Sturmpercht – Geister im Waldgebirg

What I knew of Sturmpercht, through several compilations tracks, the LP Stürm Ins Leben Wild Hinein! and a concert a few years ago, was very entertaining. I had some doubts though about how serious the Austrian folkloristic project should be taken. Their ‘Alpine pagan’ music may be nice for a few limited singles, but for an album of more than an hour? Well, on Geister im Waldgebirg, probably their most ambitious release so far, Sturmpercht quickly makes me forget my doubts.

The 17 tracks demonstrate a great array of variety. There are cheerful drinking tunes, soft pastural folk songs, more robust, almost martial pieces and atmospheric hymns with classical elements. Lots of percussion, acoustic guitars, flutes and violins and accordion are the main ingredients for the tasteful menu. The vocals are partly sung and partly spoken, with a rather raw sound, but fitting to the music, which isn’t about perfection but about emotion. Most of the songs are strange tales about ancient myths and legends and obscure creatures living in the forests and mountains.

The rich character of the album is enhanced by the presence of illustrious guests. There is a prominent role for Werkraum’s Axel Frank (guitar, flute/recorder and more). Furthermore Markus Wolff (Waldteufel), Gerhard Petal (Allerseelen) and Sangre Cavallum have contributed musical elements and compositions in their own typical styles.

I find the whole album very enjoyable. If I have to name favourites I’d come up with some of the more uptempo songs: a forceful rendition of ‘Wir rufen deine Wölfe’. which opens the album, the uptempo ‘Kaiser Karl’ which reminds me of Forseti, the warm accordion-piece ‘Allerseelenreigen’. Of course there are also nice ballads, like ‘Durch berg und Tal’ and the delicate ‘Lebewohl’. The absolute hit is saved for the end: the catchy ‘Was rauschet und was brauset’ will make even the stiffest people move their limbs. For me Geister im Waldgebirg is absolute one of the best folk albums of 2006, with not too many competitors.

artist: Sturmpercht
label: Percht
details: cd, 17 tracks, 2006 [Percht 07]