Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tethrippon/Self Titled/Ahnstern/2010 CD Review

Tethrippon are a band from Greece that mixes neo-classical with neo-folk and gothic music and this is a review of their self titled album which was released by Ahnstern during the year of 2010.

Drum programming ranges from slow to mid paced beats, while the orchestra parts mix classical and gothic music together, as for the vocals they are all clean singing male and female gothic vocals.

Lyrics are written in a mixture of Greek and English and are about Greek Gods, Goddesses and Paganism, while the production has a very powerful sound and you can hear all of the instruments that are present on this album.

In my opinion Tethrippon are a very good neo-classical/gothic band that should appeal to all fans of this genre. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "A Prayer To The Sun" "A Hymn TO Erotas, God OF Love" "Corruption's Burial" and "We Won". RECOMMENDED BUY.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moon Far Away/Minnesang/Ahnstern/2010 CD Review

  Moon Far Away are a band from Russia that plays an original brand of neo-folk that has elements of post-punk and gothic in their music and this is a review of their 2010 album "Minnesang" which was released by Ahnstern.

Drums are mostly slow beats that have a very tribal and shamanistic feel to them, while the bass playing is mostly slow riffs that have a very powerful sound to them.

Violins have a very dark and romantic sound to them, while the accordions bring in the folk music feel to this music mixed in with a  lot of other folk instruments such as flutes and triangles.

Acoustic guitars are very simplistic and primal with a lot of full chord riffs and some finger  picking, while the vocals are all clean singing male and female vocals that have an angelic feel to them at times.

Lyrics cover medieval topics with songs about knights, witchcraft, folklore, and Russian Pride with a good mixture of both English and Russian lyrics, while the production has a very dark and professional feel to it.

In my opinion Moon Far Away are a very good neo-folk/gothic band that should appeal to all fans of this genre. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "And The Light Shineth In Darkness" Sweet Olga" "Witchcraft by A Singing" and "Holy Mother Russia". RECOMMENDED BUY.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whitehorse/Progression/At A Loss Recordings/2011 CD Review

  Whitehorse are a band from Australia that mixes doom, sludge, drone and death metal together with some black metal influences and this is a review of their 2011 album "Progression" which was released by At A Loss Recordings.

Drums are mostly slow to mid paced drumming with not much in the way of fast playing or blast beats, while the bass playing has a very dark tone with riffs that follow the riffing that is coming out of the guitars and at times they sound very powerful with some heavy and doomy riffs.

Rhythm guitars range from slow to mid paced riffing that combines the heaviest elements of sludge, doom, drone and death metal with a great amount of noisy distortion and there are little to no guitar solos or leads present on this recording.

Vocals are mostly deep death metal growls mixed in with some high pitched black metal/sludge screams, while the lyrics cover dark themes, as for the production it has a very dark and heavy sound to it.

In my opinion Whitehorse are a very good drone/sludge/doom/death metal band and if you are a fan of bands that mix these styles together, you should check out this band. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Mechanical Disintegration" and "Time Worn Regression". RECOMMENDED BUY.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stormfagel Interview

1. Can you update us with what is going on with the band these days?
1. Well, not so much actually. I'm working on the next album and because of the big delay with Eldvakt I've quite many songs ready.
Maybe only on a demo-stage but mixing shouldn't take to long. Hopefully, but not likely, the new album will be released during the winter 2011. At this time I don't even know who will release it but I'm considering doing it myself. I have no clue how to do it but hey, how difficult can it be?

2. How would you describe the musical style of the new album?
. I think it sounds like you expect a Stormfågel album to do. There are no bigger changes and if you've heard the other albums you'll recognize the sound. Maybe some songs are more "pop" then usually though... It's just more fun to do uptempo songs!
I guess Stormfågel falls under the Neofolk/Martial genre but I rather describe my sound as "Dark pop with a folkish touch". :)

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and concepts that you explore with the new album?
3. This album is more diverse then the others. Many of the lyrics are dealing with religion in different ways. I don't really know why I decided to use those lyrics or why the ones I wrote myself also came to deal with religion. It's not that I'm religious myself but I think I have a big wish to actually be religious. To have some kind of faith. To feel that there is a higher purpose in life and that there is someone watching over me. In this modern world we get more and more rootless. We've lost contact with nature, our ancestors and our history. I think we need something to fill those gaps. If it's religion we need I don't know but I do know that we need to find our way back to the old ways. Humans are starting to get really boring now a days....
But anyhow, the common topic is probably as always; the absent of God and the decline of mankind.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band's name?
4. A Stormfågel is actually just a big seagull living up in the cold and windy north.
I choose the name cause I wanted the music to be like that. I wanted SF to fly over the stormy sea of our society, observing the chaos, and then return and tell a story about what it had seen. This worked well on the first album which were more political but now when it's more and more "love" and "God" and other ridiculous emotions I don't know. But I wont change it, I like it!

5. Have you had any opportunities to do any shows, if so what are some of the best shows that the band has done so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
5. We haven't done any shows since 2007. I don't know why actually cause I really want to play live. There have been a couple of shows that have been cancelled and some where they just didn't could afford us. Not that we're expensive at all....
the best show for us so far must have been WGT 2007. A big crowd, a really nice old theatre, Éva in some kind of Transylvanias folkdress... It was awesome!

6. You where on Cold Meat Industries for a while and know you are on Steinklang how would you compare the two record labels?
6. That's really simple, Steinklang answers e-mails!
I like Roger, as a human, a lot and I'm thankful that he believed in Stormfågel and released two albums. But if there is one thing I'm allergic against then it's people that don't answers mails, text messages or phone calls. That's so nonchalant and I can't work with someone like that. For the record company I'm just one of many bands and I understand that. But for me, living and breathing Stormfågel 24/7, it's the only important thing in my life. So I really need that the persons I'm working with, labels or musicians, take it at serious as I am. But there is no hard feelings between CMI and SF. I love the guy and I'm thankful for what he did for me.
Now I'm on Steinklang and they are a couple of really nice guys and I think they did a great job with Eldvakt!

7. How has the new album been received so far by experimental/neo-folk fans worldwide?
7. I have no clue! I've read only a few reviews and they seems positive. I think Steinklang had some problems with sending out promos but they have fixed it now so hopefully there will be more reviews in future.

8. Do you have any side projects besides this band or is this a full time project?
8. Nothing serious. I've tried but everything I do turns out to sound like SF so then there is no point in having a side project...

9. Out off all the albums that you have put out so far, which one are you the most satisfied with?
9. Den nalkande stormen! That album recorded it self and were made in just a couple of weeks. Back then I didn't care so much how it sounded, I just recorded songs after songs and I had so much inside me that needed to get out.
Now I have higher expectations on myself and some of the fun has gone away. In the beginning there were more "punk attitude" to it.

10. How would you describe your musical progress over the years and what direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
10. Now days I know more of what I'm doing. I can go round for days with an idea for a song in my head and then when the weekend comes I can sit down and realize it. I think the three albums all follows the same path or idea. There has been no bigger changes in the sound. Probably it will go on like that for a couple of albums. I'm quite satisfied with how SF has turned out. Maybe there will be even a little more...pop to it. Or pop is the wrong word, I want it to be more danceable!

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
11. If I just check Spotify to see what I have been listening to today we have...Skinny Puppy, Leonard Cohen and Empire Of The Sun.
I have rediscovered a lot of the music I were listening to in my youth such as Nitzer Ebb, Killing Joke and Fields Of The Nephilim. But I'm also listening to a lo of Hip Hop. Early Wu-Tang Clan is more or less Industrial with a heavier beat and rap. The Streets are the best to get in the mode for a soccer game.

12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
12. Well, I read a lot. Al kind of books. I've just finished Les Bienveillantes by Jonathan Littell. 900 pages were a bit too much I must say...
I watch a lot of film also. I prefer European films. You know the kind, three hours black/white and no one says a word. They are more like...moving paintings then film. And then there is of course football! Or soccer for you... If you haven't stand among 30 000 or more and everybody sings/shouts the same simple song over and over again you haven't experienced mass psychosis at it's best!

13. Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
13. Cant think about anything right now... Thanks for a good interview!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stormfagel/Eldvakt/Steinklang/2010 CD Review

  Stormfagel are a band from Sweden that plays a style that I would describe as being Martial Power Pop with a Neo-Folk edge and this is a review of their 2010 album "Eldvakt" which was released by Steinklang.

Drums are mostly slow beats that have a militant feel to them, while the folk instruments bring a medieval feel to the music, as for the synths when they are used they sound very primal.

Acoustic guitars are mostly primal sounding neo-folk riffs, while the vocals are all spoken word passages mixed with a good amount of clean singing male and female vocals that has a pagan feel to it, as for the violins and pianos they bring a very haunting and tragic sound to the music.

Lyrics are written in both Swedish and English and are about the love of nature, the absence of God, and the decline of mankind, while the production has a very strong dark feel to it.

In my opinion Stormfagel are a very talented band that should appeal to fans of both martial industrial, dark ambient and neo-folk. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Der Bergtagna" "The Dying Christian To His Soul" "I Am The Pillar" and "Ghosts". RECOMMENDED BUY.

Forest Of The Soul Interview

1. Can you update us on what is going on with the band these days?

It's definitely more of a project than a band, but after years of virtual inactivity we have just finished recording our 2nd full length release. It is entitled " - r e s t l e s s i n f l i g h t - " and has just been released in CD digipack format under Bindrune Recordings. This CD has been in the process of being recorded for the better part of 6 years (off and on) so we are excited to finally see it surface.

2. How would you describe the musical style of the new album and how it differs from previous releases?

The thing is, the music is really hard to pigeonhole like that. I truly feel that every song is very different, making it next to impossible to classify. But if I had to summarize it, I'd call it acoustic progressive folk rock? I don't know, even that kinda sounds oxymoronic to me. You just have to hear it I suppose. The biggest difference between this CD and previous efforts is song structure. The first two releases were a little loose in that department, whereas the new one focuses much more on the "rock quartet" approach, ie; two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. There were hardly any other instruments on the first two CDs apart from vocals, acoustic and classical guitars.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?

The main theme that seems to thread its way through the record lyrically would be life in general. Its sort of a observation on the twists and turns that everyone encounters on their own respective paths. This was never our intention, but merely the way things turned out. Just like life, nothing ever really goes as you plan it. Stress, love, loneliness, joy, memories, death, regret, devotion, peace, reverence, and introspection are but a few subjects we chose to touch upon lyrically. I try and make it a point to write things in a very ambiguous manner, allowing the listener to take their own liberty in deriving what the song is about. I believe that is the key to getting other people to relate to your music.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?

That's a good question! Gotta knock the dust off of some old memories to pull that answer up. I want to say that Forest of the Soul was originally a CD title I came up with for Moonthrone, a black metal project I used to be involved in. The project dissolved before I ever got to use the name, but I really liked it and it never left my memory. When Aaron I first got together on this project and needed a name, Forest of the Soul was a perfect fit. If there is a meaning at all to the name, it is this. We all have a place deep inside of ourselves we often sojourn to, a place to escape to, a place to think clearly and ultimately better oneself through inner enlightenment. Each and every one of us resides in our own forest of the soul, a perpetual autumn of the human experience and all that dwells within.

5. You guys also have a history in the underground metal scene but play a style that is more rellated to folk with this project, what made you decide to go in this direction and how would you compare this style to the more underground metal that you go for with the other project?

Yes, Aaron and I have both been involved in the more extreme genres of metal for most if not all of our adult lives. Its what we mostly listen to as music lovers, too. But you know as well as I do that very few musicians are limited to playing one certain style of music only. Music IS an art afterall, and therefore employs total freedom. This project is merely a result of both Aaron and I creating and compiling material that simply did not fall into the categories of our more extreme counterparts. While this project addresses more personal and spiritual issues, the heavier stuff relied mostly on aggression and creating a more chaotic, mayhemic atmosphere.

6. What is going on with the other band these days?

Currently, Nechochwen is in the studio recording what will be our second release on Bindrune. No titles or anything yet. I believe this one will be released strictly on vinyl, which we're really excited about. Not sure how long its going to end up either, but I'm pretty sure we are past the half hour mark just with the 5 songs we're currently in the midst of. To be honest, we are still receiving a good deal of acclaim for last years release, "Azimuths to the Otherworld". We are really proud of how that turned out so its going to be hard to top.

7. Currently you are singed to Bindrune Recordings, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support that they have given you so far?

Actually the label kind of found us. Well, Aaron really. He performed solo acoustic/classical guitar under the name Nechochwen at the Heathen Crusade festival in Minnesota a few years back. Marty (Bindrune) was there to attend the show and introduced himself to Aaron. The two hit it off and Nechochwen was singed to the label not long after. After hearing the Forest of the Soul project, Marty decided to release it as well. Bindrune has been a tremendous support thus far. Keeping things on a personal level and being as closely involved with a band as possible is crucial to a healthy relationship between a label and a band. I feel very comfortable talking to Marty, like an old friend. He's got a stellar PR department, as well as an outstanding reputation for putting out quality, ecclectic music that is a welcome change of pace from today's mainstream and underground markets. I hope we stay with Bindrune for a long time.

8. On a worldwide level how has your music been received by music fans?

Thats actually a difficult question to answer, since our music has not transcended the confines of the Ohio Valley until recently. The few reviews we've received thus far have been very good, which I can only hope will be an inclination of things to come. Its very easy music to like and appreciate in my opinion. I think the only people who may not take a shine to it would be those who only listen to extreme music exclusively and could be considered "elitists". You can't please everyone, and we understand that. Bindrune took a big chance by releasing this record and we are extremely thankful to have someone who has enough faith in it to want to support it.

9. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?

Oh I am sure if we write anything for this project in the future it will be approached in the same fashion as everything else Aaron and I do musicially together. We never put labels or expectations on things. Hell, half the time we go into the studio with nothing more that a riff or two. Its kind of like a ouija board, we just turn our brains off and let our hands and voices be the vessels for the sounds. It feels right and natural to work this way. I can't imagine doing otherwise.

10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

As stated before, Aaron and I both were born and raised on thrash and early to mid era death and black metal. But we listen to different styles of music also. To go from Suffocation to Jose Gonzalez is not that far a stretch for us, as well as the old masters of classical and folk. We are influenced by everything and I think that's good. That way we never stagnate or emulate too much.

11. Does Occultism or Paganism play a role in your music and if so, how would you describe your views on this subject?

I dont' like to speak for both of us on this subject, but I will try to do so without generalizing. Neither the occult nor paganism as a belief system play much of a role in either of our lives. We both have jobs and loved ones, and for the most part have to stay rooted pretty firmly in our day-to-day worlds. We both have our own respective spirituality which, like most people I'm sure, is a bit of a mish-mosh derived from our own personal experiences that we can relate to ourselves as individuals. If we have a true religious practice, I'd have to say that its music itself. We make time for it, we are devoted to it, and it serves us as we in turn serve it. It helps us through the tough times and is always there, never judging us. Isn't that what religion is supposed to do?

12. Outisde of music, what are some of your interests?

I myself am an avid tattoo collector, as well as an audio engineer with over a decade of experience in the field. Aaron is an excellent guitar instructor. He also teaches banjo. We both like spending time with our families and being acitve outdoors as much as possible.

13.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

No, I'd say you have thoroughly picked my brain! Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak. Take care.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phase II Interview

1. Can you introduce Phase II to some of my readers that might not be familiar with you?
Phase II started out in 1978 as the acoustic folk duo of Nicholas Tesluk and Mark Andrews. We co-produced a conceptual radio program in September of that year which aired on October 14. We also performed several concerts and at several medieval functions as wandering minstrels.
By 1979 we’d decided that being an acoustic duo wasn’t really fulfilling the musical destiny that existed within our souls. We evolved into a more progressive sound incorporating synthesizers, drums and bass. At that point, we felt that our music was limitless and it would be able to soar to places unknown. Using a bank of synthesizers, Mark was able to compose some sounds that had not been common in the realm of contemporary music at the time. The arrangements of our songs often have a delicate interplay between synthesizers and Nicholas’s 12-string acoustic guitar, which gives each song a rather unique sound. Though we were heard only by a limited group of people in a small city of northern Colorado, the words we received from fervent fans at that time led us to believe that our music had a uniqueness that would be able to take us far if the opportunity ever arose where we could gain national (or international) notoriety.

2. How would you describe the musical style on the new album?
Since the Afterglow album started out as a retrospective of the band Phase II, it is unusual in that it contains songs written, arranged and performed by us in a number of very different configurations over a period of many years. However, in general, what you’re hearing is the same band going through three different stages of its development. With two of those stages, represented by the songs from our 1979 extended play recording (what we have called the “Progressive Phase”) and our modern recordings of both older and newer songs (the “Afterglow Phase”), rather than simply run the songs chronologically, we intentionally interspersed them for what we thought would be the most enjoyable dynamic effect. Though they span different eras, they both generally represent a fusion of classical, folk and rock styles. As our 1978 radio presentation Candle in the Night represents an earlier, very different stage of Phase II (the “Acoustic Phase”), we included it in its entirety at the end of the recording. So to be exact, the musical styles heard on this album run the gamut from acoustic Renaissance music through electronic progressive to psychedelic hard rock.

