Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two cents of an Agalloch fan

Agalloch - noun
the fragrant, resinous wood of an East Indian tree, Aquilariaagallocha,  of the mezereum family, used as incense in the Orient.

What started off as a simple demo in the form of 'From which of this oak' has now spawned into four immensely successful albums and a myriad of good EPs which,in the words of the band, represent the fringes of the sounds they want to develop and are the creative outlet for the band.

Formed in 1995, in Portland, Oregon, Agalloch has mainly stayed away from the mainstream metal scene. They have been invariably lumped into a variety of genres, post rock, folk metal, doom metal being some of them. But as singer/guitarist John Haughm puts it, Agalloch started off as a Dark metal band and that is how they intend it to be always.

Right from their demo tape upto the hugely successful 'Marrow of the spirit', which was rated as one of the best albums of 2010, Agalloch's lyrical themes have revolved around Pantheism, nature, winter and Nordic imagery. They have also been heavily influenced by cinema of the likes of Ingmar Bergman, Bila Tarr, Bernardo Bertolucci and the like. The band didn't start performing live until very recently and have done so to rave responses especially from the fans in Europe. So much so, they have even come out with a live DVD which includes some interviews from the band which are pretty hard to find otherwise. Also included on the live DVD are some amazing captures of the natural surrounds which are an absolute must-have.

The band's first full length album was 'Pale Folklore' and the melancholic riffs of the demo tape were carried forward but their sound evolved as it has with every album. The songs on this record were mostly around the 10 minute mark which has now become a real trademark of the band. 'Dead winter days', 'Hallways of Enchanted Ebony' and 'The melancholy spirit' were some of the masterpieces off this album.

The band's second full length venture was ' The Mantle' which in my humble opinion is the band's best and most complete effort. The band unanimously state in interviews that this is invariably a Portland album, set around the scenic locales of the area where the band come from. This album contains the 14 and a half minute epic, 'In the shadow of our pale companion' which was the song which got me into Agalloch. Other notable songs include, among others, the musical masterpiece, 'Odal', the acoustic based, 'A desolation song' and ' You were but a ghost in my arms'.

After 'The mantle', the band stripped down their music and produced a more metal based album in the form of 'Ashes against the grain'. Acoustic sections, which were so prevalent on 'The Mantle' were dropped and it also gave us a glimpse of Agalloch's first real upbeat song in the form of 'Falling snow'. This album includes the three part magnum opus, 'Our fortress is burning' characterized with amazingly solemn bass lines and heart wrenching riffs and lyrics to back up.

The band's latest offering, 'Marrow of the spirit' has almost seen the band come full circle. You can see traces and snippets of all the earlier work done by Agalloch in this one. Also this album is characterized by the raw sound, quite like the demo due to analog recording as insisted by the band. As always, the epic song of this album is the 17 and a half minute long epic, 'Black Lake Nidstang'. More than anything this album leaves the door open for endless possibilities to take this band forward into unknown realms where not many artists have gone. I for one, cannot wait to get my 'Ashes against the Grain' official shirt, my first piece of Agalloch merchandise and yes you guessed it, it was pretty hard to find!

The Maple Tree

Silhouttes of a long forgotten summer
Despair ekes, devoid of color
Its solemn boughs flail
lost vigor 'neth a barrage of hail

The repugnant winter breeze
fleecing away, nothing can it appease

The morose being, a once haven
Left desultory by the loathsome winter so brazen
no defatigable melancholy, no desires to elope
Spring's advent springs eternal hope

From Mexico - With love

Amores Perros (Love's a bitch)
Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Emilio Echevarria, Goya Toledo
Directed by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
Released - 2000.

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

Although the literal translation of the title is 'Love's a bitch', it could well have been 'Love is betrayal' for that is the common motif running through this film.

Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu is the director who also came out with the immensely successful 'Babel' and after watching this film, it's pretty clear that Babel is a more expansive, telling and dare I say 'globalized' version of this Mexican film. Like 'Babel' the theme of the movie revolves around an incident which affects a bunch of people in conflicting ways, and then sets off another chain of events. The film basically tells three different tales which are inextricably linked by this incident.

In the first tale, Gael garcia bernal plays Octavio, who is in love with his brother's wife, Susana who is treated like a rag doll by Octavio's brother. The next tale involves an advertising executive who is cheating on his wife with a spanish supermodel while the third tale tells the story of a former professor who abandoned his family to become a guerilla and as he puts it to "change the world for good".

Although 'Amores Perros' has its dull moments, the first hour blows most Hollywood crime thrillers out of the water with its upright impact and brutal pace. The film's backdrop is set on the unforgiving streets of Mexico city and dog fighting which has been a controversial topic in recent years forms the basis of what sets off the chain of events which goes on to define the destiny of the characters. Inarritu also employs the use of symbolic parables, a story within a story, to drive home his point, especially during the parts where the story seems to fall apart a bit.

