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chamber music

Lux Interna * God Is Not Dead For The Birds (cd 2007 eis & licht)

Some seven years ago, before Myspace or even cd-demos, I read about this new American band (on a website). The demo contains both neofolk and more electronic experiments and was alright (my review of 24/8/00 is still up here somewhere). The band was signed by Eis & Licht, usually not the most innovating neofolk label and my interest in the genre went down, so I didn’t really follow Lux Interna anymore. Last Wave Gotik Treffen I saw their nice show in the Anker, a more mature and poppy approach with nice songs containing cello and violin too, so I looked their cds on the internet and downloaded them. “Absence And Plenum” (2002) is a rather typical neofolk album and not very good, “Ignis Mutat Res” (2004) also starts in this vein, but becomes much better in the second half, so I guessed I might just order the new album and see if the progress continued. The new album seems to leave behind the neofolk origins a bit and didn’t follow the more poppy sound that most neofolk bands have turned to, but more focus is put on the cello and violin and the sound reminds me often of the German band Chamber (or l’Orchestre De Chambre Noire, see reviews), especially also because of the vocals. Whereas Chamber gives even more room to the classical influences, so much that I have described their music as “chamber music”, Lux Interna keeps holding the acoustic guitar and vocals (male and female) on the forefront, but the musical structure and atmosphere can no longer be really described as “neofolk”. Another difference between the two bands is that Lux Interna has left the music modest and melancholic, while Chamber also had some light-footed songs. “God Is Not Dead For The Birds” has become a nice album, not really groundbreaking, but also not slavely following the path that the scene sets out. Furthermore it is well-contructed and well-recorded so all in all a nice listening experience.
Links: Lux Interna, Eis & Licht Tonträger

v/a * Gloria Victis Vae Victis (cd 2005 war office propaganda)

In a magnificent wooden package comes this WOP compilation with 20 tracks. Most of the bands are the established, but smaller bands (like Der Arbeiter, Rukkanor or Omnicore), other bands are (a bit) bigger (Belborn, Pazival, Toroidh, Karjalan Sissit, HERR), but no ‘top sellers’. The new names to me are Out of Sight (a nice weird ‘industrial’ track), Ait! (industrial), Krepulec (ambient industrial) and Vishudda Kali (what kind of music is this?). All tracks but the Karjalan one are new to me and the biggest surprise is already the opener. I know Cawatana as just another unimaginable neofolk band, but here we have a very martial and loud industrial track. Not brilliant maybe, but certainly surprising. For the rest mostly industrial music, some Parzival weirdness and more tranquil sounds towards the end. A nice compilation in a magnificent package (too bad that cutbacks had to be made on the booklet), limted to 111 copies (very special version) and 777 copies. Sold out from the label, but some distros seem to have copies left.

v/a * Flowers Made Of Snow (2cd 2004 cold meat industry)

Traditionally every 10th CMI release is a compilation and they are always eagerly expected. Even though it was a long wait since the last compilation while the ‘normal’ releases come like a flood, “Flowers Made Of Snow” lives up to the tradition. It features old and new bands, has mostly exclusive tracks, looks wonderfull and has a high level of musical quality. Apparently CMI wants to push its boundaries of the typical CMI concept. There are bands who are not even from Scandinavia, let alone Sweden and there is more folky music again. Here you get a good overview of the old and new CMI. Bands such as Ordo, ISN, BDN are present, but also new names such as Olen’K, All My Faith Lost…, The Last Hour, Apatheia, Hesperos and Sibellian. Definately a must-buy for old and new listeners!

v/a * Eisteddfod (compilation cd 1999 cynfeirdd)

