Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

High Broad Field – Sieben [#586]

R-3966307-1350801376-8852Last time we saw neofolk violinist Sieben on the music project was when he was supporting pagan folk band Faun on their live compilation Faun at the Pagan Folk Festival. This time Matt Howden whacks on his Sieben hat and applies his violin skills to his sixth release.

Howden’s style is very distinct. Lots of staccato and wood slapping violin wizardry with tense sustained notes overlain with perfectly pronounced dark lyrics multitracked and layered down with loops. As I’ve said before on the Music Project, Howden’s musical prowess is virtually unknown on the British scene which is a real shame, he really has a great talent which is well known throughout Europe but with little recognition in the UK.

High Broad Field is the preceding album to his Desire Rights and is a very close kin stylistically to the same. Elements from Sex and Wildflowers and Ogham Inside the Night are evident and one can hear aspects of Desire Rights in their infancy throughout the album. Delicious silky music for those who think Nigel Kennedy is a bit shit.

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Goth Stuff – Various Artists [#542]

This is an unusual compilation, and it is one that guided my ears in the direction I took when exploring the genre. It’s an unofficial compilation and, like all good music, not available in the shops. More of a mix tape someone put out onto the wibbly wobbly web back in the nineties.

The first track is Hoquetus I-VII by an unknown composer and by the third track, a Saltarello  also by an unknown composer, it starts to become clear that the compiler is trying to take the listener through their interpretation of goth music through the ages. Soon we hear Minstrel Hall by Blackmore’s Night. Not exactly goth but dabbling with medievalism, nicely leading us into track two, 18th Century Gypsy Music by Bubak and Hungaricus. Layers of folk influences building up. By the time we reach midway point, we are already being tricked into believing that Ataraxia’s Canzona is a faithful reproduction of a old classical piece.

Of course it’s not. But by this time you don’t care. Further tracks of the acoustic, goth, medieval theme float past including Eld’s interpretation of Death in June’s Death of the West, songs by Ordo Equitum Solis and Eden  also don’t seem out of place. The cherry on the top being Bauhaus‘ King Volcano. 

I’m still fond of this compilation, even though, in all honesty, I am missing a number of tracks from  the original compilation. Moreover, this album also saw me eager to discover more about bands like Ordo Equitum Solis, Blackmore’s Night  and Eden. Bands I would never have heard of if it had not been for illegal downloads of music from unregulated sources.

Of course, like home taping before it, downloading music illegally was the death of music and we know today how empty our lives have become because  music was killed.

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The Gospel of Inhumanity – Blood Axis [#539]

Gospel_of_Inhumanity_CoverBlood Axis’ first album noted for featuring an interview with crazy Charles Mansun and poetry by Ezra Pound (The Voyage (Canto)).

There are two “songs” on the album that really strike me as significant. The first is track 5, Herr nun lab in Frieden (Men now live in peace) in which an excerpt from Moynihan’s interview with Charles Manson features. Manson talks about his grandfather’s realisation of the futility of war in the trenches during World War I.

The second is Absinthe (track 7) which is a tantalising taste of Moynihan’s then future collaboration with Le Joyaux de la Princesse.

Despite the album’s perceived intellectual leanings toward far right fascism, mostly due to Pound’s presence and his political beliefs and poetry by Nietzsche,  Blood Axis’ Michael Moynihan has denied such a connection. During the nineties, this album, industrial, neofolk and other similar genres became synonymous with neo-nazism notably by those fearful of the rise of gothic movement following the shootings by the Trench Coat Mafia at Columbine (conservative Americans).

However, a little research will reveal that in fact Moynihan has denounced the far right stating:

” Whether they’re the Marxist/Communist/Socialist people who think that humans want to get along on a grand scale, or whether it’s the Nazis, who think that if everyone was just of the same race, they’d all get along perfectly, or the anarchists, who think everyone would love to live this way if you just took away the police. They’re all deluded. People should worry about what happens on their block. They should get along with their neighbours before they worry about the great ills of society and about telling someone who lives 200 miles away what to do.”

It helps, if, like me, you first approach the album without knowing the alleged political and philosophical subtexts within the music. Indeed, taking the supposed philosophies and politics away from the album and approaching it, like I did, as a work of art, is not a difficult thing to do. In doing so, you actually can appreciate a dark, intellectual and thought provoking selection of music combining poetry, samples from Wicker Man and aural sound paintings similar to that presented later by Blood Axis when working with Le Joyaux de la Princesse on their collaboration Absinthe.

