Monthly Archives: January 2015

Auditory Flashbacks: Helium Vola

For those who haven’t heard of them before, today’s post is going to give some exam­ples of the amaz­ing work that’s been cre­at­ed over the years by Heli­um Vola. Based in Ger­many, active since 2001, and head­ed up by com­pos­er Ernst Horn who also holds con­sid­er­able renown for his oth­er work under Deine Lakaien and Qntal, Heli­um Vola mix­es the haunt­ing into­na­tions of numer­ous dead lan­guages with the effer­ves­cent melodies of its ongo­ing elec­tron­ic, neo-medieval, and neo-clas­si­cal explo­rations.

While the over­all atmos­phere of most of their work is marked­ly ethe­re­al in nature and has long found its great­est strengths in that style, it hasn’t stopped the band from branch­ing out in oth­er ways, as can eas­i­ly be noticed over time. This has result­ed in cer­tain tracks giv­ing an utter­ly chaot­ic feel­ing at times, peri­od­i­cal­ly laps­ing into wide vari­a­tions of melody and tem­po, pro­duc­ing rather unex­pect­ed results that can tend to be a strong hit or miss to the lis­ten­er. This is more preva­lent in their recent albums than the old­er ones, seem­ing to come and go at whim on cer­tain tracks, sug­gest­ing both an ongo­ing, ephemer­al sort of exper­i­men­ta­tion, and per­haps unex­pect­ed­ly tap­ping into a listener’s more vis­cer­al reac­tion. There are times one won­ders what’s sud­den­ly tran­spired, when all of a sud­den the song weaves back into its orig­i­nal tone and tem­po, that much stronger for the jux­ta­po­si­tion.

This is some­thing that’s high­ly sub­jec­tive, to say the least. You’ll have to lis­ten for your­self and decide.

Also, while Heli­um Vola’s work tends not to be first thing that springs to mind when­ev­er one thinks of the word ‘dance,’ the raw, organ­ic, flu­id emo­tions expressed in these songs and their qui­et­ly rest­less rhythms bring a spe­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the table, and when one is immersed in the soar­ing vocals and flut­ter­ing tones of cer­tain songs, it’s not long before one feels the sen­su­al wisps of temp­ta­tion pulling at the mind to sway and drift in uni­son, to speak melody through motion, to aspire to dreams that fly as high.

On a per­son­al lev­el, I’ve found this a very rare expe­ri­ence to dis­cov­er in any musi­cal artist, and I find myself wish­ing we had some­thing — any­thing — like it in Cana­da. Along­side bands like Qntal, Atarax­ia, and oth­ers (who will be dis­cussed in future posts), I’ve noticed HV falls into a very spe­cif­ic niche even with­in the goth­ic sub­cul­ture where their par­tic­u­lar style seems much more wide­ly rec­og­nized. I find it odd they’re not more well known giv­en the obvi­ous­ly dark direc­tion in which their music leans, but either way, it doesn’t real­ly mat­ter so much as the fact I feel bet­ter off for hav­ing expe­ri­enced their work, and I’d like to offer the same to my read­ers. It took years of explor­ing before I found them, and that was large­ly by acci­dent.

With­out fur­ther ado, let us take a brief jour­ney through time.

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Sheep Pong and Other Feats of Engineering

So, I loaded up Face­book this morn­ing and saw this in a friend’s feed:

Sheep. Pong.

This is SERIOUSLY awe­some.

There’s no easy way to explain the efforts that prob­a­bly went into mak­ing this video, or the huge amount of time it must have tak­en to set things up and get them work­ing just right, but as a part-time home tin­ker­er who owns a few cas­es of elec­tron­ic and LED parts, I can appre­ci­ate the extreme­ly dif­fi­cult, beau­ti­ful feat they’ve done with this.

Good work, and keep doing what you love. My hat’s off to you, sirs.