Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mira: The Empress of Darkness

If you, the reader, ever have an opportunity to browse through my Facebook news feed,  you'll see that the usual diet of friend's postings and funny cat pictures are offset by a consistent flow of Gothic photography and graphics; these coming from various groups that I belong to or pages that I've liked. From time to time, I have attempted to find the original sources of these photos in order to secure permission for use on this blog. 

Two or three weeks ago one such photograph came across my news feed that I quickly found myself enamored with. The model, who calls herself Mira, The Empress of Darkness, is seen standing outside a large, log house, which according to the photo, was built between 1620 and 1630. Her dark appearance integrates perfectly with the setting as grass and wild flowers grow atop this most rustic-looking of buildings. The scene is both Gothic and pastoral; I find it beautiful.

Although Miramariann, as she also calls herself, is a very compelling model, it is both her style of dress and the settings at which her photo-ops take place that I find equally appealing

Several  years back, I wrote a series of short stories and novelettes in which a lady named Raven is a central character. In each of these tales she dresses darkly but elegantly. Truth be told, Miramariann's fashion sense is almost exactly as I envisioned my Raven's at the time--dark, stylish, but not excessive. And just as my tales of Raven are generally cast in rural and natural settings, so are Miramariann's photo sessions; which apparently, take place in her native Norway. I consider the mix of her dark fashion, the rural setting in which her photo shoots take place, and the historic structures she and her photographer cast in the background, as art in the truest sense of the word. If nothing else, I'm amazed at how Mira's offerings mesh so well with my own imagination as seen through a fictitious character named Raven that I created some time ago.

I'm including a couple of favorites from Miramariann's collection here. But if you'd like to view more of her material you can visit her Facebook Page, which can be found right here.

She also has a blog that contains some wonderful photos. The text is in Norwegian, but Mira has graciously installed Google Translate, which is accessible from the top of the page. It helps! Believe me! Mira's Gotiske Verden can be found here.

Photos appear here courtesy of Mira: The Empress of Darkness          

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Interview With D.J. Durandal

This past Saturday night, I attended Fayetteville's second Darkness Resurrected Dance Night. As with the first event, there were several Deejays contributing to the musical offering. A lively group of people showed up and there was dancing, lots of socializing and a renewed consumption of the venue's now famous test-tube shots.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that, until fairly recently, I was bemoaning my near loner status as far as the Goth world was concerned. Things are improving now, and events suited to the local Goth community are finally taking place. First there was the Victorian event, which took place around last Christmas. Then, the first Darkness Resurrected Dance Night occurred back in May. Around mid July, Voltaire came to town, and just this past Saturday, we partied at the second Darkness Resurrected event. The one constant at the most recent three events has been the presence of D.J. Durandal Roland.

It didn't take me very long to figure out that D.J. Durandal is a driving force behind the resurrection (no pun intended) of Fayetteville's active Goth scene. So when I received word that he and his family will soon be leaving town and heading to points south, it occurred to me that perhaps, I should request an interview while I have the opportunity. After all, considering the work he's done in organizing, publicizing, ticket selling, coordinating with other deejays, etc., I feel it only right that I should repay the favor by giving this dedicated person whatever amount of exposure I can. So then, what follows is a short interview with D.J. Durandal:

D.J. Durandal, welcome to the Gothic Embrace.

D:Thank you.
I'd like to start out by asking, what made you want to be a deejay and how long have you been doing it?

D: I used to go to some crazy parties a couple of years back, and there was a point where I enjoyed being in control of the music more than any other aspect of the party, so I decided to volunteer myself as the DJ for these parties. I originally bought a very simple MIDI crossfader that didn't have the simulated turntables, the accursed sync button, or similar features, just faders and knobs. So while I've been doing parties for almost 2 years, my first bar gig was Darkness Resurrected in May.
Do any gigs stand out as being the most memorable? And why so?
D: Given that I have done 3 real gigs, I would say they all stand out at the moment.
What are your main considerations when putting together a playlist?
D: I try to make sure I do not have many repeat songs from prior sets that I have done, depending on whether or not I believe the same people might be in attendance. While a DJ might have a favorite song or two that you know you probably will hear during his/her set, I don't believe the setlist should be all familiar to the audience. I spend a good part of my day listening to internet radio while I work, taking note when I hear something catchy that I have not heard before.
  I also try to incorporate a few different styles of music into my playlist as well, to try to please a wider variety of ears. I know it can get boring to hear the same 130bpm OOntz Oontz all night long.
As the main force behind the Darkness Resurrected Dance Nights, what inspired you to create this event?

