Monday, 12 January 2009

A toast to progress, part II

While he has an instinctive suspicion towards the "queer theorists" currently flooding the academic and the art worlds, and finds some gay activists annoying, Lord Bassington-Bassington likes the idea that gay people should be allowed to show their love in public. Since a surprisingly large percentage of the people who have shaped him and inspired him have been gay, for His Lordship this isn't just a question of respect for these people, it's a duty born of gratitude.

So His Lordship was actually a bit touched when he was browsing the Internet for a pocket handkerchief for his favorite jacket, and came across a silk hankie that, according to its producers, is “designed with Civil Partnerships in mind”.

A lovely handkerchief it is, too, even if it isn't quite something that Lord Bassington-Bassington would tuck into his breast pocket. But then, being a raving heterosexual ( a "king?"), His Lordship would never enter into any sort of marital or civil union with a man, either. Still, he loves the idea that one can create a product that both celebrates the fact that gays can enter legally recognized, responsible unions, and at the same time encouraging them to dress better.

While Lord Bassington-Bassington thinks men should be allowed to enter unions such as this, he does insist that they follow the standard rules of courtship, as demonstrated by certain Danish Neofolk and Industrial luminaries Kim and Thomas below.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Female esoterica, fine electronica

Given his well-known weakness for things Polish and ambient, Lord Bassington-Bassington finds it imperative to inform the public about the new release from Polish outfit Artefactum.

The lady behind Artefactum goes by the nom de plume of Merissa d’Erlette, and has released a small tricle of records since her project’s inception in 2001.

His Lordship has been playing Artefactum CD’s like Chaos Elements (Athanor records) and the self-produced Rosarium Hermeticum a lot. And not only because the themes that run through the (usually instrumental) music, like esotericism and alchemy, are ideas he has a long-standing interest in (he also shares Mrs. d’Erlette’s love of roses).

The Artefactum records also show a promising curve of development, as each new release seems to show increasing richness in both musical contents and the packaging of the records themselves. Oh, and for the record: Lord Bassington-Bassington holds that those of you who claim that packaging of a record doesn’t matter are either liars or have no sense of aesthetics. He is unsure which trait he thinks is the worst.

That is why Lord Bassington-Bassington is so pleased with Artefactum’s latest release, as its sonic richness is only matched by its lavish packaging. Sub Rosa is like a small nugget of gold found in the ashes of an alchemist’s athanor. (Yes, I could have written “furnace” or “oven”, but then I would miss out on an opportunity to satisfy my addiction to atrocious alliteration).

The seven-inch record (that’s a “single”, for those of you who are stuck in the digital age) is produced on stunning, bright pink vinyl, packaged in a hand-made sleeve and sealed with a pink ribbon. It contains two tracks, titled Rosa Alba and Rosa Rubea, both of which are examples of Artefactum at its (or her) best. Dark and brooding, yet gentle and inviting, soundscapes filled with little details that create a meditative atmosphere.

His Lordship feels certain that the pink vinyl and ribbon, as well as the little heart-shapes perforations on the cover, will make some feminists yak on about ”internalising female stereotypes” or something to that effect. However, His Lordship, who deeply regrets that he doesn’t look good in pink himself, would tell them to sod off (although in much more civilised terms, of course). For, as pictures of Mrs. d'Erlette reveals, her taste is clearly above criticism.

Sub Rosa is released by Drone Records, in 300 copies. Every lover of ambient music should have one of these in his record collection, where the little pink-ribboned beauties will no doubt charm the other records into buying them flowers.

Lord Bassington-Bassington, rock ’n' roller

Or, at least, rock ’n' roll press release writer…

With a physique like Lord Bassington-Bassington’s, one isn’t exactly “born to rock”. Even if one might argue that floppy ears are perfect accessories for headbanging, and that their velvety feel gives His Lordship sorely needed Goth points, His Lordship has largely given up on wearing leather pantaloons.

However, he is undoubtedly interested in the music of Swedish Industrial outfit Coph Nia. He especially enjoys their collaborative efforts with the group Mindspawn, which has produced dark-ambient music perfect for late nights at Bassington Manor in the company of a good book and good port.

