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Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand’s “Sucht & Ordnung”: Delving Deeper into Post-Neofolk Psychedelia

Is post-neofolk a reality now? If so, Sucht & Ordnung may be evidence of that. A prime mover for crucial martial industrial, Albin Julius’s post-Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud project is now far from the same beast that output album after album of war-steeped loops, brassy horns, and lumbering drums. The precipice of this turn of events could be traced to perhaps 2007’s The Philosopher’s Stone, a point where Julius veered off these roads and towards newfound shores of swirling psychedelia.  Nonetheless, many subsequent works retained a trace of that folksy character—and in retrospect, some dodgy angles wherein one could ascertain this gyspy’s route to arrive in Der Blutharsch’s current sound.

In Sucht & Ordnung, we find three tracks that retain that recent fondness for psychedelia… but if you’re looking for neofolk, that may not be the Infinite Church you’ve come to know. Instead, what we have here is a trio of pieces that would feel at more at home on one’s shelf alongside psych and krautrock progenitors like Can and King Crimson, with a fair smattering of stoner rock akin to maybe venerable Black Sabbath to boot.

Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand | Credit: Laurent Lenclud

The surf rock twist at the end of the first nameless track is certainly an amusing starting point to first inspect here. There feels like a touch of the Munsters theme present within, perhaps due to a hint of theremin—a sonic nod that lends the whole a bit of cartoonish sinister glee. However, before one reaches this little nod, this instrumental wunderkind builds for its eight-minute expanse a foundation of meaty bass guitar echoes and crystalline synth shimmers. It’s a ponderous start, but once a throbbing drumline gallops alongside a winding, squealing guitar lead, its opium den air of heady seventies rock picks up an urgency it carries onto its conclusion.  The middle track introduces vocals to this introspective tangle; however, don’t expect Julius’s croon here. Instead, we have a woman intoning in heavy German what sounds like a curse to their tapestry of heady space organs, swirling guitars, and jam-session rock drums. Finally, there’s the nameless send-off that clocks in at nearly a quarter of an hour in length, wherein our unnamed enchantress channels the antipathy of Batcave-era goth rock. Her sing-song exclamations capture a certain feel of a languid Siouxsie Sioux, a feeling bolstered by the urgent snap of its mechanical snare-inflected drum refrain. The remnants of its soundtrack chug along the steady locomotive rails of its clacking snare, metered by the thrum of bass and painted vivid with noodling-to-jagged guitar riffs and spacy electric organ buzzing. Here is where the whole is lent that air of Sabbath, but with a heavy dash of something along the lines of Hawkwind with a punkish attitude.

Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting this new trick up Julius’s sleeve; the man is a musical chameleon, though, and this short album certainly is just more proof that Blutharsch is not a one or two-trick neofolk pony. Of course, if longtime fans are not keen on a hallucinatory prog-rock odyssey, this upbeat chapter may be a personal breaking point. It’s an album that sounds more at home pouring out of the back of a van sporting a Boris Vallejo mural than as some soundtrack to an experimental cut of The Night Porter.  Still, it’s definitely an interesting and exceedingly well-performed new twist that might entice a new audience to give them a chance even if it alienates their old flock.

Track List:

01) Untitled
02) Untitled
03) Untitled

Written by: Vlad McNeally
Label: WKN (Austria) / WKN49 / CD, 12″ LP, Digital
Psych Rock