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Sturmpercht - Schattenlieder

Sturmpercht the alpine folk musicians return with Schattenlieder - Eine kleine Nachtmusik für Berggeister und Waldteufel, which translates as Shadowsongs for mountain trolls and forest devils. Schattenlieder follows Geister Im Waldgebirg with another collection of songs about heathen legends, forest tales and hunters sagas set in the Alps. The 20 tracks that comprise Schattenlieder are disparate and unpredictable with that unique Sturmpercht sound that they term Alpine folk.

Schattenlieder is sprinkled with jaunty folk songs. Tracks such as 'Wildschütz Jennerwein' with its accordion lead sound and the driving folk guitars and gentle male harmonies surrounding the spirited delivery on 'Der Tanz des Tatzelwurms' are particularly characteristic of these mountain musicians.

Schattenlieder features more spoken contributions than ever before. The stern voice on 'Stechapfelnacht' is surrounded by rattling percussive rhythm, plucked strings and deep vibrating cello, while the resonating deep tones of 'Wallfahrt' is pitched against melodic piano and strings. The gentle guitar rings of 'Auf Den Schwingen der Stürme' are carried by rolling drums, with a cast of male voices, spoken and chanted. There's even room for a sample from Scott Walker's take on Brel's 'If You Go Away' on 'Der Tränenkrug' a gentle atmospheric piece of light guitar touches and poised vocal tones.

There are a number of darker traditional ritual pieces to be found on Schattenlieder. 'Nachtfratzen' picks up on a ritual processional rhythm with a rough hewn voice that cuts through the brittle guitar work. With hushed, breathy whisper and chirping birds the dark eerie sounds of 'Novemberwoid' swells into ringing acoustic guitars kept in check with a stark ritual beat. 'Winterreigen' is most effective. With its cyclical guitar patterns and clustered male voices and harmonies, all rugged and weathered, it's performed with the conviction of an Alpine death ballad.

Even amongst the gruff vocalisations and hoarse chants, it's difficult to take seriously the gnarled voice that takes centrestage on 'Irrwurz' amongst electric guitar and crackling woodland sounds. Sturmpercht know how to throw a good time and Schattenlieder has its moments. The noodling electric guitar lines and pumping accordion, bells of 'Der Wolpertinger' with its strained high pitched vocal melody is like some sort of folk fusion. Although light-hearted it pales in comparison to 's' Jagagstanzi' which offers a real Alpine knees-up. A true drinking song that ranges from bugle band to accordion shot through with twangs, cawing birds and the immediately recognisable calling sound of a solitary cuckoo.

The influence of contributors such as Gerhard Hallstatt (Allerseelen) and Markus Wolff (Waldteufel) can be heard on Schattenlieder. You can hear the influence of Allerseelen in the looped sounds of 'Salamanderschnaps' with its poised guitars offset by cutting sombre strings. It's even more noticeable on 'Mittn in Da Nocht'. The looped marching band set against distorted guitars and martial drum rhythms and Gerhard Hallstatt's lead vocal. Markus Wolff's stern baritone can be found on 'Einheit' amidst the hand percussion, accordion and forest sounds. And of course it is Werkraum's Axel Frank aka Hanns Aufschring who is responsible for much of the guitar work.

Aside from those mentioned Schattenlieder features guest contributions from Meri Tadic (Elueveitie/Irij), Arnica alongside members M. Percht (proprietor of Steinklang Records), Herr Wind, Hajü, Der Einsiedler, Waldwuuz (Vinterriket), Dimo (Svarrogh). It's a veritable who's who of the Steinklang family. Steeped in the traditional culture of their locale, the expansive cast of musicians involved in industrial, metal, folk music bring a truly unique edge to Schattenlieder. Listening to Schattenlieder or any of their albums is like entering a portal to their world in the Alps. There really is nothing like them. For more information go to www.steinklang-records.at