Underground Sounds: Krallice – Go Be Forgotten

Label: Hathenter/Giliad Media
Band: Krallice
Origin: USA

How do you even get to this level of productivity, without slacking somehow in your quality? I have no idea how they do it, but here’s the new Krallice, titled ‘Go Be Forgotten’. It’s their second full length of 2017 and one hell of a record, mixing jazzy noise with black metal and hardcore-sludge or whatever.

The band has sort of just released ‘Löum’, together with Dave Edwardson from Neurosis. You’d say that we may have slightly recovered from that piece of work. This is the latest and it actually made it to various end of year lists. Good on you guys, I’d say. I was just a bit baffled after listening to it because these New Yorkers rarely make for an easy listen.

 

It seems like Krallice is moving in the direction of noise or even something akin to industrial, with the gritty beats on ‘This Forest For Which We Have Killed’. A solid layer of bass forms, like a curtain of pulverized glass or construction residue. Beyond that layer is space, for the vocals to bark into the void. Relentless aptly describes the flow of fury that Krallice directs at the listener. Frantically paced and never opening up for a breath, the band sounds more and more like a blend of hardcore, noise and black metal to me.
Remarkably, a grand experience can also be a part of that violent, abrasive sound. The title track embraces big arches and soaring synths. The wide contrast opens up a whole new space for Krallice to play in. The sound explores restlessness, dynamics, and complex structures, sometimes verging on jazz even? The 10-minute onslaught of ‘Ground Prayer’ for example, seems to meander from different pace as much as in intensity, with every new measure, while the vocals keep insistently barking at you.
Krallice may be one of the most intense and surprising bands out there and like every one of their records, this may take you some time to wrap your head around.

Underground Sounds: Eschatos – MÆRE

Label: Independent
Band: Eschatos
Origin: Latvia

The Latvian black metallers Eschatos have in my opinion never made a bad record. Sure, their production is not as high, but if you bring out stuff like ‘MÆRE’, I think we’re fine. It’s the third release by the band, that calls Riga their home and has had a steady line-up since 2012.

Interesting enough, this is their first EP. Maere offers a new look and feel to the band, driven more towards the artistic connections of the band members perhaps. More a voice of themselves, with a cover that stands out in a black and white adoring scene. Perhaps we are seeing Eschatos rise from the cocoon of the last few years here and find a unique voice in the black metal landscape.

This is immediately clear on ‘Luminary Eye Against The Sky’. The music works more as a flow, with a particular glow, seemingly moving in a more post-metal direction. The harrowing vocals of singer Kristiāna Kārkliņa are still there to raise the hair on the back of your neck, but it’s Marko Rass who really colors the sound with effects, keys, and even organ sounds. A slight folky element seeps into the song at the intro already. It’s the core of the music that changed most though, dynamic drum work by Edvards Percevs and a throbbing bass by Tomass Beķeris make the world of difference.

Guitars do much to even put more feeling and drive in the sound. Edgars Gultnieks, formerly of Grondh and also active in Protean, knows his stuff. Mārtiņš Platais, also in Pulse of Nebulae, adds work on guitars, bass, and keys to the whole array of sound as the producer. That wealth of instruments is particularly clear on the second part of the album, titled ‘The Night of the White Devil (part I, II & III)’. A big piece, filled with elements of postrock and even proggy sections as the suite spirals forwards, exploring various musical directions on its way. An interesting fact is that the mastering was done by Dan Swanö, perhaps explaining the clear and melodic sound of the record. The second song is definitely a big masterpiece, where Kārkliņa can demonstrate the full range of her vocal talent.

This is Eschatos at its best this far, I love it. MÆRE offers a journey that is exciting, every step of the way. Full of surprising elements, but in all its variety always coherent in its majesty.

