Saturday, 31 October 2009

Neofolk publicism for Klammheim

As a glance at this blog will reveal, Lord Bassington-Bassington has a soft spot for Neofolk music. And it seems that some of the musicians creating this music reciprocate by appreciating (or at least tolerating) His Lordship. At least enough to enlist him as their publicist.

Latest in the (admittedly rather short) line of musical ensembles asking for His Lordship's help are upcoming Austrian band Klammheim. Klammheim are some fine people who Lord Bassington-Bassington has had the pleasure of following since their band's inception, and it's a real pleasure to see them grow, hear songs find new shapes and so on. Lead singer Dea has also helped these Chronicles with a previous post about patriotism.

Klammheim might be seen as a part of the small wave of Alpin-Folk that's currently rocking (or perhaps rather folking) the mountainous parts of Central Europe, and which sees charming bands such as Jännerwein don folkish costumes and play some nice and catchy tunes.

And now, here's Klammheim, who have, despite not having a debut release out yet, have realized some very important points about promotion. Such as the importance of having a good logo, something that will look stylish on the chest of a blazer (or, more realistically, a T-shirt).

So here's a preliminary promotional text, a preview of His Lordship's upcoming, full-length press release.

If you’re a Neofolk aficionado familiar with Steinklang’s Pagan Folk collection, or the Austrian club scene, Klammheim should be a name you’ve noticed. And now Klammheim’s debut album is due on December 15th.

Heimwärts is a collection of melancholic, soft-spoken and acoustic folk songs that occasionally reveal Klammheim’s roots in heaver, rockier sounds.

All vocals are sung in lead singer Dea’s Styrian (Austrian) dialect, and to augment the band’s line-up of guitars, accordion and percussion are guest musicians such as Thomas Bøjden (Die Weisse Rose) and Benjamin Sperling (Jännerwein). The album is housed in a lavish digipack with a 16-page booklet (there will also be an extravagant collector’s box).

Even at this early stage, this release seems to promise to be something greater than the sum of its parts. Might Klammheim be the missing link between Neofolk and Austropop, Death in June and Wolfgang Ambros (or perhaps even Falco?)

Klammheim's debut will be released by Heimatfolk records.

So, that's it for today. Now, Alpin-Folk enthusiast Lord Bassington-Bassington just needs to find a Basset version of the snappy "Alpine Canine" outfit below.

The problem of Evil: Lessons from Satanists

(Picture above stolen from this site, intended as free advertising).

Halloween is the day to ponder the problem of evil. And those who worship it.

A quick Facebook chat with the Norwegian translator of Anton La Vey’s Satanic Bible started Lord Bassington-Bassington thinking about Satanists. And by Satanists he means real Satanists, of the type one finds around the Church of Satan, not the reverse-Christians who tried to burn down substantial parts of Norway’s cultural treasures back in the 1990s.

The founder of modern Satanism and The Church of Satan, Anton La Vey, was one of the most interesting religious thinkers of the past century, and people who are sufficiently inspired by his teachings to call themselves Satanists are often misunderstood. Which is hardly surprising; naming a philosophy after a symbol of evil and then expecting to seen as a reasonable person would be like developing a system of teaching called Pederasty and then being surprised when local schools try to bar you from their premises.

As a result, His Lordship has always been a bit bemused (and a bit confused) by Satanists. They claim to be evil, but surprisingly often turn out to be the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They claim to be motivated by selfishness, but are often highly idealistic, whether they’re involved in animal rights work or various (usually quite unprofitable) cultural and artistic endeavours.

The question is this: Does this, pretending to be evil, greedy and selfish, while being nice, generous and idealistic, represent a form of Satanic hypocrisy? And if it is a form of hypocrisy, is it better, or worse, than when Christians pretend to work for good but turn out to be child-molesters?

Philosophers, please come to the rescue!

But whether one accepts that Satanists are evil in any real sense of the word, let's take some lessons in evil from them. So i honor of Halloween, the Chronicles are pleased to reprint this instructive course by Danish Satanists Ole Wolf and Amina Lap, with kind permission from Mr. Wolf and Mrs. Lap.

(click on the picture for bigger resolution. And if you can read Danish, it’s even funnier in the original language.)

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

What an elusive thing

life can be. One can only seek consolation in the words of the Hávamál:

Cattle die,
and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
But a noble name
will never die,
If good renown one gets.

Rest in peace, Jan Kenneth Barkved.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Gyron V live in Oslo

Neofolk music hasn’t really reached Norway, much to Lord Bassington-Bassington’s disappointment. But times they are a-changing, if only slightly.

