Thursday, 8 March 2018

Shhh ... it's a secret...!

An intentionally blurred photo of the inside, to preserve the anonymity of the contents...

Title: No, sorry, can't tell you that!
Format: 2 x CDr set released on a small European label in 2013 - there are catalogue reference details etc. but they remain a secret.  It comes in a black paper sleeve with clear round front window to display some of the artwork, and is hand-numbered in silver on the back of the envelope.  The contents are two discs with semi-pro printed white labels.  A multitude of bands feature as it is a compilation album intended for a very limited circulation.
Edition: 50 hand-numbered copies only

Track Listing:
Of the 27 bands to feature, the pertinent two for our purposes are:
CD2 track 1: Uruk Hai  *  Lucifer
CD2 track 12: Eismond  *  The Wind That Shakes The Grass (edit version)

Contrary to popular opinion Castle Nazgul hasn't exploded as a result of recent seismic events in the UK, nor has your old uncle Nazgul fallen into one the oubliettes in the Castle gardens after a rowdy night out at the One Legged Hobbit pub down the road.

No, the recent bout of inactivity (if that's not a contradiction) is solely down to the old chestnut of not having enough hours in the day to do justice to a new post.  There's been a lot going on recently, none of which you will care a hoot about I fully appreciate, but suffice to say after a few months of reorganisation in the 'real' job Nazgul is now twice as busy as he used to be, slightly more senior in the hierarchy, no better off financially, but thankfully still employed.

By way of celebration, a new post has therefore been commissioned from the Castle's own monkey, and here it is.  Well, sort of: efforts to shift any blame clearly won't work here.  Nazgul is sticking his neck out a bit here as a veil of secrecy surrounds this particular release, none of which I am prepared to discuss here, but which hopefully gives context to the edited details and intentionally blurry photo that accompanies the post.  All very mysterious I know, but needs must...

You see, very occasionally Nazgul ends up with something in his collection that Hugin has suggested (politely, as is his way) would be better kept under wraps.  Not many things in truth, though perhaps 2 or 3 other items fall into this category.  Things change over time, allegiances alter, interests are repositioned, people come and go, you know the sort of thing that can distance you from former actions.

But equally, the old golden nugget sometimes emerges that is of such interest then acknowledging its existence outweighs the shroud of secrecy.  And so, in Nazgul's judgement, it proves to be with the Uruk Hai song featured on the second disc of this limited pressing - a rare and excellent Uruk Hai song that does not exist anywhere else in the official discography of this mighty Austrian band.

So at risk of incurring the boundless wrath of W.A.R. (fingers crossed that we won't, protective armour donned just in case we do) here's a post to cover the piece in question...

'Lucifer' is the song in question, being a spoken word piece (following an instrumental opening and a short, female vocal melody to add atmosphere).  It is, in essence, a song containing lyrics from the poem 'Lucifer' written by one Ludwig Fahrenkrog.

"Who he?", I hear you all cry!

Well, he has a German writer who lived in the period 1867 to 1952, and was also a recognised playwright and artist.  Born in Rendsburg, Prussia, he attended the Berlin Royal Art Academy as a young artist before ultimately being appointed a professor there in 1913.

He was involved in founding a series of folkish religious groups in the early part of the Twentieth Century, as part of a movement to create what its adherents referred to as a 'Germanic religious community', founded in part in his belief in the religious nature and mission of art.  The religious mission in particular was the revival of the pre-Christian Germanic faith and the rejection of Christianity, hinted at in such paintings as Luficer's Renunciation of god (1898).

Fifteen years after this, Fahrenkrog published a book (Lucifer: Poetry in Word and Image) in which Lucifer speaks in tones reminiscent of the German anarchist philosopher, Max Stirner: 'We choose our own property - the right to freedom.  The empire of the spirit wants only masters, not slaves'.

Of course, the span of Fahrenkrog's lifetime crossed paths with the rise of Nazism.  When the Nazis came to power in 1933 they outlawed almost every group not affiliated with the Nazi Party though Fahrenkrog's then organisation (GGG - Germanische Glaubens Gemeinschaft) was allowed to carry on.  This was nothing to do with Nazi sympathies, but more due to Ludwig's international status as an artist.

Some of the activities of the GGG were limited though: they could no longer hold public meetings, and after 1938 they could no longer use the swastika (which they had, in it's more innocent context, since 1908).  Fahrenkrog, to his enduring credit, refused to use 'Heil Hilter' in letters, and was effectively sidelined if tolerated by the regime.

All of which sounds like Nazgul has swallowed a history book, so let's move on!

Heading back to the song, there's almost an inevitability that being spoken word there's a solemnity to it that's quasi-religious/monastic at times, and as such it stands apart from 95% of everything else recorded by that project.  Which, of course, makes it of importance and interest regardless on which compilation it has ended up on.  It's also a typically excellent piece of music, and it would be a shame if it never makes a public appearance anywhere else in the otherwise prodigious output of Uruk Hai.

Very quickly addressing the Eismond contribution, it's unique in being an edited version of the song 'The Wind That Shakes The Grass', released as you will remember on the 2013 full-length release "As We Hide The Moon".  Nothing overtly interesting to add to that bit of trivia, but it's actually rather nice to hear a bit of Eismond again: whatever happened to that side-project...?

Well, dear readers, Nazgul's allotted time for rambling and musing is just about up for today, and it's nose to the grindstone for me again (what you don't realise, as you read these words, is that most of my posts are written at around 06:45 in the office before I start the day job, rather than in the evening at the Library desk accompanied by a guttering candle and with a robust glass of red wine in hand!)

Keep the faith - Honour and Darkness lives ... assuming W.A.R. is still speaking to Castle Nazgul after today?!