Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Recommended music: 'The Light Brigade' by Daedelus

"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred"
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade

An album about the 1853-56 Crimean War might not be top of everyone's to-do list, but when you've already made an EP about the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 (2009's 'Righteous Fists of Harmony') then I guess anything's possible. And so following in the footsteps of Alfred, Lord Tennyson comes Alfred (should we call him Lord?) Darlington a.k.a. Daedelus to create an artistic work based on this very specific battle.

As you might expect from the subject matter this is not a bright, sunny creation but neither is it all doom and gloom. There are enough moments of light and shade to reflect the fact that even in extreme battles moments of calm can descend. It's also interesting that he's chosen to incorporate other elements into the story, with 'Baba Yaga', a supernatural woman or witch from Slavic folklore, getting a mention amongst the paraphernalia of war.

The mostly instrumental tracks are shot through in three places by some ethereal vocals from Young Dad, most noticeably on 'Onward', a devastatingly beautiful and haunting track that pretty much brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it. It's not all electronics either; gently-picked acoustic guitar forms the backbone for 'The Victory of the Echo Over the Voice' and 'Sevastopol', but it's soon overcome by the dark, swampy intro of 'Tsars and Hussars', another of the tracks to feature Young Dad.

In a lot of ways this reminds me of Apparat's soundtrack for War and Peace (Krieg und Frieden), both in the way it's constructed and the mood it puts across. The fact that further conflict has arisen in the area since the record was made adds an undeniable poignancy and currency to it, making it stand as much as a reflection on modern-day warfare as a comment on a specific piece of history.

I absolutely love this record and I'm sure you will too when you immerse yourself in it. It would work really well as a soundtrack to maybe an animated movie about the war, but it also stands on its own as an outstanding piece of music and art.

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die

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