To the gym for the Motherland

“But the greatest things that mark our existence do not allow themselves to be cornered; not love, marriage, family, not failure, nor death. They remain directing our actions.”
– Ferdinand Bordewijk, Bij gaslicht, 1951.

voiceless

Artistby Камаедзiца (Kamaedzitca)
Album: Безмолвные слова твои (Bezmolvnie slova tvoy / Voiceless are your words) (full-length album)
Record company: På Gamle Stier
Year: 2012
Languages: Belarusian; Russian
Genre: Transcendence of the mundane

Original Dutch text and English translation by Degtyarov
(Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie)

kamaheader

“Like the first snow on a deserted road”

The quest to find the best music is a long journey littered with pitfalls and other perils. Each genre is plagued by an intellectual void. The word “genre” in itself implies numbing repetition; doomed to denote a vast collection of subpar try-hards who were inspired by the same handful of pioneers. It is not just their lack of originality, but most of all the scarcely present alacrity in their work that undermines the credibility of these artists. And still they make up the majority of the populace in literally every music scene. Legions of monotonous indie bands with laughter-inducing impersonations of Beatles haircuts; metal bands with the obligatory long, unwashed hair; rappers that tell of the heavy toll their thug life took on them, notwithstanding the fact that they have been living in Dreariness upon Tyne or some other anonymous village for the entirety of their lives… every last one of them is as gullible in their conviction that inspiration and imitation are each other’s equals. It is often said that imitation is the best compliment – and it very well may be – but in the realm of music, a compliment does not necessarily constitute a listenable piece of music.

Granted, there are musicians out there who realise that merely aping their idols does not suffice, but such a moment of clarity may not be sufficient to make the problem go away entirely. The yearning for originality produces a temptation that few are able to resist. The artists who give in to this particular temptation will unleash upon the world something that has truly never been thought of before, let alone put to practice. But more often than not, it is clearly audible why noone thought of making music in this way before. Thus we have uncovered the reason why, all too often, originality in music equals carnavalesque kitsch with ‘being crazy and random for the sake of it’ as its only Leitmotiv. Even worse in this regard is music that is to be lifted to a higher plain by an exquisite backstory. radan2Artists will always capitalise upon that opportunity to prove their remarkable talent as salesmen of uninspired, transient crap by means of a haphazard philosophical layer; be it a redundant existential brainfart with the profoundness of plated gold, or some random, sugar-coated social statement that would even make the most hardcore soixant-huitard barf out his breakfast in disgust. These are common and transparent tactics that serve to obscure the voidness of actual content in a piece of art, or music in this case. It is the only explanation that helps one understand how a record such as Karel Appel‘s Musique barbare was ever allowed to see the light of day – a vapid aural turd whose only achievement is matching the rest of Appel’s so-called art in utter worthlessness.

Unfortunately, the metal and rock scenes are not exempt from a fair dose of oblivious rubbish. With a regularity more reliable than a politician telling a lie, some inexplicably popular band throws two or more musical genres in a blender to form its own sound. Why? “Because we can, dude.” Punk and jazz, what a smashing idea! And it is only natural that we, the commoners, give a standing ovation to the unchained creative genius that mustered up the ballsiness to make a connection between these two illogical elements. In reality, that would have been a fully deserved response assuming that the final product had indeed been nothing short of astonishing. But alas, the odds are larger than life that the respective artist rather proves the point of those who wisely decided against transporting this artistic crime against humanity from the realm of thoughts into the physical world. Whether it is the entire Norwegian avant-garde movement of the ’90s (Ved Buens Ende, Dødheimsgard), or individual bands with a peculiar style, they are all guilty of the same glaring error: they have for some reason convinced themselves that purposefully seeking out the ‘weird’ and the ‘illogical’ automatically leads them to an original sound. Sadly for them, true innovation is not found by merely positioning oneself against the norm like some spotty teeny bopper, but rather it is encountered through instrinsic motivation; the aspiration to create something beautiful regardless of whether or not it abides to the rulebook of a particular genre.