So when asked whether he would like to write the press relase for Coph Nia’s latest record, His Lordship enthusiastically agreed. And not just because it’s released by a Polish record label (His Lordship likes Poles), the fact that Coph Nia guys are super guys or even that the word “money” was mentioned. No, His Lordship really liked the record.

So here is Lord Bassington-Bassingtons attempt to help Coph Nia flog their music to an unwary public:

It's hardly news to any connoisseur of Industrial music that Coph Nia like to cover songs. So far they have quite a cover track record. They've transformed The Leather Nun's punk anthem "Prime Mover" into a brooding, industrial soundscape, and made songs by artists as diverse as Front 242, Bauhaus, Arthur Brown and The Rolling Stones their own.

One danger of covering songs is that you might end up as a covers band. This is especially dangerous if you cover songs by, say, The Rolling Stones, as you might just end up on the rock cover band circuit – playing 'Sweet Home Alabama' in dodgy rock pubs and biker meets in places God has been drinking to forget ever since he created them.

On the other end of the scale, but equally degrading, is to end up as wedding singers. Remember that really unfunny Adam Sandler movie?

If you think that Coph Nia has too much class to end up en either category, well, let's say you have too much faith in the band. Coph Nia are already a bit too familiar with playing gigs in dodgy pubs, and they've even played at a wedding (well, it was my stag party, but it was definitely wedding-related).

So in a desperate attempt to not end up having to provide the soundtrack to bikers picking up underage chicks or obscure uncles doing moves from Saturday Night Fever, Coph Nia have decided to take the demon by the horns, and tried to exorcise the Cover Demon before it consumes them.

The result is this release. This collection of Coph Nia-fied covers including Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr Crowley", the song Mr. Aldenon's band was born to cover, "Black Sabbath" by the band of the same name, "Sick Things" by Alice Cooper and "Levitation" by psychedelic space rockers Hawkwind.

Hopefully, the exorcism will work. If not, you know where to look for Coph Nia in a few years...

Lord Bassington-Bassington

Little Storping in the Swuff, November 2008

PS: If you need a band for your wedding, Coph Nia can be reached through their website.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hommage à Asad (updated)

While many people of the Muslim faith harbor prejudices against canines, Lord Bassington-Bassington is on good terms with several upstanding Norwegian Muslims.

By one of these, Shoaib M. Sultan, general secretary of the Islamic Council of Norway and author of an excellent blog (in Norwegian), he was recommended a translation of the Quran by Muhammad Asad.

While Islam teaches that a translation of the Quran can never be an adequate substitute for the original Arabic, this being the language of God’s original revelation of its contents to Muhammad, Mr. Sultan regards Muhammad Asad’s translation of the Quran as the best substitute available. And having looked at several other translations, Lord Bassington-Bassington can only agree.

One reason why Asad’s translation is so good might be his obvious passion for his work.

Muhammad Asad was born Leopold Weiss at the dawn of the 20th century, in Poland. The restless Jew converted to Islam on his journeys as a journalist in the Arabic world, and later became a Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations. Always an outsider, a Jew in Europe, a European in Arabia, and combined with his outstanding penmanship and scholarship this gave him unique insights into the nature of both Islamic and Western civilization.

In this short video this remarkable gentleman expounds on his theory of why desert-dwellers are disposed towards monotheism.

Sadly, Asad’s translation of the Quran is out of print and quite dear (though His Lordship has a birthday coming up in a few months), but luckily the entire text is published on the Internet for easy reference.

Muhammad Asad is also the author of The Road to Mecca. The book is a record of Asad's odyssey into the Arabic world, its mentality and religion, and is a book that deeply touched Lord Bassington-Bassington when His Lordship read it exactly a year ago today.

Which is the reason for this post.

UPDATE: An Austrian film company has produced a documentary about Asad. Lord Bassington-Bassington is really looking forward to seeing it. The trailer can be enjoyed below.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

A toast to progress

While Lord Bassington-Bassington is certainly prone to romanticizing times gone by, he is also acutely aware that one of the best things about the past is that it is over.

In fact, not everything that has happened over the last years has been proof of Spengler’s thesis of the Decline of the West. Quite the contrary, there are many attitudes of the past that His Lordship are quite happy to leave on the scrap heap of history.