3. What are some lyrical topics that you explore?
Of course, those classic themes of love (“Goddess of Dreams,” “Just for You,” Sweet Lady Fair,” “That’s Alright,” “Where Has She Gone”) and death (“Glencoe,” “Rest,” “Sandy”) play a large part in our lyrical output, though hopefully we offer a multitude of different variations of those themes from song to song, even intertwining the two themes in several instances. Something that also comes through strongly in many of our songs is a sense of the unstoppable passage of time, and a growing sense of our own mortality (“I Lost the Song,” “It Doesn’t Really Matter,” “Memorabilia,” “Never,” “Revelations”). This latter theme probably represents the greatest in all the arts, the question of why we exist.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name?
Both of us were in previous musical groups; Mark worked with a group in Germany called Blue Grass and Nicholas was part of the neofolk duo, Changes. We were not new to the art or craft of music-making; nor were we content to merely recreate the styles and sounds of our respective past musical entities. In fact, it was our intention to draw on our individual and diverse musical experiences to date (our first phases), then find a way to blend them and hopefully create new musical forms. Thus, Phase II.
As a result of these factors, the decision to call the group Phase II was easy, but we also had to decide whether to use the Arabic numeral “2” or the Roman Numeral “II”. Since the group in it’s first (acoustic) phase often played in the form of a wandering bardic duo, the type of which may have been found throughout history in Britain or other parts of Europe and the world, the timeless Roman Numeral “II” seemed quite fitting.

5. What are some of the best live shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
Mark: Well for me the worst show we ever played was an outdoor venue at a small Colorado college where the sun was much too bright, the (bad) beer flowed much too freely, and the chatter of the party crowd was louder than we were.
Otherwise I have fond memories of all our gigs, from our early days as an acoustic duo to the full-blown electric stage presentations. Needless to say, opening for the infamous rodeo stadium concert with its crowd of thousands and its 25-foot walls of speakers on either side of us was an experience I’ll never forget.
But my personal favorite show was the night we performed from a true theater stage to an intimate audience of our fans and friends who had brought along their friends. That night, our playing seemed perfect. It was rather late at night, the lighting was moody, we were using a new fog effect. It was a magical evening.
Nicholas: Actually, I have fond memories of a very small and intimate performance we did as an acoustic duo at the lodge building of the YMCA in Estes Park, Colorado. It was a small but enthusiastic audience. We were still performing a smattering of cover songs (Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.) in addition to our own material, and it was here that we learned of the hitherto undiscovered fact that we didn’t impart as much emotion to the cover songs as we did to our own material. I don’t believe we ever performed a cover song again after this performance.
The rodeo show of which Mark speaks is memorable to me as the largest show I’ve ever played. A bit frustrating in the fact that it was marred by delays and we, being the opening act, became the brunt of the blame (even though we were the only group of the three that was “Johnny on the spot” and set up on time)...but I’m not bitter. As the sound man told me, “Welcome to the world of opening acts”. Our performance went very well nevertheless and it was great to perform in such a large arena to a very receptive crowd.
The theater stage show mentioned by Mark was, by far, the greatest show I remember as it was for an intimate audience of true fans and friends and the auditorium had great acoustics. We did give an excellent performance, if I say so myself. Not to boast, for with live performances, no matter how prepared a performer is, there are on days and off days, this just happened to be an on day. A memorable point of this show for me was that they had set up a back light that not intentionally projected my image on the left wall of the audience area so I egotistically grooved on the silhouette of myself as I performed, which made the performance a real kick.
All in all though, we were very well prepared for performances and I don’t remember a show of our progressive era (or for that matter, the acoustic era either) that went badly. Part of this was due to the fact that Mark and I seem to have, even to this day, an almost magical synergy between us, and fortunately, our bassist and many incarnations of drummers were able to keep pace with us.

6. Do you have any touring plans for the future?
In terms of Phase II’s style, as evidenced on our Afterglow album, we are very much a studio band. Thanks to the almost limitless possibilities of multi-tracking and digital recording, the two of us are able to perform whatever we feel benefits the emotional needs of each song. If we feel an orchestra is called for, a chorus of singers, or a wall of guitars, we can add them one instrument or one singer at a time. As a result, many of our arrangements would be difficult – if not impossible – to perform faithfully in a live setting.
That being said, the itch to perform live is always with us. There has been some discussion regarding the possibility of limited live venues in the future, possibly with modified, more intimate arrangements of some of our songs. (“Phase II Partially Unplugged”?)
So is Phase II destined never to appear live again? Never say never…

7. How has your new album been received so far by newer and older fans worldwide?
Our new album has been received extremely well so far. People who had heard our 7inch EP may have had a preconception of what Afterglow would sound like, but many were pleasantly surprised when hearing the newly recorded songs of the “Afterglow Phase." Our style there is quite similar to our progressive phase. However, the newer songs have not only the benefit of the advances of technological sophistication, but with us having recorded and mixed the songs ourselves, we were able to create the sound and dynamics that we were not able to get when trying to impart (usually by shouting) our ideas through to the recording engineer who mastered the original 7-inch record. Also in 1979, the conversion from analog tape to a small vinyl record caused the music to suffer a bit in the bass tones, which fortunately were restored when preparing those early progressive songs for inclusion on this album.
Back in the days of LPs (in the 60s and 70s), London Records created a series of fine albums of classical symphonic music on their London “Phase 4” label. Their revolutionary (at that time) idea was to record an orchestra using 20 microphones fanned out from left to right, each feeding to an analog tape track, thereby having the virtual positioning of each section of the orchestra well defined to the listener’s perception, even when mixed down to only two stereo tracks.
Though this technique is now more commonplace, we used this same concept when mixing the songs of the "Afterglow Phase." On many of these songs we had as many as twenty-one tracks of instruments and vocals. In order to create our “wall of sound”, the instruments were assigned specific locations across the left-to-right audio spectrum. The multiple vocal tracks heard in each song are similarly positioned, but in a tighter pattern so they are somewhat more centered.
Taken as a whole, however, the mastering of the album, performed by Axel Frank, congealed the body of the work together very well, where all of the songs, including the radio program, have very similar dynamics. Though each of the two early “phases” have their shortcomings due to the primitive recording media, he was able to get the best sound possible with each to come very close to the sound of the songs of the "Afterglow Phase."
For people who had never heard of Phase II before, the album seems to have struck a chord in its uniqueness. For though we have had several musical influences in our lives, our music isn’t quite like anything else out there.