 

 

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God is Not Dead for the Birds – Lux Interna [#530]

41pN1uSvmWL._AA160_Take a substantial lump of Nick Cave, add a liberal amount of gloomy acoustic guitar, mix in a teaspoon of Sandy Denny or Barbara Gaskin (what ever you have to hand). Leave to fester for a few years and you might  just be able to recreate something similar to Lux Interna.

I discovered Lux Interna through the much touted Looking For Europe neofolk compendium and was able to source a copy of this, their fourth album from 2007. Again, unfortunately due to the time of life I discovered them, I have been unable to devote as much attention to them as I had hoped. Yet every time I do listen, I’m always rewarded by a rich tapestry of sonic gloom.

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Ghosts of California – David Galas [#521]

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I love every second of this album and, as my wife will testify, I must have listened to something from it every day since I bought it in 2011. This is David Galas’ third solo outing, which, in my opinion, is probably his finest.

The dark brooding of Galas’ first solo album The Catacylsm has matured in the moody bath of The Happiest Days of My Life (his second) and emerged as a dark and haunting anthemic opus.

While The Happiest Days of My Life was initially a little hard to ingest I took well to Ghosts. From the opening gambit (a recording of air traffic controllers during 9/11 segueing into the atmospheric Sect VIII) to an acoustic version of The Last Days of War my favourite track from The Happiest Days of My Life, every second has been carefully thought out and produced to an excellent standard.

My only regret is that this album hasn’t had the recognition it deserves.  Few of my friends have heard it, even fewer care, and yet I do truly believe that despite all my attempts to encourage others to listen to it, if they really gave it a try, they too might get the same enjoyment as I did. I just hope that through this Music Project I might encourage a few others.

 

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Gather in the Mushrooms – Various Artists [#511]

Gather in the mushroomsGather in the Mushrooms  is a compilation album featuring tracks by acid folk bands from 1968-1974.

As a prog fan, it is only natural that I have a penchant for music often classed as acid folk, which, one could argue, is a shared root for the mighty tree of progressive rock in the forest of alternative adult music.

This album was kindly “donated” to me by a dear ex-work colleague with whom we share similar tastes in music and interests in media and popular culture. When I saw the artist listing I was further excited to see artists such as Sallyangie (Sally Oldfield, Mike Oldfield‘s sister, with whom he began his career), Pentangle, Magnet and Spirogyra, all of whom have connection within this music project.

Hauntology at its best, Gather in the Mushrooms provides a soundtrack for a period when Canterbury was just begining to burgeon and fills the minds eye with images of green home county villages populated with beautiful long haired tie-dye be-dressed lady hippies like in some Avengers/Hammer Horror/sci-fi TV/Film that was never made. Beautiful tracks like Sandy Denny’s pre-Fairport Milk and Honey, Trader Horne’s post-Fairport Morning Way and the largely forgotten Forest’s Graveyard not only provide a powerful aural illustration for the genre but create a fitting tribute to a time that existed for a few but was appreciated by many.

This has largely become my third most favourite compilation of the past decade.

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The Drift – Scott Walker [#398]

images You might remember Scott Walker as one half of the Walker Brothers. What do you mean you don’t know the Walker Brothers. Hmm. Ok…

That’s the Walker Brothers. Gary, John and Scott, brothers in music not by birth.

Ok, now I’ve established for you who the Walker Brothers are, let me tell you about Neo-folk. Neo-folk, according to Wikipedia, is:

a form of folk music-inspired experimental music that emerged from post-industrial music circles.Wikipedia

Unfortunately, Neofolk gets a teeny bit of a bad name due to its links to martial music and appropriation by a minority of Neo-nazi groups who aimed to spread their filth through the medium of good music.

I like Neofolk. I discovered it through the Looking For Europe neo-folk compendium, the first track on which is Scott Walker’s Angel of Ashes which, I’m told, is Neofolk.

Intrigued by the inclusion of one of the Walker Brothers on the album, I sought out more by the artist and found that at one point in his career, he was signed to my favourite record label…4AD.

Sadly the album The Drift, is an acquired taste. A taste, I’m afraid, my aural tastebuds finds a little too rich and unusual tasting. A little bit Anthony and the Johnsons with a pinch of  Current 93, topped with notes of Can.Still, like with Kiss, I’ll persevere. Just in case he gets better with age….

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