Among these are old-fashioned attitudes towards women,


and the less fortunate members of society.

His Lordship raises a glass of Late Bottled Vintage port to the joys of living in a society that values the intelligence of its women, realizes that physical love can be a great thing and cares about those who fall on hard times.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Past art lives again

While Lord Bassington-Bassington has made several attempts to become a more cultured canine, these attempts usually just end up shedding an unflattering light on his many shortcomings.

As a result, His Lordship has instead opted for the “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like”, albeit cloaked in a few layers of irony, pseudointellectual babble and righteous indignation at how art has degenerated since the glorious days of the cave paintings.

One artist he really likes, though, is Rikke Lundgreen. Miss Lundgreen’s work is interesting on many levels, raises many questions and is open to a variety of interpretations that goes way over His Lordship's velvet-eared head, but it can also just be enjoyed as creations of melancholy beauty. Many of Miss Lundgreen’s works are reconstructions of Pre-Raphaelite motifs done with herself and her collaborator, Phil Sayers, taking the places of models now long passed away.

The Chronicles has taken the liberty, without asking in advance (the rudeness!) of borrowing a few artworks from the two’s website. Go there for more details. And if you have a family fortune more substantial than that of Lord Bassington-Bassington, buy the artworks.

Oh, and Miss Lundgreen has a show opening this Tuesday in Oslo. Lady Mju has all the details.

The Dragonfly Society

While he tends towards being a grumpy old hound, Lord Bassington-Bassington is sometimes amazed by the ingenuity and initiative, charm and style of younger people. Often this happens with young people related to various sub-genres of the Gothic subculture. Possibly because in a time where most youngsters seem to want to wear sneakers and baseball caps, in these subcultures you can still meet people who are interesting to look at (regardless of whether one would want to achieve this look oneself, of course). Some of the most stylish members of these subcultures affect a look of times long lost, something that instantly makes His Lordship sit up and pay attention. And when this is

A lot of interesting things are happening internationally, and it slowly seems to creep in the direction of Bassington Manor.

In Copenhagen, The Dragonfly Society have put on their first club night, which, juding by the pictures, seems to have been a smashing success. Lord Bassington-Bassington will certainly have to sniff his way towards the capital of the Danes in the near future.

These are mugshots of the coterie behind the Dragonfly Society. And mighty fine people they seem to be.

Friday, 2 January 2009

The design of dreams

A man who has had a considerable influence on Lord Bassington-Bassington’s tastes in recent months goes by the name of Viktor Kvant.

Mr. Kvant is a man of many talents. He is the drummer in the Swedish band Solblot, a band whose musical merits and interesting philosophies will no doubt be discussed in these Chronicles at a later date. In this context, however, it should suffice to say that Solblot is a band generous enough to travel from Malmö to Sweden by bus (eight hours each way) to play – for free – at His Lordship’s stag party, an event that was combined with his betrothed Lady’s hen party. It is hard to put into words how wonderful such people are.

When he is not wearing 1930s style clothes and playing alongside Swedish lads in folk costumes, Mr. Kvant is a graphic designer. If one can call his creations “designs”, that is. Examples of his works can be sampled at his website Dreamhours, as well as his MySpace profile, and they are stunning indeed. Mr. Kvant weaves a world where dreams and reality intersect, all in a sepia-tinted, twilit past that never existed apart from the dreams of people like Mr. Kvant.

One of the most motifs that really endeared Mr. Kvant to our hearts is the motif he created for Lord Bassington-Bassington’s lecture about author H.P. Lovecraft, a personage who will no doubt be eulogised more in these Chronicles as they progress. Asked to create a picture to be used for a poster promoting the event at the Heretical Cellar, the designer created something so wonderful that it has a strong impact on the lecture itself.

And as His Lordship is currently in the process of furnishing his study here at Bassington Manor, and busy trying to buy furniture that match both his tastes and modest budget, he finds himself constantly referring to Mr. Kvants Dreamhours for guidance when trying to match carpets, curtains and tapestr. So in addition to musician and artist, perhaps Mr. Kvant can add “interior designer” to his list of credentials.