8. The band broke up for a long time. What made you decide to reform this project and perform music together again?
When we disbanded in 1981, as is so often the case, we assumed that that was the end of our beloved Phase II. The fact remains that many bands formed by young people with lofty hopes and aspirations dissolve into oblivion and are never heard from again.
Fortunately for us the stars aligned properly or the fates came to our aide, or as the home page of our website ( HYPERLINK "" ) says, “It was too important to us to let it all just melt away”.
The resurgence of Phase II came about as a sequence of events. Changes, the group formed by Nicholas and his cousin Robert Taylor, whose early tenure spanned the years from 1969 to 1975, was re-discovered in 1994. The album Fire of Life was their first album, produced by digitizing many of their early recordings. They’ve since recorded new material and have released several more albums, but this was the seed of their next incarnation. When performing at the Neofolk festival, Flammenzauber 4, in Heldrungen, Germany in 2004, a compilation CD was created with the music of the various groups that were participating in the festival. As part of the compilation, there was a request for music of any other projects in which members of each group may have been involved. In preparation for this compilation, Robert sent some music of a group that he had been a part of and also a tape of the Phase II radio program, Candle in the Night (which is included in its entirety on the Afterglow CD). Two songs from the radio program were used on the compilation, which stirred interest in the music of Phase II and brought several inquiries about what else we may have done.
Sales for the relatively rare Phase II, self-titled 7-inch EP (1979) picked up again after many years of dormancy. This also led Axel Frank of the Neofolk group Werkraum and Max Percht of Steinklang/Ahnstern Records to ask if we would be interested in having our works produced as an album.
When first asked, we were, of course quite pleased. And at the time our entire recorded oeuvre was included on the 7-inch record and the radio program. It would surely not have been enough material to make a full-length album. Fortunately, though, there were several of our works that had been included in our live performances but never professionally recorded. These included some works that hadn’t been arranged or even completed at the time of the group's breakup (a few that Nicholas had co-written, but since they'd never made it past the planning stages, he had no recollection). Fortunately, Mark had documented each of these early songs on rehearsal cassettes, and though the tracks were of dismal fidelity, they were a very good indication of what the songs should sound like.
So each of us in our respective home studios went to work recording completely new versions of six of these early progressive songs. The six, in addition to our “new song of the Twenty-First Century” entitled “Just For You,” are part of the "Afterglow Phase" of the album.

9. How would you describe your musical progress over the years, and what direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
Though we've have had a sneak-peek at the direction our next album will take since we already have several new songs in various stages of completion, we can only say that though our style will still be quite evident in the music, the songs will generally be quite different in subject matter and form from what has gone before. The new song on the Afterglow album entitled “Just For You” was a compass pointing in one of the directions our newer music is taking, but it was only a light scratching of the surface with regard to Phase II’s ultimate evolution.

10. What are some bands and musical styles that have influenced your music and what are you listening to nowadays?
Mark: My earliest musical memories were Bernard Herrmann scores for films like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Journey to the Center of the Earth, as well as a set of classical recordings that kept me up at night, including Saint Saens’ Danse Macabre, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and highlights from Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel. Piano lessons were soon to follow, and later I would acquire a French horn for school orchestra.
My interest in rock exploded with the advent of The Beatles and the "British Invasion." I became the proud owner of a rather poor excuse for an acoustic guitar, which would soon evolve into a higher-quality classical model, and eventually acquired an electric or two … or three… or… !!! Subsequent musical interests have included scores of mostly British and European psych, prog and synth artists – a list much too vast to include here, but featuring artists like Amon Duul II, David Bowie, Cream, Focus, Peter Gabriel, Gentle Giant, Goblin, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Magma, The Move, PFM, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, Steppenwolf, Tangerine Dream, Van der Graaf Generator, Velvet Underground, The Who, and XTC (including their marvelous work as The Dukes of Stratosphear), not to mention eclectic folkies like The Byrds, Nick Drake, Donovan, Fairport Convention (and their countless solo artist offshoots), Roy Harper, Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Simon & Garfunkle, Steeleye Span, Strawbs, and The Waterboys. Starting in the 1980s, my tastes also acquired a darker edge, with bands like Bauhaus, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Ministry, My Bloody Valentine, Public Image Limited, The Stranglers, Television, and U2.
I’m delighted to see that psychedelia has remained firmly entrenched in the modern alternative scene. I have also acquired a great fascination for Indian music, in both classical and pop genres. I avidly collect Bernard Herrmann scores, as well as those of Ennio Morricone, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Danny Elfman, and (lately) Rachel Portman. I've amassed a ridiculously immense collection of 20th Century British and Scandinavian classical recordings, and relish the operas of Wagner, Korngold, Verdi and Puccini, as well as the ballets of Prokofiev and Khachaturian. My latest rock obsessions (at least this week) include Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Richard Thompson, Nine Inch Nails, and a number of the newest Strawbs albums. I’ve also been sampling the numerous delights of the Steinklang/Ahnstern catalogue.
Nicholas: My musical evolution began at a very early age when I would play the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah non-stop until my mother threatened to destroy my record player :o). Growing up in the fifties, I saw the early seeds of rock and roll sprouting to life and wallowed in the experience. From Gene Vincent, and Bill Haley and the Comets to “King” Elvis, there was always something I was fanatically listening to. The Everly Brothers were my absolute favorite duo and I still consider their music timeless.
Onward into the sixties, I positively fell in love with and have always been greatly influenced by the sonorous voice of Roy Orbison, who could make the angels sing, and who also ushered in a new type of song. Orbison’s songs weren’t the usual fare of ABACAB and the structure of them lent to the beautiful builds, which would culminate in the glorious, dramatic and climactic (what Mark and I refer to as "R.O.") endings. What was truly great was that he was admired by fans and fellow musicians for his perfect vocals and wonderful songs throughout his unfortunately tragic life, right up to his untimely death at the early age of 52.
Though it may seem anticlimactic after speaking of my great love for Orbison’s music, the Beatles were, of course, just as magnificent but in a completely different realm. Thus, they were the next major influence on me. As with many post-pubescent young men in the sixties, the Beatles were the impetus for my desire to learn to play guitar (there were more guitars sold in that era than ever before). I took a modicum of guitar lessons while in high school, which taught me to read music in reference to the guitar (I had learned to read musical notation when playing the clarinet in my youth), and the chord fingerings. But it wasn’t until I later developed a love for the acoustic guitar, that I began to develop a personal style. My other main influences in this era were The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds.
Later in the decade I was in a movie theater to see some possibly unmemorable movie (as I have always been a movie fanatic), when a preview came on the screen of a new style of western. I was never a fan of “westerns” with the clean-shaven, well dressed, clean-cut cowboys in their white hats. But watching this preview, I was awestruck by a movie with grizzled actors in dusty scenes wearing wide-brimmed hats and dusters. All with rather vague images of who was the hero and who was the villain. The preview was for the film “For a Few Dollars More” and the moment I heard the fantastic, blaring musical strains of the themes of Ennio Morricone was quite possibly the moment that changed my life. Being one of Morricone’s foremost fans, influences of this composer’s fine works have, in varying degrees, most likely shaped the whole spectrum of my musical oeuvre.
Influences from the sixties to the present day are abundant, but highlights would include, Genesis, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Simon & Garfunkel, Steeleye Span, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, and Leo Kottke. I have a special fanship and admiration for The Strawbs. The music and vocals of Dave Cousins literally touch my soul. I always highly recommend their music to anyone who asks for a tip on great music to buy. Artists I listen to now would include Within Temptation, Bad Religion, Linkin Park, BarlowGirl and Metallica.
My classical/romantic musical influences include Beethoven, Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov Tchaikovsky, Borodin et. al. Again, if all of my influences and favorite artists were included, this answer alone would fill a book (if it hasn’t already :o)).

11. Do you have any interest in esoteric or philosophical subjects?
Mark: The academic pursuit of philosophy for its own sake tends to bore me a bit. On the other hand, the word philosophy comes from “love of learning,” and I greatly admire the general pursuit of knowledge – particularly at a time when so many seem to prefer letting emotions overrule their intellect.
I have an intellectual interest in the philosophies of polytheistic cultures, from the Greco-Roman and Nordic traditions in the West to the Hindu faith in Central Asia. In terms of my own thoughts on religious philosophy, I could probably best be described as pantheistic.
Nicholas: I’ve found that philosophers always have a grand view of how all the people of the world should act and react toward each other. It’s easy to espouse a global view of life but not so easy to offer or institute a microcosm of life personally.
As I’ve matured, I’ve found aspects of life that are very important to me and that I like to subscribe to in my day-to-day life. Thus, I have a personal philosophy of life as it pertains to only me. Most important is being an honorable person. In days long gone, a handshake agreement and a man’s word of honor were sacred and nothing could sever a “contract” thus agreed upon. Nowadays there are so many “gray” areas that a man’s “word of honor” is becoming extinct.
Secondly, I like to try to do the best job on anything I undertake especially where my art and music is concerned. I strive to be a perfectionist, but admittedly, sometimes it takes the help of friends to proof text and layout in order to be the best that I can be :o).
The other segment of my personal philosophy is to be the best father, husband and friend a man could be. Hopefully, my two children have found me to be a good dad, and my friends have found me to be a good, loyal and trustworthy friend. I have fallen slightly short on the husband section as I have been married two times (the first time for two years and the second time for twenty-two years), and although I truly tried my best (and don’t really fault myself except for the fact that neither lady found my day-to-day existence very exciting, at least after a while), neither marriage was destined to last forever, so two out of three of this segment of my “meaning of life” isn’t too bad :o).
I guess that on my epitaph (hopefully in the very distant future), I’d like it to read simply, “He was an honest and honorable man”.

12. Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
Mark: I’ve long been torn between a love for making music and a longing to make films (and actually have a graduate degree in filmmaking). Creating music is certainly more attainable as an individual pursuit – particularly in the digital age – than filmmaking, which is a much more collaborative (not to mention expensive) process. Perhaps Phase II might someday have the opportunity to score films. My other active pursuits include travel and photography, both of which appeal to my passions for history and urban architecture.
Nicholas: I have worked in the fine art of oils and pastels in years past and was quite passionate about it. In recent years, due to the lack of free space in my house with no extra room to set up an art studio with four of us living here, I had abandoned my work in the fine arts (I was still working a lot with computer graphics in respect to our albums and publicity which I also find quite fulfilling). Now that the children are grown and the wife is gone (due to divorce, not death), I have plenty of space and my passion for painting (especially in pastels) has resurfaced once more.

13. Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
Mark: It is great to be working with Nicholas again. I was always particularly proud of Phase II’s musical eclecticism. I think it is the natural result of our filtering everything we compose, arrange or perform through the multitude of musical traditions that make up our personal musical memories. That being said, I hope we continue to leave ourselves open to a certain degree of surprise when we make our music. For me, that’s the fun part of creation. I would hope our listeners are never absolutely sure what a Phase II song is going to do next, any more than we know what’s going to happen at the time we’re creating it.
Nicholas: I am really very glad to be working together again with Mark in the resurgence of this project. In some matters of this sort when everyone goes their separate way, the thought is “so what?” or “so be it”. But when this group disbanded in 1981, I felt there was so much left unsaid and uncharted musically that it was quite a shame that that was going to be the final chapter of something in which Mark and I had felt so strongly.

The Joy Of Nature Interview

1. Can you introduce our readers to The Joy Of Nature?
The Joy of Nature is the musical vehicle of LC and his troupe of collaborators, trying to express the beauty and power of nature, of the nature of things. It was born on 1998 as The Joy of Nature and Discipline and the name was reduced to the current one on 2006.

2. How would you describe the musical style that you present on your albums?
It is mostly organic, made with folk instruments, sometimes ambient, sometimes psychedelic, other times avantgarde. It changes from record to record, but keeping a noticeable identity.

3. What are some of the lyrical subjects and topics you write about?
Many subjects and topics. It depends on what is being transmitted. There is no fixation for some specific topic.

4. What is the meaning and the inspiration behind the bands name?
It’s just a name that expresses a way of looking at the world.

5. Have you had any opportunities to do live shows yet, if so what are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
We played this Summer at Lisbon and Oporto. Well, we presented something quite different from what is recorded. We used some improvisation, played a lot of unreleased material. The Joy of Nature live demands some concentration from the public, to have a connection with the crowd. When it happens that way, it is something very special. But if in this year’s shows we played more the avantgarde side of The Joy of Nature, in next performances we can just perform folk songs.

6. How has your music been received so far by neo-folk fans worldwide?
I don’t know quite well. It would be easier to ask them, how they receive it.

7. How would you describe your musical progress over the years and what direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
There’s a musical progress in The Joy of Nature’s music, but not concerning style. An album can be disturbing acoustic ambient and the next one can be an album of normal songs, more or less folkier. And another one may be quite close to avantgarde. Who knows the direction? Just see myself stripping of the music, turning it more pure.

8. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and what are you listening to nowadays?
When we listen to a lot of different things, it’s hard to know exactly what influenced us, but medieval music, traditional folk music, some classical and avantgarde composers, even some indie rock and post punk must have influenced us. Lately I’ve been listening to medieval music, Jandek, The National, Yo la Tengo, Charalambides, Debussy, Stravinsky, etc. Quite an eclectic selection.

9. Does Paganism play any role in your music?
Paganism is a word with a meaning that has been misunderstood. Pagan means something like peasant, so paganism is something like old peasant’s way. It’s a word that does not make sense to me anymore, so I can’t answer the question.

10. Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
Cinema, literature, arts in general, anthropology, philosophy.

11. Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
Thank you for your interest!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Forest Of The Soul/Restless In Flight/Bindrune Recordings/2011 CD Review

 Forest Of The Soul are a band from West Virginia that is a side project of Nechochwen that plays a mixture of neo-folk and country  music with a progressive rock edge and this is a review of their 2011 album "Restless In Flight" which was released by Bindrune Recordings.

Drums are mostly slow to mid paced drumming with no fast playing and at times they sound tribal, while the synths are a very dark sound to the music, as for the bass playing it has a very strong and powerful tone that adds to the darkness of the music, in addition there is a harmonica being used on one song.

Rhythm guitars are all acoustic guitar riffs that combine neo-folk, country music and progressive rock mixed in with some finger picking that gives the music a classical feel while the lead guitars have a bluesy and progressive rock feel to them with some slide guitar playing being thrown in at times.

Vocals are all clean singing vocals with some black metal style whispers being used on the last song, while the lyrics cover dark and everyday themes, as for the production it has a very dark and professional sound to it.

In my opinion Forest Of The Soul are a very good neo-folk/country/progressive rock and if you are looking for a band that mixes these styles in a more dark direction, you should check out  this band. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Restless And Flight" "Green Heroes" "Sweet And Low Down" and "Forest Of The Soul". RECOMMENDED BUY.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trillion Red Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?

Trillion Red officially started in 2009 when I met Max ( the drummer) through Craigslist. We starting playing a lot of the material I have wrote on and off years prior, and it took off from there. As it stands now, we are a studio recording band.

2. How would you describe the musical sound that id present on the ep?

Its dark, heavy, melodic, driving, spacey, errie, and trippy. The sound and approach takes you places emotionally and visually. It combines my favorite styles of rock and metal. I think it is very cohesive though. It isn't 'uncertain' in style or approach. It is uniform and very well crafted. I think when a lot of people listen to it the first go around, they will spend the entire length of the EP trying to compartmentalize what genre it is and never come up with one distinct answer, but after they give it a few more spins, they will just find it instilling something richly complex and hopefully just let go and enjoy.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?

Lyrical topics largely center around social critiques. Lullaby speaks to the US media culture that blinds us, distorts our realities, and keeps us as dormant distracted and confused individuals. Forging Two Tongues is a story of people in positions of power in the modern world. I'll leave the rest for people to decide (at least those that like to read lyrics).

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind te bands name?

Trillion Red is more of a visual existential idea of life, blood, death, love, power, and lust. It is vibrant, nearly infinite, and intangible. Did I forget beer? That too.

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has plyed so far and how would you describe your stage performance?

We don't play live. I do everything but the drums, so we are short a few hands. We are looking for other good lads, but very passively. I would much rather grow the band naturally. Good connections can't be forced, so we just will have to wait and be ready when the right individual fits the bill to bear arms. If we don't find them, well, we will just remain a studio project.

6. Do you have any touring plan for the future?

See answer 5.

7. Are there any other projects besides this band or is this a full time line-up?

I do have another project closely tied to Trillion Red I am working on. It might just be under the same name, depends on how the music fleshes out.

8. On a worldwide level how has your music been received by fans of underground music?

We have had nothing but good responses and positive feedback so far. It has been nice. Seems more interest has taken place in Europe than in the US. Not very surprising though. That may change as the name gets out though.

9. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a labe and if so, what kind of label do you feel that would be a perfect fit for the music?

Yeah, we are looking for a label. I think a label that releases a different amount of experimental and metal genres would be good. I am personally interested in outfits like Supernatual Cat or Southern Lord. Really, just a cool boutique-ish label that puts out killer vinyl packages is what I am looking for.

10. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?

Longer trips. More roller coasters that dive darker, heavier, and rise up to errie melodic noise falling asunder.... I think our 2012 full length will be a much stronger and more concentric continuation of the 'Two Tongues' EP. There will be more of a linear theme throughout, as opposed to a couple of songs that fit together, but are not exactly the same stylistically. We strive to take ourselves to a dark alley, pleasantly expecting the unexpected; and in anticipation, unease and dread, we take a deep breath and step out into the light yet again.

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Influences behind this EP would be bands like Minority of One, Melt Banana, Shiner, The Life and Times, Beherit, Burzum, Triptykon/Celtic Frost, old Samael (although the new album is surprisingly good. Finally!), Calexico, Shostakovich, Tiamat, Grails, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Nihilist/Entomed (old only), Sammy Hagar, wink-wink....

Lately, I am listening to a lot of Ulver, Steve Wilson Insurgentes, Virus, Morbid Angel, Electric Wizard, Ufomammut, Lento, Zu, Katatonia, and Year of No Light

12. Outside of music, what are some of your interests?

Hanging out with my child. Eating food. Reading, running and sleeping. Learning language has always been a pursuit of mine. I speak, read and write fluent Chinese and learn Japanese through my daughter and wife's interactions.

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

Thanks for the interview! Appreciate your time, and the readers that have read to this point!

Buy the CD. It is cheap! - $5.00 at
For MP3's go to your standard distro sites like Amazon or ITunes and other places too.

The full length album will be coming out in early 2012.




Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trillion Red/Two Tongues/2011 EP Review

 Trillion Red are a band from San Francisco that mixes dark ambient with sludge/doom metal as well as a few other genres and this is a review of their self released 2011 e.p "Two Tongues".

Drums range from slow to mid paced drumming with some occasional fast playing and blast beats, while the synths when they are utilized bring a dark ambient feel to the music, as for the bass playing it has a very strong and powerful tone with some heavy riffing.

Rhythm guitars range from slow to mid paced riffing that combines sludge, noise rock, psychedelic, dark ambient and a few other genres together, while the lead guitars are very distorted sounding guitar leads that are melodic at times, as for the acoustic guitars when they are utilized they bring a middle eastern feel to the music.

Vocals are a mixture of clean singing and heavy sludge style growls and screams, while the lyrics cover dark and everyday themes, as for the production it has a very strong, heavy and professional feel to it.

In my opinion Trillion Red are a very good band that is hard to classify and has a style of their own, and if you are looking for something that is very original while still being rooted in Underground metal, you should check out this band. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "No Visible Help (Hold Tight!)" and "Right Over To The Helm". RECOMMENDED BUY.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Svarrogh/Defil Des Ames/Arnica/Ahnstern/2009 CD Compilation Review

This is a compilation album with Bulgaria's Svarrogh, Greece's Defile Des Ames and Portugal's Arnica which was released by Ahnsttern during the year of 2009 and we are going to review the songs one by one.

Defile Des Ames starts of the album with "The Banner Of Vanity" a song that uses  an accordion, acoustic and electric guitar, spoken word parts with a good amount of aggression that are about Greek Mythology and a slight avant garde feel that brings a dark element to the music and this is a good song to start an album with.

Svarrogh brings us "The Wheel Of Dazhbog" a dark sounding neo-folk song that uses a great amount of acoustic guitars with a dark avant garde feel, clean singing vocals with lyrics about Slavic and Bulgarian Paganism, another great song from this band.

Arnica brings us "Lliguea De Besties" and "Marxa Dels Camperols" 2 tribal shamanistic neo-folk songs that are very dark and ritualistic with spoken word passages that are in Portugueese.

Svarrogh brings us "Life water Ktynitsa" a song that utilizes a lot of acoustic guitars and folk instruments along with clean singing vocals mixed in with a little bit of a black metal edge to the more aggressive vocals that keep up with the Pagan concept from this band and this is another good song on this compilation.

Arnica brings us "Dona Que Plora" and "Falc En Alt" 2 other good songs that keep up with ritualistic sounding tribal neo-folk sound.

Svarrogh returns with "Yarilo's Return" another great song from this Pagan Neo-Folk band.

Defile Des Ames brings us "Ordo Ab Chao" which is another dark sounding neo-folk song that contains an avant garde and slight industrial feel to the song with some dark sounding clean singing female choirs.

Arnica closes the album with "Darrer Ale" which has a very  dark, avant garde and ritualistic feel.

In my opinion this is a great split that would be a great addition to any neo-folk collection and Svarrogh has the best music on this split. RECOMMENDED BUY.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sturmpercht/Schattenlieder/Percht/2010 CD Review

  Sturmpercht are a band that are one of the originators of Alpine Folk that has also had one of their previous albums reviewed in this zine and this is a review of their 2010 album "Schattenlieder" which was released by Percht.

Drums are mostly slow beats,while the accordions bring out the feel of the forests, as for the flutes they have a very medieval sounding feel to them.

Acoustic guitars are mostly slow to mid paced folk music guitar riffs, while the lyrics are mostly clean singing vocals with some whispers being used at times along with spoken word passages.

Lyrics are written in German and they are about heathen legends, strange fairies, and pagan rites, as for the production it has a very powerful sound to it that gives all of the musical instruments a good sound.

In my opinion this is another good album from   Sturmpercht and fans of this band as well as Neo_Folk wont be disappointed. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Stechapfeinacht" "Salamanderschnaps" "Der Tranekrug" and "Die Teufelsgeiger". RECOMMENDED BUY.