Well, to pick up yet another thing I wanted to do for a long time, and distract myself that way, I'm now starting my saga of "2007 so far" posts, in a way different (and less interesting) format than the one I wanted to. In the first three posts under this tag, I'll talk about the best music purchases I've made so far this year, the best books I've read this year, and the best movies I saw this year. Notice that "this year" means "I interacted with it in 2007", and not "it was made in 2007".
So, let's start with Music.
Merankorii - Melencolia III (CD)
You can think this is kind of egocentric - heck, maybe it is. Merankorii is my own musical project, but if I make it is because I like it, and I really use it as a scapegoat, to let out those thoughts and feelings that I couldn't express in any other way. And the thing is, I really like the outcome, and (this again sounds egocentric) Merankorii is probably the band that I like the most nowadays, and the band I listen more often. In January "Melencolia III" was released, and, while it is the third of the four parts concept I defined for it, it's way different and more defined work than the previous releases. It's also, in my oppinion, the hardest Merankorii album to absorb, even if it's easier to listen than the previous ones.
Bardic Wisdom/Merankorii - Prose of the Ancient Times/Sanguine (CD, Cassete)
After Melencolia III in January, in May I've released a split album in two formats (CD and Cassete) with another one-man band, Bardic Wisdom. I already liked Bardic Wisdom (who never had released any album prior to this one), a mixture of neo-classical music with neofolk, that is quite exquisite since its sound is heavily inspired in the ancient Incas. From what I've been listening from those who got this release, the split concept worked quite well, since Bardic Wisdom's part evolves in a way that blends very well with Merankorii's side, something that you probably experience better in the CD release. This was also Merankorii's most "neo-classical" work to date, even if it will probably fit better under the "dark ambient" or neofolk tag.
Empyrium - A Retrospective... (Box)
I've blogged about this release when I got it, but I have to write about it again. Empyrium is one excelent musical project, the one that defined the NeoFolk "tree" of bands that I like the most under that tag. They've started as a "black/doom metal" band, with it's long gone demo, but since their first release they abandoned the idea of being a Metal band, and just started making an unique sound, heavilly inspired by Nature, and kept doing until they decided that Empyrium has released all the music they had to release to give to the world what they wanted to. When they felt that any other Empyrium release would be "just another CD with the same kind of music", they took the hard yet wise decision to end with the musical project. Now, they released this box, "A Retrospective...", that has six CD's including the demo and unreleased matterial - all the band's work, where each CD is also a book telling the story of the band and the story behind each release. This is the kind of release that every band should do.
Rasputina - The Lost & Found 2nd Ed. (CD)
I only knew one music from Rasputina (Tansylvanian Concubine), from a soundtrack CD I have somewhere (in Coimbra, I guess), but I really don't like that track, so I allways thought, without listening more from them, that I didn't like Rasputina. Then, this year I listened to one of the most cool covers I've heard on a Marilyn Manson song, in Last.fm, and when I went to check who was making such a beautifull version of The Tourniquet, I saw it was from Rasputina. After listening to the track I knew I had to get it, so I searched for it and noticed that it was from a Rasputina album called "The Lost & Found 2nd Ed.", and I ordered it. Wow. this album only has covers made by Rasputina, and is really awsome - one of those albums that you like every track of it, and that you can listen in repeat for a whole day. I now have the intention to know more about Rasputina, maybe by buying the "1st Ed." CD, but since I made a promise that this year I wouldn't buy any CD other than those that are really must-have's, I guess I'll postpone it...
Dismal - Miele Dal Salice (CD Limited deluxe edition)
These are the Italian Dismal. Once upon a time I used to listen to a Spanish band called Dismal, and I knew that they were going to release a CD. Then I got on my mail yet another upcoming CD's list, and saw there "Dismal - Rubino Liquido", so I've ordered. One happy mistake, since when the CD arived I noticed that it was not from the Spanish band, but from another, with a completely different musical style, only the same name. What happened is that I've listened to that Doom Metal album and I was awed, it is one of the most favourite Doom Metal albums up to date. They spent years without releasing, but this year they released Miele Dal Salice, with a new vocalist, and a new sound - impossible to define. The characteristic that comes to mind when thinking of it is just "beautiful". I wonder what path will they take in the next release...
