Old pal Robbo joins me in Derry & Toms to discuss the book from Pops that blew my mind into tiny pieces back in the early 80s, Sven Hassel’s Wheels of Terror! We look at the man himself, including the shroud of mystery around his history, the first part of the novel and it’s horrific, bleak yet darkly humorous depiction of the impact of war, and whether this was really suitable reading for an 11 or 12 year old to move onto from the Doctor Who novelisations by Target Books. We also talk Moorcock (naturally) and the impact growing up in the ruins of a war must have had on him.
We also probably add wargamers, military geeks and the people of Withernsea and Patrington to the list of people we’ve offended.
We’re back with another look at Moorcockian music, this time in the company of Don Falcone, captain of the starship Spirits Burning, long time collaborative portal for progressive and space rock projects involving luminaries from across the rock field, most recently Michael Moorcock himself with their last two albums being musical adaptations of the Dancers at the End of Time trilogy.
We talk Moorcock (obviously) and Don’s influences and history as a musician and producer, as well as a few other bits n’ bobs as we go.
The Journal of Gerard Arthur Connelly continues with Chapter 10 and an unusual encounter (score and atmos again by @nand_soundtrax).
As previously mentioned, Tash and I are in a quest to find the perfect One-Shit Book. After she coined the phrase when describing The Jewel in the Skull (almost perfect) we always knew this would be a question for the ages. Does such a thing exist?
We’ve set out to find out.
As Pops gave me a number of crappy books as well as the great ones back in the day, I pulled a contender from the shelf. With my tongue in my cheek perhaps, but a contender nevertheless in the shape of:
Dannus: The Dark Straits of Reglathium.
I’d already tried to sucker Loz into covering the 4th Dannus epic but he wriggled and evaded the hook. Therefore Tash ended up on it.
However… There are challenges. The images below provide a brief look inside of our process and the tangles and complex negotiations that take place in establishing our agenda for a show. And we haven’t even started on our rum choices yet!
There is time yet for another lapse in Tash’s resolve but do not fear friends… I’m determined that we do this so you don’t have to.
It’s hard to believe but 2021 is already thundering by and we’re almost half way through February!
Phil and I have had this week off, so we took the opportunity to have Christmas v2.0 (as work pretty much ballsed up proper Xmas) and it has been boozy, relaxing and very monster heavy (we did a LOT of Godzilla movies thanks to the Criterion Collection I got the xmas before last). Bonzer!
On a more pertinent note however, I’ve been fairly productive on the recording front. We got The Knight of the Swords Book Three out last week and we have Loz’s next show covered in terms of what we’ll be reading. I’ve needed an excuse to delve in to those White Wolf collections and now I have it. Not that I really REALLY needed an excuse but… so many books… so little time.
In terms of future developments, the Journal continues to benefit from some collaboration (see the previous patron exclusive post for more on that).
In terms of upcoming episodes I have two more in the can awaiting some editing and tomorrow I’m recording with Tash for the first time in an age. We’ll be embarking upon the first of what will be a series of occasional quests to find the ultimate ‘one-shit book’. This time we’ll be reading the epic(ally terrible?) Dannus: The Dark Straits of Reglathium, the fourth in a series of five fantasy heart-breakers by Mike Sirota.
Why the fourth?
Well, that was the one that ended up in my hands c/o Pops back in the 80s. I’d never even seen the other four (until I picked them all up over the last few months). If Pops gave me it, it’s in scope.
For that reason, the first of the two other shows I have recorded and awaiting assembly is MASSIVELY in scope. I mentioned Wheels of Terror in our introductory episode and the novels of Sven Hassel were Moorcock’s main competitors for my attention as a teenager. I’m joined by a new guest, my old mucker Robbo, as we take a look at the horrors of the war from a distinct perspective.
The second is another foray into the world of Moorcockian music as I’m joined by the driving force behind Spirits Burning, Don Falcone. Don is a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose latest projects have been the musical adaptations of Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time trilogy, the first two of which are available now. We had a really great conversation and it was fascinating to hear how a Moorcock fan went on to not only produce Mike’s Deep Fix album Live at the Terminal Cafe, but also collaborate with and record him as part of the Spirits Burning band along with a number of other rock luminaries.
Phil will also be back on the show soon for our first dip into The Warhound and the World’s Pain.
One final note from me today – our patron @opensussex is heading towards the close of his rum-soaked Kickstarter project, card game The Full Shanty. At the time of posting this there are four hours to go. Pledge as a Boatswaine and you can get the card game AND a CD of the Duck Pond Sailors singing the shanties in the game.
Loz is back as we conclude our look at the first volume in the psychedelic adventure of Corum, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe. As usual our conversation veers around a bit, covering beers, rhubarb, hernias and just how much agency Corum has. We also have a good think about what to cover next, roll some dice to decide, and get bowled over by the sheer quality of @nand_soundtrax‘s journal soundscape!
Since putting out our latest show, exploring new worlds of Moorcock inspired music in the company of the artist known as Elric and our very own Patron Demon, The Guljas, I received some very groovy recommendations and discovered some other magic inspired by the Big Man via Bandcamp.
Since then I’ve found some more absolutely banging stuff that I need to share.
