Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Oskar Sørensen, R.I.P.

It is with a heavy heart that I, Lord Bassington-Bassington’s secretary, bring the news of the passing of one of Norway’s most excellent Hounds.

Oskar Sørensen passed away today, after a short but incapacitating illness, and both Lord Bassington-Bassington and his Lady Mju are deeply affected by the thought that Mr. Sørensen is no longer with his loved ones.

Sadly, Lord Bassington-Bassington only had the opportunity to meet Oskar Sørensen once. But His Lordship was most impressed by the gentle temper, keen intelligence and melodic voice of this most wonderful of Basset Hounds.

In addition to all his talents, Mr. Sørensen was generous enough to open his home and heart to a family of humans, one of whom is one of Norway’s most interesting historians, Øystein Sørensen. The prolific historian was quite influenced by Oskar’s erudite insights, and in a country where most people tend to ignore the contributions of their canine companions, Oskar Sørensen was properly credited in several scholarly tomes. One of these is a volume that has had a profound effect on Lord Bassington-Bassington’s views on Norwegian nationalism. In this, Oskar Sørensen appears in the index, with a reference for page 431 (which happens to be the page the reference itself is on).

Oskar Sørensen: Rest in peace, you most gentle of Bassets.

Lord Bassington Bassington doesn’t really believe in a heaven, at least not for humans. But he is sure that the doors of Dog Heaven are wide open tonight, in eager anticipation of one of its most distinguished guests.

(Lord Bassington-Bassington's secretary being taken for a walk by Mr. Sørensen).

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Of the Wand and the Moon at the Heretical Cellar

Danish band Of the Wand and the Moon has long been a sort of house orchestra here at Bassington Manor.

OTWATM is a neofolk band that wears its influences (Death in June in particular) on its sleeve, but front man Kim Larsen has far surpassed his inspirations in both musical ability and songwriting. Lord Bassington-Bassington particularily enjoys the way Mr. Larsen’s melancholy melodies are tinged with psychedelia, as well as the inspiration from Nordic culture and nature.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that The Chronicles can announce a live performance by Kim Larsen at The Heretical Cellar in Oslo this coming Thursday. Mr. Larsen will play a solo acoustic performance, and the Heretical Cellar crew (which includes His Lordship) are eagerly awaiting this.

(Mr. Larsen at Bornholm. Picture shamelessly stolen from Mr. Hildesvin, whom His Lordship owes a glass of port).

But first, the Cellar’s guests and crew will be entertained by illustrious academics Nanna Løkka and John McNichol, who will be giving talks on subjects ranging from Runic magic to Turkish Viking films. A rare combination of enlightenment and enjoyment is to be expected.

Lady Mju, His Lordship’s better three-quarters, will soon cover the Norwegian parts of the news at her blog. This night will also see her proper debut as a Disc Jane, something Lord Bassington-Bassington is looking forward to, as Her Ladyship's whiskers are very sensitive to fine music.

Mr. Larsen will also be bringing a selection of his phonographic releases, which might be yours for a reasonable sum. The Chronicles suggest you invest in some of these.

Be there, or be, if not quite square, at least slightly rectangular.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Norway returns to pillage-based economy

It's not often that Norway makes big news internationally, but luckily the American quality newspaper The Onion has coverage of Norway's attempts to handle the financial crisis.

Lord Bassington-Bassington is trying to remember where he put his horned helmet.

(His Lordship would like to thank His Mullah for making him aware of this heartening news story).

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Chronicles: Now with naked bitches!

Lord Bassington-Bassington has been informed that a sure way of increasing the traffic on a page on the World Wide Web is to publish pictures of attractive and scantily clad ladies.

So here is a picture of the charming Miss Brenda, a Polish lady of great distinction.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

”I don’t care, I’ve got flowers in my hair”

San Fransiscan chanteuse Sarah June creates ghostly, folky sounds that makes Lord Bassington-Bassington long for slow summer evenings.

More of her songs are available at her MySpace page, and of course on her debut album, which at the moment is making its way towards His Lordship's mailbox.

You can also listen to some songs here, where Ms. June also shows off her great sense of humour (even if the jokes demand a certain knowledge of American hardcore punk.)

”All my songs are like one minute and forty-five seconds, you know. Kind of like Operation Ivy, except…”

His Lordship simply couldn’t stop laughing.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Beau Brummel – the first dandy

Lord Bassington-Bassington was just informed by his Mullah that fashion blogs are the way to go these days. Writing about fashion brings both hits and advertising money, he claims. This sounds swell, of course, if it weren’t for one small problem: Lord Bassington-Bassington has very little interest in fashion. Though he’ll readily admit to having a certain interest in style, but that is a very different thing from fashion.

So perhaps a post about dandyism might be some sort of compromise.

Lord Bassington-Bassington has never considered himself a dandy, and is quite happy with that. To claim to be a dandy, for him, is as constrictive as claiming to be a Goth or a member of some other subculture. Suddenly you’re trapped in an image, a set of rules, an ideology, when all you wanted was to have fun and look sharp.