Underground Sounds: Duncan Krummel – She Kills Monsters

Label: Unknown
Artist: Duncan Krummel
Origin: USA

It’s with some excitement, that I came across this piece of music, which is the soundtrack to the play ‘She Kills Monsters’ by Qui Nguyen. The play is a dramatic comedy, about a girl finding solace in Dungeons & Dragons after the death of her sister, where she enters a world that makes any geeky heart pound a lot faster.

Duncan Krummel has composed a lot of music scores, winning various awards doing so. Quite an achievement, since Krummel is still pursuing his studies, currently at the Royal Conservatoire in Scotland. This score was used for the performance of ‘She Kills Monsters’ at the Bowe Theatre, directed by Rachel Harry.

The soundtrack opens with the typical grandeur of a fantastic story, with big horns, swooping sounds and big arches. It’s no surprise to enter the realm of the story in this manner on the title track. We move onwards with captivating tunes, into the heavy metal shredding of ‘Team of Badasses’, with that pounding, gritty sound of cool…badasses? You can instantly picture it, which is really quite cool and sometimes I hear something like this in my head when my character moves in during a D&D game.

The power of the soundtrack is how it totally makes you see the things happening. On ‘Farrah The Fairy’, the twinkling piano clearly resembles the fluttering of the wings and frantic energy of a fairy. The last songs of the album, leading up to climax ‘Tiamat’, appear to be the deep dungeon part of the story, where you crawl further through danger and risk, onwards to that final boss fight. The epic scale of the music is very befitting the setting and rather enjoyable. I say, check it out!

Underground Sounds: Auðn – Farvegir Fyrndar

Label: Season of Mist
Band: Auðn
Origin: Iceland

Auðn is that one band from Iceland with members that are not a part of every other band. Yeah, the island of ice and snow has a unique, small black metal scene, with passionate musicians. These gents have been active since 2010 and now are finally returning with their second album. ‘Farvegir Fyrndar is an absolute gem in the modern black metal landscape and from its artwork to sound oozes a unique flavor.

Not just within the black metal realm is Auðn a noteworthy name, even within the Icelandic scene they stand apart. Their first self-titled album came out back in 2014 and in my humble opinion, it simply stands apart from the scene at large thanks to its refinement in the sound of the Hveragerði band.

There’s something vibrant and lush in the music of Auðn. Their atmospheric music often simply relies on generating just that, the feeling of an environment full of life and with a flourishing energy to boot. At times the band can sound utterly melancholic, like on ‘Skuggar’, but the best version of the Icelanders to me is when they create such a throbbing, invigorating burst of energy and warmth. This is what you get on ‘Lífvana Jörð’. The piercing vocals of Hjalti Sveinsson have a fire in them that really hits the mark.

‘Prísund’ is another stand-out track, because it utilizes the wall of guitar, that creates the sensation of rain. Coming down like showers, on one of those miserable days when everything feels grey. At times Auðn moves in an even more and more postrock-defined direction, pushing together the elements to create an almost tapestry of sound. Then a slight tremolo shimmer emerges in the pattern and shakes it all apart again.

It’s a remarkable record, that shows how the right soil produces greatness.

Underground Sounds: Rebirth of Nefast – Tabernaculum

Band: Rebirth of Nefast
Label: Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Origin: Ireland (now Iceland)

Stephen Lockhart is a man of dedication and after leaving his native Ireland, he has hooked up with the Icelandic scene ever since. The man played in Sinmara but has also returned to his own project Rebirth of Nefast after almost 10 years. The album ‘Tabernaculum’ is an extraordinary work of art and one that has been in the making for years due to the desire of Lockhart to make something monumental.