“The work of Kamaedzitca is the result of technical competence
and a healthy dose of not giving a crap about conventions.”

Anyone who takes notice of the recent activities of Kamaedzitca may be inclined to think that this band, too, is guilty of the directionless drive for originality that has a firm chokehold on the artistic community. Their music contains characteristics normally identified with black metal, traditional music, hardcore, RAC, ambient and even rap. Normally, this would be the sort of overambitious potpourri that is reserved for hordes of pretentious plebs-of-all-trades who desperately abuse as many styles as possible for the sole purpose of covering up the fact that they have mastered precisely none of them. Still, while actually listening to Kamaedzitca‘s music, such cynical sentiments never arise. Their music implies a sort naive, ‘accidentally successful’ approach similar to what we witnessed before with the compositions of Dub Buk. But akin to that Ukrainian formation’s oeuvre, the work of Kamaedzitca is primarily the result of technical competence, a clear musical vision and a healthy dose of not giving a crap about conventions.

In spite of their ambitions, the origins of the band are modest in nature. When the project started out fairly normally as a pagan-style black/folk metal band, the Belarusians were by no means an unusual sight in the musical landscape of their Slavic home region. In a small number of years, however, the band underwent notable changes in all areas. While the five original members can be seen on old band photos wearing the traditional garb that is borderline obligatory for representatives of the genre, new promotion material shows the two remaining members with short-cropped hair, loads of muscle,  tight shirts, tracking pants and trainers; an appearance that one would primarily identify with Slavic street fighters, and one that could not form a greater contrast with the excesses of the folk metal subculture, who are known not only for their naive ponderings over a romanticised past, but of their obsession with elves, unicorns and other homo-erotic fantasy drivel.

gruppa

The music went through a likewise transformation; indeed, the artistic vision that is put on display by band members Luty and Artsem reaches much further than what you would reasonably expect from a pair of Eastern-European MMA fighter types. This becomes apparent particularly on the album Bezmolvnie slova tvoy (that for convencience’s sake shall henceforth be referred to with its official English title Voiceless are your words). Because, while these whopping 75 minutes of music display an amount of diversity – both lyrically and musically – that has barely been witnessed before on a full-length effort, the album’s cohesion is never once threatened. And that is quite an achievement in itself when one beholds the manner in which what is being done in one song, is inevitably contrasted on the next track. One moment, excessively decorated solos appear to be driving the album into something of a classic rock epos, while but a few minutes later, doom-like riffs and harsh vocals direct the atmosphere into a different direction altogether. This wild, thunderous aural terrain is tamed by means of ambient tracks, while compositions prove of one style after another that it is mastered unequivocally by the performing musicians.

What makes Kamaedzitca even more complex, is that its connections with other artists, in addition to its outspoken views have caused the band to be filed under the RAC movement, a label that in itself generates a whole new range of expectations. Contrary to many other black metal-related projects, though, the categorisation of Kamaedzitca in the right wing of the music realm does not rely exclusively on ambiguities and vague associations or accusations. The band recorded a split-CD with Kolovrat, among others, which is the most infamous skinhead band of Russia by a considerable distance. stadFurthermore, Kamaedzitca claims to identify with the labels “Pagan – NS – Straight-Edge”. But, as with every term with which the band is tagged, these labels, too, are too restricted to even begin to generate accurate expectations for the music they play. Quite the opposite – it might give a wrong idea, seeing as right-wing music sternly maintains an image of amateuristic punk born out of opportunism, owing its right to exist exclusively to its (attempted) propagandistic value [1].

“The mere presence of a poetic dimension is in itself more than sufficient to place this album outside the field of rash propaganda music.”

