IN PITTSBURGH NEWSWEEKLY
jan 23-29 1997
Coph Nia (The Hexagon Chronicles Book One)
From the very first strains of the Egyptian bagpipes that
kick off this album and the cover photos of the Sphinx,
I knew I was in for an otherworldly experience with
Vampire Nation's debut on Los Angeles label known
mainly for gothic rock bands such as Praise of Folly and
The Deep Eynde. What Fredrik of the Nation has created
is an innovative, almost unique brand of electronic music,
steeped in the "darkwave" movement that blends goth
with diverse elements but broad in the sweeping scope of
Fredrik's work is based around his concept of a
mist-shrouded island colony of ancient Egypt called
Galius, the Vampire Nation, and he's working on a book
about this lost world that has the potential to inspire a
role-playing game or a movie later on. But for now, his
multi-textured, mostly beat-oriented keyboard sound
incorporates everything from a Native American shaman
to Gregorian chants and Middle Eastern percussion, as
well as a hip-hop influenced bass sound he mysteriously
calls "coven funk."
Beneath the surface, I detect hints of Lycia in the way he
layers the dark synth voices, Muslimgauze for the exotic
percussion arsenal, and perhaps Enigma for the
danceable chant style. But these are only vague signposts,
as I said there is really nothing that sounds like VampireNation.
With the muscle of a West Coast company behind it,
a lot more people will probably be hearing this album in the near future.
-perhaps VN will even cross over with the electronic music fans.
Celestial waves of synthesized harmony? Spacey Gregorian Chants? Eclectic
electronic beats? Vampire Nation's hypnotic industrial goth brings doom,
gloom and despair upon Charlie's Bistro & Cafe Fri., Feb. 28. The Halloweeny
set of Fredrik Von Hamilton, who is Vampire Nation, includes music from his Saint
Thomas recording debut, Coph Nia. Experimenting with multi-cultural expressionism,
he orchestrates Native American beats with Middle Eastern percussion to harbor
an eccentric sound seperate from that of other goth artists. Labeled "coven funk" or "cold wave,"
Vampire Nation breaches the gap between hip-hop, goth and New Age
music. Elements of ancient Egyptian legends are blended into Fredrik's mysterious
mystique, accentuating the dark themes of his melodies. The whole Vampire Nation
thing is based on Fredrik's description of the forgotten island of Galius,
topic of his upcoming book. With beliefs deeply rooted in the civil rights movement,
Fredrik seeks his own outlet of expression through ancient themes of oppression.
His music, he says, expands his ethnic culture by telling stories of the North African Tribe.
Issue Two - Spring 1997
COPH NIA-THE HEXAGON CHRONICLES
ST. THOMAS RECORDS
How Fredrik von Hamilton gets lumped into the goth category, I'll never know.
What this one-man band produces is a spooky electronic worldbeat which is closer
to some of Projekt's more ambient selections than Christian Death.
While at times the cassette becomes redundant, it benefits from some
truly top-notch self production.The cross-over possiblities
are staggering, and Vampire Nation is definitely striking out a new path in electronic music.
The CD will be released soon, along with the promising
"Egyptian Sex Magick" single, so if you're looking for
something truly new, Coph Nia will likely satisfy your
cravings. Look for Vampire Nation on tour this summer.-Raphrat
POINT OF LIGHT
Vol 3, Issue 12
Autumn '97 Issue
"The regional music scene, particularly as it relates to topics
of interest to Point of Light readers, is wonderfully diverse
and suprisingly origional."
"For something completely different - and I do mean different
in every way - there's Vampire Nation's Coph Nia (Saint Thomas Records).
Sole performer Fredrik Von Hamilton calls it Egyptian Coven Funk,
easily the narrowest niche of music ever devised.
This tape is ecletic extreme. The sounds are primordial, delving
into the depths of the root chakra, mixing things about,
then tossing the results out onto the pentagram drawn on the floor.