Rebirth of Nefast has not released a full length before ‘Tabernaculum’, but a demo and a split. Lockhart has in the meantime also played in Myrkr, the epic Wormlust and Haud Mundus. There’s a reverie with which to approach a record, that took so much honing of the craftwork to make. I feel awed by it’s magnitude and force, but what a great listen it is!
Great, but not easy, because ‘The lifting of the Veil’  opens with an 11-minute bombardment, introduced with eerie tones, which surges over you like a tidal wave. As the abyss itself slowly unfolds, the warped, guttural words creep out. Whispers and soft picked notes create an even more dense atmosphere as if fumes rise up and envelop the listener. And then… you go off into the deep end with Rebirth of Nefast.
The trick is not to rely on sheer ferocity, but the suggestion of that. When this band has swallowed you whole, everything starts to sound huge and foreboding. Sure, when ‘The First Born of the Dead’ kicks of, the blast beats are heavy and hitting where it hurts, but they’re balanced, controlled and carry the atmosphere with them. The sound simply flows, like a dark horde in the night. Full of strength, but never needing to fully put it on display, the record is one of the best things I’ve heard in a while.
Closer ‘Dead the Age of Hollow Vessels’ feels ashen grey, full of vitriol and with a mild hint of melancholy. It’s all there on this album, ready to be absorbed into your bloodstream and cool your heart.

Underground Sounds: Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie

Label: Gilead Media
Band: Yellow Eyes
Origin: United States

In the cabin of Yellow Eyes

I don’t know every band, but sometimes names just keep hanging in that ‘need to listen to’ list. I never got around to Yellow Eyes, but the frequency of them being mentioned around me definitely makes me excited to get into ‘Immersion Trench Reverie’. The latest album by the New York group, two years after their last effort ‘Stick With Bloom’.

Featuring Mike Rekevics of Vanum, Sleepwalker and Fell Voices, expectations rise. Other Yellow Eyes members play in various other projects too. This means that this band is a particular project with a clear sonic direction. For recording this album, the band went into a cabin in Connecticut and stuck with similar methods as on their previous album. Yellow Eyes are not an iconoclastic breaker of bonds in the black metal scene, but they definitely are pushing the genre in new directions. This new record is a testament to that.

The inspiration for this album was also drawn from a visit to Siberia. After the gentle sounds of the bells ringing out over a sleepy town, the record launches in earnest with ‘Old Alpine Pang’. The guitar sound offers an urgency, a need for movement and action. The tremolo playing style and high notes give a sound that is slightly of the beaten path for the listener. The tortured screams are a bit muddled away in the mix but stick to a more traditional expression. The band likes to put in some atmospheric interludes here and there, that convey an otherness. An almost ritualistic vibe, which expands in songs like ‘Blue as Blue’, which is a vibrant, bombastic assault.

At times you could really put this band in the post-black metal corner, thanks to its smooth flow and post rocky vibe, but every time you feel getting comfortable the fun ends. Blistering guitars and frantic blast beats hit you with an uncanny ferocity. The field recordings from Siberia in between tracks offer moments of respite, before the doom and gloom of a tune like ‘Velvet on the Horns’ launches once more into big, arching glory. Sometimes the band sounds truly estranging and off-beat. It works in making the listener feel a bit more uneasy. Fortunately, the traditional black metal assaults in torrentuous force are still just as much a part of the Yellow Eyes sound.

Yellow Eyes combines forward-thinking, almost experimental black metal with the traditional narrative. That makes them exciting and daring. The use of the field recordings adds an organic vibe to the complete image. A great piece of music for sure.

 

 

Underground Sounds: Isa – The Sky in the Salty Wells

Label: Shadowplay Records (album released independently)
Band: Isa
Origin: Russia

It seems that Russian act Isa has now determinedly started to move away from their black metal sound on ‘Небо в солёных колодцах’, which translates as ‘The Sky in the Salty Wells’. Not only in sound, but also in artwork and track titles. From the first release onward, Isa numbered their tracks in a continuous sequence, stringing the songs on four releases together into one descriptive piece of art detailing the pastoral Russian country life.

Previous releases would feature covers with landscapes. An almost still life of rural life depicted on them. This record shifts to a new dimension, where it seems like the human aspect takes the forefront. The cover features a collage of images of people land and nature, cut and paste together in an odd manner. It feels like a logical next step in the career of this Novosibirsk band, who constantly amaze with their beautiful music.

