught me by surprise. It starts as a beautiful dirge, just a piano over a sparse beat, before building gradually to an all-out lament. It's unrelenting without once falling into the traps of overplaying any emotion. Niclas' distinctive vocal delivery just tops this off perfectly: it's warm and heart-felt. Everything about this track just oozes with sincere sorrow.

    The rest of the album upholds the standard set by the first track. There is not one track out of place on this release, but two that particularly stand out for me are Bleak Dormition and Open Wound. The former is the shortest song on the album and acts a nice interlude between the two halves of the album: we're treated to a guitar-driven instrumental ending with a simple yet beautiful piano melody. The latter showcases my favourite parts of the album: the slow build-up to a huge, sustained emotional outpour and Niclas' great vocal style.

    What I particularly enjoy about this album is that it's not repetitive. The songs aren't overly complex, but they're carefully structured to convey just the right amount of melancholia without overdoing it or becoming boring. A lot of the time Niclas lets the music speak for itself with long instrumental parts, often highlighted by a guitar or piano melody while the other instruments carry the song steadily on.

    This is not a normal death/doom metal album. There are a lot of different styles here which work together in portraying the album's theme: leaving. I couldn't compare this album to anything else because this is in a style all of its own. This is why I was so surprised when I first heard it. Normally, I find little things in albums that I compare to others, like a melody or a riff which reminds me of some other band or album. Not in this album, though. This is something original.
  • Music culture

    31. Jul. 2006, 17:26

    I've been thinking for a while about the qualities of English musical culture, particularly in comparison to the European and American musical cultures. When I moved to Belgium five years ago I started to become very involved in the metal and goth scenes. The access was easy: it wasn't that they were popular cultures, but they were open, they were loved. When I moved back to England for university, I found myself missing these things.

    The strange thing is, British popular music culture seems to be fascinated with rehashing older styles or copying the American scene. There is very little originality, and at first I couldn't understand why. I don't know an awful lot about American popular musical culture, but from what I've experienced it's so much wider, so much more original. Where's the originality in the British scene?

    It's in the underground. On the surface, musical taste seems to be purely a label to identify oneself: pop music for the 'with it' crowd, indie for the cool kids, angsty punk/emo/rock/metal for those who want to be different. But underneath this superficiality there's a great undercurrent of originality. Artists like Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Radiohead and Jesu have astounded me with the originality of their work. It's by no means limited to the bands I've just mentioned: there are plenty of genres such as drum 'n bass, ambient and so on which display a huge amount of originality.

    So why this marked difference? I'm no historian, so all I can do is guess at the cultural history which might have influenced this. British culture has a history of tradition, a sense of duty to its past to uphold what it feels makes it British. It's all too clear that this is present in its popular musical culture.

    I hope one day this will change, because I love music. It seems such a waste to reduce such a powerful form of expression to nothing more than a social label.
  • Consensus

    6. Mär. 2006, 4:11

    Consensus

    It feels like cheating to write about a band I play in, but I can't really help loving the music. I only play keyboards for them when I'm in Belgium on my holidays from university, but I've been a part of the band in some way or another since 2002.

    Since we formed, the music has evolved into something I'm really proud of. I can honestly say I can't really assign a particular genre to the music, and that's a good thing in my book. Jeroen writes music he wants to write, not music to fit into a certain style, and when we bring it together with the other members - each one adding a little bit of their own person - it creates this unique form I'm proud to have been a part of.

    I still love listening to the music we've recorded, and I'm excited about what the future holds for the band. I hope they get a label soon, because they really deserve it.