Monday, 21 October 2013


Band: Sturmpercht
Title: Bergentrückt
Format: A release in three formats: as an oversized A5 digipak CD package in slipcase; in a more limited edition wooden box CD pressing; and as a 3LP vinyl pressing in 'heavy cover'. This release is on the Steinklang label (Austria), released in May 2013, cat ref Percht 22.
But why do I care, Nazgul? Because there is a hidden link to Hrefnesholt in here!
Edition: The A5 CD is limited to 700 copies; the wooden box set to 300 copies; and the 3-disc vinyl edition to 230 copies

Track Listing:
01. Der Schlafende Kaiser
02. Die Drei Eisheiligen
03. Vieräugl
04. Die Hochzeitstafel
05. Die Dreizehnte Percht
06. Das Letzte Licht
07. Der Wildalpgeist
08. Das Wilde Heer
09. Die Übergossene Alm
10. Der Bauer und der Wuch'rer
11. Winterstille

Right, so you know the story by now: Nazgul scours the globe looking for all manner of weird and wonderful evidence for Hugin's musical genius.  In the past this has led us down some interesting tangents and diversions, covering on our journey music that Hugin has composed for other bands, lyrics he's contributed to other bands, bootleg releases of dubious provenance, non-commercial releases done exclusively for friends, through to various aspects of artwork and video clips.  Today's post is something a little different again - music originally composed by Hrefnesholt being used on an album by Alpine band Sturmpercht.  

What better way to understand the back-story here than to ask Hugin himself for some background information:

"Max - the guy behind the band Sturmpercht and owner of the Steinklang label - is one of my best friends and he always helps me with CD productions, etc. He is really a great guy. One day he asked me if I still had any Hrefnesholt recording tracks, and I had some that he could use.  He and Stefan worked on that stuff and now the song 'Vieräugl' from the "Bergentrückt" album is based on my music!  Hrefnesholt fits very well with the whole Sturmpercht image so it was just a matter of time before we did something collaborative together!"

'Vieräugl' is the Austro-Bavarian diminutive of "Vierauge", literally meaning 'somebody or something having four eyes'.  Whilst it may well refer to something far more mysterious in this dark and magical Alpine context, nowadays the word normally applies to the Austrian Black and Tan Hound (which has distinctive fawn markings over its eyes, hence the 4-eyed look), the true descendant of the original Celtic Hound it is thought. It is a used for tracking wounded game, most commonly hare, in high altitudes, and apparently has "a lovely voice" if Wikipedia is to be believed: perhaps some of the spoken word parts on 'Bergentrückt' are canine in origin?!

So that's the (sole) Hrefnesholt point of interest in the album, but before we consider the song in particular let us quickly visit the concept behind the album and where that interesting title derives from.  During work on their sold-out 8LP anniversary box-set Sturmpercht - "the Austrian pioneers of Alpine Folk Music" - found the time to create a dark, psychedelic collection of scary tales based around the holy mountain of Untersberg, located near Salzburg.  The promotional blurb for the album notes, "don't expect typically nice Sturmpercht fairie-tales, beautiful folk songs or joyful drinking hymns..." so take that as advance warning!

According to legend, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa is asleep inside the mountain waiting until his resurrection. His beard is said to be growing longer and longer around a round table and to have grown round two times already: Myth says that when the beard has grown three times around the table the end of the world has come. When Frederick leaves the mountain, the last great battle of humankind will be fought on the Walserfeld, a pasture at Wals, west of Salzburg.  

Other legends say that it is Charlemagne waiting inside the Untersberg, taken care of by the 'Untersberger Mandln', small dwarf-like creatures. Every hundred years he awakes and when he sees the ravens still flying around the Untersberg he sleeps for another century.  

There are also legends about cave systems below the mountain, and stories that tell of people who went inside the hollow mountain to visit the Emperor and his folks living/sleeping there. In most of these tales the visitors thought were only inside the mountain for a few hours or days, but when they returned to the outer world - if they ever returned - many years had passed.  Such time-loss phenomena is common in fairy-literature across the globe, and is also a feature of a more modern variant on such stories - UFO encounters.  Anyway, this phenomenon is called Bergentrückung, and this gives us the title of the album.

This is certainly an album where understanding the language plays a pivotal role, as much of the emphasis is on the spoken lyrics that conveys the unfolding story.  Nazgul is not linguistically blessed, so the plot largely travels above his head like one of the Untersberg ravens in flight.  However, the music on 'Vieräugl' carries various hallmarks of recent Hrefnesholt releases, including the deep 'twangy' bass part (that sounds like a huge subterranean elastic band booming and boinging from the depths) and what you might lazily call "Alpine" effects (bells, etc) floating around too.  Quite what musical elements are original to Hugin as opposed to those which may have been tinkered with by Max is a question that can't be answered at the moment, as there has been no response to Nazgul's enquiry from the admittedly busy Sturmpercht camp.

Despite the language gap this remains a compelling auditory experience, and in a similar vein to the old Elisabetha demos the lack of comprehension of the finer points does not detract from an appreciation of the atmosphere and tension created by the music and lyrical intonations.

Nazgul was very fortunate to receive the two CD versions as a birthday gift from Hugin, and subsequently decided to add the vinyl version pictured above to his collection just to complete the set.  And a very attractive set it proves to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.