The result is a shimmering, brooding record full of melancholy. It is as if the winter has covered all the land, all life, and passion submerged by the mercy of a white blanket over its soil. Warm tones creep by, never really taking on any sort of force. The drums sound muffled, buried in the music that flows like a warm bath. Noteworthy is the collaboration with Lesnoy Tanets on the track ‘Poplars’, where hushed vocals speak raspy words over

On ‘Blind Man’ it is as if an accordion is woven into the sound. It feels folky, but also hazy. Almost as if you’re listening to memories of the past in abandoned streets.  Yet, streets where only the ghosts of a better time dwell. The gentle murmurings never feel urgent. The music progresses slowly, which feels a lot like the daydreaming on a winters day, staring out over the frosty landscape. The melancholic sound of Isa is a mellow swamp of keyboards, guitars, and drums, all melting together. As a result, the music  becomes an immersive dream. Melancholic and cold, most noteworthy on ‘Singing Skyline’ with its wonderful intro, is a highlight.

Isa has made a remarkable new album and found a direction to explore musically. I’m keen to hear what new works may come in the future, but this one is a record to keep coming back to.

Rhapsody: The end of an Era (Fabio Lione interview)

It’s the end of an era. Rhapsody, the band for lovers of power metal, swords and sorcery, calls it quits. They don’t just stop though, they’ll come to say bye to everyone in person with a final grand tour.

During their tour, they are visiting Eindhoven for one of these shows. I had the rare opportunity to ask Fabio Lione, lead singer of the band for 20 years, about this final tour, 20 years of Rhapsody and obviously about recording with Sir Christopher Lee (Gandalf and Rhapsody, awesome!).

For me, it all started with ‘Power of the Dragonflame’. The combination of epic metal with a high pace and the drama of grand opera was already much to take in, but add to that the high fantasy themes! It resonated with my love for fantasy and never did I really get the same rush from bands in this genre as from Rhapsody. Maybe younger bands like Twilight Force will take up that torch. But first, we get to say bye. And I got to ask Fabio Lione about all that.

You’re about to embark on the next part of your farewell tour. Any mixed feelings after spending half your life singing your heart out in Rhapsody to leave this all behind?

Well, of course, I have mixed feelings regarding that.. I mean..from one side I’m really happy to celebrate this 20 years of history of the band with the original members and everything is going great between us, with the fans, venues, promoters, managers  etc..From the other side we know that this is a Farewell tour and so it will come to an end…

But I’m happy, proud and motivated. This is exactly what the band has to do now. Everyone in the band is feeling great and me and Luca… Well, we want to “close” this chapter in our life ’cause we feel is the right moment to do it. We are ready to create new things and we are sure we both have new challenges to face…hehe…

When iconic bands get together again for one last time, it’s usually after a period of time. You’ve decided though to simply end Rhapsody with a bang. I read elsewhere that talks took place over a year to get things together. It’s a wonderful way to end, but can you take us through how this all came together like this?

We all knew that was an important moment in the history of the band. We had to celebrate 20 years of band history somehow. My relationship with the Rhapsody of Fire members and management was comin’ to an end due to different views we had and we talked a lot regarding this with all the original member and our managers. Not so easy, but after 1 year we were able to manage and make it!!!

So..finally we decided to do it. We received many offers from promoters and in general, the fans showed us that They wanted this!
And you know…the fans are the boss!!! hahaha!

With you having announced your departure and Luca Turilli having left a few years earlier, was there ever a point where you would have considered this impossible? As in, could this have gone differently?

Honestly 6/7 years ago we couldn’t really think that something like this could happen. Everyone walked his “own path”, made a choice and had new great experiences. I’m sure without some troubles we had, internal discussions, legal issues and so on…

Well, things could have been different but I have to say that today I’m really happy that we had all this probably, because we are more wise, stronger and motivated and the relationship between us is fantastic. I can’t really imagine a better way to close this chapter in our life.

