Saturday, 12 December 2009

Yule tidings and canine Christmas carolers

Technically, Basset Hounds aren't hibernating creatures. But, biology be damned, Lord Bassington-Bassington is prepared to make a good try at it!

As a result of this, it will be difficult to get His Lordship to dictate the Chronicles (let sleeping Hounds lie, and all that), so the Chronicles will be dormant ‘till the New Year.

In the meantime need the assistance of you, dear reader. We here at Bassington Manor are trying to find out which canine Christmas carolers to hire to provide appropriate entertainment here during the Yuletide. Which should we go for? Please help us decide by voting in our canine Christmas caroler poll, to the left.

We'd also be thankful for an explanation as to why you voted the way you did; please use the comment space for this.

Soul Brother Basset

MC Hound

Hound Dog Duo

Merry Yuletide, Christmas, Hanuka or whatever holiday you prefer to celebrate!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

I say "Oo", you say "long"

Because Lord Bassington-Bassington thinks there has been too little Chap-Hop on these Chronicles lately. And because it's a song about tea. And because it's Vinyl Appreciation Week here at Bassington Manor, and this video demonstrated proper scratching technique.

Check out McElemental here.

And now, if you would be so kind as to excuse Lord Bassington-Bassington, he has to go and wave his paws in the air as if he just doesn't care.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

This Immortal Coil play Coil’s Immortal Hits

As those of you (both of you?) who have followed this blog for a while will know, Lord Bassington-Bassington isn’t very good at keeping up with the pace of modern life. There are too many books, films and records coming out for a poor Hound to keep up.

But while snooping around MySpace the other day, Lord Bassington-Bassington came across a little gem of a record. Admittedly, it’s been out for a few months, but after ordering, receiving and listening to it, His Lordship felt the need to share some information about This Immortal Coil.

This Immortal Coil is, simply put, an ensemble creating acoustic interpretations of the songs of legendary electronica band Coil.

The project name This Immortal Coil is an obvious tribute to This Mortal Coil, the “supergroup” put together by label 4AD Records back in the 1980s and consisting of people from bands like Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins. This Mortal Coil released some of the most exquisite records ever produced in Britain, and were especially engaging when they interpreted songs by other bands and artists, such as Tim Buckley’s "Song to the Siren" or Big Star’s "Kangaroo".

This Immortal Coil, which is what we’re really talking about here (pardon the digressions, Bassets are prone to wander) do essentially the same thing with Coil’s back catalogue.

An impressive coterie of musicians such as Bonnie Prince Billy, Yann Tiersen and Matt Elliott participate, and the results are impressive. Sometimes folky, sometimes symphonic, sometimes jazzy. Always great.

While it’s probably a misnomer to refer to any of Coil's songs as ”hits”, This Immortal Coil's record also functions as a sort of ”greatest hits” compilation, collecting many of Lord Bassington-Bassington's favourite Coil songs. But then, His Lordship holds that Coil are at their best when they write songs, instead of just creating electronic structures (which they are, admittedly, terribly good at). As this collection of interpretations reveals, these songs stand their ground well outside Coil’s soundworld. And let’s admit it: That songs function when played by other people is the true test of songwriting.

And because it’s Vinyl Appreciation Week here at Bassington Manor, we had to show you this picture of the vinyl edition of the record. It’s released in a lavish gatefold which contains two Long-Playing records with an added 7 inch single with two extra songs, and a beautiful poster.

The LP’s are on beautiful, transparent vinyl. But it’s also available on CD, for those of you stuck in the digital age.

(Ensemble photo stolen from This Immortal Coil’s webpage, album photo courtesy of Lady Mju Photography).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Extremocidente: Extremely collectible

As the vinyl revolution rolls on, labels that release superbly presented records start to pop up. We here at The Chronicles are proud champions of German label Trumpets of Doom, but we think it's time to look at what else is available out there.

Portugese label Extremocidente produce records so beautiful that Lord Bassington-Bassington ordered us to put together some snapshots of the releases that have found their way to Bassington Manor.

Extremocidente’s records tend to sell out very fast, so most of these are no longer available. But be warned: Once you get caught in their net, you might not be able to escape. These releases are addictive, even if they do have some minor flaws. For example, Extremocidente really need to start using better glue.

Extremocidente's latest release is this cute little slice of yellow vinyl, collecting two ultra-rare early tracks by Death in June that have never been available on vinyl before.

It might be strange to use the word "cute" to describe a release by a band that comes up with lines such as "Earth explodes with the gas of bodies", but what other word could cover it? To make it even cuter, it's designed to look like the little brother of Death in June's first LP release, Lesson 1: Misanthropy (which is not an Extremocidente release, we just had to put them together).

Isn't that just adorable?

Okzidentalisches Grammophon is a live record by Danish industrialists Die Weisse Rose. Pressed on beautiful, transparent, steel-grey vinyl, the record is a fest for the senses, and it's not bad to listen to, either. But then, Die Weisse Rose have always been a band made for live appearances.

