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Thereafter I heard Zann every night, and though he kept me awake, I was haunted by the weirdness of his music. Knowing little of the art myself, I was yet certain that none of his harmonies had any relation to music I had heard before; and concluded that he was a composer of highly original genius.

H. P. Lovecraft, The Music of Erich Zann

Weird music. Psychedelia is arguably among the weirder forms of rock music. One of the first psychedelic bands was actually called H. P. Lovecraft! It, in turn, gave rise to heavy metal, progressive rock, and subsequently gothic rock. Ultharine takes influence from all these genres, the proportions of their influence varying between songs and albums.

A thread from a web. One can percieve Ultharine being built on a thread of weirdness running from the earliest forms of psychedelia such as the aforementioned act H. P. Lovecraft and more famously The Byrds, through the more heavily strange and/or drugged acts such as Nektar, Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix, Hawkwind, and The Doors—whose solid record for weirdness in sounds and lyrics should leave nothing to be desired—also some more obscure acts such as Coven (like a satanic Jefferson Airplane, I kid you not!), Arthur Brown, San Fransisco's Shiver, and Lyd can be mentioned here.

The sound of darkness. The weird thread then runs on through early heavy metal and progressive rock of the 1970s. Black Sabbath's first few albums had a strongly weird and dark psychedelic quality to them, with at least one Lovecraft-inspired song, Behind the Wall of Sleep. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple also had some of this, though to a lesser degree.

An epic edge. When it comes to progressive rock Peter Gabriel-era Genesis can be mentioned, and in particular the album Tales of Mystery and Imagination by The Alan Parsons Project. Also David Bowie and Leonard Cohen may to some degree fit in here.

Murky depths of folklore. The psychedelic/experimental currents of rock in the late 60s and early 70s can also be said to have been intertwined with folk rock—the above-mentioned Byrds were crucial to the rise of both—incorporating folk- and medieval/renaissance music from various parts of the world. A notable anglophone act in this current is of course Jethro Tull, another being the Irish Dr. Strangely Strange, but Ultharine in this respect draws more heavily upon Sweden's Contact and Romania's Phoenix Transylvania.

Bela Lugosi's dead. Further, the thread of haunted weirdness reemerges in the late 70s and early 80s in both the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and early Gothic Rock. In the case of the former one might mention for example Quartz and the first two Iron Maiden albums. When it comes to gothic rock Fields of the Nephilim should be awarded the title of weirdest, with Bauhaus as a runner-up, while The Sisters of Mercy more generally defined the genre's sound (whatever Andrew Eldritch may have to say about that).

Weird rock. The Ultharine sound developed under these influences can be percieved as being built from a few basic elements, shared by most songs in a more or less consistent fashion. The base and fundamental heavy character of the sound is laid down by the rhythm section. The drums are heavy-handed, at times to the point of brutality and/or franticness. To this is then added a heavily distorted, sharply growling bass. The other end of the tone spectrum hasclean, chorused guitars, playing dubbed arpeggios in the vein of 60s the Byrds and early Sisters of Mercy, and Fields of the Nephilim. The middle spectrum is occupied by fairly normal gothic rock-style low-pitched vocals, a form of singing which of course draws upon the antics of Jim Morrison and Leonard Cohen, as such avoiding the commercialising styles 'pioneered' by Peter Steele (though he didn't sound only like that) and brought to their current cheesy frution by today's run-of-the-mill popmetal-goth.

Alienated decorations. These being the basic elements, the psychedelic edge is in a majority of the songs added using one or more lead guitars with effects such as phaser, rotary reverb, and flanger. Synthetic sounds and noises can be heard at times as well. Adding to the more retro nature of the sound is also a few guitar solos, something quite unheard of in normal gothic rock. In some songs is added a melodic, quasi-scandinavian folksy element with the help of a few violins/violas or a flute, in the case of violins not very dissimilar to how that instrument was put to use in the 70s by Contact, as mentioned above.

Hear for yourself. If by some chance you haven't lost interest yet you can find out for yourself how successfully this musical interpretation of weirdness has been executed in the next section. Who plays which instrument on the albums is mentioned in the Crew section.

All material and media on these pages is, unless otherwise indicated, Copyright © Joakim Andreasson 2010-2016. All rights reserved.