Secrets of the Tune: Urfaust vs. Giya Kancheli

Following on from Rob’s article last month about the subliminal workings of Grand Belial’s Key, here’s another slightly hidden nuance about another of LURKER’s favourite bands.

The haunting modern classical soundscapes that usher in Urfaust’s brilliant album Verräterischer, Nichtswürdiger Geist may have left many a metal fan scratching their heads. While fantastic additions to a masterpiece of modern black metal, I recently discovered that opening track ‘Dunkel, still von Ewigkeit’ and the intermission ‘Trauerhöhle’ cannot be officially attributed to Urfaust. For a long time I had wondered about the origins of the tracks; whether Urfaust had commissioned some musicians to perform the pieces or if they had used some sort of music production software and programmed in the very organic strings themselves.

Responses to my queries from the fanbase were as garbled and confused as I was. No one seemed to know their actual origins and I was happy to resign myself to believing it was one of the above, the air of mystery that surrounds Urfaust’s motives remained thankfully intact.

But while on a fateful mission around the (very limiting) record shops of Brighton town this summer with Dylan Trigg, everything suddenly fell together. After recommending each other numerous acts, I mentioned that he should definitely give Urfaust a listen. Dylan also mentioned that he was on the lookout to purchase works by the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. Later on, after hearing Verräterischer, Nichtswürdiger Geist as his first foray into the world of Urfaust, Dylan contacted me to say that, by bizarre coincidence, ‘Dunkel, still von Ewigkeit’ appeared to extensively sample Kancheli’s ‘Simi’ from the work Magnum Ignotum.

I got hold of Kancheli’s material to find that Dylan was right, it’s a essentially an abridged and aggressive take on ‘Simi’, lifted straight from the composition and chopped and changed a bit. Not that the plagiarism bothers me: Kancheli’s work is tense, fragile and darkly beautiful and works wonderfully within the context of Urfaust as much as his own compositions. Were any lurkers aware of this, or am I just an uncultured metal pleb? The open-mindedness and knowledge of the metal underground continues to astound me.

Dylan wrote an in-depth article on Giya Kancheli and the Aesthetics of Nostalgia and also dedicated his phenomenological book, The Aesthetics of Decay, to the composer.

Hates music and writing. Unfortunately, he's a journalist.

9 Comments

  • Reply October 5, 2010

    N.

    This is extremely interesting. I was always wondering where those classical pieces came from. Thanks for sharing this knowledge.

  • Reply October 9, 2010

    Andreas Deranged

    Interesting, definitely. Didn't take too many minutes to realize, listening to the URFAUST track, than no, they definitely hadn't done this themselves. Just like, for example, ONDSKAPT, lifting a whole song by Schnittke (Kyrie from his Requiem) for the intro of Draco Mihi Sit Dux, or DEATHSPELL OMEGA using that church-Slavonic cherubic hymn for their "Carnal Malefactor" song of Si Monumentum. Easy way to lift up one's spiritual message, by poking some stern modern or older holy art music into the metal… But anyway, thanks for putting Kancheli in the focus, didn't know about him.

  • Reply October 9, 2010

    Richard

    And thank you, sir, for the thought provoking comment.

  • Reply October 16, 2010

    Rin

    I've always asked myself what the origins of Urfaust's classical compositions were – I also was unsure if they didn't write it themselves, but when listening to "Dunkel, still von Ewigkeit" closely you can hear the ambient hiss of the original recording disappear when they chop it up.
    Thanks for finally providing an answer!

    Now, the second-to-last track on Geist ist Teufel consists of a classical sample as well. You wouldn't happen to know where that one is from? Peter Bjärgö's Sophia sample the same piece as well, on Herbstwerk or Deconstruction of the World I think. I've never found an answer to this one.

    And Geist ist Teufel's second enigma seems to be its tracklist, as I've heard the common one that's floating around is bullshit. Comparing the track names to their demo supports that, as it contains the same ambient pieces found on the album, but the names differ from the tracklist that's commonly known (and listed on Metal Archives).

    • Reply February 2, 2011

      mick

      I saw an Arvo Part piece performed last year, and parts of it sounded exactly like the piece from Geist ist Teufel. though i’m pretty sure it was also edited and looped in less recognizable ways on the album. unfortunately, i can’t remember what the name of the piece was…
      either way, i’m so happy to know the who was responsible for the pieces on Verraterischer. Been trying to solve this since i first heard the album. now i need to figure out the correlation between the outro on Geist ist Teufel and the second track on Paysage d’Hiver’s album Einsamkeit.

      • Reply March 30, 2011

        bread_isnt_dead

        The Pärt piece you are thinking of is “Te Deum” which is in fact sampled by Sophia on “Herbstwerk” on the song of the same title. The song has been sampled elsewhere, incidentally – also by Apoptose for their song “NidstÃ¥ng” from the album “Nordland.”

        So Urfaust clearly use the same tactic as a lot of so-called martial industrial groups (e.g. Sophia, Triarii, Dawn & Dusk Entwined, etc.) or even dark ambient groups like Raison d’être which is sampling and pitch altering or otherwise chopping up and modifying samples of classical music.

  • […] that once again left the listener dishevelled and confused. Be it lending the atmosphere of Giya Kancheli, whose dry, neoclassical avant-gardism sat perfectly with the nihilist ideology of Urfaust, or […]

  • […] Our ‘Secrets of the Tune’ column is back at last for its third installment. If you missed the first two, you can catch up here and here. […]

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