The Affordable Holmes is Orchestra Noir's tribute to the Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett. It's a wonderful little record, pressed on beautiful vinyl, brown as an aged whiskey.

It's also available on CD.

Extremocidente have produced some really stunning box sets, but, sadly, only one of them have found its way to us here at Bassington Manor. And that is the re-release of Sol Invictus' The Killing Tide, in a box filled with goodies such as pins and small prints. A real treasure box!

We tried to put the box back on the shelf, but too late. The latest inhabitant to move in here at Bassington Manor, that young rascal Winthrope Montmorency Bassington-Bassington III, immediately claimed the box as his own, and he snarls and snaps at us when we come too close. Help!

(Thanks to Lady Mju photography for all the snapshots).

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Basset cufflinks

Lord Bassington-Bassington is a bit below the weather these days. Thus, there will be less blogging. So in the meantime, here's some quick pictures of His Lordship's favourite cufflinks, pieces of metal which usually help to cheer him up.

Bless you, Sir Paul.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Klammheim: Final press release

Lord Bassington-Bassington is considering changing his name to Lord Busyngton-Busyngton, so he thought he's just post the finished version of his press release for those charming Austrian alpin-folkers, Klammheim.

As a Hound who thinks with his stomach, Lord Bassington-Bassington is especially curoious about what this "culinary surprise" is.

If you’re a Neofolk aficionado familiar with Steinklang’s Pagan Folk compilation, the Austrian club scene or the wide world of the Web, Klammheim should be a name you’ve noticed. And now Klammheim’s debut album is here, released December 15th on Heimatfolk/Steinklang.

Heimwärts is a collection of melancholic, soft-spoken and acoustic folk songs that occasionally reveal Klammheim’s roots in heaver, rockier sounds. And speaking of influences, Klammheim are as indebted to Austropop as Neofolk, as influenced by Wolfgang Ambros as Death in June.

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).

A recurring theme through Heimwärts is a longing for the “Heimat” – the mythical homeland of German romantics. But you don’t need to be a quill-swinging poet to long for the Heimat. It’s enough to think that the snow was whiter, the rain softer, the world more magical, back when you were younger – and to long for the times and places that made you who you are.

One song, “Wandel zur Ruh” is based on the lyrics of Styrian writer Paula Grogger. While “Namenlos” deals with a Viennese cemetery which contains the remains of souls drowned in the river Danube; pregnant suicides or murdered children.

Heimwärts is housed in a lavish digipack with a 16-page booklet created by Benjamin König (Lunar Aurora) from Sperber Illustrations, based around photographs by lead singer Dea.

There will also be an extravagant wooden collector’s box which, apart from the album itself (obviously!) will contain a T-Shirt not available anywhere else, button, three postcards accompanying various songs, as well as a bonus CD including two live videos from Klammheim’s concert in St. Koloman. Last but not least, the box will contain Styrian culinary surprise!

And, as this blog has been championing the true Superfritz style lately, here's another Lederhosen shot:

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Pär Boström: Ambient maestro

From observing events such as the The Bergen International Festival, Lord Bassington-Bassington has picked up the idea that a festival should have a festival composer. So when it was time for the first Little Storping in-the-Swuff Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Lewis Theobald III and Sundry Mythos Writers Cinematographic Festival (and Open Absinthe Bar), it was clear that in addition to food, drinks, snacks and, of course, films, one needed a composer whose name could add glamour to the proceedings.

Luckily, the choice was exceedingly simple. It simply could not be any other than that Swedish creator of masterful dark ambience, Pär Boström.

Mr. Boström is best known under the moniker Kammarheit, under which he has produced a small string of excellent releases. But his last record – on Canadian label Cyclic Law – was under the name Cities Last Broadcast.

(Kammarheit releases, available here.)

However, Lord Bassington-Bassington first became acquainted with Mr. Boström’s music in a somewhat different context. Some years ago, graphic artist and Solblot drummer Mr. Kvant of Scania produced a highly limited, hand-made compilation of Lovecraftian sounds from a small selection of Swedish musicians, accompanied by Mr. Kvant’s graphic renderings of the sunken island of R’Lyeh. The compilation contained tracks from Swedish ambient makers Myling and Marcus Lönebrink, and, of course, Mr. Boström. Lord Bassington-Bassington is lucky enough to own a copy of this compilation, and he has taken to using a track my Mr. Boström from it as an introduction when he gives lectures on H.P. Lovecraft (as he sometimes does). One might even say that opening his lectures with Mr. Boström's track “The Ritual” has become, well, a ritual.

(R'Lyeh, as imagined by Mr. Kvant of Scania.)

Whichever name he chooses to work under, Mr. Boström's involvement seems to be a guarantee of quality. His sound, while comfortably conforming with the conventions of the Dark ambient genre, and thus not too different from, say, a band like Inade, stand out by their sheer craftsmanship. His music creates atmospheric cocoons conductive to soft, dark dreams. Such cocoons are more needed than ever in this increasingly noisy, garishly lit world.