Still, the versatility of the music and the richness of lyrical themes suggest that Kamaedzitca is a project that has not at all been conceived with the same material as your random burn-after-listening throw-away band, the kind of which the RAC scene is infested with. During the seventeen songs that comprise the album, vocalist Radan Luty talks, sings and shouts about such diverse topics as the fate of Belarus (and, by extension, the rest of the Slavic peoples), sports, abstinence (of nicotine, alcohol and drugs), lost civilisations, and faded love, often decorated with a poetic crust that is geared towards metropolitan melancholy. By means of glazed street lights, vaguely defined shadows, abandoned streets and mat windows, an image of a lonely city is conceived. This image, in turn, serves as a location or symbol for decadence, loneliness and departure. The universality of said image allows for the lyrics to contain multiple layers, with some of the text fragments being interpretable as lamentations of a bygone love, or as complaints against the impending downfall of the nation, as is the case in the brilliant album closer “Ustavshee odinochestvo” (“The tired loneliness”):

“Shadows drifting, turning in departure
The city lights behind us, and you’re alone
Night falls, and it feels as breath on glass
Leaving simply, but definitively
Floating silhouettes, faded in memory

That night, it was a dream,
as if it happened to someone other than us” [2]

With this multi-layeredness, Kamaedzitca positions itself far above the propagandistic music that shows more interest in the explicit transfer of a message than it does in the delicate exposition of a captivating story. The near-esoteric approach that the Belarusians opt for on this album inevitably results in not everybody being able to comprehend what they are talking about, definitively dismantling the interpretation of this work as the umpteenth flagrant brainwashing attempt to emerge from the RAC scene; the mere presence of a poetic dimension is in itself more than sufficient to place Voiceless are your words firmly outside the field of rash propaganda music.

Difficult to tell at which side of the political spectrum the band members position themselves, however, it is not. The song “Evropa-Rus”, for instance, evokes a Belarusian/Slavic nationalism that, among other things, is characterised by the harmony of culture and tradition. It reflects a worldview that is dictated by ethnic nationalism, albeit the variation that seeks fraternisation between European peoples instead of dedicating its efforts to the promotion of chauvinism. One element from Kamaedzitca‘s ideology that stands out is that, despite its explicit and self-proclaimed alliance with (Slavic) Old Faith, many of the band’s views are surprisingly compatible with the Orthodox faith. The conservative perspective that the band commonly unleashes upon phenomena such as reproduction, technology, drug use and commerciality flirt with sentiments that – largely due to religious demographics – enjoy significantly more support in Eastern lands than they do in the ultra-liberal, secularised West. Because of this, the band may seem all the more radical to the Western listener in comparison with one of the band members’ compatriots.

Even still, the approach of such themes on Voiceless in your words is characterised by an unusual degree of subtlety. In terms of outspokenness, its lyrics barely hold a candle to a song such as “Chas baratsbi”, which appeared on the split with Kolovrat. On this track, inspired by rap of all things, the group launches a frontal attack on every single aspect of modern society that contradicts the extremely conservative views of gentlemen Luty and Artsem, these targets ranging from McDonald’s and GMO products to liberalism, homosexuality and preservatives. When held against this light of political extremism, a large part of the contents of Voiceless are your words seems relatively tame, and at times even mystical. The more educated listener will no doubt recognise fragments, albeit sporadically, that indicate the band has not exactly abandoned its ideological foundation, though the implicit approach makes it easier to detach such elements from the music, should such a need arise. But of course, this also makes the lauded separation between artist and music less of a necessity for those ‘music and politics do not mix!’ propagandists who insist on preventing an internal struggle of the ethical kind. Especially when compared to some of Kamaedzitca‘s previous efforts.

What essentially defines the aesthetic of Voiceless are your words, and by extension the modern incarnation of Kamaedzitca, is the concept of self-improvement. According to the lyrics of Radan Luty, this can primarily be achieved by working on one’s own physical health through training and sports, but also by avoiding those things that may cause harm to the body and/or mind. Indeed, this is the very source of the peculiar combination of romantic heathen themes, strict social-conservative values and the MMA aura that has been surrounding the band over the last couple of years. The paradoxical nature of this mish-mash is to be found in the fact that the present-day gym, and all that occurs within its walls – be it body-building, contemporary martial arts or regular fitness – is commonly identified with the egocentric. The principal motivation of modern man to maintain corporal fitness is to be found in vanity. Just enter a local walking wardrobe hangout such as a gym or kickboxing school, and the majority of those present at any time will be there for the mere pleasure of being accepted, fightrespected, feared and/or desired by others, if it is not to satisfy some other mundane craving such as killing time. By contrast, during most of history, the motivation to keep oneself in shape consisted of multiple layers, such as the earthly, communal necessity of being able to defend relatives, possessions and/or power (something which is now supposedly guaranteed by our altruistic governments, subsequently allowing the vaginaman aesthetic to blossom), or the more spiritual objective of honouring the Creation [3]. In the oeuvre of Kamaedzitca, this multidimensionality experiences a revival, with its creators taking normally light-hearted activities such as lifting weights, doing push-ups or beating one another, and repositioning them in the service of a higher goal: in this case the ambition of becoming a superhuman, that, by having a healthy mind in a healthy body, embodies the ideal of the total man. Only he possesses the discipline and self-control required to combat the excrescences of modernity whilst also resisting its temptations. A gym membership for the Motherland, so to speak.

Kamaedzitca‘s message of optimally guarding one’s bodily and mental fitness may estrange some. Not only because, in this wretched world, it is difficult to imagine that one might take care of his own body for reasons other than landing dates, but also due to the cult of weakness that, over the years, weaseled its way into political rhetoric, television culture and the general perception of the Western world, to the point of sheer domination. Inability takes the stage in many television programmes, while mental defects are being glorified, and illiteracy (under the guise of dyslexia), alcoholism and obesity are branded as diseases and conditions that cannot be helped by means other than pity, understanding and acceptance… Every opportunity is seized to circumvent responsibility over one’s own life. The fact that Kamaedzitca‘s music reacts to this sick and feeble mentality that so nauseatingly dominates contemporary society by appealing to exactly that self-discipline that we since forgot, reinstating it as a means towards a higher goal… it is this fact that may generate a sense of incommodity in the minds of those who are only able to look at the world in terms of literalities, rendering them unable to see a reason to aspire towards their optimal selves other than plain old vanity.

“The desequilibrated the school rejects because they do not wish to learn to obey.
I care not for the psyche of a child, for that is a nuisance of our time.”

– Ferdinand Bordewijk, Bint, 1934.

The return of a fitness ideal that transcends masturbatory self-complacency does not only clarify why the approach of the band may seem so confusing at first, but it goes on to explain why the music itself may initially come across as convoluted. From the martial arts subculture, Kamaedzitca exports musical influences that one would be hard-pressed to encounter in the work of any of the other artists in the genre. Present on the album is a rich amount of elements from other musical styles, such as electronics, hardcore, and at times even a whiff of rap. Each of them provides the compositions with a worked-up MMA atmosphere, an additional result of which is that many a track on this album is more than suitable as a soundtrack for weight-lifting sessions, or street brawls if that is your fancy. As such, the contrast with Belarusian/Eastern-European folk music (itself a remnant of the initial years of the band’s existence, during which it made a name for itself as a folk metal project) could hardly be greater. This culminates into a duality that simply cannot be observed in any other musical project.

A similar duality can be found in the ambient tracks and fragments that are prominently featured yet again on Voiceless are your words. In contrast with earlier material, the ambient is now enriched with subtle yet noticeable electronica influences. Coincidental or not, it is only fitting that the band would introduce said element at this point, given that these ambient compositions in particular hint towards the relationship between modern man, ancient civilisations and a possible alien influence on the latter. Whether the band touches upon these themes out of a genuine interest or even conviction, or just in reflection of a casual interest, remains a source of speculation. In any case, Kamaedztica‘s wayward selection of themes drive the project further towards a niche area of which members Luty and Artsem are, for the time being, the sole inhabitants.

excl

The resonance of the intertwining of the old and the new that defines so strongly the approach of the group is still present most explicitly in the song “Duch vojna” (“The Warrior Spirit”), that, while not being featured on this album but released as a separate track, was recorded around the same time. The song was written for an MMA tournament and draws a parallel between the battle spirit that is required to win a cage fight on one side, and the warriors mentality that the peoples of Ruthenia have acquired across the centuries, on the other. In reflection of this juxtaposition, the music painlessly switches from rave beats to solos played on traditional instruments, primarily the bagpipe and the flute. As such, the underlying message is masterfully utilised to shape the music, making the latter considerably easier to comprehend, and a lot less likely to confuse attentive listeners.

While the different influences at play on Voiceless are your words are spread across the tracks rather than being forced to ‘do battle’ within compositions, it is this same versatility that gives shape to the album, being every bit as justified from an artistic point of view as on “Duch vojna”. For this reason it can occur that certain compositions that would not have been out-of-place on the band’s earlier, more conventional records, are now being pitted against tracks with a stronger hardcore signature, which in turn are contrasted by ballads, ambient and regular rock. In addition, the surprise pack that is Voiceless are your words offers us bizarre highlights in the shape of a rock-cover of the main melody of The Prodigy‘s “Breathe”, or even a minute-long sample of gym ambience. Even though some of these stylistic raids are bound to make the listener wonder what on earth just happened, actual touch-and-go aesthetic decisions are not made throughout the album. The fact that this is not a given is demonstrated by the previous album, flagВернасць (Loyalty), on which one song contains the same sketchy sample of laughing children as the Nintendo 64 game Diddy Kong Racing (!), while another song is comprised exclusively of fragments of some of the band’s earlier work, effectively turning it into an extraordinarily poorly timed advertisement for its own legacy. This tells us that, while Kamaedzitca has been setting out its own unique path for quite some time, it is only with Voiceless are your words that the band started hitting the nail on the head at this frighteningly consistent rate.

“Humanity shapes her times; the idividual does what his time asks of him.”
– Ferdinand Bordewijk, Bint, 1934.

By connecting its own history to present-day culture with a high degree of success, Kamaedzitca accomplishes what is – or should be – the final objective of music of this kind: to deliver a work of national art. Luty and Artsem show that they are able as well as prepared to make music that does not just honour the rich musical and cultural traditions of the Belarusian homefront, but transcends them; transcendence in the sense that a musical effort is delivered that may not always sound traditional – sometimes even the direct opposite of that – but which at all times emits a traditional spirit. In other words, the musicians lend their talents, visions and ambitions to the benefit of a broader national-cultural context.  And for this the band deserves recognition, regardless snorkof the political ideology that its members are proponents of. For in this day and age, in which culturally uprooted fastfood music is the standard – regardless from whether we are looking at the low or the supposedly high culture – it is encouraging to see how firmly and self-consciously a duo of utterly unknown musicians is connected to its home soil, respecting tradition without lapsing into gimmicks; remaining in connection with the here and now without losing sight of the self.

At the end of the day, what separates Kamaedzitca from the countless circus artists that swarm like locust the avant-garde and experimental metal scenes, is the fact that the band operates by no means randomly in deciding which sources of inspiration it wants to drink from, and which muscles of its talented musical body it is going to flex. Quite to the contrary: the group can fully and effortlessly justify all of the remarkable choices it makes on Voiceless out your words through a clear approximation of its own aesthetic. Not the contrast between urban melancholy, grey imagery and colourful music; not the presence of both modern and classical music styles; not the constant switching between metal and ambient tracks will turn out at all inexplicable or unfathomable upon closer inspection. This clears the path for a uniform, consistently high-quality listening experience that is never obstructed by the great variety of atmospheres and styles present. Such is the face of true originality: she is the means towards the goal, and in spite of all the applause she may receive, she never gives in to the temptation of claiming the lead role for herself, as it would rupture coarsely the carefully construed equilibrium.

Voiceless are your words is a voice in the desert…”

Voiceless are your words of Kamaedzitca will provide a moment of reflection for all those amateuristic style mixers that persist in the illusion that throwing together a few musical genres automatically earns them the right to boast about being the instigators of a new genre; they who, driven by the same vanity as those roid-addicted bullies, submit their feeble attempts to innovate to the goal of cultivating their own edginess. It is also a good lesson for all those post metal simpletons who hastily rehash old (sub)genres and deem it unnecessary to surpass their inspirations to truly create something new. At the same time, Voiceless are you words is a voice in the desert. Because notwithstanding the maturity of their musical mission, for the time being they are damned to waddle in the periphery of obscurity, propagating a vision that may just be heard accidentally by a casual passerby – such as yours truly – all the while the daily madness has all eyes fixed on it. Then let this magnificent album, this tremendous artistic victory at least be the first snow on a deserted road [4]. From the distance we can hear the raging traffic on the chaotic interstate, where one car after another crashes. Perhaps, a few brave souls will eventually be properly motivated take a detour across the tranquility of this small road, wondering why they never travelled through this part of the land before.

“And this endless road takes away the emptiness of the night”

Degtyarov, spring 2014.

lucht

Voiceless are your words can be listened to and downloaded here (for free or whatever you wish to pay for it).

Line-up:
Radan Luty – vocals, lyrics
Artsem – music

Tracklist:
1. И в вечности моей любви пламя не угаснет / The flame of my love won’t ever fade in eternity (3:59)
2. Безмолвные слова твои / Voiceless are your words (5:48)
3. Піраміда / Pyramid (2:47)
4. Ветра Шамбалы / The winds of Shambala (3:23)
5. Традиция Севера / The North tradition (7:10)
6. В Отблесках Руси Нового Солнца / In the glow of Rus of the new sun (5:10)
7. Straight Edge Sport (5:07)
8. Arrogant flunkies (4:02)
9. Европа-Русь / Europe-Rus (5:48)
10. Застылi думкi над берагам хуткай ракi / Above a fast river moveless are the thoughts (4:41)
11. Туле, Атлантыда, Лемурыя, Гіпербарэя… / Thule, Atlantis, Lemuria, Hyperborea… (1:43)
12. Акіян адзiноты / The ocean of loneliness (7:23)
13. Когда мои друзья со мной / When my friends are with me (3:28)
14. Простые слова / Just simple words (3:40)
15. Гэта проста слёзы нашай восені / It’s just the tears left by our autumn (3:05)
16. Сквозь пространство звёзд навстречу / Through the space of nearing stars (3:53)
17. Уставшее одиночество / The tired loneliness (4:19)

Total running time: 75 minutes and 11 seconds

Notes:
[1] Also try to read this article, although it is in Dutch and behind a paywall. It is an article discussing the amateurism and irrelevance of right-wing music. It serves to describe the perception mentioned in the review.

The image given in the article is far from perfect, however, exposing the author’s limited knowledge. For one, he casually ignores the fact that Burzum, be it terrible music in his ears or not, is unanimously considered one of the most influential bands in the black metal genre. Even in 2014, politically correct hipsters are still jumping through all kinds of hoops to justify listening to this band despite the ideology of the man behind it.

It is also worth noting that, while an aura of amateurism certainly surrounds a vast amount of Hatecore and Rechtsrock bands from respectively the USA and Germoney, the marginal image of right-wing/nationalist music proves, in a lot of cases, to be severely outdated. The greater part of the leading Ukrainian black metal scene is closely tied to these currents, or even a proponent of one of them (Nokturnal Mortum, Dub Buk, Drudkh (whether they care to admit it or not…)), as well as extremely important bands in the genre such as Peste Noire (in their own, atypical way) and Akitsa. In addition to that, groups such as Kolovrat, Russkiy Styag and Tormentia prove that there are in fact bands on the extreme side of the spectrum whose music has outgrown its mere propagandistic value, being able to stand on its own two legs. This comes at a time when traditional punk is more dead and less relevant than ever, consisting near exlusively of inoffensive boybands with guitars, who voice mainstream bedwetter opinions that would not even offend the most delicate of souls.

[2] To improve the readability of the article, the quotes in the review itself are the (rather liberally) translated fragments. The original verse goes as followed:

“Тени отдаляются, превращаясь в расставание,
Свет города остался позади, и ты вновь одна
Рисуешь ночь, чувствуя дыхание на стекле,
Уезжаешь просто так и навсегда.

Проплывают силуэты памяти по обочине жизни;
Это ночь, это сон; всё происходит будто не с нами.”

[3] This also corresponds with the idea of the duality of weapons and letters, which was already discussed at length in our review of Peste Noire‘s self-titled album.

[4] Reference to another fragment from the lyrics of “Ustavshee odinochestvo”: “But in my hand I hold the ashes of unanswered letters / Like the first snow on a deserted road”.

[x] A general remark on the transliteration of the band name: ‘Камаедзiца‘ is the group’s original Cyrillic name, which would normally be written as ‘Kamaedzitsa‘ in the Latin alphabet, seeing as ‘ц’ represents the phoneme /ts/. However, in all of the band’s official West-oriented communication, the transliteration ‘Kamaedzitca‘ is used, probably because they confused the Latin ‘c’ (which in combination with the vocal ‘a’ represents /k/) with the Cyrillic ‘с’ (which represents /s/). Despite this apparent mistake, it is the band’s official spelling, so I decided to use it throughout the review, even if it meant generating confusion regarding the pronunciation of the band name. I just thought I would bring this up in case someone started whining, or if anyone was wondering how on earth to pronounce the name of this group.

Also read:
Our review of Dub BukRus ponad use
Our review of Nokturnal MortumGolos stali
Our review of Peste NoirePeste Noire

Special thanks to:
X. – translations
R. – melancholy
U – patience

About degtyarov (121 Articles)
Molotov cocktail in the face of music whorenalism.

10 Comments on To the gym for the Motherland

  1. I’m not sure why Eastern European nationalists are so weird, reflected in making music that’s this head-scratching compared to their Occidental counterparts. Maybe old Ozzy Spengler was on to something when he argued for the Eastern Slavic peoples being culturally part of Asia rather than Europe.

  2. maximussmeyer // April 7, 2014 at 22:06 // Reply

    Spengler was right

    Non-Catholic Slavs are indeed more Asiatic than European

      • I’d have posted a picture of Freiherr Roman von Ungern-Sternberg instead of Vladimir Lenin, if anyone confirms that theory it’d be the Bloody Baron if he wasn’t ethnically a Baltic German rather than a Slav. (I also think Lenin was part Tatar while we’re at it)

  3. I have three things to say which I will outline but I’d be happy to discuss in more detail via email.

    1. Great writing, great humor! And I agree with your opinions regarding quality, originality and how they often get mixed up both in the mainstream and the underground (whatever that is nowadays) in different ways.

    2. Your view of form and genre as imitation of classics (established acts, innovative acts), although having some truth to it is overly simplistic and does not take into account the wholesome effect of having basic forms in genres of music. The true artist makes form his, by molding the template, stretching it, basically building his ideas on something discovered by people who came before him to make his own more effective. Most bands out there cannot achieve this and fall into what you said: imitation of innovators. But even the most basic Metal is ultimately based on Rock, so, never speak about casting out all forms, because that is false. I would suggest reading an excerpt from A.B Marx’s writings on Musical Form. These are based on his studies Classical music’s Sonata Form (as you may already know, ‘Classical music’ itself is not a genre but rather the way we tag music from a certain historical period), actually, it is much more flexible than you can imagine and is explicitly stated by the author that the ideas can be generally applied to any music in evolution.

    3. This album seems excellent to me. But it is not metal. It is not folk. At its very core this is something more akin to hip hop, in that it takes different musical background loops that suit its lyrics, message and attitude and uses it as background to enhance this, but the important point is what they are SAYING. I would call them innovators and original artists in the hip hop field. I do not think they call outside already- known and established norms. No great artist really does so, they almost always part from established forms and systems and make them their own, stretching them where nobody has gone before in different ways of enhancing the music.

    • Hi, thanks for the comment. To respond to your 2 points (the first point is a compliment so I’ll take that for granted, heh):

      2. It is simplistic, but the dichotomy I’m trying to establish is that there is music that chellenges the listener, and then there is music which follows a familiar template to the extent that you can hear the entire album without listening to it, if that makes sense. A large chunk of the (black) metal that is being produced today fits into this latter category. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but it does not pose a challenge. What I like about this album is that it forces you to have an opinion about it. That’s not a guarantee that everyone will end up loving it (though many readers have), but it is hard to be completely apathetic about this album. Although much of the album’s lyrics are clouded in esotericism and other sorts of nebulous strangeness, there is still an aspect of it that drags the whole thing into reality. This makes it demanding, as it is a step beyond ‘comfortably’ singing about satanic sacrifice within a completely fantastical lyrical context. In short, I am merely trying to establish why, out of a 100 random albums from that region, this would be the one worth listening to. There is definitely a sense of individuality in their music, as is evidenced by the simple fact that much of their work is instantly recognisable as being such. Sadly, this is more than can be said of MANY metal bands out there. Which leads me to your other point…

      3. I disagree with this for a number of reasons:

      – Hiphop, while claiming to be the ‘poetry of the streets’, is nearly always literalist; within the lyrics of hiphop there is only one dimension, namely that of (the artist’s imagined conception of) reality. What makes Kamaedzitca special even among metal bands is that their lyrics balance on the threshhold of what I tend to refer to as ‘myth and reality’. To put it in more hackneyed terms, their lyrics harbour another dimension. It is the interaction between these two dimensions – the combination of familiar reference points and nebulous allusions – that makes their lyrics interesting. Hiphop is far more simplistic both lyrically and musically.

      – I do not think the music is merely there as background paste. The music is involved with the lyrics in that the compositions interact with the emotions as expressed in the texts. The music is not, like in hiphop, a mere excuse to keep singing/rapping/talking. (Not to mention that in hiphop, the lyrics are actually subjected to rhyme in terms of importance.)

      A comparable album in that sense would be Peste Noire’s ‘L’Ordure à l’état Pur’, in which, according to its creator, the music follows the lyrics word-for-note. It is true that the mechanic of dragging urban poetry into the mundane is something that can also be observed in hiphop, but this is a combination of stylistic opportunism and mere coincidence that both artists play around with. It’s not the core of their music.

      **

      I think the main difference in opinion stems from the fact that the philosophy of DMU (to which you linked, based on which I assume that you are in some way involved with them) is heavily rooted in musical theory, something which I am neither well-versed nor particularly interested in. BIT’s philosophy (at least my contributions to this modest publication) relies much rather on literary analysis, i.e. an assessment of how the form and essence of the lyrics contribute to the band’s overall aesthetic. Of course, these two aspects are related to each other, but to illustrate my disposition, within the musical genres that I am into, I can hate or love bands based on aesthetical reasons (or the way in which they communicate rather than WHAT they communicate), almost regardless of their music.

      (Realise that I made this response based on my memory of writing the article, which is quite a long time ago. So excuse any inconsistencies, as they are inherent to man.)

      • I am incredibly curious about what you would make of my favorite album in the past few years: Condor’s Nadia. This is a childish way of asking you to indulge me, haha! But it has all of what both you and I are looking for in great music. The lyrics are in Spanish, and in that language they are beautiful poetry that locks in with the music. They provided English translations in the bandcamp, but they do not retain the whole aesthetic power of the original ones, although this way the message is not lost.

      • It’s funny that you say that, because that’s just about my #1 album to still check out. I’ve become acquainted with one of their band members and he even has a copy of the BIT magazine, not to mention this is the umpteenth time someone has recommended me this record. It seems as if the universe is trying to tell me something.

        And I speak Spanish, so understanding the lyrics won’t be much of a problem.

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