Fortunately I’ve been able to still get a copy of this cultsampler. This review is meant more as referance than as suggested buying.
The cd opens with a not too good track of Der Blutharsch (see cds reviewed elsewhere) and continues with a brilliant song of Gae Bolg and The Church of Fand, Scivias, a band that I knew from the Mysteria Mythrae compilation and who recently contributed a song to the Lichttauffe compilation (also reviewed in these pages). Then two bands that I didn’t yet know: Tor Lundvall (Sol Invictus layout-artist) with an orchestral ambient track and Skald with an alright folky song with female vocals. Next up are That Summer (rather gothic sounding folky music), Argine (a bit Current 93 like song), l’Orchestra Noir (an orchestral side project of Sol Invictus), Tragos Adein (medieval/folk music with female vocals), The Soul That Creates (orchestral, quite nice) and then a brilliant track of a band that I never heard off: Omne Datum Optimum. I think this band is of the Cynfeirdd people themselves. The song opens with nice atmospheric ambient and goes over in a great marchingmusic like song with marchdrums, a flute and heavy beats. The pre-last band is Hollenfurt that I already knew from Immortal Legends (see review). On this compilation their contribution is very atmospheric. The last track is a long one of the brilliant Spanish act Nothvs Filivs Mortis. Great and haunting dark ambient this time. Also see other compilation reviews for this band.
All in all a nice compilation with some promising bands that I didn’t know yet and new or different tracks from band that I did know.

Sopor Aeternus & the ensemble of shadows * Dead Lover’s Sarabande (face two) (cd 2000 apocalyptic vision)

Pretty soon after the previous cd (“Dead Lover’s Sarabande (face one)” (see archive)) comes a new Sopor cd. Again as a normal cd, a box and a double lp, but much more expensive than last time. Musically “face two” is quite similar to “face one”. It is again pretty sad, but it also has a few medieval-sounding and a lighter tones. Visually Varney’s driving to the extremes. On first sight the artwork doesn’t differ that much from the previous album, but when you’re looking through the booklet it’s obvious that the pictures became a bit more extreme again. Face-piercings are more obvious, but mustly striking are the two ‘nude’-pages. The pictures are too vague to see if Varney really lost his genitals, but it doesn’t really look feminine down there either. But, to the music. As said it’s mostly sad. Remarkable is the use of copper. All in there there’s the usual double bass and violin, but also cello, tuba, oboe, trumpet, trombone, bassoon, car anglais, e-guitars and acoustic guitars. However I must say that I haven’t heard the cd really properly when I write this, I think that “face two” isn’t as good as the previous and I prefer the more medieval-sounding cds anyway. Another strange thing on this cd are the lyrics. Sometimes I get the idea that there’re much more lyrics than displayed in the booklet, but there’re also various instrumental tracks. The lyrics that are printed are about loneliness, mortality, love for the dead and some roleplay kind of thing. All in all a good cd, but not as good as other Sopor cds.

Sopor Aeternus & the ensemble of shadows * Dead Lover’s Sarabande (face one) (cd 1999 apocalyptic vision)

Everyone who thinks that Sopor became too cheerfull after the debut, can now obtain Anna-Varney’s saddest album to date. This is the fifth album (plus a mcd) which comes as a double 12″, a box and a normal cd.
As I said, this new album is very sad, but still in the new Sopor vein, not as primitive as the debut.
Is there anyone who never heard Sopor? Well, the music is darkwave (vocals, drumcomputer, basguitar) based on medieval and folky melodies. Vocals are by the andonygous mastermind Anna-Varney and very varying. From warm male to opera-like female vocals, tortured and screaming or whispered. Anyhow, this time there’re a lot of classical influences and there even was a real ‘ensemble’ involved too. Generally speaking, this is a new masterpiece of one of my favorite projects.
Apocalyptic Vision * Ahornweg 19 * 64807 Dieburg * Germany

Sonnwin * Fehu (cd 2001 lichtbringer)