First up, Hawkmoonmor from the Ukraine. They only have two EPs on there but they are pure Moorcockian rock magic. The Red Amulet EP has the title track (based upon the Mad God’s Amulet) as well as The End of All Songs and another track dedicated to someone or other called Frodo (weird name). Their older EP, from way back in 1999, despite being called Hawkmoon’s Tales consists of two tracks, The Elric Saga/Straasha’s Deeps and Corum. Hawkmoonmor play a doom-laden blend of noise metal, ambient soundtrack and hints of melodic rock. Well worth a look and super atmospheric.
Sticking with the Hawkmoon vibe, the Duke of Koln also serves as the title for some electronica with tracks from Black Falcon and some more trippy dance music c/o Bstep .
As I mentioned last time around, Bandcamp is just a treasure trove and it’s my go-to site for new music. Looking into Moorcock inspired music has opened up a portal to the 15 worlds.
Elric is never far away from the Metal Realms and Newcastle’s Starborn are a good example of how mighty riffs, thundering drums and soaring vocals are always a good match for the pale prince. Their second long player The Dreaming City is a great place to start.
Flipping back over the aisle again I also found another artist called Imrryr and their album, also called The Dreaming City This time the full album is directly an adaptation in musical form, with song titles directly drawn from the Elric saga. The bandcamp description of them being purveyors of bleak electronica and experimental music is bang on the money, and if that floats your quaintly shaped boat, this should be an instant port of call. In nicely Moorcockian fashion you can also find an alternative version of the album called The Dreaming City (Revisited) that has some overhauls of certain tracks as well as all new ones. Highly recommended and worthy of a few sheckels to support!
Finally, if you’re in the market for an epic electronic orchestral suite (with the odd break beat), see PRINCE ELRIC by Glitched Orchestrals, described by the artist as a symphonic poem inspired by the Elric novels of Michael Moorcock.
EDIT: Allister Thompson on the twitter just pointed me to the epic drone synth ambience of Melniboné from his album Ancient Metals under the moniker The Gateless Gate.
Doubtless there’s tons more great stuff out there. If I’m missing anything drop me a line.
Our latest show, exploring new worlds of Moorcock inspired music in the company of the artist known as Elric and our very own Patron Demon, The Guljas, is doing brisk business and is on track to be our fastest downloaded show to date!
Since it was uploaded I’ve had some great conversations too, with some other music projects being thrown my way that are deserving of attention.
Our man Clarkey put me on to Italian power metal outfit Domine. From the outset they wore their influences on their sleeve (literally) with 1997’s release Champion Eternal, and they followed up with numerous Bob Howard and Moorcock influenced material, frequently featuring Elric on their cover art. A regular fixture across their releases is the epic and multipart track The Chronicle of the Black Sword.
They haven’t released anything since 2007 as far as I can tell, but they still have an active presence on social media and are still gigging. If power metal is your thing they deserve a look.
More recently I came across Canadian outfit Smoulder via their track Ilian of Garathorm. They’ve released an album and an EP, easily available via Bandcamp, and they’ve got it all… chunky chest beating riffs, a cracking rhythm section and, to top it off, powerful, melodic vocals and epic, heroic fantasy inspired tales to tell.
Finally, coming very much from the more classic NWOBHM inspired end of the metal spectrum, Eternal Champion have been knocking out some galloping goodness with a strong Moorcock influence and, in the tradition of their classic metal forebears, have got faster, crisper and more intricate over the time they’ve been active. Their last release, Ravening Iron, dropped in November last year and it’s a beast.
If there’s anyone else out there doing Arioch’s work, drop me a line.
As 2021 continues in much the same vein as 2020, but somehow worse, there is some good news.
We closed out the last show, the birthday special, with the mellifluous tones of SÖNUS and their track The Eternal Champion from the album Worlds Undreamed Of. For the nimble fingered, there is a limited run of 100 cds available on Bandcamp.
The new year is upon us and… without much further ado… it feels much like 2020.
Here in the UK we’ve entered another full lockdown and have been awarded the nickname Plague Island. Meanwhile our cousins across the pond once again have some 24 hour election coverage to get stuck into (and I must confess I’m keenly following developments as I type this). Therefore I expect that here at Derry & Toms we will be confined to remote recording for at least another three months. We’ve had some practice now though and are getting a bit better at it as we go.
In better news, our fellow traveller Jim successfully kickstarted Urish’s Horde: The Guide to Elric Collectibles. Jim assures me that us UK folks (and anyone else outside the US) will be able to pick this up via online retailing once its published. I can’t wait to get my mits on it!Meanwhile, I’ve continued to play around with The Journal of Gerard Arthur Connelly and have Chapter 8 recorded and 9 written. Try as I might to do 160 pages in three days, a la the man, the reality is a bit more creaky and painstaking. Still, it’s good fun and a nice distraction from the ongoing barrage of bad news. Even more exciting (for me at least) is the collaboration I’ve just undertaken with a very old friend of mine from my salad days. Way back in the mists of time I collaborated a little with a couple of friends on some electronic music and, 28 years after we last spoke, we reconnected on twitter and had a good natter. One of the outcomes is that, compared to previous episodes, Chapter 8 has had a polish and the Journal now benefits from an entirely original score. More will be revealed soon.
Finally, as we’re racking up the chapters, I’ve decided to have another play around and compile the Journal into a series of chapbooks. I’m working on volume one right now. If it works out Chaos Engineers and Jugaderos will get PDFs and Patron Demons will receive a hardcopy. This is a work in progress for now, but watch this space.
Right, that’s it from me for now.
Take care, stay safe, and I’ll see you soon… on the moonbeam roads.