17th AND 18th CENTURY WORKS OF FUNERARY VIOLIN
THE ENGLISH SCHOOL OF FUNERARY VIOLIN
Original Issue: unknown
Reissue: The Guild Of Funerary Violinists (No Number) Buy it here!
Margot-meter: ? moons / 5
Read here the fascinating history behind the recordings.
If you have even one single drop of mittel-european blood running through your veins, you'll be moved (to death) by these sounds!
from Aquarius Records (cut-up of various reviews):
What is more amazing than discovering a whole movement in music that had never been documented, let alone even heard of. EVER! No mention in any books, magazines, not a single trace. What if that music was in fact the music of Funerary violins. A music created and composed to be performed at funerals. The only evidence of these musics, some scratchy old wax cylinder recordings, some faded photos, and brittle sheafs of old sheet music.
Hard to say which would be more amazing, a wholly undiscovered hidden dark corner of musical history, quashed by the church and relegated to be lost forever, or an insanely detailed project, the ultimate conceptual art piece. Either way, we are in love with this stuff.
Simply from a musical standpoint, this is everything we could hope for. The recordings are fuzzy and staticky, bathed in layers of crackle and grit, and years of neglect and decay, but beneath the recording inconsistencies we love so much, are some truly moving and emotionally rich performances, the melodies are so intense and sad, minor key and mournful. truly funereal. It's impossible not to imagine some old funeral procession, a row of black clad mourners, trudging down a dirt road, with their deceased atop an old wooden cart, the sky grey, the music of the Funerary violinist winding around the procession like wreaths of black smoke. So goddamn lovely. We have been listening to this non-stop since we got it.
And then there's the story. The "history". Is it real? Is it possible that a musical movement could disappear so completely. So much so that not a single person anywhere EVER had heard of the Guild Of Funerary Violinists? Or is it all a huge put-on? A massive made up world? The ultimate outsider art project. Either way, we are completely blown away. If this is indeed real, HOLY SHIT! How utterly mysterious and romantic!! We do sort of want to believe it's real. It's so perfectly evocative of some other time, of death and sadness throughout the ages. But if it is in fact made up, it has to be one of the most brilliantly conceived and executed hoaxes of all time.
Wailing, plaintive funereal laments on solo violin, sad and morose, lilting and so completely lovely, bathed in all manner of grit and hiss, fuzz and antique distortion, sounding like the old wax cylinders these recordings purport to be. Imagine some old timey violin music treated by Tim Hecker, and spun in some ultra morose DJ set by Philip Jeck...
The music is so evocative, of dark clouds at dusk, rain swept fields, huge brooding stone houses, lush gardens beneath grey skies, and of course, funerals, and the slow stately trudge of the funeral procession to the grave site. We've gushed about pretty much every volume so far, and by now are probably just repeating ourselves, but we just love these discs, read the other Funerary Violinist reviews for more on the music and the mythology, and you'll realize just why it seems impossible to us to not fall totally in love with such a well executed piece of what ultimately amounts to performance art. The music, dark and delicate, creepy and so beautiful, even removed from the mythology is totally amazing, the story and the text is as well (there's even a book you can track down, detailing the entire recorded history of the Guild) but the two together, are simply magical....
Even without the fantastical back story, the music is worth the price of admission. Each piece is wonderfully crafted and beautifully performed, all solo violin, keening mournfully, minor key melodies drifting dreamily in some, the scrape and sawing of the bow constructing miserablist dirges in others, all except the more recent bathed in a thick cloak of crackle and static, giving it that Jeck / Hecker fuzzy-blurry-dreamy vibe we can never seem to get enough of. The fact that this music is set amidst such a dense and complex, passionate world of intrigue and mystery, love and death, only makes it that much more exciting. And the fact that every single bit of it is made up, well, as far as we're concerned that just seals the deal.