This is a bit of a ‘concept’ mix. One day I was listening to Triarii’s Heaven & Hell and thought that it would be a great idea for a mix: to start with heavenly music and end up hellish. For the ‘heaven’ section we have a mixture of early music, choral, and mellow dark ambient. For ‘hell’ we have martial industrial, noise, black metal and death ambient.
- Hildegard of Bingen - Ave Generosa
- A Feather on the Breath of God
- Allessandro Striggio - Missa “Ecco sì beato giorno”: Sanctus
- Mass in 40 Parts
- Cristopher Tye - Rachell’s Weepinge
- Kronos Quartet - Early Music
- Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy - Amergin’s Invocation
- Immortal Memory
- Arvo Pärt - Da Pacem Domine
- In Principio
- Raison d’être - In Absence of Light
- In Sadness, Silence and Solitude
- Peter Bjärgö - A Slow Wave
- A Wave of Bitterness
- In Slaughter Natives - Pure… The Suffering
- Purgate My Stain
- Johann Sebastian Bach - Herr, nun laß in Friede
- Ein Choralbuch für Johann Sebastian
- Kreuzweg Ost - Thy Will Be Done
- Gott Mit Uns
- Sophia - Pride
- Triarii - Heaven & Hell
- Pièce Heroique
- Stratvm Terror - In God We Do Not Trust
- This Is My Own Hell
- Sunn O))) - It Took the Night to Believe
- Black One
- Menace Ruine - Sky as a Reversed Abyss
- Cult of Ruins
- Archon Satani - Another Great Moment in Paradise
- The Righteous Way to Completion
Stricta Doctrina is a one-man martial neo-classical project from Quebec. His eponymous first album was released in 2011 by the Argentinian label Twilight Records. I picked up a copy only recently, and was impressed enough by what I heard to write this review.
The album contains martial neo-classical music in a similar vein to artists such as The Protagonist and L’effet c’est moi. The melodies are grand and stately, with just the right edge of melancholy and menace. The sounds are clean, orchestral sounds: Mostly strings, brass and drums, but with a couple of tracks driven more by piano melodies. There are also occasional spoken samples and, in Sur le front, loin de leur patrie, the sounds of war and gunfire.
The tone of the album doesn’t vary much. Sometimes it’s a little faster or a little slower, but mostly it marches along very steadily. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your tastes. Personally, I enjoy that sort of consistency, but I can imagine other people might find it a little monotonous.
The production on the album, which is an important thing to get right for this kind of music, is unfortunately merely ok. The orchestral strings and brass are layered up to make a full, strong sound. On the other hand, the drums remain a little weak. Several of the tracks stop suddenly, without giving any time for the reverb tails to finish, which creates a jarring effect. The few vocal samples that are used don’t blend well with the instruments. They seem to sit in a separate audio world. Ultimately, one is reminded often that one is listening to something produced in a computer. It doesn’t come together as a convincing audio environment in the way that the best work of, for example, Sophia or Triarii does.
Despite that criticism, though, I can’t help but get swept up in the beauty and grandeur of the melodies that Stricta Doctrina creates. I find the album very enjoyable to listen to, and I look forward to hearing more from this artist in the future.
I’m off into slightly different territory with this mix. You could even dance to it. Also, there’s a bit of a Daniel Myer obsession here.
- Lassigue Bendthaus - Circulat (Hertz)
- Clock DVA - Cypher
- Backlash - Unconsciously Astray
- Destroid - Silent World
- Headscan - Hi Motion Model
- Cleen - Did You Forget? (Special ‘99 Blackfloor Edit)
- Covenant - Edge of Dawn
- Haujobb - Platform
- Liquid Divine - Click (Tick Tock Mix)
- Edge of Dawn - Elegance
- mind.in.a.box - Cause and Effect
- Seabound - Scorch the Ground (Rotersand Mix)
A couple of years ago I challenged myself to write five tracks in five days. (I like working with that sort of structure.) The results were: two poor tracks, two acceptable tracks, and one surprisingly good track. The surprisingly good track used a palette of sounds that is unusual for me, so it sat around on my hard disk for a long time without me knowing what I wanted to do with it.
When I met Malwina Chabocka we decided to collaborate, combining her visuals with my music. For our first project, I sent her the track mentioned above and she made a series of sketches in response to it which we then turned into an animation. This was our first attempt at animation, so the process was challenging for both of us, with many things done in laborious ways, simply because we didn’t know any better. Malwina put many hours into painstakingly assembling image after image in Photoshop — most of which we then didn’t use. I spent some time messing around with iMovie before eventually ditching it for Final Cut Pro. And in the end we concluded that we’d do the whole thing very differently if (or, hopefully, when) we do it again. Nonetheless, we were proud of the results.
