Die Wilde Jagd - Uhrwald Orange

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2018-04-06
Die Wilde Jagd - Uhrwald Orange
Die Wilde Jagd - Uhrwald Orange

Die Wilde Jagd (The Wild Hunt), brainchild of Sebastian Lee Philipp, is back three years after its debut with Uhrwald Orange ("Orange Clockwood"). The album wanders around the fringes of electronic and Krautrock, sounding like Einstürzende Neubauten doing a world tour while doped up on Valium, appropriate given its thematic sense of a timeless dreamscape. About half the set is simply genius, with heaps of bold experimentation and fascinating sonic mashups. But other tracks tend to settle into repetitive grooves, edging into ambient territory, or at least music best out of the foreground.

Let's get the less gripping stuff out of the way first. "Flederboy" (literally "Flutter Boy", idiomatically "Bat Boy"), reaching nearly sixteen minutes, opens with the sounds of night: creaking, chirping animals and a sense of humid darkness. But it settles into position within a minute or two, with a gently plucked melody and a jingling drumkit steering the tune. After getting very comfortable with that, the song adds a muted, spacey synthline around the six-minute mark that gives the song a lot more character. But that only lasts for a minute or so before fading out. After that, it's back to the slow groove before a few other modulations come back through, including a reintroduction of the dank origins of the song. But stretches of the tune fade to barely more than a light tambourine clap and weird animal croaks. I think the song (along with a lot of the other behemoths in the set) would have benefited greatly from some judicious trimming, potentially giving it some of the better focus that helps the shorter songs out so much. As background music it works fine, but there's not necessarily a lot of payoff from giving "Flederboy" a lot of attention.

"Fremde Welt" ("Strange World") is similar, but less diverse: it picks a somewhat interesting, bass-heavy beat to start, then adds more percussion and finally some electronic noodling towards the back half. But it doesn't go anywhere. The second mega track, "Kreuzgang" ("Cloister"), also approaching sixteen minutes, has a haunted, gothic feel in places, with chanting monks toward its conclusion. And it rambles and rattles its way through echoing corridors before arriving there. But the uninspired, flimsy melody at its core can't match everything else that's going on and leaves the song feeling hollow. "Säuregäule" ("Acid Horse") layers some deep synths under more electro burbling, but breaks loose with clicky percussion early on before letting itself flow through a variety of different states. At times it's purely electronic, at others its more of a Krauty post rock. It flops around a lot but never captivates.

Having said all that: in the course of my musical adventures, there are songs I hate, dislike, like, and love. And then there are the rare songs I become absolutely obsessed with. "2000 Elefanten" ("2000 Elephants") is in the third category. The song blends acoustic guitars with the flavor of the Far East with woodwinds and percussion that seem drawn from Middle Age folk music. The delicate layers of electronics woven into the mix give the track a steampunk sheen, for a whole that is utterly spellbinding. Almost as hypnotic is the swiveling bassline of "Stangentanz" ("Pole Dance"), which carries the listener from start to finish while providing the foundation for a series of quirky little flourishes; downtempo guitars, clockwork percussion, and Arabian instrumentation all turn their turn at center stage. "Ginsterblut" ("Broom Blood") is slow and methodical, but feels incredibly epic, like a sci-fi Western, a song you've been waiting to hear your whole life but somehow already knew. Final track "Der Uhrwald" ("The Clockwood") is another beautiful piece, with filigrees of melody spiraling down from space, slowly twirling as they drift by. It develops a nice sense of urgency midway through, with an insistent synthline that pushes it along before giving way to the crystalline patterns again.

So the set is a fifty/fifty mix of quality. But the weaker songs aren't awful, just somewhat bland. And the stronger songs are fantastic, just completely different than most of what you're listening to these days and well crafted outside of the novelty. They easily balance out the rest of the music, making this more than worth a listen.

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