March 2010

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Editorials

Vernal greetings!

It looks like we have past onto a new season. Still, as we haven't tasted such a cruel winter for such an extended period of time, it seems the elements have a hard time letting go and allowing spring to blossom with full force. Nevertheless, she will surely be present, officially, on the 20th of March accompanying the spring equinox which will vibrate alongside Agalloch.

As for the rest, we had to deal with mundane futilities and cheap circus performances having as main actors some so called “dark” bands who almost carelessly threw themselves in Pandora's box just to compete for the Eurovision preselection (see Keep of Kalessin, Pain of Salvation), electoral lies, mortifying behavior from behalf of our political representatives, embarrassing football (we've reached a point where we're actually pride of our national team being on the 37th spot), disarming subjects about the economic crisis (some seem to forget the obvious fact that the Romanian people have been in a perpetual state of crisis since the last 20 years). Thankfully, as you might well know, during the week, I manage to elope from this quotidian abjectness by watching my favourite tv show, which always somehow manages to brighten my spirits. It airs every morning, starting at 7.10 a.m. on B1 TV, featuring the actor Alex Conovaru, who constantly seems to posses the right amount of inspiration to make me smile. I am so entangled by his luscious character and his congenital ingenuity, especially when "dualing" Irene the "brainy" blonde. I have persuaded Alex to pay us a visit at the Agalloch and Alcest show scheduled for the 21th of March in Bucharest, knowing that his basic menu consists of some metal elements too. Even if they lie dormant in a latent stage, this only a little detail as I am sure that if he will come, his intrest will be rapidly restored by some of the raw muscianship exhibited.

I've been telling you, on and off, about a romanian band that really impressed me. Last night, yet again, I was present at another rehearsel session and I can tell you that the 3 tracks which are to be recorded in the next following weeks sound incredibly well in comparison with most romanian bands. Their style, hard to pin down, gracefully avoids the deep sea of clishes. The music, visibly holds within, a deep depressive aroma along with a mix of Doom Metal, brief Rock insertions, ravishing blues/jazzy guitar solo which sometimes reach heavy metal peaks, strange overbendings of the masculine vocals, balanced and beclouded by the frailty of the femeal voice, drum breaks insterted everytime that's necessary and whose bass drum resonates inteligently on every slow achord, a dynamic and solemn basswork and a background composed of atmospheric keyboards. The name of the band sketched above is Laburinthos and surely your going to be hearing more about the 6 persons who have been working for about 2 years on this project.

Rome decided this year to take a break on concerts, and implicity one on their image. Simone is working hard on his long awaiting upcoming new Spiritual Front material, with a special DVD version (we might even discover images from the Special Evenings on it). Niklas is touring big time with his band Shining, which still manages to sound good enough, in spite of them changing their bass player. They also, just finished masterizing their 7th full length. The new album Ordo Rosario Equilibrio will be released only in the later part of the year and Ataraxia are launching their newest effort next month. On Ice Ages I have no news whatsoever. Christian is determined to start composing new sequences for Triarii, but there's no chance for the public to find out something about it this year. Kim will release some of his projects this year while Aracana is unleashing a limited collection of 4CDs with bonus tracks, this month, but even so working hard on their latest material. That's about it concerning the bands who participated on the Special Evenings.

