Canadian folk influenced ritual doom metal band Völur impressed us hugely earlier this year when they released Ancestors throught he excellent Prophecy Productions. Owen Coggins wrote “An all around excellent, focused and adventurous addition to a small but so far extremely high-quality catalogue for this band.” about Ancestors in his review for Echoes and Dust. We asked Lucas Gadke from the band about the 3 albums that have influenced him the most as a songwriter for the band…
The musical influences are wide and varied, stretching across each member’s life and career. Laura and I met in a jazz history class but originally bonded over really heavy doom and black metal, but she and James come from the post-rock world (although Jimmy is a big metalhead and OG Iron Maiden fan). I’d say we’re big into weird music, concept albums and strange folk music.
Somehow choosing these three records came really easily to me, even though I initially thought it would be really difficult to choose only three. There are records that I could say have influenced me in a conceptual way, especially those bass heavy records – like anything that has Ray Brown on it! (there’s a great duo record of him and Duke Ellington that’s really profound for the first half of the record) – but for Echoes and Dust I have selected three albums that directly inspired me to start writing, and to start composing in a non song-oriented way.
Earth – Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method
I tend to put doom in a broad and ethereal category. And often I like to use the word “doom” as a stand alone descriptor as opposed to “doom metal”. This is not a metal record by any stretch, but it is a cold, lonely and spacious record that stretches on for miles. It’s probably cliche to say that this record sounds like the desert, once drove through Utah blasting this and it really shook me to the core. I believe that this album is the one that got me into doom as a genre, and began my life-long worship of Earth. Carlson’s playing and riff writing is so direct and simple yet filled with emotion. There’s sense of space that is unmatched on any other album I’ve ever heard. Trombone creeps into fill the sound up in some songs, and on others we’re left with long stretches of just drums, or of guitar harmonics. At times it is claustrophobic as well, and despite being generated by a simple quartet. Some songs are not as polished as some of their later period stuff, or as heavy and crushing as their early material, but it falls neatly in the middle. Hex is a record that illustrated a formed vision of a band, born out of an old band. I love it to death. And of course, the album art on the LP is unbelievably beautiful.
Anton Webern – The Complete Music directed by Robert Craft
I inherited this box set from an ex’s grandfather, who was the former head of music at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He was a fascinating and brilliant man with an incredible story and a warm heart. He passed on a little while ago and I dearly miss him.
Anton Webern, Austrian composer and student of Arnold Schoenberg, was a visionary and an iconoclast. His music changed the very language of modern music. Any time you hear a strange soundtrack in a horror movie or imagine what pretentious modern art music sounds like, you are hearing Webern. This collection showcases his brilliant, yet small body of small works, and most of it religious and vocal music. Once again, I’m intrigued by the space. Within each piece you have the foundation of a conceptual universe, a language that pervades the piece and then is discarded. His finest achievement, the two movement, perhaps 12 minute long ‘Symphony’, is a mind bendingly beautiful piece that straddles the line between haunting and grotesque and soft and gorgeous. The music is plainly presented, and recorded in 60s high fidelity, which had a marvellous way of showcasing small ensemble pieces without getting too polished or too crackly and distorted. Simply gorgeous. His music, alongside that of Thelonious Monk, shows that melodies can have internal logic, and that you can build a musical language that you can draw from as an artist over your career. Webern’s music is very recognizable, but not stale or repetitive.
Muzsikás – Nem Arról Hajnallik, Amerről Hajnallott (Prisoners’ Songs)
Little known outside of folk music circles and their native Hungary, Muzsikás have been playing a working Hungarian folk music since the 80s. This album, their second effort is an undisputed masterpiece. A masterful blending of unequivocally authentic folk melodies and timbres with newer sounds like the electric bass. While touring with Blood Ceremony in Finland, Sean, our guitar player found this record in a shop. I fell in love with cover art and promptly stole it out of his hands. When we got back I must have listened to this record over one hundred times. The opening song really changed the way I think about vocals, with its clean, soaring, rough folkiness. The arrangements are wonderful and direct and filled with an equal measure of sadness and joy. The music rolls on with unbelievable force. Beautiful songs and vocal pieces are mixed with fiddle showcases that create a diverse and engaging listening experience.
I got to see Muzsikás in a different form performing “the lost Jewish music of Transylvania” at the Jewish cultural festival in Toronto and it was absolutely fantastic. I even lingered after the show and had them sign my record. The only other person I’ve done that to is Dylan Carlson.