Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Funky Heroes


Band: Funky Heroes
Really?!  Yes, really! Bear with me on this one...
Albums released: none
Singles released: none
So what’s the story then, Nazgul?  A-ha! Read on for more!

Fear not, Nazgul hasn’t been on the funny mushrooms again.  No, this is a rare chance to learn arcane secrets about an even earlier chapter in the musical career of Alexander “Hugin” Wieser, and a story that has never been told before this dark and windy night.  And how appropriate, on Halloween itself, to share a story so terrifying that it will make you spit out your cocoa all over your pristine Uruk Hai t-shirt.

For you see, even before the early years of bands such as Schlaganfall which Honour and Darkness was pleased to raise to the world’s attention, there was an early band that rejoiced under the name of Funky Heroes.  Yes, you read it correctly, Funky Heroes.  It was founded in the summer of 1983 by 5 young Linz teenagers: Alex Wieser on bass; Roland Königstorfer on guitar & vox;  Andi Pernecker also on guitar & vox; Herbert Bergmayer on guitar (clearly a precursor to the triple guitar attack of Leatherwolf!) and at the final rehearsal there was a drummer too.  Sadly, with the passage of time Alex can’t remember his name, and boy I bet he’s a relieved man if he’s reading this now!

In an Honour and Darkness world-exclusive prompted by Hugin's own exuberant zeal at recalling these historical events, here for your delight and amazement is his recreation of the original Funky Heroes t-shirt!  It was limited to just 5 copies only, 4 copies for the band members and 1 copy for a friend (presumably the drummer didn’t qualify for one?!)  How much would one be worth now on eBay should it come to light...?

Sadly, such genius could not be contained within the confines of a small local band and Funky Heroes split in February 1984, never to return for that reunion tour and triple live album…

Hugin takes on the tale from this point:

"In 1985 Roland and I chose the band name Schlaganfall, I did the vox, Roland guitar, Wolfgang 'Gurkerl' Gall bass and another drummer I cannot remember the name (Nazgul’s note: what is it about these anonymous drummers?  Perhaps this is the legend that inspired Spinal Tap?) We did some covers but we also had 3 originals named ‘Scheiß Bullen’ (the only song we ever recorded, but sadly lost), ‘Harrys Anfall’ and I cannot remember the 3rd.

In 1986 we changed the name in After A.I.D.S. then we spilt up. Wolfgang and the drummer continued on and had some nice gigs too, but they split up soon too.  In around 1988 I did one rehearsal on vox with a Metal band from Linz called X-Ray then in about 1994-95 I did some sessions with The Sharks on bass, together with Mario Decarli on guitar, Andi Pernegger on vox and Geri Decarli (RIP) on drums, after Geri died they split up too.

In 1998 Hrossharsgrani was founded..... you know the rest J"

And Nazgul simply can’t let this story end without the most terrifying thing of all … so brace yourself, for a flashback of epic proportions as we view the young Hugin circa 1983, blissfully unaware of the musical career that lay ahead of him…!


Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

THE TOME OF LOST WORLDS [V/A]

Band: URUK HAI
Title: The Tome Of Lost Worlds [Various Artists]
Format: Online download courtesy of the Dungeon Synth webpage, described by them as "a seasonal collection of new and recent work made by the users of the Dungeon Synth Facebook group".  It was 'released' on 22 September 2017.  
Edition: Unlimited

Track Listing:
01. Garadrak  *  A Questing Knight  05:05
02. Nan Morlith  *  Of Mim, Last of the Petty Dwarves  05:32  
03. Gatekeeper  *  Locked in an Eternal Afternoon, Under a Cold Sun  09:33  
04. Symbiosis  *  Nolstagia  03:47  
05. Lux Viridis  *  Hole in Ocean  03:27  
06. Inoriand  *  Vestibule of Winter  06:12  
07. Breidablik  *  The Gate To Eternity  03:40  
08. Uruk Hai  *  Die Erste Schlacht  10:12  
09. Alba  *  Innocence Lost  08:54  

With all the doom and gloom surrounding the last post, let's lift our spirits with this rather nice online compilation courtesy of the Dungeon Synth webpage.  It is described by the label as a seasonal compilation from current Dungeon Synth artists from both Facebook and the Forum. The artwork has been sourced from various artists, with overall mix and design by Kaptain Carbon.

There have been a few such 'seasonal' offerings before, as seen on the label's Bandcamp page, with this latest one being the seventh part.  Whilst there are no tell-tale signs of fallen leaves, conkers or pumpkins to indicate this current instalment is the product of the autumnal season, you can't beat a bit of dungeon synth as the nights grow longer and the evenings get chillier.  So let's dig in...

"The library, that was once discussed as having manuscripts from a different age, was famous for its catacombs. That was not all it had. Sections of the library held secrets including the ruined wing to the north. Overgrown with vines and exposed to the conditions of outside lay swaths of tomes people found too mysterious and dangerous to give proper care for. This is where some of the most infamous books find their fate. Whether originally stored in the north wing or thrown here out of some fear or spite, the books of the northern wing now lay buried under vegetation and felled trees.