Now, let's check out briefly what's new in the underground stand. I have a lot to tell you and I have to get started right away, because I sense if I don't now, I won't be in the mood later. Well, naturally Burzum has been the centre of a whirlwind of heated discussions, some analytical and well grounded, some extremly trivial. Yes, it is true, Burzum is a cult name in the Black Metal scene! After spending so many years in detention and forced reclusion, the storm elicited by this legendary musical character slash convicted killer, was only foreseeable. His strategy to promote his new album under a totally unknown record label was deeply hailed by supporters as being “true underground” or a “true move”.On the other hand the old glorious Burzum albums were released, at that time, under not such a small label, namely the norwegian “Misanthropy” which wasn't really underground. I recall receving from them some fantastic albums created by truly inspired bands like: In the Woods, Monumentum, Ved Buenes Ende, Fleurty. Maybe if Burzum hadn't released this materials where he did, his most grim fans would have been literary in the dark about this more complex kind of music (think only how hard it was to have acces to information back then). Or maybe, thinking in the different direction, if they had found out about it, the initial association would have been directed torwards the murder Varg commited and then torwards his music. Anyway, Burzum has returned with an album that brings nothing new to the table. It's more like a time regression but I am sure he will develop a musical bomb by next year's time, very different from this material, nonetheless cherished by fans but utterly ignored by the rest. I have given the album a couple of listens, and I have come to the conclusion that some songs take me back to “Filosofem” era, others confuse me, instigating the sensation that they lack the necessary force. Still, Burzum remains Burzum and it would be stupid not to take into acount this work, even only for old time's sake. But I am awaiting the next move, which I hope will be composed 100% of inspiration, unlike the new songs taken from “Belum” which seem to be the remains of ages long gone, gnawed upon in the depths of prison and immediately conveyed after release.

Orphaned Land manages to hold the first page of most metal zines, their last album being extremly well promoted and shoved up everybody's throats. Indeed, it is a superproduction and you can bluntly sense old Wilson's touch in the composition as well as the inclination torwards progressive riffing mixed with the abundance of traditional Oriental influneces. Even so, this Oriental approach has become more than saturated, and on close inspection all the metal scene seems to be plagued by Pagan/Viking/Folk/Tradition Metal ifferences. Maybe ten years ago there used to be a decent balance in all of this and Metal was still Metal. Today, a lot of this bands, use this elements in extreme exuberance and even so, manage to pile up tons of fans (which is indeed good for the band and maybe for the fans as well). The real issue here is that the pure dark underground spirit is being ruined as the music is altered into a simple sequence of traditional, folcloric and exotic instruments. It seems that even Rotting Christ applied this recipie and I am convienced they will gain a lot of new fans with their new album coming from the direction of the Pagan scene but from bands like Corvus Corax as well. In the same boat we find Heidevolk and Svartsot, generic bands, whose Arkona-like influences are getting harder and harder to digest for me. My taste has defenetly evolved torwards the more complex american Black Metal scene where Experimentalism and Transcedentalism seem to be at home. There are some European bands who bear the same mark and influences, bands like Fen, Caina and Altar of Plagues. I've just remembered about the new Borknagar, drenched in folk influences as well, but maybe a little more rational.

That's why I am expecting the new big fat Pagan/Folk Metal family to become a very succesful recipie for all bands, labels and festivals which dig that kind of sound. And so, like that, the attention given to the bands who ruined “the essence of pure Black Metal”, namely Cradle and Dimmu, will switch to this sort of acts, which sooner or later, will end up destroying one another. Right now, one thing's clear, the Pagan Metal wave is causeing a stir and whoever will say anything against this gendre will be burn at the stake. At least for the following 3 or 4 years. Negura Bunget took a smarter step with their new album (for the band as well as for the fans), especially since its release is perfect, among tons of other concerts in Europe.

So what's new? Cecilia::Eyes will unleash in April a new Shoegaze Post-Rock jewl which I warmly recommand to all Sigur Ros and Mono fans (I'm listening to this album non-stop like a maniac for days now), The Vision Bleak put out their most acomplished realization so far, accompanied by a brilliant booklet, Throes of Dawn presents us with their 5th Dark Gothic Metal album which manages to pull a barely above average, Sarah Jezebel Deva provides us with a pretty common but nicely executed, Symphonic Black Metal, Nagash of The Kovenant brags with his new Troll album, more satanic and extreme than ever, Ekasia demonstrates that even in Romania a band can play an Experimental Post Rock in a very rich version, Ikuinen Kaamos can entratein Opeth fans with their masterly new album, Carach Angren released a new Symphonic Black Metal album recorded in the studio of Patrick Damiani (Rome), Tryptikon is launching a new album which will surely satisfy the taste of most committed Celtic Frost fan, Tom G. Warrior showing us that the metal spirit is still fresh, Mortemia makes a statement about Morten uneasiness concerning his leaving Tristania, Aesop (Agalloch) makes a good argument for Post Black Metal releasing with Ludicra a new album, a bunch of finnish youngsters gathered up under a quaint vernacularly band name – Mormant de Snagov – only to play some type of linear black metal (they probably need to draw some further inspiration from Vlad Tepes’s relics or maybe to change the name of the church if they are so refined connoisseurs of the vampire tradition), Marko from Deinonychous shows us that he too can try his hand in the Martial NeoFolk realm with his new project Nihil Novi Sub Role, Roma Amor came out with a new album – Cabaret Noir which turned out to be a real beauty and Omashere amazes us with a remarkable debut (in the old Dead Can Dance vein). Well and that’s about it concerning what’s new on the market.