The track itself takes inspiration from the samples used within it: in particular the processed vocal sample that drones throughout, the darbuka from the G-Town sample set, and the less processed vocal samples that appear halfway through. The first of these was a major discovery for me, since clearly this slowed-down vocal sound is the basis for many of the dark ambient tunes that I love. The track as a whole, and its relationship to my other music, could obviously be compared to Arcana’s Le Serpent Rouge, and this too was undoubtedly an influence.
The structure of the track was influenced by the animation process: the original version was around eight minutes long, but I shortened it to better fit the ideas for the animation.
I have half a plan to release both versions of the track along with a high quality video download and maybe one or two related tracks on Bandcamp at some point. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video.
It’s finally here! Two years in the making, nine tracks of dark, cinematic, martial neo-classical music: The new Hands of Ruin album, Empire and Dust.
Those of you who have been following along on Soundcloud or who have seen the previews on this blog will have heard some of these tracks already, but some of these tracks are being presented publically for the very first time.
I’m making the album available on Bandcamp initially, but I’ve already started the process for getting it onto Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and a number of other places, so expect to see it on those within the next two weeks.
By the way, I promised myself that when this album was released I’d treat myself by buying a copy of Absynth and making some bleepy electronic music for a while. But there are a few interesting tracks that didn’t make it onto this album, so I already have some ideas and material for the next Hands of Ruin release already up my sleeve.
I hope you enjoy the album.
The third and final preview from Empire and Dust before it is released on 28 May:
Sign up to the mailing list for exclusive access to a bonus track that won’t appear on the album.
Another dark ambient mix, beginning with two wonderfully eery tracks by Nagual Art and :Zoviet*France: and eventually ending up in noisier territory with some Dagda Mor.
- Nagual Art - Seemanslied
- :zoviet*france: - Ascend a Fall
- Aghast - Sacrifice
- Raison d’être - The Slow Ascent
- Inanna - Body ov Light
- Last Nights of Paris - 1677
- Kazuyuki K. Null & James Plotkin - Lost (Held Under)
- Hands of Ruin - Resting in a Cold Place
- Dagda Mor - Sturmruf
Here’s another preview from the new album, Incense on the Altar:
The album will be called Empire and Dust and will be released on 28 May. Mailing list subscribers will get free access to an exclusive bonus track.
I have long been interested in writing a soundtrack. Last year I set about looking for a suitable film to write for. I considered some of the silent film classics that I love, such as Nosferatu or Metropolis. I did a bit of research, filled up my Lovefilm queue with silent films, and learnt quite a bit about that era in the process. But when I found Webber and Watson’s 1928 film of The Fall of the House of Usher I knew I’d found the one.
James Sibley Watson Jr and Melville Webber made the film between 1926 and 1928. The style owes something to German expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, particularly in the design of the crazily-angled sets. The film also features many intriguing visual effects, shots through prisms and other distortions, super-imposed images, and so on. The film lacks dialogue or any other intertitles, so the story will be somewhat obscure if you’re unfamiliar with Edgar Allan Poe’s original. However, if you have read the story then you will see that Webber and Watson have been surprisingly faithful to the text.
At only 13 minutes, it’s a manageable length for a first attempt at a soundtrack. Obviously, writing for a film sets up an interesting set of constraints for a musician. The first step was choosing how to divide the film into musical segments, and it seemed to me that there were three distinct sections. Then I had to set up the tempos so that events on screen would fall at useful musical boundaries. I can’t say that I used any sophisticated maths here. Just a mixture of trial and error and serendipity. The choices of some of the sounds, particularly in the second section, were inspired by events on the screen, but I didn’t want to be too literal about creating sound effects for the film. I’ve also been distinctly modern in writing this music. I haven’t made the slightest attempt to emulate the music of the period. Ultimately, the style of the music is simply my own style. The purpose of the exercise was only to write a soundtrack. I thought that would be a sufficient challenge for me at this stage.
There are a number of other soundtracks. Alec Wilder wrote one score when the film was first made, and another in 1959. I don’t suppose the first was ever recorded, but I don’t know about the second. I haven’t been able to find it. The version on Treasures From American Film Archives has an accompaniment by Martin Marks. And while uploading my own version to YouTube I discovered Scott Keever’s score.
I’ve watched the film countless times in the course of writing this soundtrack. The wonderful thing is that this film rewards many viewings. I’m still noticing details and symbolism that would have escaped me if I’d only seen the film once.
The new album, Empire and Dust, will be released on 28 May 2012. I’m excited about this one. I’ve been working on these tracks for two years now. These tracks were all produced with my current music-making setup of Ableton Live plus Ableton’s orchestral instrument samples and Tobias Marberger’s G-Town Church Sampling Project sounds (about which I might write another blog post some day). I’m excited because I think the quality of these tracks is greater than anything I’ve released before.
By the way, my mailing list subscribers will have access to a free bonus track that didn’t make it onto the album, so go ahead and sign up.
Here’s a track from the album, Neither Predator nor Prey: