and here, o dear ladies, gentlemen and young ones of all ages…

…we hear what a badly set up compressor can do to your live sound.

I have an audience recording of this show (it’s also on youtube), and I have wondered about the vocals – audience recordings are always hit or miss; a lot will depend on the particular recording equipment, any frequency band can drop out. Now that I have found this clip, I understand that it’s not just about the camera; the problem was what was coming out of the PA.
But the problem here, contrary to what the comments speculate, isn’t that Hansi was that ill or whatever, really. I’m not sure he even was. He did have certain “register blending” issues all over the late 90s and early 2000s – I’m using inverted commas because these aren’t limited to your traditional concepts of vocal registers aka mechanisms; we’re also dealing with extended technique here, that raspy thing. But really, most of the time – with Blind Guardian and their magically oiled touring machine – he managed just fine (outside of shows like Moscow 2002 where our gruesome reality likely threw his monitors off big time and caused all sorts of WTF).

Why does his lead part sound so freaking weird here, then?

Because from the sound engineering point of view, getting a mixed-technique vocal line to survive electronic processing required for amplification and recording is not exactly a trivial task (I’m speaking from experience).

The thing about classically informed clean singing is that it carries effing well. It’s designed for that. With a peak around the “singer’s formant” range.

Whenever you manipulate your instrument to produce extended technique sounds – or even “folk” style sounds – your peak frequencies shift.

So if you have a multi-band compressor set up way too far on a way narrow band (around the traditional singer’s formant frequencies), or an equaliser in your FX chain before the compressor, again, emphasising the singer’s formant (but this time your “generic” compressor is too lax)… you’ll get this weird overdone dynamics that actually sounds wrong because cleans shouldn’t overshadow those aggressive parts, y’know. And yet it happens because your cleans are focused already, they don’t need that extra boost, while the “harsh” parts could use some because the energy of your sound wave gets kinda dissipated when you add rasp via this particular technique. But the frequency band is selected incorrectly.
That’s all.

Other than that, Demons and Wizards was the band where Hansi the frontman was born. Remember, it wasn’t easy for him to transition from hiding behind a bass guitar to just being up there with nothing but a mike stand for company.

this is actually weird…

…that someone as not exactly opposed to recording (consistently excellent) covers as Hansi Kürsch never released studio versions of those tracks Demons and Wizards played live (when they were playing live, which wasn’t long cuz other commitments =)) To be honest, I’d take either the Maiden cover or the AC/DC one over that Immigrant Song that came with the Touched by the Crimson King album.

Here are two Maiden versions: with more audience participation…

…and a bit less of that:

The AC/DC one is positively phenomenal:

<3 <3 <3

This song is dangerously close to being my favourite song of all time – at least, one of the two BG songs I’m literally obsessed with, the first one being Bright Eyes. But I swear half my youtube history is bootleg live shots of Prophecies.

And now this! Awwww.

Check out the story about how Frederik Ehmke was putting the vid together!

And here you can get the singles (and older stuff) in FLAC format! C’mon, nothing beats lossless.

Oh, and now that the Bards are hinting they’re not going to tour for the next couple of years after they’re done with the summer dates, what does it mean? Yes. Yes. Don’t say it out loud, lest it be jinxed.

a yet another live bootleg vid, but.

This one’s special. I might have heard worse-sounding soundboard recordings. Of course there are missing parts to the frequency spectrum, and yet it’s just so damn cool sound-wise. It may be worth it not to look at the screen even because the camerawork is somewhat jumpy.

Whatever. It’s taken from a recent Imaginations show in Japan; not the full album tracklist, obviously, ending with The Script for My Requiem. As honest as it can get, really. Showcases beautifully how Hansi can move in a single breath from those almost-Baroque, ornate and vulnerable cleans of his to a ferocious distortion, remaining hypermelodic throughout. “Too much character,” some would say. But who would deny the skill?


wonders and insights, they say

It’s Greg who kindly called me “wonderful and insightful” recently, so a fox gotta comply. So, the wonder and the insight for today is that there is a singer out there who is almost as good as Hansi Kürsch and does not take a decade between album releases. If you are a 275% loyal die-hard Blind Guardian fan, you obviously know who that is. If you aren’t…

Meet Piet Sielck, former Blind Guardian sound engineer and backing vocalist. A singer, a multi-instrumentalist and a songwriter, whose band Iron Savior has been steadily releasing quality Teutonic power metal stuff for, well, twenty years.

And let’s be frank… I wish Piet would come back to the Twilight Hall and produce Blind Guardian records instead of Herr Bauerfeind. He’s proven his worth with Iron Savior. Some will complain about Iron Savior production as well, but it’s still infinitely better than BG/Bauerfeind recordings out of the box.

Either way, Piet is unstoppable. You know I don’t like non-classical male singers much. I love Piet Sielck. Consider this a recommendation.

Speaking of actual music, Iron Savior are damn consistent re:their output. It’s ultra-melodic and fast; it doesn’t break new ground the way Blind Guardian are always poised to do, but it doesn’t grow stale and old either. Enjoy a couple of 2016 tunes.

Duets and other collaborations! Where would we be without them? The debut Iron Savior record had this lovely song, where Hansi sings quite a lot (c’mon, you can tell their voices apart) and Kai Hansen plays the guitar.

they did it again…

…half a band this time, and the song ain’t theirs, but hey, they always deliver.

Blind Guardian (Hansi and Marcus, to be specific) found themselves doing a yet another game soundtrack, and this time it’s something way more original than the second instalment of Sacred – The Dwarves is a game based on a German fantasy novel.

My “to be played” pile is a bit too long ATM, so I haven’t yet been able to justify buying the game at release (even though it’s been wishlisted since being in dev). But if you are looking for something colourful and story-driven, then by all means get it. Here’s the GOG link again.

And here’s the music =)

It has an orchestra, a choir and no Charlie Bauerfeind in sight. We’ve been blessed.

Don’t know if you can get it on iTunes outside Russia yet (not here as of right now), but supposing you do get the game, the soundtrack is here for a few extra $$.

you can dig around Hansi’s lyrics…

…to try and figure out what he’s like as a person, and while this would work (especially if you take the “published demos” into consideration, too), sometimes an interview is easier.

This one was taken last November, about a week after that terrorist thing in Paris. So obviously, it’s the topic they plunge into right away. And it’s not exactly what the Bards get asked about often.

But it paints the whole picture of who Hans Jürgen Kürsch is. In broad yet powerful strokes.

If only any politicians were like that.

…and it only took fifty years!

Or, the science behind the Ents.

Supposing you didn’t fall out of your chairs laughing, let me remind you that this fifty year anniversary is today.

Who would’ve thought.

And who would’ve thought that in summer 2016, Hansi would sing in German for the first time on record, duetting with Micha “Das letzte Einhorn” Rhein of In Extremo.

And sing about all that is good in RUSSIA.

Over ten years ago, Hansi recorded a vocal line for one of our local bands called The Arrow. The album version is a duet with Alexander Cap, but I can’t seem to find it streamable anywhere. So you’ll have to do with a demo fragment that only features Hansi. Funny how it seems to have better production than the finished track… either way. Whatever the official German policy is/was/will be regarding Russia, good people are good people.

And let’s drink to that.