Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Paul Roland - Demos & A Cabinet...

As regular readers to the blog will know, I’m something of a fan of Paul Roland’s work and take any opportunity I can to keep people advised of Paul’s reissue programme and his new albums as they arrive. Recently Paul was kind enough to send over his double-CD limited edition Demos album, and Syborg Records' twofer repackage of two of his 1980s works, A Cabinet Of Curiosities / Happy Families. I’ll be reviewing both of these in the music press in due course, so this posting is really to let people know that they are available, and to update with the next in the reissue programme – and, most importantly, how to get them!

In that respect, what better than to reproduce the details from Paul’s latest newsletter, which starts with some sad news, unfortunately:

“I’d like to thank you for your patience over the last couple of months. The sudden death of my graphic artist and friend Ralf Schuessler earlier this year meant unavoidable delays in the production of the series of CD re-issues, but I am now confident that the special releases I had planned for this year (to mark my 30th year of recording) can be realised in the coming months.

First up we have the next scheduled re-issue, A Cabinet of Curiosities / Happy Families which includes both acoustic mini albums from 1987/88 plus almost all of the acoustic radio sessions that were originally on the 12” EP that came with the first 500 copies of the German edition of Duel released the following year. These tracks were recorded live in the studio for various radio stations in Europe between 1986-1988 and have been taken from the original DAT masters. Only a couple of tracks had to be omitted for length and copyright reasons. The album is beautifully packaged, if I may say so, and features notes on the recording by yours truly and colour photos taken in the studio so that these two mini albums are finally presented in the way they deserve to be.

The next reissue will be Duel in September, and it is going to be a very special 20th anniversary edition of the album. I had expected to make it a straight reissue of the ‘improved’ Greek release from 2003, but on closer listening I ‘heard’ several subtle but significant improvements and additions that needed to be made while still retaining the original character of the tracks. These included adding harmony vocals to certain songs (‘Knights’, ‘Spring Heeled Jack’, ‘At The Edge Of The World’) to fill out thin sounding choruses and middle 8’s, plus the odd keyboard line to add an ethereal touch to tracks which sounded rather empty on the original release (‘Over The Hills’) and most notably adding a (subtle) choir to ‘Nosferatu’ which gives it a more supernatural quality. I am normally against artists ‘tampering’ with recordings after they have been released and I am not unsympathetic to those collectors who are not happy if they have to buy an album that they already own just because it has a few retouches or extra tracks, but this series of re-issues is my last chance to put things right – adding instruments and multi-tracking vocals that I did not imagine needed adding when I recorded the original album.

All the live radio sessions recorded with the band shortly after the release of the Duel album will be included as bonus tracks, but the most unusual addition is the inclusion of a copy of my unpublished novel, The Magician of Grimm, which is set in the same medieval fantasy world as the songs and was written just a few years after the album’s original release (and originally printed in parts in the PRAS magazine A Cabinet of Curiosities). The book will be a limited edition printing of just 500 copies, 300 of which will be included with the first 300 copies of German edition of the CD on Syborg and the remainder will be available to PRAS members who can buy it either with the Duel CD or on its own if they prefer. I will be intrigued to know what you think of it and whether or not you share my rather ironic sense of humour!

‘Haxan’ Soundtrack

The first few months of this year I devoted to the writing and recording of my first film soundtrack – created for the 1922 silent horror movie Haxan (‘Witches’). This cult movie by Danish director Benjamin Christensen has been released by two labels who included both the original version and an edited version (under the title ‘Witchcraft Through The Ages’ with narration by William Burroughs) on one DVD with a choice of soundtracks (a jazz score, a solo dulcimer track, an industrial rock track and an orchestral score) none of which I felt were suitable or did justice to the stunning images on screen.

It was my intention to share this exciting and ambitious creative process with two of my German friends, the musicians Ralf Jesek of In My Rosary and Nico Steckelberg of Elaine and a filmmaker and editor Siggi Bracht. For our version I had written a new script to reduce the number of intrusive intertitles which interrupted the action every minute or so and which would replace the long lecture at the start with a prologue which I would narrate. I then wrote about 50 minutes of music for the film (all carefully timed to the second to match the action on-screen) plus three songs which would be included on the soundtrack album (one of which would be played over the closing credits). Ralf and Nico composed the remainder. The soundtrack, script, narration and editing were completed in May and preview DVDs were made for various labels who we thought might be interested in releasing it. We immediately secured an agreement from a German label who were very enthusiastic and who were going to promote it in Goth clubs and sell it to TV. They confirmed that the film was Public Domain (out of copyright), but while plans were being made for the release we discovered that this was not the case in Europe and that we would need permission from the Swedish Film Institute who claimed to hold the rights until 70 years after the director’s death, especially as our edit was radically different from the original version. Frustratingly they refused permission and now we are forced to release the soundtrack on its own (this autumn) without the scenes we had so carefully matched the music to. Still, I gained invaluable experience while writing for the film and I plan to pursue similar projects in the future provided all copyright issues are clarified before I start.

Demos CD
In the meantime my complete soundtrack recordings for Haxan (more than 50 mins of music plus the three songs written specially for the film) will be included on CD 2 of the Demos double CD set which will be released at the end of next month (July). CD 1 will feature 24 tracks, including 12 unreleased songs which I do not plan to re-record for my albums. Four of these were written for the German band Elane who invited me to contribute songs for their next album which is to be based on the novels of German fantasy writer Kai Meyer. The band will re-record my songs which will be sung by their female vocalist Joran Elane. This is the first time that my songs have been covered by another artist which is very satisfying indeed.

As with the previous PRAS collector’s CD (The Werewolf of London) the demos CD will be a limited edition (of 500 copies) available only to members of the PRAS and for download on CDbaby. It will not be for sale on Amazon or in the shops. However, if anyone wants to buy multiple copies to re-sell on e-bay I really do not mind. Anything that helps to spread my music to a wider audience, or in this case, which helps to distribute an album that is not going to be available in the shops is fine by me.

How To Order
To order the Cabinet Of Curiosities’/‘Happy Families CD and/or the double Demos CD simply go to the paypal website and send payment to or you can send euros cash to the PRAS at Postfach 111064, D-76060 Karlsruhe, Germany.

Price of the Cabinet of Curiosities/Happy Families CD is 15 euros (postage included). The price of the Demos double CD is 20 euros (postage included).

Multiple orders – if you wish to order extra copies (perhaps one or more for friends) then all extra copies will be half price and postage will be free (1 x Demos CD 20 euros; 2 x Demos CD 30 euros; 3 x Demos CD 40 euros etc).

Please do not send money for the Duel re-issue or the book now as it will not be available until September 6th, but you can request us to reserve a copy for you (or multiple copies) of the CD with the book (17 euros postage free), or the book on its own (7 euros)."

End of public service announcement! But seriously, my analytics show that I get a lot of traffic here searching for information on Paul, so hopes this helps some keep up to date, or even reconnect with his work.

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