V/A - Tribute to Dead Can Dance - The Lotus Eaters (2CD)
While I think that Dead Can Dance is preety cool, I don't own any of their CD's. So why did I got this tribute? Well, there's one track here from Antimatter, and I don't really think that track is that good, but it was the only recorded track from Antimatter that I still didn't have, so I was quite tempted to get the album. When I looked with greater care to the track listing, I saw there names like Arcana or Ulver, and with that I've made my decision. I'm really glad I made it - the whole album is awsome, better (in my point of view) than any Dead Can Dance album I've heard, and Antimatter has there one of the worse tracks of the whole compilation. If you like Dead Can Dance, this is a must-have.
V/A - Legend And Lore - Dark Folklore and European Myths (CD)
The third best neofolk compilation I have, a must-have for anyone who fancies this musical style. Once I saw on Last.fm that Nuno Nunes was listening to Tenhi and IM'd him something like "wow, you like Tenhi?"... Turns out that he had this compilation, and when I listened to it I knew I had to have it. Subaudition, Tenhi, Vàli, Neun Welten, Orplid, :Of The Wand and the Moon:, Gaé Bolg and Hekate are the bands in this album, and I think that I'll only forget that I have this CD when I have every CD from where each song here was taken from (well, except Subaudition's). BTW, and for reference, the second best neofolk compilation that I know of is "Lichttaufe - Der Folklore Liedschatz", only beated by "Looking For Europe", that is what I consider "the NeoFolk compendium", since it is more than a 4CD compilation, it is (literally) a book telling the story of NeoFolk.
Tenhi - Kauan (+2tracks CD)
Well, I already had Tenhi's Kauan, but when I found out that the Kauan CD that Paula bought in Finland was the special edition digipack CD with two bonus tracks, I had to get a way to make here swap her CD with mine (yeah, I'm evil ;-)). Tenhi is one of those bands that I need to have all their music, which I'll achieve as soon as their new 3 CD's book is released (in less then a month). They play NeoFolk, that, while inspired by Empyrium and following their line, has a preety characteristic sound - probably thanks to the heaviest use of keyboards, and the voice settings. It's surely more sad, and intimist. They've been considered "Sigur Rós in the woods" (a description that I don't really agree of) and "a landmark in the acoustic settings of nature", which surely fits.
Neun Welten - Vergessene Pfade (CD)
This band is for Tenhi fans - while with a happier soundscape, and with almost no voices, they are surelly inspired by Tenhi, even if having their own style and sound. The inspiration comes with no surprise, besides being long time friends, they record in Tenhi's UTUstudios, and are touring together. I first heard of Neun Welten on the "Looking for Europe" compilation, and bought their only release until then - a three songs single that, while I really like, sounded as... way too little. When they released Vergessene Pfade I had to get it, and fortunately they were not only up to my expectations but better than that: they even enhanced the tracks they had in the single! Great CD...
V/A - Flowers made of snow (2CD)
The tenth and last album I'm going to call "the best of 2007 so far" is a two CD's compilation called "Flowers made of snow", a compilation made by Cold Meat Industry, and aimed for fans of that label. Cold Meat Indistry was established in 1987, and is a mark, influence and inspiration for those into the alternative genre. It releases "lisstenable music with a deeper reflection on life and death, within the musical spectrum of dystopia varying from dark to darker, from ambient industrial to acoustic folk, from beautiful to that which is just painful, exploring both the philosophical and the subversive activities of human kind and its psyche". By the description that this label makes of themselves, you'll already know by now if this is a must-have or a must avoid, so I'll just add that the work in the compilation is really good, in the way they chose the tracks and ordered them in each CD.