While a split EP entitled Winter Thoughts from two unknown projects in Hermann’s Horn and Diable Amoreux may immediately conjure up mental imagery of völkisch philosophers in rural Scandinavian blizzards or urban Parisians contemplating paintings on snow-covered streets, the truth is that these European areas would be baking in the mid-Summer sun when the two tracks featured here were likely initially inspired. Both artists, in fact, reside in the Southern hemisphere on the Australian island of Tasmania, furthering complications related to their own, apparently willful obscurity. With well over a dozen releases, one would imagine that Diable Amoreux would have acquired a stronger fanbase by now, but they appear perfectly at home with remaining in the shadows where they can continue their experiments with the potent and unique style of folk music that they have lovingly labeled as Gnomic. While there is no real definition to this, the band — in most instances — appears to be inspired by everything from The Residents to Current 93, and by their own admission, their countrymen in Beastianity whom a few years ago saw their only release from the late 90s, Root, reissued through Dais Records on vinyl. A unique project, Beastianity forged together everything from neofolk to psych rock, black metal and experimental elements to create an atmosphere that was both deeply Pagan, and at times, extremely cynical. This is perhaps the basis behind Diable Amoreux’s willingness to shed genre-related barriers and simply create, or perhaps the gnome behind the project is an ex-member; we can only speculate.
Hermann’s Horn rests even deeper towards the void of non-existence, having only released this split EP and a full-length that has received little attention, and they have given no hint of relinquishing their secrets any time soon. Regardless, they emerge first on the A-side of this split with “Deep Dreams Flare after Long Withhold”, perhaps hinting at the reason behind their sudden appearance, a burst of inspiration after a long period of artistic avoidance. There is a certain philosophy surrounding the project’s approach as well, referred to as Tasmanian Dream Music, in which they “think it highly probable that what we call reality and the universe are actually the dreams of an unconscious entity“, thus making room for a highly ambiguous view of their creations, especially in the face of a theme surrounding dreams. The song itself is a fairly straight-forward dark folk rendition with looping, scarcely evolving guitar and bass melodies as well as buried, atmospheric horns that add a fair bit of ethereal textures late in the track when some form of progression is needed the most. As the artist’s debut to the world, “Deep Dreams…” isn’t a terrible effort and the atmosphere is beautifully composed apart from the occasional instrumental miscue, but the vocal approach is noticeably lacking; either the vocalist isn’t confident enough in his abilities to sing with conviction, or he’s trying to sing in an octave that is too low to favor his natural voice. Either way, it noticeably reduces the ability to just enjoy the song. A shame, really, as the lyrics are incredibly descriptive and fueled by a Romantic and natural view of the world as is no doubt embedded by his Pagan roots.
With Diable Amoreux, if you’re already familiar with his mostly bizarre creations, you should be accustomed to not knowing what to expect once you flip the 7″ over to the B-side. If you aren’t familiar, well, consider yourself warned. What we stumble across is nearly the polar opposite of what was witnessed with Hermann’s Horn: a psychedelic, synthetic accordion and tuba-heavy carnival / dark cabaret atmosphere that is truly worthy of the title which adorns it, “Cosmic Clown”. Musically, the song is linear, repeating the same underlying rhythms and melodies until the very end. Lyrically, it’s stumbling around somewhere way out in left field with the rest of the amusingly nonsensical. Additionally, there’s a not-so-subtle sarcastic tone to the lyrics that reminds me more of Voltaire or David E. Williams than the aforementioned influences. As legend has it, the song is written about Mark Morte, former member of the aforementioned Beastianity, former vocalist of the occult black metal project Nazxul, and an established graphic artist (including for True Helm: A Practical Guide to Northern Warriorship). With a project like Diable Amoreux, you’re likely to never know where true intentions are aimed, and with the sarcastic mood that dominates the lyrics, I’m going to stop myself short of attempting to decode exactly what he’s trying to say to Morte here. An interesting song, but certainly not comparable to some of his more ambitious and noteworthy compositions such as “Swastika, I” and “In Van Diemen’s Land”.
A1) Hermann’s Horn – Deep Dreams Flare after Long Withhold
B1) Diable Amoreux – Cosmic Clown