Mr. Terje Øverås is an interesting young man with a long history of creative activity. As a student of several institutions of art he has worked in collage, photography, performance and conceptual art. He is also writing on a novel, Decapitated Snake Descending, which looks rather promising and should be obligatory reading for anyone with more than a minimal interest in decadent literature.

But on this occasion, The Chronicles would like to call attention to Mr. Øverås’ musical activities, which usually take place under the name Gyron V (pronounced as in the French; “gyron sanc”). While Øverås prefers that his project not be referred to as a neofolk band, but as a “pataphysical folk-pop orchestra”, if neofolk is to have any meaning whatsoever, then Gyron V is neofolk. By Jove, Mr. Øverås even plays live drums for neofolk outfit Die Weisse Rose.

So far, Gyron V’s music has to be enjoyed through the Internet, but the outfit is currently working on its debut album, due out on the semi-legendary Swedish label Cold Meat Industry.

While decidedly low-fi in its approach (Mr. Øverås has named the sound production on Darktrone’s Transilvanian Hunger as an ideal to strive for) Mr. Øverås has crafted some fine songs. Lord Bassington-Bassington particularily recommends “in The Circles of Ether”, with its loungey sounds. The sensitive interplay between piano, feedback and guitar on “You Wander Through” also make it a small gem of a song.

But the ultimate Gyron V experience is the live concert. Mr. Øverås's shy charm is irresistible, and while any boring old rock'n'roll band can make being drunk a part of their live show, it takes a real master to make acute hangovers a staple of his performance.

These pictures are from Gyron V’s performance at the opening of Johannes Høie’s exhibition earlier this fall. Lord Bassington-Bassington makes no apologies for their quality, as his paws are a few sizes too big to operate a camera with any degree of finesse.

On these pictures, Mr. Øverås is assisted by Fredrik Falk, another fine human from whom we’ll be hearing a lot more in the future.

Mr. B in the house... or, rather, manor

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer's debut record, Flattery Not Included, has finally arrived here at Bassington Manor. It took a little less than a month to arrive, due to a combination of that most English tradition, the postal strike, and a slightly uninterested vendor.

Flattery Not Included is not just a tremendously enjoyable record, it also makes Lord Bassington-Bassington want to play all his old Hip Hop records again (so this blog post is composed to the sounds of Public Enemy). So what better way to celebrate this joyous occasion than by posting Mr. B's latest video, "Chap-Hop History?"

And if you would now excuse His Lordship, he has to jump around the living room for a while, waving his paws in the air as if he simply doesn't care.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Meme proves: Everything better with Bassets

Internet memes can be wonderful things. For example, Lord Bassington-Bassington is quite a fan of the Rick Roll. The RickRoll is not just a good-natured and well-mannered prank, it also includes a blazer, which gives it an instant advantage over ruder and cruder pranks.

One of the most popular Internet memes over the last years has been the Dramatic Chipmunk. It's a great meme, and since the video is really of a prairie dog, which gives it a certain canine charm to begin with.

But as the following video shows, it was vastly improved by substituting the prairie dog for a Basset Hound.

Some people obviously got the idea that things instantly become more fun with Bassets, and decided to replace racehorses with more stylish creatures. As this video reveals, it was a vast improvement (the action comes towards the end of the video, so some fast-forwarding can be a good idea).

As this video proves, races aren't only more fun to watch when bassets replace horses, they also take far less time. And thus leave more room for more important things, like snuggling, snoozing, sniffing and munching.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Lovecraft in Trondheim

Lord Bassington-Bassington has been invited to give a lecture about H.P. Lovecraft in Trondheim next month. The date is November 20th, more details will follow as this unravels.

In the meantime, His Lordship has taken up his Lovecraftian studies again.

As is his habit, he'd like to commemorate the occasion by delving into some Lovecraftian poetry. And the first part of Lovecraft's sonnet The Fungi from Yuggoth must surely be evocative of the areas near the harbor in Trondheim?

The place was dark and dusty and half-lost
In tangles of old alleys near the quays,
Reeking of strange things brought in from the seas,
And with queer curls of fog that west winds tossed.
Small lozenge panes, obscured by smoke and frost,
Just shewed the books, in piles like twisted trees,
Rotting from floor to roof - congeries
Of crumbling elder lore at little cost.

I entered, charmed, and from a cobwebbed heap
Took up the nearest tome and thumbed it through,
Trembling at curious words that seemed to keep
Some secret, monstrous if one only knew.
Then, looking for some seller old in craft,
I could find nothing but a voice that laughed.

If anyone could help set Lord Bassington-Bassington's paws on course for such a bookshop, he would be very grateful.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Lucifer rising - demonic psychedelia

The small American record label The Ajna Offensive recently released one of the most captivating box sets Lord Bassington-Bassington has had the fortune to lay his paws on. The set is based around the soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s seminal film Lucifer Rising, one of the most intriguing films ever made.

