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.

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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.