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.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Lovecraftian cinematographic festival

Lord Bassington-Bassington is proud to present a recap of this weekend’s film festival here at Bassington Manor, dedicated to the master of weird fiction, H.P. Lovecraft.

A Lovecraftian film festival is not a new concept, the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon has been running for a few years now. But we dare say that this Saturday’s event here at the Manor represents a first in Norwegian history.

The festival, which, it is hoped, will become a more or less regular event, is named the Little Storping in-the-Swuff Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Lewis Theobald III and Sundry Mythos Writers Cinematographic Festival (and Open Absinthe Bar). But, to be quite honest, we here at Bassington Manor simply refer to it as The Festival. This is not only a very Lovecraftian title, as “The Festival” was one of Lovecraft’s most interesting short stories, but also especially appropriate, since Yule (or Christmas, to those of you who are followers of Christ) is approaching and “The Festival” was Lovecraft’s Christmas story. Even if it was a rather unusual Christmas story.

The powers-that-be had provided a fog that swept Little Storping in-the-Swuff in a thick veil of grey, which set the mood perfectly. Participant prepared for the program of Lovecraftian cinema by reinforcing themselves with helpings of American Chop Suey, a New England dish from a recipe kindly provided by Rhode Island-based folk singer Allysen Callery, who had the recipe from her grandmother. A grandmother whose family had come over to New England on the Mayflower. Which surely makes her a full-blooded New Englander!

Suitably slime-green drinks were provided by fraulein Frost and her absinthe tower, purchased at the H.R. Giger museum in Switzerland. Which of course makes for another exciting Lovecraft reference, as Mr. Giger has been heavily influenced by the Gentleman of Providence.

The evening opened with a Shorts Program of short films and trailers, all retrieved from the world wide Interweb.

An animated adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Terrible Old Man” kicked off the evening’s cinematic program. Followed by the trailer for upcoming Swedish Lovecraftian chiller Fyren (Keeper of the Light), which seems very promising.

The film Lord Bassington-Bassington is probably the most excited about seeing is the upcoming adaptation of “The Whisperer in Darkness”, by the same people who made the excellent silent version of “the Call of Cthulhu” a few years ago. They have since taken the daring step into talkies, and seem to be handling this newfangled technology quite well.

The theologically enlightening The Adventures of Lil’ Cthulhu has already become a Lovecraftian classic. As has the first episiode of Calls For Cthulhu.

While the film about Chuck & Dexter's Super Fun Kick Ass Cult, the comedy SpookySpookyScaryScary, will probably be a hit at next year’s festival.

The main feature was Cthulhu. It'a film that is easy to have severe prejudices against, as one would have against any film with Tori Spelling on the roster, but Cthulhu is actually surprisingly decent and does a good job at capturing a Lovecraftian atmosphere.

A small interlude was provided by a claymation adapatation of “From Beyond”, before the night concluded with a showing of the Stuart Gordon-directed TV adaptation of “Dreams in the Witch-House”.

While Swede Mr. Pär Boström was named the official festival composer – more about this eminent gentleman tomorrow.

The program committee here at Bassington Manor would like to thank those that helped and participated, and like to express our hope that such cinematographic gatherings can become a regularly recurring event, and that we will be able to open our doors for another Little Storping in-the-Swuff Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Lewis Theobald III and Sundry Mythos Writers Cinematographic Festival (and Open Absinthe Bar) early next year.

The program committee hard at work selecting the evening’s cinematographic entertainment.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Neofolk lookbook: Don Bota

Lord Bassington-Bassington continues to shamelessly solicit hits for his Chronicles by trying his paw at fashion blogging. So far he has tried to copy the influental fashion blog The Sartorialist, by looking at ear trends and what people are wearing when visiting a certain Heretical Cellar.

But his somewhat pathetic attempts at fashion blogging need to be taken to "the next level", or however fashion bloggers put it. So when he came over these pictures, he knew he had to compile them into a Neofolk lookbook, modeled by Latin lover and Neofolk gangster Don Bota of Gävle.

Don Bota has recently become a lord, but we here at the Chronicles suspect that Lord Alexander Bota of Jura's title might be even more tenuous than that of Lord Bassington-Bassington himself.

But anyway, on with the fashion story.

Many Neofolk enthusiasts are fond of uniforms, both because of an interest in history and fetishism, and an appreciation for the transgressive nature of some of them, as shown by swastika-wearing punks. But Don Bota takes it a bit farther than most, frequenting clubs where people are obliged to wear historical uniforms to be let in. Here he's modeling some particularly stylish riding boots, which reminds Lord Bassington-Bassington that the season for his own high boots is about to set in.

While uniforms are often stylish, Lord Bassington-Bassington is a snuggler, not a fighter, and tends to be more appreciative of civilian styles. This photograph, taken outside of Kafé Spegeln, one of Gävle's better establishments, shows Don Bota to be a master of the classic dandy pose.

But of course, the ultimate Neofolk style accessory is to be flanked by members of a certain National romantic boy band.

And as a bonus picture, here we see that Don Bota was an early starter when it came to having a style of his own. We here at the Chronicles suspect that one of our regular readers, the indomitable Superfritz, might approve of this particular look.

(Of course, this little lookbook is about style, not fashion. And as he has stated before, Lord Bassington-Bassington holds that style and fashion are not only different things, they are polar opposites. Somewhat harshly expressed, he holds that while style is an expression of one’s identity and values, and therefore tends to be static, fashion is an attempt to compensate for a lack of identity and values by constantly trying to reinvent oneself).

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Albion, how fine your trees...

It's supposedly a common phenomenon with Neofolk fans: To start out by having problems with Ian Read's voice, but end up loving it.

Listening to Mr. Read's vocals on some early Death in June and Sol Invictus songs (Mr. Read has been a member of both projects), Lord Bassington-Bassington had reservations about Mr. Read's voice. And when the old Hound tried to listen to Mr. Read's own project, Fire + Ice, the problems were amplified. Perhaps it was the unschooled character of Mr. Read's voice? the then-young Hound thought. Later, he has come to realize that it has more to do the influence of traditional English folk singers on Mr. Read’s singing style.

However, after letting Mr. Read's voice crawl under his hide, Lord Bassington-Bassington's opinion of his vocal abilities changed radically. Meeting the most gregarious Mr. Read in person might have had some influence, but even if Mr. Read is both a very interesting modern mystic, humourist and all-round great fellow, that probably has very little to do with how Lord Bassington-Bassington thinks of his voice. His Lordship can think of several people he would probably want to bite if he ever met them, but whose voices he still appreciates, so a singer’s personality doesn't really count either way.

These days, Fire + Ice is amongst Lord Bassington-Bassington's favourite Neofolk acts. So when His Lordship stumbled upon these videos from Mr. Read's performance in Halle last year, he felt the need to share them with The Chronicles’ readers.

In these live videos, Mr. Read is supported by Barditus, the main project of Uwe Nolte, best known as one half of Orplid (more about them in some later post). Barditus' more aggressive approach to music really shows in these recordings, and give the Fire & Ice songs an extra punch that works great on the stage.

This is especially true for "Gilded by the Sun". This Spenglerian lament is one of the finest Neofolk songs ever written, but was a bit overproduced (hey, the '80s were barely over) when it appeared on the album of the same name. So the more stripped-down, rawer, live version really becomes it.

Albion, how fine your trees stand gilded by the sun
Across the land and in your fields the tree-lined waters run
But in your heart what light is there, what grows and comes to flower?
Does mind grow cold, do weakened hands let slip their ancient power?

And here's "Dragons in the Sunset" from the same concert.

This post is also a way to remind people that excellent label Trumpets of Doom still has copies of its excellent and luxurious re-release of the Fire + Ice album Birdking.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Elegant machinery, elegant neckwear

While this blog will continue to focus on Lord Bassington-Bassington's favourite musical genres, such as Neofolk and Dark Ambient, a bit of Synthpop is always good for lifting the spirit. Especially when the synthetic pop is done with such style and flair as Sweden's Elegant Machinery.

Not only do Elegant Machinery make first-rate pop music, they also occasionally come up with something that's interesting to look at. The lads have tried their hand at halfway ludicrous fetish fashions in the past, but their latest video shows them donning timelessly stylish outfits.


As a canine given to reflections about religion and morality, Lord Bassington-Bassington is pleased that Elegant Machinery take the time to teach today's youth some important moral lessons. The lesson, in this case, being this: If you get in trouble, be sure to wear interesting neckwear, for then young ladies will help you. People without interesting neckwear, however, get locked into toilets.

"Words of wisdom", to quote one of Elegant Machinery's song titles.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Gods behaving badly: Candid Cthulhu Camera, part II

It's happened again.

Lord Bassington-Bassington thought it was safe to bring Great Cthulhu along to Trondheim for a conference and lecture on Lovecraft the following evening. He knew that is ended in disaster and debauchery last time he let Cthulhu out of the house, but he figured the Old One wasn't too old to learn from his mistakes (and the grounding that followed).

This evidence, captured by Candid Cthulhu Camera, shows all the sordid details from this visit. We apologise for the dubious quality of some of the shots, but it's hard to think about focus and lighting when an ancient God of evil goes on the rampage.

Here we see Cthulhu eating fatty foods...

...drinking Polish vodka...

...and we'd prefer to not even comment on what we think is going on in this picture.

Luckily, Trondheim's comics maestro Mads Eriksen was able to calm Cthulhu down by reading him a suitably Lovecraftian goodnight story. Thank you, Mr. Eriksen! You saved the day yet again!

Great Cthulhu should now consider himself grounded – for good.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Clean living under difficult circumstances

While the richest countries of the world increasingly worships "casual" style and pre-torn jeans, the spirit of style appears in some strange places.

As a Caninist, Lord Bassington-Bassington has mixed feelings about the new breed of Christian missionaries coming from the Global South to re-Christianize the West. But sartorial missionaries from the Congo would be welcomed with open arms.

After looking at renowned documentary photographer Héctor Mediavillas online exhibition of pictures of Congolese dandies, the so-called sapeurs, His Lordship simply had to share these pictures with his readers.

Not only are Mr. Mediavillas' pictures superb, his subjects are stunning. These African dandies maintain the best parts of European style, but, like many Africans, they excel in the use of colours that don't really look good on paler skins. Not only is the result a feast for anyone interested in style, the pictures also say something about a struggle for beauty and a faith in civilization that seems lost in the West.

Some background for this intriguring phenomenon is provided by the following text:

The arrival of the French to the Congo, at the beginning of the 20th Century, brought along the myth of Parisian elegance among the Congolese youth working for the colonialists. Many considered the white man to be superior because of their technology, sophistication and elegance. In 1922, G.A. Matsoua was the first–ever Congolese to return from Paris fully clad as an authentic French gentleman, which caused great uproar and much admiration amongst his fellow countrymen. He was the first Grand Sapeur.

Respected and admired in their communities, today’s sapeurs see themselves as artists. Their refined manners and impeccable style in their attire bring a little glamour to their humble surroundings. Each one has his own repertoire of gestures that distinguishes him from the others. They are also after their own great dream: to travel to Paris and to return to Bacongo as lords of elegance.

Read the rest of the text, and see many more pictures, here.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Gone away

Lord Bassington-Bassington has gone to talk about H.P. Lovecraft at Forum Nidrosiae.

And to attend a conference about contemporary Satanism.

So in the meantime, here's a rather Devilish Basset.

See you later!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Meetings with remarkable libraries*

Sometimes life is like literature - like a weird tale, or magical realism.

"Are you interested in Sufism?" asked The World's Coolest Librarian, one of the humans that Lord Bassington-Bassington really admires.

His Lordship's ears started flailing as he excitedly nodded "yes", his love of Islamic mysticism being hard to conceal, so The Librarian continued his tale.

It seems that an uncle of The Librarian had been a Sufi, a follower of Hazrat Inayat Khan. The uncle had now passed on, and his library was too large for even the Librarian to take care of. Could Lord Bassington-Bassington perhaps help in giving some of these tomes a new home?

So a sleeting, snow-covered morning, Lord Bassington-Bassington and Lady Mju found themselves outside a large and very normal-looking house in a normal-looking Norwegian suburb. Which is very fitting, of course: Sufi masters are supposed to be found in the unlikeliest places. They then spent a few hours rummaging through a large, cold house with bookshelves bursting with numerous volumes of esoterica. The house itself was a treasure trove, filled with traces of a life spent in the pursuit of mystical wisdom and transformative love.

Lord Bassington-Bassington would like to pay his respects to this remarkable man by printing some notes on the ideal life from Inayat Khan's In an Eastern Rose Garden:

"When speaking on the subject of ideal life, the words of the Prophet of Islam may be quoted, where he says, 'Every soul has its own religion.' This means that every soul has a certain direction, which it has chosen, a goal to attain during life. This goal is a certain ideal, which depends on the soul's evolution."

- Inayat Khan

Lord Bassington-Bassington sincerely hopes that this particular man, upon leaving this earthly existence, felt that his own soul had attained its goal, and would like to lift a glass of ruby-colored port to his memory.

And speaking of In an Eastern Rose Garden, an excellent edition of this book is now a part of the library here at Bassington Manor. Along with a box or two of other Sufi wisdom, Christian mysticism and Runic lore. To mentions some of the more mainstream subjects.

While books are always a pleasure to know, they are but earthly possesions. What Lord Bassington-Bassington and Lady Mju are most thankful for was the privilege of experiencing this strange house. The Chronicles would therefore like to share some pictures from the visit with its readers.

(EDIT: And as it turns out, it's The World's Coolest Librarian's birthday today. Congratulations, Sir!)

(* Apologies to Mr. Gurdjieff for the title of this post).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Wicker Man passes

As The Dodologist reminded us yesterday, Edward Woodward, star of The Wicker Man, possibly the film that most influenced Neofolk, has just passed away. If you have not seen this superb thriller, featuring one of Christopher Lee's finest performances, and have any interest at all in Neofolk, modern Paganism, or film, you need to do so. Just take care to get the 1973 original, and not to confuse it with the recent remake (which Lord Bassington-Bassington considers an act of sacrilege).

About two decades ago, the young Lord Bassington-Bassington saw this film while sitting on the couch of the superb people behind Cthulhu Records. He has loved the film ever since.

So what better way for a Neofolk-advocating blog to mark the passing of Mr. Woodward than to publish two Neofolk bands interpreting songs from The Wicker Man?

Here is Nature and Organisation's cover of "Willow's Song".

And here is Italy's The Green Man playing "Corn Rigs".

Rest in peace, Mr. Woodward.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Solblot: National romantic boy band

In Lord Bassington-Bassington's opinion, of the most inspiring and interesting bands in the Neofolk genre is Solblot. Solblot hails from Sweden, a fact that would be hard for anyone to miss. For Solblot might possibly be the most Swedish band in existence.

(Photo: Man from another planet).

The trio wears their own versions of Swedish folk costumes, complete with stylish yellow scarves. Their songs are all in Swedish, with lyrics taken from Swedish national scald Verner von Heidenstam. Von Heidenstam’s democratic nationalism permeates Solblot's attitudes and has made them turn their backs on folks who would use love of Swedish culture and identity to further a xenophobic and extremist agenda.

Strangely enough, Solblot are based in Scania, a part of Sweden that is considered – both by Scanians and non-Scanians – to not really be a part of Sweden, culturally. As such, Solblot might perhaps be considered an experiment in identity?

Solblot haven't been very active on the recording front, and so far have only produced a 7 inch record, Sommarsång & Soluppgång, which has been cleverly and tastefully designed to look like an old 78. But the band claims to be working on a whole album, which will hopefully see the light sometime this millennium. And you can always listen to a few songs on their MySpace page.

While Solblot's is quirky and charming in itself, the band really needs to be seen on a stage to be truly appreciated. For not only does the live format allow the band's punky energy to shine through, it also allows the audience to enjoy the fact that Solblot might be history's first National romantic boy band. So the video below, or the videos at the band’s YouTube channel might be a small substitute for those who don’t have the opportunity to see Solblot on stage.

And in any case, Lord Bassington-Bassington will always be grateful to these fine lads for travelling seven hours by bus (each way) to play at his and Lady Mju’s stag and hen party. Thank you yet again. The dedication of the song on the video above to Andreas Ritter only underscores what superb human beings you are.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

DeeJanes and Dodologists

It was a musical ladies' night at the Heretical Cellar this last Thursday.

Hooray for DeeJanes!

And hooray for The Dodologist, who shared his knowledge of all things bloodsucky.

Hankie panky

As one grows older, it's usually a good idea to change one's wardrobe along with one's age. And Lord Bassington-Bassington is now at the point in life where he thinks a jacket doesn't look quite right unless it has a handkerchief tucked into its breast pocket. But how to do it? Having large, clumsy (well, Basset-y) paws, His Lordship hasn't yet mastered the art of pocket hankie tucking. While it should be as easy as dipping his paw into the pocket and then tucking the hankie in place, getting the right effect with this "dip and tuck" approach can be a challenge.

Luckily, the ever-expanding Interweb comes to the rescue yet again. Lord Bassington-Bassington really liked the short instructional film below, especially since the musical interludes add an extra touch of class.

Whatever you do, remember to not let the handkerchief match the tie too closely. That just looks like you've bought a set.

You should also realize that if you for some reason move the hankie from your breast pocket to your back pocket, and then wander into a gay club, you might be in for a surprise. And that if you wouldn't be surprised by such reactions to your hankie, you should know that there are hankies available that are designed especially for you.

(The picture at the top of this blog post is from The Chap Shop, which should be a natural stopping point for pocket squares, cravats and other essentials).

Friday, 13 November 2009

Laibach: Victory under the sun

As one gets older, it's natural to reflect on the development of one's character. Or the lack of both development and character, as might be the case with Lord Bassington-Bassington.

In other words: Where did it all go wrong?

In His Lordship's case, there might be a variety of turning points, such as being exposed to Lord Baden-Powell's ideas about Scouting for Boys, and its emphasis on chivalry, uniforms and rituals in the forest, at a tender age. Or the ideas of Carl G. Jung or Rudolf Steiner.

But one factor looms larger than the rest: Slovenian band Laibach.

Laibach was a nexus for so many of the young Bassington-Bassington's interests: Radical politics, music, philosophy, religion, theatre, totalitarian kitsch, history and dressing a bit differently than what the chain stores were trying to push on you.

Laibach were like a glimpse into another world, another time.

It's hard to remember these days how interesting Laibach was before the band let itself become a joke band, taking pop hits from the West and interpreting them through totalitarian kitsch. That was fun for a while, but quickly got stale.

This Slovenian documentary from the band's early days shows Laibach at their most challenging, and had a profound influence on the young Bassington-Bassington when he was able to watch it in a film club in Oslo a couple of decades ago.

If you claim to be interested in Industrial music, you need to see this film. This film will clarify one thing: Heavy metal bands with drum machines aren't Industrial. This is Industrial.

Or perhaps, in the case of one of the band's earliest hits, "Drzava" (also featured in the film), it might possibly be called something like Social Realist Disco.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6