Kenneth Anger is seen as being the father of the music video, but his films compare to the music videos shown on MTV like the love sonnets of Shakespeare compare to Barbara Cartland. And the music is a bit above standard MTV fare, too. The music to Lucifer Rising was made by that both intriguing and tragic figure, Bobby Beausoleil.

Mr. Beausoleil's music is a triumph of darkly demonic psychedelia, and is as captivating today as it was when it was first made.

In addition to this soundtrack, the box is filled with gems and experiments from Mr. Beausoleil’s past. In all, four gorgeous slabs of high-grade vinyl housed in a beautiful box with a poster and extensive liner notes on the strange life and fate of Mr. Beausoleil.

The Chronicles will stop here. As we all know, writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and anyway, no photographs can do justice to this wonderful release.

One of the people behind The Ajna Offensive informed Lord Bassington-Bassington that they have now sold the entire first print run of 1000 copies, and that a new batch of 500 lovely boxes are planned.

It’s a nice thought that in this world of low quality, pirated MP3 and ugly CD jewelcases, a release like this can actually sell a decent amount of copies. If you have the slightest interest in the dark, demonic underbelly of the 1960s, His Lordship suggests that you consider investing in this set.

(While Lord Bassington-Bassington never warmed to the idea of downloading music, he doesn’t want to badmouth it, either. Downloading pirated MP3s is never going to kill music, but it might hurt Bono’s profits and perhaps curb his messianic pretensions. This, alone, makes downloading a noble deed. Just remember to support those who release records – and DVDs – that make the world a more beautiful, magical place).

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Final Notes on Noise

This Sunday, noise music legend Merzbow plays in Oslo. Having seen Mr. Akita perform twice before, Lord Bassington-Bassington is unsure whether he should attend the concert. For Merzbow's noise is just so... noisy.

Lord Bassington-Bassington appreciates many forms of music, from Oi! to opera, that seem noisy to people who are not used to them. But he has always had an ambivalent relationship towards pure noise.

While admitting to a certain interest in the noise of acts such as Whitehouse, NON, Genocide Organ (and Merzbow), all of which have led him to purchase recordings or concert tickets (or both), he usually finds pure noise not just annoying to listen to, but ultimately tedious. What’s wrong with a nice chorus?

The pleasure of knowing intelligent people is that they often find better ways of expressing your thoughts than you are able to do yourself. And Lord Bassington-Bassington is privileged to know two fine humans who are not only aficionados of noise, but have dabbled in the genre themselves, and are able

The Lord Bassington-Bassington Chronicles are therefore pleased to present The Final Notes on Noise.

One quote is by underground archivist/activist Jan R. Bruun, who once commented:

“You know, I don’t listen much to noise records now that I have two small sons”.

The other is by musician, DJ and all-round fine fellow Anders Moe, who remarked:

“If you’ve heard a million noise records, you’ve heard them all”.

These two quotes say it all, don’t they?

So while pondering whether to attend the Merzbow performance, Lord Bassington-Bassington would like to take the opportunity to plug not only his favourite noise record, but one of his favourite records of the last decade, Children of the Black Sun, recorded by Boyd Rice under the name NON. This record might very well be the crowning achievement of the entire genre. And as Mr. Rice was one of the original pioneers of noise music, it’s very fitting that he should deliver the final word.

Buy the CD/DVD package – the sound on the DVD is absolutely fantastic.

Elvis sings "Basset Hound Dog"

In 1956, Elvis Presley was in the process of recording and releasing a version of the song Hound Dog.

So when he was invited to perform “Hound Dog” on the legendary Steve Allen show, Mr. Allen had the brilliant idea of having Mr. Presley sing the song to a Basset Hound.

While playing along with the idea and delivering a decent performance (for a human, at least), Mr. Presley later expressed criticism of Mr. Allen’s idea. The singer claims that the Basset Hound slobbered and peed on the seat.

Ever the Basset patriot, Lord Bassington-Bassington’s reply is that Mr. Presley is clearly lying, and that he was simply jealous of the fine Hound. For even if the show’s producers tried to make Mr. Presley look vaguely respectable by making him wear proper clothes, the singer would never look halfway as stylish and elegant as a proper Basset Hound. Especially not a Basset Hound with a top hat.

Mr. Presley should consider himself lucky that the Hound was kind enough to not start singing. If that had happened, Mr. Presley would have a lot more to be jealous about, as any Basset could out-howl a human any day.

Let's look at this again, in a simple lesson.

NEVER stylish: Open shirt, gaudy belt, too much jewelry.

ALWAYS stylish: Droopy ears, sturdy paws, soulful eyes.

Get it?