Review

Vampire Nation - "Bes-na-Maut"

by Marcus Pan

Bes-na-Maut"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 years ago.

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 you.

Contact Information:
Post: Hexagon Records, 52 South 8 Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203
Phone: (412) 381-1020
Web: http://www.vampire-nation.com