This is where you most likely will find it -- The Tome of Lost Worlds. Said to possess enchanting descriptions of far away places and even simple incantations to build bridges between here and there. It is no wonder the keepers wanted it lost among the ruins of the northern wing for I heard there are places that some wish to be lost forever."

It could almost be an estate agent's script for the library within Castle Nazgul, could it not?  But don't be confused, for this is more background information from the label about the nature of the musical offerings on this downloadable feast.

The point of focus for Honour and Darkness is the Uruk Hai song at track number 8, namely 'Die Erste Schlacht' ('The First Battle').  As you doubtless will recall, this is a song that we've previously identified in this blog as appearing on the "Die Kriege von Beleriand Teil 1" back in March of 2016.

And something of a modern day classic song by Uruk Hai it proves to be, predictably epic and grandiose but none the worse for that!

It's not only Nazgul who's partial to this track: one independent comment on the Bandcamp page from user 'gatekeeper's_saveroom' notes for the release as a whole and this song in particular;  "Not polluted by the shabby commerce and the artificial glamor of these days, you can immediately feel that this music comes from somewhere else. A lost world hidden deep inside, following nothing but its own, unseizable pulse. Favourite track: Die Erste Schlacht."

Dungeon Synth as a genre will be familiar to most I'm sure, and traditionally encompasses bands in the style of Mortiis, Burzum, Wongraven et al.  My favourite attempt at trying to define the term comes in the following quotation form Tiwas of Finnish band Gvasdnahr:

"I kind of think of Dungeon Synth as a lone, ancient castle, hidden in a dark desolate corner in the shadow of Black Metal. Only a few know it’s there. And out of those few who dare to enter, only a few are capable of finding its treasure."
Let's find out a little more about the background to this particular compilation though, courtesy of Kaptain Carbon:
"Tome of Lost Worlds represents the 7th compilation made in 2017 and the start of the third round of seasonal collections of new dungeon synth. Since starting this project, I wanted to showcase new and recent works from a variety of artists who are either entering into the genre or even working on new material. The series has naturally fallen into three volumes which have become the traditional volume, the experimental volume, and finally the narrative volume. Tome of Lost Worlds represents the traditional volume or at least the one with the more identifiable dungeon synth music submitted. For as much as I adore the fringes of the odd, the sweeping sounds of ancient fields and long forgotten ruins holds something magical.
The first of the fall compilations offers a mix of traditional dungeon synth with the work of Garadrak, Nan Morlithn, and Anglezarke. Beginning with Gatekeeper and running to the end of the compilation is a series of artists which lean and run towards the ethereal side of the sound. While still rooted in dungeon synth, the sounds of Inoriand, Uruk Hai, and Breidablik possess an almost heavenly sound or at least an intangible quality much like coloured mists in the morning. This trend continues until the closer by Alba which is a sobering and melancholic piano driven track used to wake up the listener from their deep daze. As for flow, this compilation starts on the ground and eventually ends up in the clouds lost in daydreams.
The art for not only this compilation but the next two volumes was done by the very talented Dale Forward. Forward was not only quick and precise when being commissioned for the Tome of Lost Worlds but willing to license more of his work for other compilations. His black and white work not only fits the genre but possesses a dreamlike quality which suits the music on the compilation. The next two pieces will also showcase this artist’s versatility from the very narrative to the very abstract and almost nightmarish. While I enjoyed showcasing different artists for each of the compilations, Forwards art fit exceedingly well and also was there when circumstances deemed it necessary. I couldn’t be happier having a picture of a monstrous skull climbing out of the pages of some forgotten book. It was Forwards art which inspired the writing that accompanies the volume of some forgotten and ruined wing of a mystic imaginary library.
Tome of Lost Worlds is to be followed in a week by On Old Misty Roads and finally the third volume of the Dungeon Synth Forum’s narrative compilation. Each volume will have its own aura and texture with further volumes leaning towards the shadows. For now enjoy the 7th volume which offers an escape into the descriptions of lost worlds. Somewhere near the Codex of Dreams is a tome which has pages filled with stories of lost worlds. Find it and you will never want to go home."

Definitely worth exploring, and how nice to see our old friend Symbiosis on the tracklist. Nazgul encourages you to venture to the Bandcamp site immediately and - given you can name your own price to download the music - empty your wallet accordingly.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

URUK-HAI


Band: HROSSHARSGRANI
Title: Uruk-Hai
Format: The item is described as a limited edition lathe cut 12" record 'made by hand on a rare Japanese Hara record lathe' and released by Beasst Productions (USA) in 2017 (no catalogue reference number).  However, does the item actually exist...?
Edition: Reported to be 100 copies only

Track Listing:
Side A
01. Uruk Hai  7.29
02. Nordhimmelstag  3.19
03. Moria  5.56
Side B
04. Kortirion  5.56
05. In Durins Halls  4.49

Caveat Emptor!

