Vampire Nation - "Bes-na-Maut"
by Marcus Pan
"Moving the nation into a state of
perpetual enlightenment through music." That is the goal of one-man outfit
Vampire Nation. Sole member Fredrik von Hamilton spins a danceable track that
he refers to as either "coven funk" or "cold wave," new terms to add to the
growing collective of musical pigeonholes and genres. Those four words do sum
up what VN does, however - and quite well. Gregorian chants combined with
synthesized sounds, tribal backbeats and rhythm galore.
To understand the work of VN better, you must understand the
man behind it. Coming out of Pittsburgh and claiming to be, as expected, a type
of "vampire," Fredrik von Hamilton is 498 years old the last time I checked. He
looks pretty good for his age, too. He does admit that most of those gained
"years" have been retrieved through mystical remembrances and regressions to
past lives. His religious philosophy centers around the ancient Egyption gods.
May the Ra be with you.
His music on Bes Na Maut has a definite danceable
feel. It's mostly backbeats and synthesized slides played over Gregorian
chanting and female whining. While it's somewhat good for the house/club genre,
other than the occasional application of spooky sounds in the mix and his own
cowl-covered vampire flashiness, I'm not sure how this fell into the goth
crowd. I suppose it's the nature of us to want to dance a lot. The tape has a
dozen or so track listings, but I'd be hard pressed to find the song breaks
where I can identify one ending and another beginning. It's simply one long
dance track suitable for standard club play.
Bes Na Maut kicks off with a monologue - the story of
a vampire's first love. The monologue is quite interesting, done in a
Shakespearean sort of way. It then breaks into Gregorian chants and layer after
layer of backbeats, basslines and synthetic flutes and other sounds are added
throughout the rest of the tape. There's nothing new here that I could find - I
have friends that have been doing this exact sort of thing since the 80s. We
called these guys and gals "DJs." I even heard a beat track that sounded like
it came straight out of the old "French Kiss" track that was a hot dance number
The Gregorian chants are held in the background as the beats
and top layers are applied. The problem with the Gregorian chants is that,
although hard to define, they do have a rhythm. It's in there - it's not
that hard to find. The beats and rhythms that Fredrik applies to the chants are
way off - they don't match, not even closely, to the rhythm of the chanters.
This cross is throughout the tape and takes quite a lot away from the effect of
the music. It is possible to lay down chant-style vocals and still apply a
workable beat rhythm to it - I have tapes from my friend Kim's old DJing days
that does it beautifully.
Vampire Nation mixes a good dance track. Tried and true for
over a decade, this club style of music has become very well accepted. The
inclusion of the chants is also rehashed from the old days as well - although
done not much better than I've already heard. Nothing new, nothing fresh. I'll
leave the determination of whether or not Fredrik is a musician or a DJ up to
Records, 52 South 8 Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203
Phone: (412) 381-1020