I was positively surprised by this cd. I expected it to be a neo-folk cd, but in fact this is a lot more interesting than most neo-folk. The music is quite minimal folky music, with only a few instruments and with most stress on the German poetry that is recited. Most often talked out loud, sometimes screamed. They sound like the tracks at the end of the Dies Natalis cd. The lyrics are based on de Edda by the way.
I don’t know how to give you an idea of the music, but maybe you can try to imagine something between Goethes Erben, Dies Natalis and Waldteufel?.
Beware of the length of this cd by the way, 36 minutes. <8/3/01><4>

Koji Marutani * Pataphysics (cd 2000 alluvial recordings)

No cd is easier to review than one which has all the necessary information in the package. The description of the music is as follows:

1.Scenes 8- This track opens with a Piano Improvisation, sounding like a Satie compositon. Then the sounds of waves fade in to change the mood. Soundfragments taken from old films, TV, and field recordings come one after another, minoring our random memory. The sound then changes into a long tone with field recordings blended in. This portion gives a meditative feeling as if sitting in a Zen temple.
2.Plunderphonics #1- This piece consists of bits of sound taken from various CDs and TV.
3.Scenes 9- Long tones have sound fragments cut in and out of them to give a quiet, meditative feeling.
4.Crystal Lounge – This is a challenge to the new aspects of sound. Pulse tones have been mixed with sampled piano to reproduce a Lounge music feel. This work was done to try and inject some warmth into this usually cold pulse styled sound.

All in all this is much of a ‘samplescape’ cd and definately not my kind of ‘music’. It’s too monotous, has no theme or melody and more sounds like a ‘soundplay’ (?) than music. Those who enjoy When for example -though- and who don’t fear a cd that goes a little further, might want to try this one.

H.E.R.R. * Vondel’s Lucifer – first movement (cd 2006 cold spring)

Long anounced, this second full-length of HERR. As the title suggests, this is truely a concept album. HERR presents a hear-play version of the famous play by the Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679) about the rebellion of Lucifer against the fact that God placed the humans higher than the angels. HERR used English translations of the text which is a bit of a pitty. This fact is completely swept away by the mastery of this album though. The style remained HERR, soft to more bombastic neoclassical music with some martial touches and great vocal-work. This being a play, there are of course different vocalists who mostly speak their texts over the great music. The more I listen to this album, the more I like it and I already liked it from the start. Save for a few minor dips, a masterpiece and therefor rated:

Erblast * VI (cd 2000 indigo)

Inspite of the suggestion that the title makes, this is the third cd of Erblast. It appeared that Erblast was the dark side of Oswald Henke, but with “VI” I get the idea that Erblast is more the expression of that which Henke can’t use in his other musical projects (Goethes Erben, Artwork, Zeitgeist). Erblast I was very experimental and not too good. Erblast II was really dark and very good. Especially the stage-performances gave the idea that it was this dark side that Henke wanted to explore with this project. “VI” on the contrary is very melodic, tranquil and romantic. The songs on this cd are mostly built of tranquil orchestral music (violin, piano) and the poetic narrative vocals of Oswald Henke. Therefor I think this cd will be recieved better by Goethes Erben fans than by people who really enjoy Erblast II.
You may wonder what happened to Erblast III, IV and V. Well, Erblast III will probably never be released. The concept of that album deals with drugs and the fact that the corrupt regimes of countries in the middle east are financed by means of drug-transport. One song was enough to proclaim Oswald Henke as enemy of the state by many middle and near eastern countries, so he figured that it was better to not make a whole cd dealing with these ‘sensetive’ subjects available to the public.
Erblast IV and V are still worked upon and will probably released as a double cd some time. But, VI was planned for early 1999, so who knows how long we have to wait for this 2cd. Besides, late 1998 Henke already wondered if anybody would be interested to release an totally un-commercial and instrumental 2cd. Personally I think only the sticker “Oswald Henke ist Erblast” guarantees enough sold copies.
For now we’ll have to do with Erblast VI which is really worth it if you like atmospheric music and especially when you love the voice of Oswald Henke. A warning to close off: don’t be afraid of some experimentalism, even when there’s not too much of that on this newest cd.