An Interlude to the Outermost: Music for October (part 4)

Before proceeding to the two concluding posts of this column, I thought I’d turn off the distortion for a day and present an assortment of haunting little tunes that really serve the season well.

I actually encountered a lot of trouble finding what I was looking for on youtube and had to settle for a few secondary options, but a few dismal video accompaniments aside, I think this turned out rather nicely.

Tenhi – Kielo
This Finnish track is a case in point. The only Tenhi album I’ve heard is their 1998 release, Kauan. Someone sent it to me a good ten years ago, and I’d have all but forgotten them save for this song. Unfortunately the album version, which features a much more morbid arrangement, was not available, but this piano rendition certainly has its merits.

Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat – Sevenfold
I love Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat for so many more reasons than their name alone. One of the few bands I know hailing from Belgium, Kiss the Anus released their first album, If The Sky Falls, We Shall Catch Larks, in 2005. It’s impressively dark. They’ve managed four more releases since, incorporating a variety of styles, but none of them struck me so much as their first. I had hoped to showcase the song Sevenfold, but at least my second favorite on the album was available. Enjoy, and check them out. They just put out a new album earlier this month.
And please excuse the video image. Neither I nor the band had any part in it. >_>

Death in June – Runes and Men
“Apocalyptic folk” has such a nice ring to it, though “neofolk” might be a bit more practical. Douglas Pearce met David Tibet in 1983. Both artists had formed their associated projects, Death in June and Current 93, by then, but it was when their complementary ideas mingled that the style really came into its own. Their mutual fascination in the arcane left a grand mark on music for decades.

Current 93 – Whilst the Night Rejoices Profound and Still
And on that note, here is a sample from the album that really got me into David Tibet’s music, 1998’s Soft Black Stars. This video replaces the last instrumental 30 seconds or so with a minute of silence, but it’s what I could find.

Current 93 – Anti-Christ and Barcodes
Though I may be deemed a bit uncreative for posting two consecutive songs by the same artist, off the same album no less, I think this intensely bleak, desperate number should serve as a fitting end to the first half of my list. From here I’ll be shifting focus a bit. Again, this song ends about 1 minute before the actual video does.

Steve Von Till – The Spider Song
Steve Von Till, better known as a member of Neurosis, has written some absolutely brilliant solo material, but not this song. The credit goes to Townes Van Zandt, a country/folk tragedy who died of a drug overdose in 1997. Where Van Zandt’s song was peculiarly upbeat for its moving lyrics, I think Steve Von Till really captured its true essence. He brings American folk alive in a way that just wouldn’t quite fit in anywhere else.

Of the Wand & the Moon – Raven Chant
This Danish band debuted in 1999 with Nighttime Nightrhymes and, after an impressive eleven releases over the next six years, stopped recording rather abruptly in 2005 and haven’t released anything since. I think Raven Chant, off their first album, is the highlight of their short history.

Matt Uelmen – Tristram
If I measured by play counts alone, this would be my all-time favorite song by a landslide. I never even played Diablo, but whatever spark of genius brought this to Matt Uelmen’s head is equally appreciable out of context. There’s not much I can say about it, but I’ve been known to leave it on repeat for hours and not get bored.

Burzum – Han Som Reiste
I read once that Varg Vikernes intended each of his albums to be a sort of spell, attempting to first invoke a trance-like state and then communicate to the listener subconsciously through music over the remainder of the album. I also read once that Varg Vikernes thinks Hitler is part of an enlightened alien race hiding out beneath Antarctica. But whatever you might say of the guy, Han Som Reiste, appearing in the middle of Det Som Engang Var, certainly left its mark on me, the first time I heard it and every time since.

And lastly:
Summoning – Menegroth
I think this song best captures what I had in mind today, if it breaks thoroughly with the criteria I started from.

Enjoy your Halloween week; I’ve still got two more posts to follow.

Song of the Day: East Hastings (by Godspeed You! Black Emperor)

We’re now halfway through the week-long horror-themed “Song of the Day” feature and the first three days has been all Italian composers. Two of them were known for working in the grindhouse film scene while the other has been more well-renowned for having worked in spaghetti westerns and more mainstream, albeit very artful, film projects. The fourth selection in this fourth day of the series is the epic song “East Hastings” by the Montreal-based eclectic band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

“East Hastings” was chosen because of not just its apocalyptic sound and tone, but also how it was used in an excellent way to highlight the desolation in Danny Boyle’s “zombie-faux” film, 28 Days Later.

The song begins after a brief prologue and shows Cilliam Murphy’s character walk the deserted and silent streets of London after waking up from a coma. His lost and dazed travel through the empty streets and by-ways of England’s capital was quite haunting and the song by GY!BE just added to the tension building up on the screen. If there ever was a song that typified the British viewpoint about how the world ends it would be “East Hastings”.

With the length of the track just under 18 minutes I’ve posted the YouTube postings which have been divided into two.

Anime You Should Be Watching: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

Believe it or not, originally I was brought on to be the anime guy. Granted, I haven’t always been the most active of people, but that’s my natural laziness taking over. But with the season being what it is, and me having drank enough, allow me to enlighten everyone about one of the finer horror anime out there, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

Previously Arleigh had posted up another yandere classic, School Days. The Higurashi visual novel predates said visual novel by three years. The big difference is that while School Days was a fairly well funded project (with many, many bugs in it!) and Higurashi was basically a doujinshi project.

Let me explain doujinshi for a very little bit. A lot of people make the mistake that doujinshi instantly equals porn comics. Now, if you attend Comiket, which is the single largest doujinshi convention in Japan, you could be excused for thinking that it’s all about comics, and more importantly, comics that solely deal in erotic content. However, doujinshi basically just means “self published”. Again, not a literal translation. You want literal? Fine. The literal translation is “same person periodical publication”. Basically this can be taken to mean a project taken on by someone without the financial backing of the mainstream media. This could mean either comics, games, or even anime. Yes, the more common genre are the comics, but there is a fairly decent market for self published games. Higurashi falls under the blanket of the self published games. From a visual standpoint, they were very raw. In fact, there’s a very good reason why it gets criticized for having bun hands.

Compare that to the anime character art, and the difference is quite obvious.

But if you can get past the rough character designs,  (keep in mind that the true meat of the game comes from the story, not the graphics) then you’re in for a very good story with many a twist and turn along the way.

One thing I must say, based on the experiences I’ve had with people is that you should probably watch the anime first. Perhaps I’ve just been subjected to extremely rabid fans, but too many of them have an irrational hatred of the anime. I’ll accept that there is a chance the complaints are valid, because I have not personally played the visual novel (you play them, not read them. Trust me on this) but having seen all of the anime, even if the transition is not perfect, it’s still a fun watch that will keep you guessing right up until the answer arcs are shown.

Each arc starts out in a very light hearted manner, but make no mistake, this is a horror series at its core.  The fact that such cute girls are at the center of it all makes it seem all the more horrific, especially with the actions that are taken throughout the various arcs.  While it’s very difficult for anime to effectively show gore without getting to the ridiculous buckets of blood level, Higurashi manages to be very effective in its depictions of it, and some scenes are actually a bit shocking to see.

The thing is, you have to watch both seasons of the show, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, to get the true ending and find out the reason for all the happenings in the town of Hinamizawa during June of 1983, but it is well worth the time spent, and shows that anime can successfully pull off the horror genre.