But just as not being a Goth doesn’t stop His Lordship appreciating Gothic music or ladies in corsets, he can get a lot of enjoyment from the study of dandyism, its history and philosophy.

So where better to go than where it all started – with Beau Brummel, widely considered to be the first dandy (and inventor of modern men’s style).

In 2006, BBC Four commissioned a TV film based on the pivotal period of Beau Brummel’s life, Beau Brummell: This Charming Man. An excerpt can be seen below, and hopefully this short taste will make anyone interested in dandyism try to get hold of the full film.

(The radical gentleman who appears towards the end of the scene is none other than Lord Byron).

Many common perceptions of Brummel seem to be based on misunderstandings and myths. In the short film below, George S. Stuart sets the record straight on these issues, and gives a potted history of Brummel’s life.

Friday, 6 February 2009

From yesterday to tomorrow

Lord Bassington-Bassington has spent considerable time over the last few months with his snout buried in books containing what might be seen as the wellsprings of Western civilization. Plato, the Eddas, the Bible, all have been studied with interest. Why? Heaven knows. Any attempt to put his thoughts into words beyond vague babblings about "ancestry", "heritage" and "culture" have so far failed.

Luckily, other people think so that His Lordship doesn’t have to. And he has come across two passages that sum up his feelings.

The first is the opening of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic:

Mastered by desire impulsive,
By a mighty inward urging,
I am ready now for singing,
Ready to begin the chanting
Of our nation's ancient folk-song
Handed down from by-gone ages.
In my mouth the words are melting,
From my lips the tones are gliding,
From my tongue they wish to hasten;
When my willing teeth are parted,
When my ready mouth is opened,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom
Hasten from me not unwilling.

(translated by John Martin Crawford, 1888)

The other is the second verse of the song “A Ship is Burning”, by pioneering neofolk outfit Sol Invictus:

On ancient stones
On misty moors
I carve the names
Of those who came before
Washed in moonlight
The shadows move
Hear the voices
Calling out to you

From yesterday
To tomorrow
From yesterday
To tomorrow
From yesterday
To tomorrow
From yesterday
To tomorrow

The complete song can be heard here:

And here’s a nice and punky live recording of the song “Against the Modern World”, which remains one of His Lordship’s favourite Sol Invictus songs.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Shoes to die (and possibly even kill) for

It might very well be true that happiness cannot be bought. But something quite close to true happiness can be bought in small specialist shoe shops in major cities in England. Namely, shoes and accessories from superb shoemakers Mark Jeffery and Guy West.

While traditional English style is rightfully famous throughout the world, like all traditions this style needs to be reinterpreted to become meaningful for new generations. In the world of clothes, this is what designers like Sir Paul Smith do so wonderfully.

In the world of footwear, the brand established by Mister Jeffery and Mister West does the same thing. Traditional English shoes and boots are given a sharper, more glamorous edge, while still being recognizably English.

As a nice touch, the various shoe lasts are named after illustrious Englishmen such as musician David Sylvian, Victorian anti-hero Harry Flashman, drummer Keith Moon and Sir Francis Dashwod (of The Hellfire Club fame). Gentlemen which these Chronicles will return to at a later date.

Apart from the fact that Jeffery-West’s products carries a price tag a bit above what should be favored by a penniless gentleman such as Lord Bassington-Bassington, His Lordship has really only found one serious problem with their footwear: That he finds it hard to buy shoes from any other manufacturer.

Surely, this must be the ultimate compliment from any customer.

A stirring in the Alps

With their debut album Abendlaüten, the young Austrian neo-folk outfit Jännerwein takes the stage. In folk costumes.

His Lordship is very taken with this record. While it’s obvious to any listener that we are talking about a young band at the start of its career, what the Jännerwein lads lack in technical finesse and polished production they make back in charm, enthusiasm, and sheer style (surely one shouldn’t play neo-folk without a well-knit tie?)

The Jännerwein lads take certain elements from more folkloristic alpine-folk outfits such as Sturmpercht and Jägerblut, but overall they come across as more of a traditional pop band. This has the added bonus of making sure that several of their songs are highly hummable. And as the visual aspects of Jännerwein contains more than a touch of ”boy band”, His Lordship feels certain that these young lads are bound for future success.

From the touches of folk costume in their stage dress to their charming Allemanic dialect, Jännerwein seem, like so many other neofolk bands, deeply interested their native culture and the history of their country. But while love for one’s home and mother tongue is something that Lord Bassington-Bassington finds very natural, it’s something that easily causes knee-jerk reaction among the uninformed.

So almost as if to clear up any silly misunderstandings before they arise, Jännerwein have included the poignant song “Burian”, dedicated to Karl Burian, a monarchist resistance fighter against the Nazi government that ruled over Austria after the Anschluss.

While this might be the first time you hear about Jännerwein, His Lordship feels confident that if you have the least interest in neo-folk, this is not the last time you hear about them. This is surely a band with a bright future ahead of it. By Jove, they even sound good in live recordings, which is really rare in their chose genre.