In a round-up yesterday I disclosed that I spent a lot of time on Saturday catching up with new music I was interested in hearing. I actually just scratched the surface, but still got submerged in a lot of metallic extremity. As palate cleansers, I sometimes gave my ears and my head a break by venturing into music I knew in advance wouldn’t be the usual bread and butter of NCS. From those off-the-beaten-path excursions I selected the following music to share with you.
I don’t mean to suggest that there’s no metal here at all, and a couple of the names will be well-known to NCS readers, but it’s still different. And you’ll also find that there is a lot of globe-hopping coming your way.
THY CATAFALQUE (Hungary)
I can always recognize the music of Thy Catafalque when I hear it, regardless of which vocalist happens to be accompanying Tamás Kátai. It may have something to do with his guitar tunings and his use of rhythms, but mainly it’s rooted in his crafting of melodies. I wish I could confidently assert that the melodies are connected to the folk traditions of his Hungarian homeland, but I’m just assuming that, because I’m not a student of Hungarian folk music. To my untrained ears, all I can say is that the sounds are exotic to me, and both earthy and haunting. But really, those two adjectives just skim the surface, because across the breadth of Thy Catafalque‘s extraordinary discography, there are many other sensations as well.
Thy Catafalque is on my mind because this past weekend I finally caught up with the music video for “Napút“, a song off Thy Catafalque‘s most recent album Naiv. Tamás Kátai says: “This is a video we shot in my home town, Makó. Many of these locations are the places I grew up in and although nothing fancy is going on, it was nice to get back to where the songs came from. With this one, we close the lid on Naiv and focus on the next album.”
It’s a wonderful, driving song, in which the magical voice of Martina Veronika Horváth plays a leading role. And I hope I won’t be accused of sexism when I say that her beauty plays a leading role in the video too.
DOWNLOAD / STREAM NAIV:
JARI LINDHOLM (Sweden)
Many of you will recognize the name Jari Lindholm as the mastermind of Enshine and Exgenesis, two bands who’ve received a lot of coverage over the years here at NCS (and of course at many other locations). Yes his newest record, set for release on February 12th by Naturmacht Productions, is a solo effort. According to a statement on the Bandcamp page for this forthcoming album, Tapestries, “It is one of many visions that had been a long time coming and in 2020 as the world stood still the opportunity came to finally realize it”.
The same Bandcamp page also credits performances by Xinês (drums), Bernardo Yacono (drums), Silvério Simioni (acoustic guitar), and Vinas Peixoto (percussion), who recorded their performances in Portugal, Argentina, and Brazil, respectively. No vocals on this one, which probably would have spoiled the effect.
The two songs you can hear now are atmospheric audio tapestries that are glorious and soul-warming — and powerfully head-moving.
BLACK KIRIN (China)
The Chinese band Black Kirin have three albums to their name, and a bunch of shorter releases. Metal-Archives will tell you that their music is folk-influenced melodic death metal, and I’m not hear to tell you anything different because I can’t remember ever hearing any of those records. Their latest release, however, isn’t melodic death metal of any variety but is instead a re-writing of three of their previous songs in the arrangement of traditional Chinese folk music, and they are performed with acoustic instrumentation. There is also a bonus track to be included with a physical edition of this release that is an acoustic version of a song that will appear on Black Kirin‘s next album, the name of which is Ascending.
The title of this new EP is 庚子 Gengzi, which was chosen (as the band say) to memorialize the past and look forward to new beginnings after the chaos of the last year. It was released through Pest Productions on December 25th. I found it beautiful, and often spellbinding.
NILOTIKA CULTURAL ENSEMBLE (Uganda)
I discovered the Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes in early December after being steered to the Kenyan band Duma and a pair of videos promoting their self-titled album (which I wrote about here). Since then I’ve been following the label, and that’s how I learned about their newest release (it came out last week), a two-track debut EP entitled Ejokawulida by Nilotika Cultural Ensemble. To quote from the EP’s Bandcamp page:
“Consisting of seven drummers under the leadership of Jajja Kalanda, Nilotika lure us into a mesmeric sonic kingdom dominated by furious beats against dense and complex polyphonic textures. Played with unrelenting energy and innate power over a repetitive trance-inducing structure both tracks are an urgent exploration of different rhythmic territories through intricate patterns, rapid undulations and haunting build-ups… The first track Ejokawulida is based on rhythms of Iteso traditional music from the eastern part of Uganda, whilst Kekusimbe is inspired by a variant of Bugandan traditional music called Bakisiimba”.
I can see other metalheads besides myself digging this. It’s mind-blowing.
TE VAKA (Polynesia)
To close, I’ve chosen two videos that capture live performances by Te Vaka, a world-renowned group of performers whose members come from across the vast expanse of Polynesia. Their music and dance puts a contemporary spin on Polynesian music while maintaining strong connections to its roots.
Te Vaka been in existence since 1994, but I only discovered them recently while searching for music that was based around Polynesian drumming, which is an interest I’ve had for many years but hadn’t spent much time exploring until I discovered the Tahitian black metal band Te Ruki (whom I wrote about here last November).
If you check out these videos, you’ll understand why I decided to include them after the music of the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble. I enjoyed the hell out of both of them — and they’re just the tip of the iceberg of Te Vaka‘s video catalogue. Te Vaka also have an extensive catalogue of recordings, and the ones I intend to check out first are Te Vaka Beats and Te Vaka Beats Vol. 2, which are devoted to logdrum and skin-drum percussion and chants – the kind of music that’s featured in the first video below. The second one includes dancing as well as drumming.
OFFICIAL WEB SITE: