Tag Archives: Skyrim

Sounds of the Underground #19

This time I listened to underground sounds by  sound artist Honda, ambient warriors Elador, black metal knight MoonKnight and the mighty Krallice. Plenty of stuff you should check out too.

Honda – Bells Beach

source: Bandcamp

I use a lot of means to find music, but rarely the search option on bandcamp. Today I did and I picked the ‘devotional’ category. I was expecting Jesus stuff. I got this wonderful minimal/ambient recording. It has two sides and is made by an artist named Celer, actual name William Thomas Long, who lives in Japan. It was made with a Roland MC-202 Microcomposer and field recordings. It feels like a travel record, a description of landscapes in an aural way.

Side A feels minimal, just little bells in a wide landscape where the wind is blowing. Playful moments are exchanged with mild ambient noise and gentle wavy sounds. The sound appears to be blowing away a little bit now and then, adding tot he organic feel of the music. Side B has those astral projection like synth rays, remniscent of krautrock and Jean Michel Jarre. Buzzing drones and twinkly keys fill the sound up, on this much more energetic and vibrant track. This record feels special, warm and pleasant. A recommended listen for late night reading or enjoying a drink without the TV on.

Elador – Expanses of Syrim 

source: bandcamp

Well, I’m a fan of Skyrim so I was intrigued if any concept band had been working on that theme this far. Sometimes you find the odd death metal band picking up on a thing like this. I found a load of covers or rip offs (some Vietnamese guy claims to be Lindsey Stirling). This Russian project is from Egor Morozov, who is inspired by epic ambient/medieval projects like Mantle Of Dust, soundtracks like those by Jeremy Soule (yes, Skyrim guy) and other similar projects. The logo’s used do show an influence from the black metal scene. Think Clanned, think Burzum… You’ve got it.

The soothing music feels cold at times, depicting the landscapes of Skyrima nd specific regions. The languid tones are nordic in atmosphere and other sound effects breathe life into the music by Elador. The gloomy ‘Folgunthur’ stands our for me, for its minimal and dark atmosphere, where the other tracks feel mildly playful. The trickling sound of ‘Snowfall in Winterhold’, the wavering of ‘Dawnstar’ and the gentle feel to the track ‘Rivenwood’, it all paints the landscape in aural perceptions. The latter makes you feel the gentle look, the simple habitations and the wind rustling through the trees. Elador captures Skyrims essence beautifully in this tribute.

MoonKnight – Valinor

source: bandcamp

This obscure one-man black metal band provides the listener with a particular dirty and grim type of black metal. MoonKnight is the project of Roach (James L. Brown) from Kentucky. Claiming to be influenced by Akita, Bone Awl and Ildjarn, this is the third full lenght from the project, after a series of splits. The sound is gritty, distorted and hazy. As if hearing music through a hail storm. The vocals therefor come from afar and the listener is challenged to really embrace the sound, entering the storm on opener ‘An Initiation’. It only clears up a bit when the intro notes of ‘Aconitum’ soar in, feeling cold and sharp.

The trebly, high guitar tones on ‘Helplessness’ create a cold atmosphere. The screeched vocals filled with despair, raging against that torrent of grainy sound that feels very lo-fi. The drum is just a rumble under your feet. Then there’s the warm rain of the title track, creating a strange after effect, following the bleak songs like ‘Broken Blade’ and the bludgeoning ‘Pleasure Funeral’. The slow epic final song is a crescendo to this powerful record. No need for tons of extra effects, synths. A one man metal band that knows how to make limitations in strenghts by not overdoing it. Thats why this is such a good record.

Krallice – Ygg Huur

source: bandcamp

Sure, I was going for somet different sounds this time, but then I came across thenew Krallice album. I used to think of Krallice as too fierce for my tastes, but the new Yorkers surprised with this new record. I always have a hard time with the word ‘hipster metal’. I feel it makes no sense when you deal with a band that creates atmosphere like the best of them. The sound is more clean, but just as harrowing. The jagged pace, keeps tensions high and creates a vibe of discomfort.

So, I couldn’t get into what they were doing before. I guess it was too smart, too complex and lacked a certain feel to it. That’s no what you get on Ygg Huur. Razing fast guitars, tremolo picking are enriched by deep emotions of despair and untamed wiredness. Blistering speed and incredible atmospheric wavering tremolo parts, generate an unheared of like vibe. Sudden assaults after seemingly ethearal calm. This is one amazing album. Clocking only 35 mins, nothing is overdone on this release. Everything in balance and fuck that hipster tag. Krallice know how to make a great record and put black metal on the road to recovery.

The reading of books #13

Another series of books read, this time Plutarch, Greg KeyesDayal Patterson and Richard A. Knaak. From Ancient Rome to the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft.

Plutarch – The Fall of the Roman Republic

source: Goodreads

Yes, another book by Plutarch. This time focussing on the transferral periode from the late republic to the empire, describing the lives of Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey the Great, Cesar and Cicero, who brought an end to the Republic. It’s a fascinating bit of storytelling, where Plutarch clearly shows he’s not in love with Cesar. In fact, he barely manages to keep it out of his words. Then again, none of the figures in this book appears to carry his favor, maybe Marius a little bit in most of his life. Sulla doesn’t get of lightly and Crassus looks like a buffoon. Pompey is the tragic figure in this version of events, together with Cicero I suppose.

The one life missing would be that of Cato, who opposed Cesar for as long as he could. It was a great read, that I enjoyed very much. Enough to order some more actually. What is lacking here, is the pairings with Greek lives. I’m also very curious about those and I must say I doubt the way the publishers dealt with that. All in all, it gives good insights in a highly confusing period of our ancient history.

Dayal Patterson – The Cult Never Dies: Volume 1

Source: Goodreads

Dayal Patterson started something big with his first book ‘Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult’. It was not enough, he had the desire to catalogue the entire black metal scene and its aspects, so here is the second book and first in a continuing series of looking at the blackest music genre you can find. Patterson takes a clean, journalistic approach to bands like SatyriconSilencer and Mgla and many, many more. It opens up the scene to new investigators, without disclosing all and keeping its edge of mystery in place.

The print looks minimal, which is good. The pictures are only in black and white, which is also rather enjoyabable and fitting. Patterson illuminates specific sections in this book, like the Polish black metal scene and the SDBM scene that emerged as a progenitor of post-blackmetal. He does this by taking out pivotal bands, but also interesting marginal acts to illustrate the broader whole. A well worth read for fans of the genre and intriguees.

Greg Keyes – The Infernal City

Source: Goodreads

This is the very first novel of the Elder Scrolls franchise by Bethesda (known for their game Fallout mostly, but also Skyrim). The book tells the story of a human character Annaïg and an Argonian called Glim (Lizard people) in the world of Tamriel. A strange floating city approaches and brings doom to the lands. Annaïg and Glim decide to assault this city and try to warn others of the coming doom. While being captured by the dark denizens of the city, they succeed in reaching prince Attrebus.

Another story there unfolds, with the Prince’s life being under threat and his carreer an apparent illusion to facilitate Empire propaganda. The central imperial city has little interest in helping those under attack by the floating city on the fringes of the empire (even just outside it). Attrebus sets out to carve his own destiny and to become the person he is supposed to be as a prince. The book is well written and the characters do get some background, though sometimes they are a bit foggy in personality. The work introduces the figures and peoples of the Elder Scrolls universe and thus makes for a nice read and introduction. Now I should get part two though.

Richard A. Knaak – Night of the Dragon

Source: Goodreads

I felt this urge to read the only Warcraft book that was still unread on my shelves. Probably I was not up for some literary masterpiece, but the writings of Knaak for Blizzard are always fun and catchy. So I started reading this follow up to Day Of The Dragon, the very first in the novel series of Blizzard. In this book we return to the doomed mountain where the first novel took place and the same key players converge, unwittingly of eachothers whereabouts on Grim Batol. Krasus, the dragon/mage, Vareesa Windrunner and a bunch of angry dwarves.

The plot deepens, when another of the black dragon flight emerges and plans to…dare I say? Take over the world. This time the book does not involve Deathwing, but some familiar elements of his evil will return in this story. It rekindles and connects other  storylines, which is always very pleasant for an afficionado of the game like myself. The series of near-death escapes is a bit too dense for my taste though, but you can’t win ’em all, can you now? Looking forward to maybe playing some more in that fabulous world of Azeroth.


Joining the Empire!

Here I am with my empire
I’ll bring you to your knees
ebb and flow with my desire
cause its all that you’ve been taught to be
– Boysetsfire, ‘Empire’

The Empire, always the evil force in the world, but playing Skyrim I joined the Empire. Not the Stormcloaks. Am I finally becoming an adult?

A quick rundown of what the difference is between those two factions in the game. The Empire is a human faction, which has been keeping the Dominion at bay. The Dominion are the elves, who try to dominate the world. So the Empire is in a global conflict for the good cause, but has signed a concordate with the Elves (really, I am not good at getting to the core of things I am excited about). Now, the Empire is due to that concordat enforcing some rules, like prohibiting the reverence of Talos as a deity. Talos is like the first emperor of the land Tamriel and in a sense the ‘Elder Scrolls’ Jesus.

