Long have I been entranced by nature. The nature of things—cause and effect, the consequent cycles that spin—indisputably propels reality as it exists both consciously and subconsciously—both within and outside of microcosm and macrocosms. There are many revolving correlations that can be drawn within the vastness of nature as well as between it and our existence as humans on this planet. Though more specifically, there are many parallels between it and music. That said, the evolution of Der Blutharsch is one that has unfolded organically from one cause to the next effect. They have essentially come around to a place that, while different from where they began, is still somehow a logical next step in a sequence of many that still preserves their authenticity.
Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand—“The Infinite Church of the Leading Hand” being the most recent addition to the name to emphasize its more recent incarnation with a more traditional rock-band lineup—is the primary project of Albin Julius (also of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud). Der Blutharsch has been consistently producing releases for the last twenty years and, as a result, my assumption is that most people interested in the post-industrial underground know perfectly well about the existence of this project. But what else can be said about these assumptions that hasn’t already been said? Making any sort of haphazardly clever remark about such things is no better than expressing a platitude as profundity and is thus best left unsaid.
At any rate, if you haven’t listened to this band and you have an affinity for that which is dark and exploratory, often times sinister yet inexplicably catchy in its own right, then you should consider looking into Der Blutharsch‘s latest incarnation. Starting out as more of a dark ambient project, they have since evolved, taking on different forms and effectively exerting different forces and transmissions of sound and purpose with a steady velocity. Since the 1996 release of the debut EP, First, they have touched base on and experimented with martial industrial, neofolk, the occasional incorporation of neoclassical instrumentation, the integration of heavy doses of death rock, kraut rock, and particularly with their most recent release, a heavy emphasis on psychedelic elements. Throughout their evolution, this project has been able to do that which most artists hope to achieve: they form noticeable sonic progressions that unfold throughout their existing oeuvre while simultaneously maintaining a noticeably distinct sound that is clearly and identifiably theirs.
On 24 December, 2015, Julius’s label, WKN, let The Wolvennest Sessions loose upon the world. The release is a steady opus—a congruent amalgamation of three unique though audibly synonymous songs. The entire recording is consistently mid-tempo, and a droning quality ebbs and flows throughout, particularly on the first track, “Out of Darkness Deep,” which clocks in at just over nineteen minutes in length. Here and throughout the three featured tracks, you will hear only Marthynna’s vocals. While they may be primarily monotone and largely unadventurous, her style and timbre still possess the required richness for this endeavor, the austerity and cadence of which is apropos to the atmosphere illustrated with very specific guitar tones, simplistic percussion, and psychedelic, sci-fi soundscapes. As layers slowly and deliberately unfold and progress, the auditory climate becomes trance-like, bordering on ritualistic and transcendent. If you’ve ever sat on a shore with the water’s edge at a reasonable distance, staring out into the horizon of the sea while waves slowly roll in only to have time disappear shortly before you abruptly notice the tide has risen nearly to your feet, then that is the way this album is experienced. It takes on the washes of those waves that rock your consciousness and body like a meditative cradle, but then towards the end, in “Evil Love,” The Wolvennest Sessions coagulates, clashing more into a cacophonous tangle and drawing your attention back to the present before the intermittent percussion resumes and ties it all back together.
As a stickler for visual consistency, the only qualm I have with this project is in their artistic presentations as of the last two releases. While this recording is presented in a very plain fashion with turquoise and gold lettering on the cover and a style of sacred geometry on the CD itself, their aesthetic has otherwise become cartoonish in nature. While straying from certain visual themes of the past is something I appreciate, it is still a bit confusing considering that the music they continue to make is so mature in nature. Alternately, some people reach a point where the need to fully be taken seriously is no longer a personal requirement. Considering this fact, it can even be understood that when delving into these concepts—into the drug-addled ideals and sounds formed by the originators of the psych rock genre—we can all agree that there is an attitude of reckless abandon required to sever attachments to expectation in order to authentically wander through the cosmic space available to those seeking to express it. Beyond that, if some brightly colored mushrooms are the only thing I can really find to complain about, they’re still doing a fantastic job in my book. It certainly would not be the first time I’ve had to put on blinders to avoid focusing on a facet far less important than what is being heard.
As a fan of dark ambient, martial industrial, neofolk. neoclassical, and death, kraut, and psychedelic rock, I recognize the connections and correlations that can be drawn between them all. That said, their ventures into and ability to progressively combine the aforementioned throughout their existence makes perfect sense. Yet, somehow their recent meanderings into psychedelic music has brought Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand’s evolution full circle. As their own powerful beast, they are their own self-propelling force, providing fuel enough to bring us more interesting and worthwhile things, which I have faith that they will continue to do. After all, as is proclaimed on their website: “Uniforms are always changing, Rock’n’Roll will stay forever!”
01) Out of Darkness Deep
03) Evil Love