Having been involved, in the past 2 years, in the organizational scene of smaller events, I have paid a great deal of attention to all the details concerning this matter. Hereby, I have come to notice, that in their great majority, the event poster’s are swarmed with media partners, on average about 20, which seem to promote this activities. Yet, if I happen to search Google, all I seem to find are copy-paste “articles” taken from the official statements and up to 2 or 3 reviews or descriptions about what happened during the performance. Maybe I am not the person fit to draw attention upon this, but it seems that our metal press is not really doing its job. I recall that after Echoes From Transcendence Evening, we received the first feedback from the foreign press and not from the romanian one. (around here, later is better). And finally, the reviews who did come, in the end, were mostly photo-reports. We seem to be reeling in a pointless and mediocre sing-song, in which everybody is entailed to act like a sarcastic, vain, smart-ass who knows exactly what others are thinking, before they actually had the chance to do so. I think that’s why we don’t have any zines or professional sites and portals. The ones who do exist, in their desire to maintain afloat, insert all kids of news/themes/forums that have, most of the time, no connection whatsoever, with the music they are trying to promote. Still, we should be thankful that they exist, nevertheless, and offer respect for the determination of those behind the keyboards. How wonderful it would be if to the internal motivation, some additional external satisfaction would pop up out of nowhere, maybe in the person of some budget sponsors. This may have a beneficial effect upon this almost accepted languor, embraced by everybody. On the other hand, some trust worthy organizers and promoters might have to suffer because of dream chasers who hope and pray for miracles costing only a few bucks. In their hopeless peril, this clowns, only manage to rupture, the shallow image of our country, who is indeed weak but craving for concerts. Furthermore, doing volunteer work has come to be judged as some sort of pariah and the person doing this type of work, has been labeled a fool or an idiot. The problem is that the underground spirit – the one who compels you to give without asking in return (this might sound like a christian canon, heh), has long been extinct, everybody becoming more singular in thinking, more self-centered, focusing on cheap pragmatism and unilateral survival.

…still, in this not so welcoming scenery, we have had the great pleasure (and now I am speaking on behalf of the entire team), to discover some incredible human beings, capable of all sorts of sacrifices – the participants and friends of the Special Evenings (I have seen them at the most shows we put up). Kogainonon and DonisArt wishes to make use of this opportunity and thank them for their unconditional support! We’re very happy, that, in just a few days, we’ll have the chance of seeing each other again and saying hello (maybe just by gazing at each other), and finally to evade the mundane, at least for a few hours along side our favorite bands. 3 more Events will follow in 2010. Elite Dark Metal Evening is coming right up and then in the fall Labyrinthic Metal Evening, exclusively consecrated to Metal bands who wish to show us that their music matters, (keep in mind the date of 16th of October and the fact that you’ll find out the name of the bands in Brasov on the 20th of March) awaits you. In December, prepare yourself for the second part of Dark Bombastic Evening, structured on 2 consecutive days, featuring various bands, not only from the Ethereal/Neofolk area, as many people rushed to suggest. You’ll have to wait and see, it would be something different, nothing alike what we’ve done in 2009.

Going back to Elite Dark Metal Evening, I remember that everything started from the desire to bring Agalloch in Romania and for them to visit some locations around the country. I’ve been in contact with John for a long period of time, and I couldn’t refute his sincere and open offer to take care of the whole technical and visual part of 10th show under the Kogaionon banner. On the other hand, I’ve been searching for the perfect possibility for a concert in our part of the world. I even tried last year to pull off some sort of synergy towards the end of their European tour, but unfortunately my efforts were not met. The band is often busy, with their families, with work (Don is a teacher and can only take time off during student breaks), one of them lives in Seattle, one in Portland so you can see why it was all so complicated. Finally, we reached an understanding and settled the dates but then another issue arouse….why organize only one concert? The location was set for Reduta. But what if more fans would show up? Personally I didn’t think that the 300-350 seats could have been filled. Agalloch were convinced that fans from all over Europe would attend the event. And so, we reached the conclusion that we should organize another gig in Bucharest, especially since the band members were really impressed by some photos of the brand new club The Silver Church, which had just been opened. In here, a couple more hundred persons could have been fitted in. Also the club is a fancy one and we’re also talking about Bucharest after all, the capital, a place that people coming from outside the boarders could reach more easily. Yet the mirage of the theater hall in Brasov, seemed to have turned into an obsession almost for everyone. That's how we came to the final decision of organizing the event in 2 different days. In Bucharest we would offer diversity, adding to the line up another underground name, that a year ago was only theoretically thinking about performing a live gig. Because Neige's activity, so far, is one that received massive appreciation I thus decided to bring Alcest along for the ride. And that's about the whole story.

What came a shock to me was the great amount of messages received right after we've announced that the tickets for the Brasov show were sold-out. I got e-mails from people in America, Holland, Italy, England and Greece, telling me that they had already booked air plain tickets and hotels and that they were hoping to find tickets at the entrance. Luckily we found a way to manage with this problem as well. The situation was almost identical for some romanian fans of the Special Evenings, who because of carelessness, did not manage to obtain their tickets in time.

The Bucharest event will be a special one manly because Alcest will go on stage for the first time in their career and because one doesn't know when this weird mix Alcest-Agalloch will be available for the public again. There will be no problem with the tickets here as fans can buy them at the entrance on the very same day of the show.

Don't forget about the exclusive Agalloch CD Edition devoted to the two concerts, available only in 250 copies and coming at an excellent price. It's very rare and it should be a great honor for the participants of the Special Evenings that Agalloch decided to reward their them this way.

There are a lot of rumours and a lot of assurances about the artists who are to visit us in 2010. For me Brendan's Perry concert will be the event of the year and his new album “Ark” will surely overshadow other accomplishments. The Deicide performance will be another show that should not be missed, even if Benton playing without the Hoffman brothers will sound pretty different, in comparison with what they did 15 years ago. In the beginning of the nineties I wouldn't have conceived of actually seeing Deicide play in Romania, ever! Well, Hatework took advantage of their new European tour and on the 30th of May you can be sure you'll see them in Studio Martin. To be checked out.

There are rumors that Sigur Ros will come, or at least Jonsi. And maybe Mayhem, Immortal or Primordial. Rotting Christ will surely be present and I'm certain that other bands who in the past visited us, will do it again. I've noticed that this summer we're having an outdoor festival in the mountain city of Busteni. It's true the bands on the bill are not huge names (at least until now) but nevertheless, the effort needs support and is to be appreciated, as the intention is brave, the bands have a high rating (actually there was a band we would have like to feature in the Special Evenings because of their expressive non musical profile) and the possibility of spending 3 days in Busteni sounds good to most of metal heads. I'm curious what Artmania is cooking up as I'm sensing that the congestion of concerts in the months of May-June-July will empty everyone's pockets. I'm pretty sure August will be a good choice for that festival in Sibiu to take place, but the date must carefully be set, since there are a lot of interesting festivals abroad during that time, some of them with an extended tradition. Everyone keeps saying we're trans passing a time of crisis and I haven't seen so many events being canceled all at once. Still some, will defy the crisis and others will “pass on”, in the most “noble” manner. What's most important is for the audience to get its way with things. Still: Clapton, Metallica, Megadeth, Rammstein, John, The Cranberries, Dylan, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Jarre, Mc Laughlin in just 2 months are quite enough for our little country.

