Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Go Celtics!

glisten: eluveitie

Eluveitie - Gray Sublime Archos

Eluveitie - Anagantios

(apologies for the tacky megaupload links; I'm trying to get my server issues fixed; see below in clicky for more details...)

It was Elisabeth who told me that I really shouldn't miss Paganfest (you can read her Time Out New York piece on the tour here) and after a few listens to the myspace tracks, I understood her enthusiasm.

By far the most exciting band I saw that night was Eluveitie; a nine man ensemble featuring the traditional metal staples of drum kit, multiple guitars, bass and a cookie monster vocalist along with the less predictable inclusion of a viola, a bagpipe, two flutes, what I took to be a lute and an honest-to-god hurdy gurdier who alternated playing the instrument with helicopter headbanging.

These shakycam movies from the show I attended don't really do the evening justice, but they should give you a sense of the exuberant spirit of the performance. Watching eight hundred hyperactive kids throw up the horns and crowd surf to pennywhistle is the sort of thing that sticks in your memory; it was certainly among the best shows I've seen this year.

Recently signed to Nuclear Blast Records in the States, Eluveitie (pronounce el-WAY-tea, it means "I am The Helvetian" in Etruscan) are a Swiss band that combine ancient Celtic folk music with the trappings of death metal. This is less convoluted than you might think; Switzerland, founded in the fifth century BC by the Celtic Helvetians has long been a matrix for nationalistic heavy metal bands such as Celtic Frost, Samael and Krokus. Perhaps all that emphasis on peace has led aggressions to come out in music... or maybe it's something in the soil?

The tenor of Eluveitie's work is strikingly non-nihilistic and positive; they describe themselves as "a neutral band on topics such as politics and religion". The band has gotten minimal buzz on the aboveground blogworld (even Toni Basil has a bigger footprint on hype machine), which leads me to wonder if I'm missing out on some solid, not-for-profit, single user driven Metal musicblogs. Lord knows that Elisabeth, Steve Smith and Ian Christe are among the very few regularly publishing journos who take the genre seriously; I'm not sure if this is solely an American way of viewing metal or if it's a real academic lack. Let me know in the comments if you know of some places I ought to be checking out and I'll post them here in a future Hut.

The two tracks I'm offering today are representative of the band's ostensibly wildly divergent paths; 'Anagantios' is a sublime string instrumental that reminds me of James Bryan and Carl Jones' 'Last Look at Lonesome Rock', while 'Gray Sublime Archon' has more of the aforementioned thrashing-to-recorder, "peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate" blend of traditional melody and blast beats. Both are engaging, robust and (I think) of interest even to people who would generally eschew anything metal sight unseen.

Give these a listen; you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

tell me more

Eluveitie's albums are for sale on eMusic, iTunes and Amazon and readily available via the usual suspects for try-before-you-buy exploration. Suffice it to say that you should absolutely try to catch them live for the full effect when and if they make it out to your town.
Youtube offers a considerable host of Eluveitie videos; official, live, bootleg, fan built or otherwise.

A few of the better live tapes include this 2007 take on 'Slanias Song', this surreal impovisational bagpipe and bass duet and this nicely captured performance of 'Tegernako'.

I also strongly recommend taking a gander at the video to Eluveitie's current single 'Inis Mona'; it captures the band at its best and most moving.
Need more than the Eluveitie homepage has to offer? The MySpace and Facebook not doing it for you? Check them out on LastFM (with a fully downloadable mp3 of 'Your Gaulish War') or talk it out on the Eluveitie forums.
Read interviews with Eluveitie frontman Christian "Chrigel" Glanzmann and (apparently newly ex-) bassist Rafi Kirder.
Folk metal is a fascinating new offshoot of the "global" tree; despite being less than likely to show up at any of the boutique festivals, what else would you call the neat blend of new expressions with traditional European and Middle Eastern folk music?

Newcomers to the scene interested in exploring a few of the more innovative and keystone bands of the genre should check out Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Skyclad, Orphaned Land and Bathory. If you'd like to get a brief primer to the many other players on the scene, you could do worse than giving a click thru The Metal Observer's archives.

spiffy and such

Apologies for tossing up that longwinded buildup at end of May and then disappearing for a month or so; as Dorothy Parker said, "I hate writing but I love having written". Trying to find the discipline to get back on a regular bump-n-grind with this monster is proving difficult, though they tell me the worthwhile things usually are.

Not-so-incidentally, I'm looking for a new server to host music files on, as my old service seems to be functionally kaput. Don't suppose anyone could recommend (or, better yet, offer up) a space for me to put my uploadables and delicates on? You would receive much dap.

Drop me an email line or a comment if you're into it.
One of the many, many things that have kept me distracted from my nightly rounds has been the tremendous Spore-sorta-beta. For those of you uninterested or uninitiated in the dark ways of the gamer, Spore should still be worth a gander.

The free-to-download demo for Creature Creator isn't really a game; it's a sort of hi-tech Mister Potato Head that allows you to mix and match parts and skin and arms and eyes on a lump of exceedingly malleable electronic clay to create unique and often ungainly life forms that chirp and shamble about for your pleasure. Ultimately, when Spore is released in its final form, you'll be able to import your creations into a gamespace where they can evolve and fight for territory, but for the moment you can assemble a menagerie, see them prance across your desktop and share them online with other Sporexplorers.

In the past three weeks since the creature creator, over 1.6 MILLION of these guys have been posted onto EA's website; likely the greatest flash flood of user-driven content in internet history. Stop by and say hi to a few of my friends when you have a moment.
Just so you know it's not all video games and pie around The Tofu Hut; I was also recruited as one of the judges for this year's New York MTA Music Under New York audition; if anybody would be interested in hearing more about it, I could do some blogging about the artists and the selection process...?

Leave me a message in the comments and I'll have a go if there's more than three of you raising a hand.
Ye olde Giant MusicBlog List is terribly out of tune and in desperate need of pruning and revision, but I'm not quite sure I'm the right guy to keep up with the movement anymore. The fact of the matter is that I don't much frequent the blog circuit these days: my work at a music venue brings new music to me daily; I keep up with the Billboard charts via Youtube; my girlfriend/friends/family/co-workers regularly pass along things of interest and I have a backlog of some two to three hundred gigs of backlogged hard drive space and a four-foot stack of cd's to wallow through. Somehow I've become a crotchety grandpa on the web in only four years flat.

This isn't to suggest that there aren't amazing blogs and great work going on out there (and feel free to let me know if you think you're one of the folks doing something spectacular); it's just that I've plenty on my plate already and am getting more and more attuned to the fact that I don't really have forever to sample it all.

That said, even if you're like me and jaded as hell, you should still make time in your busy schedule for Excavated Shellac. Always eclectic, always obscure, never disappointing. Special stuff here; you'll kick yourself if you miss out.
Debra Jackson in my comments! As I live and breathe. Drop me an email, missus; I'd like to catch up.

Oh, and thanks for all the other friendly words of encouragement and positivity you folks jotted down to me; they're greatly appreciated
Getting excited over megatrippy-Bolly weirdness is very mid-2007; but if you've not seen it already, you've got to make an exception for the candy-coated whoa of Radha and Chiranjeevi's 'Idhi Oka Idi Le'.
Turner Classic Movies Has a Blog.
"Honey, I'm a little high..."(NSFW)
Imagine my joy at discovering that not only is my downstairs neighbor a blogger, she's a food blogger (over at Thursday Night Smackdown) and a hella good cook at that.

If you'd like to imagine what my life is like (and who wouldn't?), investigate Michelle's blog and then imagine the aroma of said cuisine wafting upwards. And if that doesn't turn you on, eat me.
Golden Age Comics is a massive repository of classic pulp fiction from the turn of the century to the fifties, all in public domain (in Britain at least) and all fully downloadable.

You'll have to jump through some registration hoops and get a (free) copy of CDisplay if you're on a PC or Comical if you're on a Mac to read them, but those concerns pale when you consider the impossibly rare treat of curling up with an almost full run of Whiz Comics!

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