DerBlutharschjoyIt took me a while to work out what exactly I had here when these 2 discs turned up. I remembered Der Blutharsch vaguely from the late 90’s as a martial industrial outfit. Helmed by Austrian Albin Julius they were remembered partly due to contentious imagery employed like many others within the scene. On careful inspection it appears that any such leanings of the past are long over and musically and thematically things have moved well away from this. Albin now runs under the convoluted moniker Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand and the project has evolved into what is best termed as psychedelic rock which is heavily reminiscent of Krautrock too. They are on the billing of Roadburn this year which also strongly shows that they have moved very much musically and ideologically.

There have been a stack of album’s released on Albin’s WKN label and these two are the most recent of 24 DBATICOTLH Ones. Joyride [7] starts with some pulsating and eerie keyboards that are heavily reminiscent of a Carpenter horror soundtrack on opener ‘Drive Me Far.’ It’s highly atmospheric setting the tone for a 50 minute plus listening experience described with the words “Caution: For Maximum Listening Pleasure Only Listen When Chemically Imbalanced!”  Luckily I’m up for that and swoon somewhat as I first encounter Marthynna’s vocals. This takes the canvas of the music into an altogether different place. Her voice is emotionless and joyless on the whole and I say that in a good way as it is also completely beguiling and hypnotic allowing you to travel with the slow doomy mantra of sound and find yourself completely mesmerised by the whole experience. Suddenly some chaotic sci-fi sounding bleeps and beeps take you into an unexpected freak-out as ‘Sea Of Love’ comes in and then it calms into a vibrant mix of spacerock sounding bass and dream-pop garage-rock with the dulcet tones harmoniously riding over the top. It’s definitely a stand out track on the album and gets right in your head. There’s a strong experimental feel about everything and Albin is not afraid to let tracks meander and evolve in a natural way. The slow and sinuous creeping feel of tracks such as ‘Cold Freedom’ sound like they could have crawled out of any era in time and musically listening to this there’s a feel that spans the decades taking in everything from the 60’s and beyond. The trippy and somewhat anesthetized sounding vocals lull you into a near musical dope-cloud along with the beat and everything gets completely under the skin in the process. Most of the time the album is seriously chilled and perhaps as it flows further into time and space that could be a bit of a downfall and one can’t help but feeling a couple of tracks could have been trimmed from the running time. Its depressive nature does begin to get to you a touch too much toward the end. Still that aside there’s a lot of interesting ideas and songs are strongly structured, having plenty of identity about them. It’s also really grown on me a lot after the first couple of listens.

DerBlutharschWolveThe Wolvennest Sessions [7.5] allows musical experimentation to flow even more freely featuring just 3 sprawling numbers. Wolvennest are actually a trio in their own right featuring Michel Kirby (La Muerte), Corvus von Burtle (Cult Of Erinyes) and Marc De Backer (Mongolito). This is really a collaboration between their guitar, percussion and synth work along with the Infinite Church line-up. Nearly half the running time here is taken by the epic 19 minute  ‘Out Of Darkness Deep’ sounding at first very much like a transmission from deepest darkest space. Naturally this got my imagination working overtime as a guitar makes a lone call from the ether and builds around the ambience. Tribal drum-work slowly comes in and we are in another mantra like journey which also reminds quite a lot of work by the excellent Oranssi Pazuzu. Then those dreamy soporific vocals from Marthynna enter and it’s impossible not to find yourself entranced like a snake being charmed out its basket. I am struck listening to a mix here and through both albums that could draw comparisons to everything from the aforementioned to Hawkwind, recent Psychic TV, Sabbath Assembly and beyond.  It’s an enjoyable trip as everything twists and turns and meanders away instrumentally; all quite chilled but with a hint of danger about it. Melodic retro keyboards work their charm around ‘Unreal’ which again makes you think you could be in an alternate state basking in its warm glow. Patterns are very gradually built in no hurry at all allowing you to simply relax and enjoy the ride awaiting the vocals. When they poetically come they enhance the musical glow perfectly and add a real magical quality to it all. Gloom and doom and depressive vibes seep right in for the final piece ‘Evil Love’ leaving you feeling like life and all its ills have gotten through any musical narcotic fug and leaves you feeling somewhat uncomfortable as the album very slowly unwinds to barren silence.

Although I haven’t got the time to dip back into the other 22 discs in the back catalogue I really enjoyed both the music and the atmospheres of these two albums and will be keeping an ear out for further material. Discover more for yourself via the links below.

(Pete Woods)