So the Stormcloaks, under Ulfric Stormcloak, think thats bullshit and want to kick the empire out. They are in essence rebels, fighting for freedom and maintaining their  Nord (the nordic people/race) ways. Downside: They’re also a bit going on with ‘Skyrim for the Nords’, which has a bit of a ‘Auslander Aus!’ flavor to it. So what it boils down to, the Empire protects the human population, but enforces some restrictions on religion. In general they provide peace and prosperity to an extent. The Stormcloaks want more freedoms and thus they fight them. There’s another group called the Forsworn, but apart from wearing silly costumes, they seem to lack a real plan.

source: Tumblr

Usually the Empire sucks, like in Star Wars and pretty much every slightly older scifi/fantasy setting. Mostly this is due to them being evil, but I never really got what was wrong with the Empire of Darth Vader and the Emperor. Sure, they were a bit hard handed, but was their plan to destroy the galaxy and plunge it into eternal war? That’s more the empire in Warhammer 40,000, but those are the good guys… Depending on your perspective at least. In Firefly you have the brown coats, who are like the ‘South’ in the American civil war, fighting  against the alliance that again brings peace and prosperity.

It’s almost like a Hobbesian view of society that is depicted by a bunch of these rebel movements. The society needs to submit to a ruling power, which is depicted as an all overshadowing Leviathan. Its the grimmest view one can take of the social contract, which it in fact. is. In Skyrim the Empire is your best bet, even though the Thalmor (evil elves) are dictating what they do. The Empire has been severely wounded by war and needs to lick its wounds. Now, it can’t do that if them elves kill all humans.

I was always a bit more of a rebel guy, but now I find that I sided with the empire. The blatant racism of the Stormcloaks might have a lot to do with it, but also the general lack of perspective. What point do your ‘freedoms’ have if you can not unite in any sense against a bigger enemy? If you cant actually realise anything. Also, ironically, you are putting a despot in place most of the time. I’ve had high doubts about the future of that ‘Galaxy far, far away…’ after the Empire falls apart. Who’s gonna rule that? Luke? Give me a break, maybe Lando has a shot at it.

I used to be into punkrock and I still believe in its strenght. Rebellion is a good thing and necessary even, but it is not the solution. So I say, throw in your lot with the empire. You can kill Thalmor on sight whenever you want anyways. What I was getting at though is that chosing the Empire is chosing relatively the greater good. I think thats the mature thing to do. I found it quite interesting. Apart from that, it shows a general shift in our thinking. A reevaluation of set ideas. What is the greater good and does it justify the good? You can decide for yourself and figure out what your stand on this is. If you change your mind, you can always reload an older save game.

source: PCgamer.com ‘Killing everything and everyone because you want to in Skyrim’

Also the Empire dresses like Romans and gives you Roman style ranks. I’m a Legate now. I guess there’s also people who just chop of heads of all npc’s. So it’s the liberalism of Voltaire for the Stormcloaks, Rousseau believers for the empire… and ofcourse De Sade like berserkers for just chopping of heads. Huzah!

Gaming makes you smarter kids.

I’m the Dovahkiin

Yes, after the crushing defeat in the Collosseum of PhD’s, I’ve been a bit lost. See, that was my excuse for not writing, I was busy. First with PhD-stuff, now with Skyrim.  Because I am the Dovahkiin, you know?

Sure, I like to pretend I’m a gamer a bit more than I actually game. In fact, the only game I seriously played in the last few years was NHL 2014 on the Xbox and maybe I can consider my weird ‘return’  to WoW an attempt at being a gamer too. It’s complicated…  I don’t actually own an Xbox, but my brother was kind enough to lend me his. After a while of just playing NHL to blow off some steam, I go to this point in life and shoved that Skyrim disc in the console.

I’m not really a person that hides in fantasy that much. I did so as a kid, but those are different times. I did have a major gap in my life after I didn’t get my life’s dream: A PhD position. It was a painful defeat, I had worked on that for years and now it feels like all is over. I’m at the age now, where people around me have kids and such. And me? I’ve just had a major reset to my programming… and all I can do is play Skyrim. So yeah, that’s happening.

Why do I like it so much? There’s a lot of purpose in that game, which is exactly what I suddenly miss. The hero of the game can easily make carreer choices and pursue them. I’m not sure if I’m in a therapeutic fase, where I’m figuring things out by playing a guy who chops away with a double handed claymore or maybe just running away.

I’ll let you know. If I happen to get out of Skyrim….

PS. No elder scrolls in the game at all… none.

Image: source