Saturday, 28 January 2012

Elemental (UK) -- rehearsal demos

A bit of a personal post this; Elemental was my first proper band (not counting a couple of dodgy Grunge/Thrash covers bands that only gigged once each), based in Ashford, Kent between 1996 and 1998. We played heavy Psychedelic Rock, with smatterings of Metal, Punk and Ambient thrown into the mix. Our set mainly consisted of effects-laden guitar instrumentals based around half-formed structures, largely inspired by Ozric Tentacles and local band Crow. There were some good ideas and riffs in there, but our main problem was that I was trying a bit TOO hard to sound like Crow.

These rehearsal recordings vary in quality. The first 3 were released on a tape that we gave to a few friends, the rest remain largely unheard. "Overdose" even features a rare vocal performance from myself. You have been warned.

Also included are a couple of recent solo reworkings of other Elemental tunes; I have always intended to revisit the Elemental material with the intention of making it into what it SHOULD have sounded like...

The last track is a recording of a one-off rehearsal featuring 2 ex-Elemental members. Not bad for a track that was written and recorded in about 3 hours.

On the whole, these recordings will probably only be of interest to those of you who delight in obscure and badly-recorded underground music.

Elemental -- Rehearsal demos

Rehearsal demo 1996
1. Drift
2. Jamaican Rust
3. Pale Lounge Lizard

from Rehearsal demo 1997
4. Overdose
5. Positive/Negative
6. Drift v.2

Balbulus solo demos
7. Rust (Balbulus demo 2005?)
8. ...And The Stream Flows On... (taken from the Balbulus demo "Stormprayer" 2008)

9. JMBW Rehearsal 1998/9?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Brondniht (UK) -- "Caldast Ofet" EP

This is available on a couple of other blogs (from where I obtained it), and so goes against my general rule of exclusivity, but the obscurity and feeling of this little gem appeals to me greatly. Brondniht were a 3-piece Black/Doom band from London who released this EP before splitting up. I would have been very interested to hear more from them.

Info (Metal Archives)

Musically, the two tracks on this EP are built on sparse Doom-paced drums, with Blackened gargles of Anglo-Saxon poetry over guitarwork that reminds me of a slightly cruder version of Norwegian Doom-gods Funeral (circa "Tristesse"); long meandering guitar lines that twist around each other, at times jarring, at times harmonious, bringing to my mind images of a twisted knotwork of roots; paralleling perhaps the archetypical Anglo-Saxon artwork. Indeed, as a whole this release leaves me with the impression of an ancient carved monolith, left standing alone long after the creators have disappeared into the mists of obscurity.

Brondniht -- "Caldast Ofet" EP (2009)

1. Eardstapa
2. Deor


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Traditional Ukrainian bandura music

I've been interested in Ukrainian folk music and culture for some years now, inspired by the Black Metal bands Drudkh and Hate Forest, both of whom have used samples and references of their traditional culture in their music. Trawling the net, I tracked down a number of albums of Ukrainian folk music, among the best of which are two albums of bandura music by Taras Kompanichenko and the late Mykola Budnik. The music is incredibly evocative and atmospheric, the spindly sound of the bandura at times strangely akin to that of the African kora.

I have also collected from various compilations two songs (dumas) performed by another bandurist Igor Rachok, the first of which was used (without the brief spoken intro) by Drudkh as the outro to their 3rd album "The Swan Road". I would love to track down some more of Rachok's recordings, as I find the slightly more lo-fi quality adds whole realms of atmosphere to the music; I imagine him sat by a fire in some ancient rural wayside inn, spinning tales of long ago to sombre-looking old men.

For a detailed look at Ukrainian folk traditions (not just music, but dress, architecture, crafts etc.) have a trawl around this slightly cumbersome website:

which includes some informative essays on:

plus another essay on kobza and lyre-playing tradition in the Polissya region:

Right, on to the music...

Mykola Budnyk -- Heigh, on the Black Sea

01. About Mazepa and Paliy
02. About Marusya Bogusiavka
03. About Sava Chaly
04. About Suprun
05. About Khvedor Bezrodmy
06. The Falcon Fraternized
07. A Snowstorm
08. I Will Go Through the Meadow
09. There's No Truth in this World
10. About Oleksiy Popovych


Taras Kompanichenko -- Kobza and Lyre-Playing Tradition

01. A Dance
02. About Bondarivna
03. Snowstorm
04. Hey on the Sea, on the Black Sea
05. The Lament of the Earth
06. The Captive Girl
07. To Christ on the Cross
08. Don't You Hoot, the Owl
09. Oleksiy - a Man of God (To Aleksiy)
10. The Samara Brothers
11. Saint George the Snake Fighter (To George)


Igor Rachok -- Dumas

1. About Extermination of Sich (aka "Song of Sich Destruction")
2. As Our Glorious Cossacks Were Advancing