You’ve personally always been prolifically active in various side projects, while a part of Rhapsody. You’ve done so much different styles, from Eurobeat to almost operatic projects. Does it make it easier to end something that has been such a huge part of your life because of that? Which projects do you have in mind to continue or to pick up after the final show of this tour?

Not really..in this case we both ( me and Luca) have decided to end this chapter in our life after many years..

This has nothing to do with other side projects or collaborations.
At the moment I have a new great record with the band Angra to promote. Then, as you may know, I have done a record with the Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody singer Alessandro Conti to make clear for the fans that we are friends and we have no problem at all between us. I also have to work on the new Eternal Idol record, both last 2 projects are under Frontiers Records…

Thinkin’ about doing something new with The Vision Divine guys and many other ideas in mind…

You’re playing a show in Eindhoven, which is the main reason I’m asking you these questions now. Was that a location you guys hand-picked or did it just come up? Do you have any special affinity or connection to Eindhoven?

Well, of course, we have someone of our “Team” that lives close to this place..hehe..so probably this has influenced the thing..
Then we had to play in the Netherlands and especially in Eindhoven ’cause we like the place and we always had great reactions from the fans there and we had some good cd sales there!!!

Do you guys have anything special lined-up for these last live shows? Particular songs or maybe special guests?

Of course, we have some “special songs” added to the set-list, but I don’t want now to ruin the surprise, hahaha. I think we will play a good part of both Symphony of Enchanted Lands and Power of the Dragonflame records and we are thinkin’ about some guests at the moment..effects and some surprises on stage!

For me, Rhapsody really hit home with ‘Power of the Dragonflame’, since it was out when I started listening to this music… Nothing quite had that epic sound and I never really managed to find any band that came close to Rhapsody (recently I found Twilight Force impressive though). What do you think, made you guys stand out for many listeners in the realm of power metal?

The general reaction when Power of the Dragonflame was absolutely great! For sure is one of the most important records we have done, I agree with you. Personally, I think ‘Symphony’ was our first big “hit” in the realm of power metal music. Of course, I have to mention the unique ‘Legendary Tales’ and all the other works we have done, with a special mention also for ‘The Frozen Tears of Angels’ and ‘Symphony part 2’.
Anyway thanks for what you are saying! I also think the band Rhapsody created and represents something unique and a very special band for this kind of music.

An added value to me was the fantasy elements in the lyrics of Rhapsody, which completely match with the sound. Its been clear that Luca Turilli has had a big hand in that, but even after he left these themes kept popping up. Where did you guys draw these influences from?

As you said the “fantasy” elements in the lyrics are a big part of the Rhapsody main concept, idea and essence and this matches perfectly with the sound of the band! Luca was the main guy behind this, the Saga and most of the lyrics we had in the past. I
also wrote few lyrics in the past for the band and I wrote all lyrics regarding the last two Rhapsody of Fire records thinking about the message we always wanted to give to our fans and these “fantasy” elements that are really connected with the music.

In the end, I think its something natural for us to think about these topics and write this way for the band. The original main band  Rhapsody is extremely connected with fantasy elements as probably we are fascinated by stories, movies, video games or legends.

After 20 years, what memories or moments do you look back upon most fondly and what would you most like people to remember Rhapsody for?

Mmm..not so easy to answer. Hahaha! I’ll make a simple list of events that I think are important for the band.

  • Reactions after the Legendary Tales record release
  • First headliner tour of the band
  • Real orchestra parts in the songs
  • Positive messages that we wanted to communicate to our fans through our lyrics
  • Rhapsody in the Italian charts for the first time
  • Collaboration with Sir Christopher Lee
  • The Frozen Tears of Angels record and Tour!!! Amazing time…
  • First time in Japan and China and Latin America and well..everywhere!
  • Every “cheesy” videoclip we made! Hahaha…
  • This Last Final Big Tour we are making! Because we are having really a great great time and we would like to thanks all our fans for that!!!