Finally 'Amores Perros' laid the basis for what turned out to be the biggest success of Inarritu's career in the form of 'Babel' and although it is not as hard-hitting as 'City of God' was, I'd still rate it four and a half stars out of five. A definite must watch and a great advert for mexican cinema.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lake Fritha

Act I
"Oh the wonders the lord creates
These marvels for which to conjure, he deigns
This pastoral beauty around me
sings to me, a solemn yet soothing madrigal
while the sun shines in all its glory
This truth we all see
But I shall never forget!

But for a moment
for all but a fleeting moment
The sky goes dark
Coldness engulfs the plains
The sun bears a cold white mask
Birds scamper to their burrows
The wolves howl
Is this the end?
Has God forsaken us?
Is this the inevitable damnation we brought upon us?

Will the earth devour us all?
Will the sky fall upon us?
Will the mountains run off?
Will the lakes turn crimson?

But then
the crescent rays appear
It is not over..

We have escaped the weight of darkness..
To drown in another, solemn nihil.

Act II

Mount of Tormod:
"I am the one
the protector of my love
from every evil..
every repugnant soul

I see cold disregard
this pillaging I witness
Fritha...(cold whispers)
Bloody tears I shed
for those damned, will suffer

With icy hands I bury my love
Her tomb damp with my piercing tears
Snow falls on these wounds
My tears shall never freeze
for they will live on forever
with her sacred, virgin soul..


"Ragged, raped, disfigured
a corpse led to rot
in a long forgotten grave

My decadence shall fill you with misery
for you are but caricatures of God

This peril I portend
shall engulf you
and posterity

This truth you see but choose to forget
this truth which I shall take to my black tomb

This silence shall pierce your ears
These ghouls within me shall torment you
A blackened curse to those who corrupt these sacrosanct waters
A curse to those who lay waste to these poignant haunts

This truth you see but choose to forget
this truth which I shall take to my black tomb"


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Assertions of a labyrinthine mind

The cello, I believe was invented for the single purpose of evoking an emotion in those, listening to it.

All around me I see caricatures. The ideal son, the ideal brother, the ideal lover, the ideal student, the ideal disciple, the ideal.. well pervert, yeah there are those too. I look at myself and wonder, which one am I?

They say things aren't usually what they appear. But if I believe in the world I see around me, I also believe the above caricatures aren't just mythical beings or prototypes created to control the chaos around us. I guess now that I think of it, maybe I do have miniscule traces of each these caricatures in me but I also do know I'm a very good liar. Sorry about that guys.

There are points in everyone's life when they, as they put it, take stock of their life. Look at what they have and what they lack. I've also read somewhere that it is important in life, to not necessarily be happy or content but to feel happy. It is also implied in various self-help books and through mundane advise that you should be happy for what you have, money, a home, clothes.(Although I should state here that I indeed am thankful for a lot of things that do matter in my life and I always will be). But it always struck me, why do we have to measure this happiness, per se, in terms of material possessions? Will these acquisitions truly make anyone happy? It's what we encounter on a daily basis. Our priorities sway from week to week, day to day, sometimes. Once we acquire something we want, there's no time to sit back, feel gratified and be happy about it, the dash begins as we pursue the next thing we crave. It's like going around in circles with no stop signs in sight.

What pleases me amidst all this is while my life has gone on, I've started developing a tendency to find happiness in the smallest of things, which usually are the purest and the most sacrosanct and yet regretfully neglected by most. Looking back, if I may now, I feel like my life was pretty much mapped out for me for the last ten years at least. Having said that, during any fleeting yet cherishable moments of weakness, where I wished things were different, I am the only one I can find to blame. And I can safely say that, the fact that I can say that so assuredly is very calming and soothing because it emblazons me with the assurance that at least a part of my destiny is within my control if not all of it.
What scares me more about myself is not the turbulence that persists within me but how I can so effectively and effortlessly conceal it from those around me.

Dedicated to everyone who has been there for me and helped me make what I am now :)

The foolish lover - V

You are the ray of light
in the array of darkness in my life
You are the reason I fight
And smilingly face every strife

You are my only inspiration
And the source for my positive vibration
Hope is one thing i find in you
And every day now i find brand new

You make me wanna be better
Now,never comes to my mind,the thought of being a quitter
You are my ray of light
You are the reason i fight

Never thought i would love someone so much
And have intense feelings as such
But now that i do
I'm so glad its you

The foolish lover - IV

My days without you,so empty
As listless as life in a lifeless city
This feeling of you not being here
And you were right,this really isnt fair

Wish i could look into ur eyes once again
I'll be there to protect you from any pain
Wish i could hold u in my arms one more time
I'm sorry if thinking so much about you is a crime

I wish i could say exactly what i feel in words
The thought of not being with you is like my heart being sliced by swords
This feeling of you not being here
And you were right,this really isnt fair

I pray to God our love lasts forever
Give me a cure,i suffer from ur fever
Wish i could hold u in my arms one more time
I'm sorry if thinking so much about you is a crime