Friday, October 24, 2008

Hexentanz – Nekrocrafte (2004)

Although more properly known as a collaboration between The Soil Bleeds Black and Psychonaut 75 members, Hexentanz came to my knowledge as a side-project of Black Funeral mainman Michael Ford. Occult ritual ambience spawned from the same dark mind? Yes, please.

And I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I've yet to find any other piece of music that feels so purely occult. Created to channel the spirit of the ancient Witches Sabbath, Nekrocrafte evokes vespertine gatherings; shambling processions of fevered worshipers performing unholy abeissance to dead or neonate gods. The indistinct sound of chanting is captured in ambient drone whilst drums beat with the heady fever of trance. Male and female voices channel inhuman tongues, hell diplomats coercing and threatening. Period instruments, mark of The Soil Bleeds Black, lend their wearied cries.

Each piece retains ritualistic simplicity; mesmerizing thematic loops reinforcing the inner focus of shared energies inherent to spiritual congregations. This makes for great background or mood music, something to really let your mind go to, but it also means that each song is fairly straightforward. Thankfully, that's more or less the intent, as Hexentanz abstain from attempting to truss up their sound, choosing instead to keep it natural and true to the source. Extra goat horns for the excellent treatment of vocals. Not only do they manage to keep out of cheese territory, but they achieve the rarity of genuine creepiness.

Verdict: Win [4/5]

1 comment:

autothrall said...

Second opinion I wrote for Agonia Records:

Nekrocrafte is the sort of record I don't hear nearly enough: an evil voyage into the whispered annals of black witchcraft, forsaken magic and abyssal overtures made wholly authentic through its curious and distinct sense of instrumentation, not to mention its compositional choices which subtly drag the listener into its depths to kiss the vile hell-stuff from which it is wrought. A ritual, conceptual ambient work forged from simplistic, tribal percussion patterns, gentle repetitions of medieval strings, a tumult of ghoulish narration, samples and vocals, and even instruments carved from human bones. Yes, my children, Hexentanz is just that fucked up, and though I might not have ever become aware of Nekrocrafte (originally released in 2004 through the Fossil Dungeon) without this new reissue through Agonia Records out of Poland, its nonetheless fallen into regular rotation in my earphones.

Surrounding a concept of the Witches Sabbath as an outlet for darkness rather than the happy go lucky Wiccan fetish of the day, the album presents 9 tracks in about 35 minutes, with no room for the fatty excess of monotony. No padding whatsoever. Every moment a delight of passion and haunting which will resonate long after the din of the drumming fades. "Mark of the Witch" is a personal favorite, with a mesmerizing drum pattern smothered in bells, soothing strings and harsh, ritualistic occult musings, broken up only by the ambient-leading interlude. But there is just not a track on the album that fails to in some way immerse the audience into the alien and undefined world of corrupted magic. "Devil's Mass" is deeply tribal, exotic and ominous due to the imprint of its beats, while "Birth is Through Blood" relies more heavily on the narration of its obscure, lecherous voices. "Bringer of the Luciferian Flame" feels like a nexus of camp horror atmosphere and monastic chanting, while "Dirge to the Deceased" is so damned malevolent that i felt I was being cursed directly through listening.

The production here is rich and textured, yet not at all polished, and thus the listener truly feels that he or she is in the middle of the ritual itself, its implications echoing off the blood stained walls of some summoning chamber. An orgy of spectral magnificence. The one downside to the album is that it has never been followed up. One is forced to listen through which such wicked jubilation knowing that its merely a thing of the past. Fortunately, for most this will be their first time down the dimly lit corridors into its carnal, thirsting atmospheres. If you can imagine a vile revocation of Dead Can Dance or Arcana's root aesthetics, with percussion redolent of Hagalaz' Runedance, then you're in the right space for this. Faustian, fucked, and fantastic.

Verdict: Epic Win [9.25/10]