Our Official Eclectic Music Afficionado Kevin Rasel
gives this review." "Refreshingly experimental in approach,
this moody musical journey is a soundscape;
at times a bit more tribal and atmospheric than the expected
gothic feel one would expect from a vampiric concept premise.
It definitely sets a dark tone and is substantially nonlinear in approach
with its absence of any specific recurring meodies.
It sometimes goes a bit astray with its dissonant keyboard improvisations
as the compser over indulges in the use of pitch shifter. The rhythm
and percussion parts are dully mechanical but provide an essential
(and sometime funky) groove to support the meandering improvisational electronic tracks.
If you're into darker and experimental atmospheric music, this is
an intriguing recording. It serves to set an eerie mood at best,
but don't listen for any structered 'songs'to lock into."
Issue 6 May 1998
310 915 7668
Vampire Nation - Coph Nia (Saint Thomas)** :gothic lounge music: The eleven tracks are long and repetitive,
mostly without vocals and are well decribed in the liners
as a "coldwave and coven-funk sound." I like the idea of combining
tribal/ethnic elements with dark electronics in an atmospheric way,
but somehow the end result just doesn't do it for me. I'd like to hear
what this unusual band does next.
PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1997
Fredrick Von Hamilton:Vampire Nation's Mysterious frontman
Slave to the rhythm VAMPIRE NATION mixes a strange gothic concoction
By Tony Norman Post-Gazette Staff Writer Fredrik von Hamilton isn't your
typical practitioner of the goth-electric-dance aesthetic.
At 498 years old, von Hamilton doesn't look a day over 29. But the South Side resident
is quick to admit that the bulk of his days have been recovered via regression into past lives.
Though von Hamilton was born and raised in humble Beltzhoover,
he eventually came into a true knowledge of himself when he formed the musical/spiritual collective Vampire Nation.
Sporting a grim reaper-like cowl that obscures his face during concerts, Von Hamilton looks more
Druid than dance maven, though he'd probably cop to be a little of both.
Though Vampire Nation is essentially a band of one,
the debut album on Los Angeles-based St. Thomas Records,
"Coph Nia: The Hexagon Chronicles Book One," packs at least five eons worth
of ambient funkiness. Where von Hamilton's last band, July, was a miasma of dull
vocals and churning sounds, Vampire Nation is beat oriented and with the exception of one song,
instrumental. "Instead of controlling the music in a way that's similiar to all the
industrial sound layering I did in July, I'm letting the music control me through my religion."
Von Hamilton often makes reference to an ancient Egyptian mystery religion that forms the
ideological backdrop to his music. Declaring himself a polytheist at heart, von Hamilton's eccentricities
can be traced to a novel understanding of the role of Afrocentricism in popular music.
"I'm guided by the hand of certain gods," he said of eerie stage performances in which he evokes
a full-palette of sounds thanks to samplers and percussion technology.
"Vampire Nation is two distinct sounds. One is Cold Wave, which is a laid-back sound.
The other is Coven Funk, which is more upbeat. I lock them both down with a funk beat
and surrond it with sounds from the classical and ambient worlds of music."
Von Hamilton thinks comparisons to other bands are ultimately futile,
but thinks he may havesomething in common with such disparate bands as Aphex Twins,
Psychic TV and Muslimgauze. But none of these bands are likely to get airplay on WAMO-FM anytime soon.
This contradiction is at the heart of Vampire Nation's attempt to be understood as a band with "Afrocentric" ideas.
One wonders if von Hamilton, a descendent of the notorious slave revolutionary John Brown,
is doomed to be forever thought of as just a brother from another coven.
"If this music is exposed to the black community, it will sell and young people
will buy it and listen to it," he said. "Despite the name, Vampire Nation isn't about tales of ghost and ghouls. Vampire Nation refers to the pillaging of Africa which,
along with African-Americans, has been sucked dry by European colonialism. "Von Hamilton sees his mission
as one of moving the nation into a state of perpetual enlightenment through music.