I was telling you, before, about volunteering work, and that I have posted an add about 2 weeks ago with the intention of finding at least one contributor with some spare time and open to new experiences to help out with the Kogaionon&Donis Art platform. I've received a lot of interesting replies but also some lines that made me realize some people's radically different attitude. And so I was reminded of the constant and obsessive reply I am faced with every time I want to organize an event: “What are you offering?”. I started out with the hope of advocating for the quality underground and the artists who are honored to be a part of the Special Evenings but to my surprise a lot of bands I considered to posses a deep underground spirit, possessed instead a corporate-like pragmatic sense. And thus, sometimes, I found myself competing unwillingly with other Romanian promoters who’s only valuable weapon was the fattier financial package deal. So, I had to take a step back, it’s not my style to meddle and fight with others nor is it to ask bands in Romania who only wish to play another gig, have their money and the hell with it. This bands never saw the outside of a hotel room or the bar in which they played , they were interested only in their schedule so perfectly assembled as to not waste a mare minute.

I am sick of this star like attitude, arrogant and over confident, an attitude one can never seem to please. That is why, I hope most of you will understand, we haven’t organized Special Evenings featuring certain bands who’s underground music is outstanding! Maybe I’ll try to put up some simple concerts in the future, I don’t know…which will reward financially both parts involved. I wasn’t interested in this before, all I cared about was the attitude, the determination, the willingness of the bands to spend a few days here, to get to know the fans, Romania, our customs and traditions and ultimately to leave with pleasant memories from this country lacking indefinite visual strategies. I am quite amazed by the fact that some bands, who the public, still regards as underground, can get paid thousand of euros just for a sole performance. Still, that Black Metal concept isn’t at all what it used to be 20 years ago. That’s why, Black Metal has turned into a big phony circus, who’s main actors, once legendary underground figures manage to surround themselves with tons of minions who live off the “rusty” backs. At least, now it’s possible for the band to make money, as 20 years ago most cash flowed in the pockets of people running the labels. All in all, if everybody seems to cash out at some point, all it’s good and shiny. Ideally, a band member should live off his music and I’ve seen this kind of musicians who still haven’t forget how they started. In the end, if I am referring to the underground scene, I can understand why the majority is asking this obnoxious question “What are you offering?” without taking a minute to wonder weather they are ready to receive back something other than the eternal financial obsession.

Looks like I’ve sailed far from shore again. What I’ve been meaning to say all along was that following my add I had to deal with a lot of very pragmatic answers who took the platform for some sort of escape rout out of the crisis. I'd wish I could do that, but it’s impossible with this kind of music I am promoting, this country and in this age we’re living in. I’m sorry if I got somebody’s financial hopes up, but I’m thankful for everybody’s sincerity and openness. I am also glad I did find some contributors who match our mutual expectation…you’ll hear about them soon enough!

I did a lot of talk and maybe I didn’t say anything practical. Yes I did, Agalloch's coming to Romania is pretty much concrete along with their desire to get to know and visit our country. I was baffled when they send me the list of places they would like to see. Some of the places were not familiar even to me. It seems that foreigners know better what our landmarks are. Most of the time, romanians forget all about what’s ours, but their interested is immediately resuscitated when talking about going on a trip in the West. We like to explore other grounds, other overwhelming histories, and in our haste we ignore completely the aphorism of a great patriot “He who will not know his past, will bear no right on the future” (the present need not be included in this saying, as the genuine romanian will use it for his own purposes).

The spring gift (“marţişor” in Romanian) Kogaionon& DonisArt is offering will arrive on the 20th and the 21th of March. Hope to see you at Elite Dark Metal Evening I&II – the last of the Special Evenings under the banner of Kogaionon. It would be a exceptional experience I assure you and I'll be expecting you all.

March 2010.