Novaya Zemlya is an archipelago in the Barents Sea in Northern Russia. The weather here in the winter is freezing cold and -30 C is very normal. The area has a long history and the Dutch explorer Willem Barents came here in 1596 as he wanted to explore a passage to China via the North East. The ship got stuck in the ice and the sailors built a hut so they would have shelter for the winter. They all suffered from scurvy and it is a miracle that they managed to survive.
In June their ship was still trapped in the ice so they went to sea with two small boats. Willem Barents died at sea on the 20th of June, 1597. Seven weeks later the survivors managed to reach Kola Peninsula. They were rescued by a Dutch merchant vessel. But five of them did not make it.
Novaya Zemlya was a secret Nazi base in WW II with sea planes prying on allied shipping to Siberia and in the Cold War it was a nuclear test site.
Long Tall J got fascinated by this story and decided to put it to music. The parts 'Anticipation' and 'Chaos' are in 7/8 time signature. The moody atmosphere in 'Darkness' highlights their stay in the lodge during the very cold and dark winter while the lead part in 'Chaos' emphasises how desperate they must have felt at times.
The different parts of the piece follow the endeavours of these brave men. They each have a different title:
- The House