I want to ask you one specific thing: what was it like to record together with Christopher Lee? I mean, that was a match made in power-metal-heaven.

Was absolutely a dream. I mean, something unrepeatable and extraordinary. This mas was a legend, he had a very good sense of humor, he spoke 9 languages perfectly! I remember very well that I was talking with him in Italian and  I was actually surprised at how good his Italian was…

Then in the studio, we had some “Great” and “Funny” time! Mr. Lee telling me “why I do I have to use these things ( headphones) to sing!? I just sing in the air, in the room and you can take the sound!” It was a great job for me, to let him understand the right tone, the right time for the song etcetera. Also recording him when he had the right breath while he was singing. I want you to remember that I was recording and singing with him when he was 84!!! One of the best experiences of my life indeed…

Will your show in Madrid really be the last for Rhapsody?

I think so. I mean, at the moment we don’t have in mind to continue and we don’t have more shows programmed.

There’s this one question, that I have been asking bands from around the globe for a long time and I really hope you will answer it too: If you had to describe Rhapsody as a dish, a type of food if you will, what would it be and why?

Hahaha!!! That’s fantastic!  I really like this. Hm… I think a “four seasons pizza” because you have all in one. Various types of food and things in the same pizza!

Like Rhapsody’s music, that has many different elements in it (metal, progressive, classic music, medieval, celtic, pop, folk, etc. elements…)
or ” Pasta mari e monti”, which means ” with seafood and mushrooms”.

Any final words for Rhapsody fans who’ve loved your works for all these years?

We have to thank you all!!! Really…without you this band couldn’t exist…
We want to have a special tour and share some great moments with all our fans with nice surprises, great songs and amazing atmosphere!!!
See you all soon on tour my friends!!!

Ciao from Fabio, Luca, Alex, Patrice and Dodo!!!

Underground Sounds: Nortt – Endeligt

Label: Avantgarde Music
Band: Nortt
Origin: Denmark

For more than two decades, Nortt has been smothering hopes and sucking the life out of things with all-consuming darkness. The funeral doom the one-man band produces is tinged with black metal grimness, fully overwhelming and absolutely destroying. ‘Endeligt’ is the fourth full length fromt he Danish act.

Nortt has previously played in Apollyon and Strychnos, but works in solitude on his self-titled project. Calling his music ‘pure depressive black funeral doom’ is already pushing it to the darkest corners, but Nortt himself doesn’t see it as trying to inspire any sort of dark behavior. Fair point, there is always a natural beauty in the dark. It’s been 10 years since ‘Galgenfrist’, so this is a good moment for some new grimness.

Eerie drones start forming a gloomy soundscape, when the mournful tones of ‘Andægtigt dødsfald’ crush in, with all their languid majesty. Slow and heavy, they offer that crushing effect, swathing aside any sort of hope and liveliness you may still hold on to. The vocals bubble up from somewhere below the earth, like a grave opening up. On ‘Kisteglad’, the sound almost reduces to an ambient soundscape, with only the sound of winds blowing over a desert plain. As a listener, you feel the sound pressing down upon you as it flows by.

The totality of this record is an overwhelming bath of sorrow, particularly when cold walls of distorted guitar just surge forward. Never really pushing, but looming over you in all their might on ‘Fra hæld til intet’. Nortt’s vocals seem completely out of this earth and being used vary sparsely; they come into major effect during the doomed progressions of might funeral tunes. Melodies are woven in there, sounding fragile but strong, to add even more dramatic overtones to the songs.

Reading of Books #35

Books I read recently by Coetzee, Murakami, Becket and Ikäheimonen on black metal, barbarians, women, and men that are waiting.

J.A. Coetzee – Waiting For The Barbarians

source: goodreads.com

I started this book on a whim and rather soon I was captivated by it. It’s not a pretty book, in fact most of it is rather grim and the main character only really finds any shine at the end or in his suffering. Before that, you merely sympathize with the sad figure he is. What I like most, is that this story to an extent feels relevant to today. Not in the sense that there is still uncharted ground with wild tribes about, but in the need for one people to tell another how to be and how to live. This, unfortunately, has not changed over time I fear. The writing is quick paced and miraculously evokes images more than it describes.

The story takes place in a border town. Regardless of how you read it, it’s an imperialist force at work, trying to subdue the world and telling the ‘savage’ what is right and what is wrong. Sounds familiar? I read this as if it concerns Brittish colonialism, but this goes for most of those forces. The magistrate of the town welcomes a military man, who is investigating the tribes. He then goes and captures a lot of these tribesmen, tortures them and then leaves. The magistrate feels an affinity with one crippled woman left behind and feels all his previous views of the world break down in the sleepy border town. His world changes then. This book is a good read, I recommend it to anyone.

Tero Ikäheimonen – The Devil’s Cradle: The Story of Finnish Black Metal

source: Goodreads.com

Finnish black metal is something else. It’s dirty, raw and violent, much more intense in a way, compared to their western neighbors. When the history of metal is written, the country is often overlooked but that is about to change with this fantastic book by Tero Ikäheimonen, who tracks the history of the genre in Finland through a string of bands that made it what it is today. He does this through interviews, which are lengthy and sincere.

From Barathrum, Beherit and Impaled Nazarene to the stranger bands that still are active in the scene, this is a work that may not be complete but gets close to painting a total picture. The author sometimes doesn’t manage to really pierce the surface with bands and get to the bottom of things, but that leaves the band as they chose to be. Personally, I was disappointed to not see the build-up towards the nazi-question concerning Satanic Warmaster remain unanswered. Ah well, can’t win ‘m all. Anyone who is into black metal should have this. Really.

Haruki Murakami – Men Without Women

source: goodreads.com

In this book with short stories, Murakami seems to explore the relationship between men and women and what happens when it’s separated. Not as in lost to one another, but more as if there’s a glass plate separating the two. The Japanese setting often feels slightly alien to me, which makes the stories more significant and poignant, because it’s not really in the book but in the back of my head where this alienation takes place. The loneliness and alienation is embedded in the protagonists that walk the pages of this short story collection, which was published in 2017. Interestingly enough, that is 90 years after Hemingway released a collection of similar stories under the same title.

Like the critics said about Hemingway’s stories, there is a certain vulgarity to the characters in the books. Their humanity shines through in every expression and act. Their banal activities all seem so exhaustingly significantly when Murakami illuminates them with his pen. Where further deduction might lead to finding a common denominator through the stories, I think it’s more the overall feeling that they leave with the reader. It’s a sense of recognition, of looking into a mirror that shows the flawed nature of us men when we are without women. Maybe it shows women the same, like the Platonic split whole human, we are simply not complete when we are on our own (regardless of what sort of partnership, gender or orientation, this works in all cases).

Samuel Becket – Waiting For Godot

source: goodreads.com

I’ve had this book on my reader for a while and finally got around to checking it out. It’s not the longest bit of reading, but as this is a play, the form requires a different form of focus on the words and acts that occur. The story is an absurd tale of two men, who are waiting for Godot. It’s not clear who Godot is and why they are waiting, but they keep asking eachother random questions, trying to figure out the nature of their situation. The story is circular as in that it repeats the same pattern over 2 nights, where they wait and Godot doesn’t show. Another character shows up with his mute servant, who they seem to clash with in a particular manner, but nothing really leads them anywhere.

The peculiar thing about this story, is that it is completely open. Interpret it as you will and experience it whatever way you like. I’m still not entirely certain what meaning I derive from it. For me it conveys a feeling of meaninglessness that the human condition is now in this time. We move towards a horizon that never emerges to find what we never find, because contentment has become a myth. That’s the faith of Vladimir and Estragon it seems…