These advertisements for this 2017 release looked to be a really enticing prospect: a limited edition lathe-cut vinyl 12" of the original Hrossharsgrani demo recording that ultimately spawned the Uruk Hai project.

Indeed, the blurb for the release created by our friend Hugin for the label quoted none other than yours truly directly off Honour and Darkness: "The original "Uruk-Hai" demo tape was of course, intended as a Hrossharsgrani release and made in a tiny quantity of only 6 tapes. However, the story goes that back in 1999 when Hugin played his for his friends the general consensus was that it was so far removed from the battle-machine that was Hrossharsgani, and so ambient and ethereal by comparison, it shouldn't be issued under that band's name. So it was that the original six demo tapes were retained by this close-knit circle."

And before you write in to complain that the release is categorized on Discogs as an Uruk Hai release, not a Hrossharsgrani release, let me reassure you that this is actually incorrect, as the narrative above makes abundantly clear.  The project led to the creation of Uruk Hai (the band), but was recorded as a Hrossharsgrani demo under that banner.

All of which is very interesting, but skirts around the main reason for this post: it all looks like a rip-off in progress!

Nazgul received a direct email from Beasst Productions about this release, and - inevitably - placed his order swiftly.  Some 6 weeks later, no goods received, no response from the label to questions, nothing. 

Eventually a lengthy Paypal claim was necessary to secure a refund, during which RPM Shop (the online shop for the label) lied about having sent the parcel, stating that they would provide the tracking number for it.  That they didn't came as no surprise to Nazgul, as I have my doubts that these items physically exist let alone that it was ever posted.

Scouting around online, Nazgul found a customer on eBay.ca who has had exactly the same experience with RPM shop: 30 days of no contact and non-fulfilment of order, leading to negative feedback being left and a refund being forcibly obtained.

Relaying this incidents to Hugin also uncovered the fact that the label had gone quiet on him too, despite some extensive chasing up in the last week or so, meaning that we're all in the dark about whether these lathe-cut records actually even exist.

Without a physical copy in hand, all Nazgul would suggest to you is that you treat this release/company with extreme caution at the moment, and if you really feel the need to put money their way do so via a service/card provider that you can claw back a refund on if it all goes pear-shaped.  Which, on current form, it really looks like it might do.

Just for completeness sake, if you want to understand more about what a lathe cut record is and how to produce one, check out this useful site.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

VON BLINKENDEN SCHWERTERN IM REICHE DES NORDENS - update


Band: URUK HAI
Title: Von Blinkenden Schwertern Im Reiche Des Nordens ("Of Gleaming Swords In The Land Of The North")
Reason for update: A chance to look inside the envelope...

We have to cast our net even further back today for the basis of this update, to the 23 October 2009 to be exact.  For it was on that date that Honour and Darkness covered the Uruk Hai / Arkillery split release "Von Blinkenden Schwertern Im Reiche Des Nordens" in both tape and CDr format.

Were you to flick back to that distant review, you will come across the slightly bizarre revelation from Nazgul that as his CDr version was still sealed, he had chosen not to open it.  Even more bizarre, given we're now eight years down the line, that copy still sits pristine and unopened on the shelf in front of me!

So when the opportunity arose to grab a second copy of this rare release (I safely presume it to be rare as in the many, many years I've been looking around for Hugin's stuff this is only the second copy I've ever encountered and the only one offered for sale).  And so bought it was, and into the collection it came.

And happily enough, it was already open so no harm in having a peep at the contents of the wallet is there?!  And what we basically get is a silver CDr with a hand-written front (consistent with other Arkillery releases, actually) that gives us both of the band names and a couple of runes in black sharpie.

Also written onto the front of the disc is the number 10.  Now, in the Discogs post for this item (now illustrated with this very item, as it previously incorrectly had the tape inlay showing instead) someone has entered the information that this CDr was released in an edition of 250 hand-numbered copies.  I don't believe this is correct: the tape version certainly was limited to 250 copies, and I suspect duff information has been copied onto the CDr version page.

What the actual limitation was on this version is therefore still unknown, but if we purport that the number '10' on the disc has some bearing on the edition then as a minimum ten copies must therefore exist.  And no, before you ask, Nazgul is not inclined to open his original copy to see what that number is, at least not at this point in time!  It will remain an enduring mystery...

Whilst we're on the subject of Arkillery-related items, it seems something of a surprise to me that their releases have never been reissued or compiled in any way.  I've got a few on CDr, and recently updated Discogs with their details in order to bulk out the band's discography a little, so there's a nice little group of demos in the band's name clearly existing.  Does anyone know whatever happened to Rob Gaude, the man behind the band...?

Until the next time, adieu!