D: This one may be difficult to believe, but I started it up because I was (and still am) too poor to drive to Tulsa for Assimilation. The gasoline, plus hotel, made for an expensive trip. If I lose $50 on DRDN, then I will have spent less than it would have cost to go out of town. Of course, there is a lot of work that goes on, and breaking down equipment at 2am can be tiring. A side inspiration was the fact that I wanted the opportunity to have an event that essentially was just how I wanted it, enjoyable music, no drama, just good fun.
Many of us have heard the news that you and your family will soon be leaving Fayetteville. Do you have any projects planned for the near future and do you plan to continue organizing events here

 D: Yes, on both counts. November 1st will be the first Halloween Ball, and it will be at the Stolen Glass as have been prior DRDN events. I am really excited about this, as we will be able to expose DRDN to more people who would not otherwise know about the event. In addition, this event will likely allow me to build up some savings to use in booking bigger name DJs from out of town. I also have a number of band bookings in mind. My plan is to continue DRDN in Fayetteville roughly every other month, schedules and venue allowing, with the alternate months hosting a DRDN in Little Rock, AR.
Any parting words or thoughts for us?
D: This one I actually had to think about. I've seen goth events come and go in various locations, Fayetteville included. In every case that I've seen, a large portion of the blame could be laid at the feet of those who refused to participate because their ex would be there, or someone who had spurned them, etc. I had misgivings about starting up DRDN because I didn't want to have to bump into people who had given me a hard time in the past, but I got past it. That was a life lesson to me, that I shouldn't let problems I've had with other people hold me back. As long as you're living in the past, you can't see to the future.

D.J. Durandal, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview and for all of your work on behalf of the local Goth community. The best of luck to you and your family as you all pursue your dreams.

 D: Thanks again to you as well. I'm excited about what will be coming soon!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Solitude Productions: The Masters of Doom

As I begin typing this post, I am listening to my latest acquisition from Solitude Productions, an album entitled Glad to Be Dead by the Russian melodic-death/doom group, Wine From Tears. It's the band's second CD and in my opinion, is every bit as good as their previous; which incidentally, I find quite amazing. 

Solitude Productions, which heralds from Russia, came into being in July, 2005. According to the organization's website, the founding of the company was to promote Russian doom metal, in all of its various sub genres, while offering performers a label and a place at which they could professionally record their material. The people at Solitude express their original intentions this way:

"The reason for label foundation lies behind the fact that many underground bands within doom metal frames create excellent music, but experience problems with finding the label, because no so many labels are interested in the style. Besides that, a significant part of material issued under “doom metal” trade mark actually is not (offering variations of gothic metal and melodic death metal), and the label (together with website supported by the same team) aims for providing correct information about the style as it is."

Once Solitude Productions rolled into gear, it started signing up Russian groups specializing in both funeral and sludge doom. Before long however, the organization began offering the same opportunities to bands from other former Soviet bloc countries as well. As a case in point, I first became aware of Solitude when I discovered a Serbian group called Tales of Dark, which has often been referred to as a Gothic/doom band. While I don't remember where I discovered them, I do recall ordering their first full-length CD, entitled Fragile Moments, as soon as I could. To this day I still enjoy listening to that album, especially the hypnotically dark song called Mephistorium. 

The company also became known for releasing other classic doom albums performed by groups such as Ocean of Sorrow, Autumnia and Evoken. Of course, categorizing music can be a messy affair and often the material artists create doesn't fit nicely into any particular genre--including doom metal. To address this situation, the BadBloodMan label was created near the end of 2006. Here's what the folks at Solitude say about their creation of the new label: 

" Finally the bands playing doom metal, doom-death, funeral doom or sludge doom were associated with mother label Solitude Productions, while the bands playing in other styles (for example, melodic death), featuring, however, doom metal elements were associated with BadMoodMan Music." 

Over time, Solitude Productions' reputation for promoting high-quality doom metal grew and today, various bands from Western Europe, and even the United States, have traveled all the way to the city of Orel, which lies some 370 km from Moscow, to record their music. That to me, is a powerful statement indeed; and as the owner of several albums produced there, I can honestly say that I haven't heard anything it has produced that isn't top notch. If you love metal, especially doom, you owe it to yourself to give a listen to some of the music recorded there. 

The following video contains Tales of Dark's studio edition of Mephistorium as found on the band's Fragile Moments album. It features Arpad Takac on growls and clean male vocals with Jovana Karajanov supplying the wonderfully contrasting female voice. Of course, I do not own the copyright to this music but provide it here in support of good metal. WARNING! TRI-TONES AHEAD!   


Solitude Production's website

Encylopedia Metalum: The Metal Archives