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Waldteufel - Sanguis

Sanguis continues Markus Wolff's fascination for German culture and mythology. The lyrics for Sanguis are taken from the mystical and romantic poets Stefan George and Alfred Schuler, associates and members of the Cosmic Circle active in Bavaria at the turn of the last century. Tied in with these are readings from the ancient Indian Veddas. Unfortunately the copy I received didn't include the booklet of translations so I can't comment on the texts though it does appear that Markus Wolff has broken his rule about keeping the entire Waldteufel project German, Sanguis being a Latin word. The sound of Waldteufel has evolved too. Heimliches Deutschland their unforgettable debut long player was staunchly acoustic with Wolff's voice and rhythms swathed in all sorts of strings arranged by former collaborator Annabel Lee. Rhythm and voice remain the staples here but on Sanguis they're bolstered by heaving chunks of throbbing metal guitar, courtesy of Wolff's new collaborator Tyrsson Sinclair, who has a background in various extreme metal acts. The current Waldteufel sound still revolves around primal folk music but there are now frequent forays into psychedelic and metal territory.

Sanguis opens with 'Telesma', its queasy drone mixed with violin and accordion with Markus Wolff's solemn intonations. It merges psychedelic electronics with folk music, and segues nicely into the rolling hand drums and surging metal guitars of the title track. A military snare kicks in to create a taut backdrop to Wolff's Germanic voice, whose bellowed tones here are somewhere between spoken and a chant. The heaving metal guitars are not dissimilar to the sound Blood Axis were pursuing on The Gospel of Inhumanity but there's a looser conception to it, especially towards the end where Wolff repeats the refrain over and over, as the guitar lead spirals. The metal riffage returns on 'Kupferwut'. Opening with hand drums and some folk type accordion playing it quickly launches into buzzing metal riffage, as Wolff's guttural chants are accompanied by some spirited horn playing, before closing in a haze of acoustic guitar notes.

The importance of vocals on Sanguis shouldn't be underestimated, as many tracks rely heavily on Wolff's deep baritone. None more than 'Andachtsjodler' a musically unadorned piece of multi-layered voices. It's like listening to a beerhall chant delivered at a funereal pace. Wolff has a commanding presence, a thick, heavyset vocal offering passionate readings. His mutterings croaks, chants and intonations really need to be heard. Sanguis features several atmospheric tracks. With pensive intonations over a shimmering drone and a mass of deep, male harmonies 'Traumpad' is eerily effective in its simplicity. 'Suryam Cakram' is another atmospheric piece, and a worthy expression of the Waldteufel sound when confined to voice, percussion and drone. 'Der Flamme Trabant' is mightily impressive. Hand drums drive home a rhythm, as hunting horns bleat and Wolff's multi-tracked voice, accompanies itself, with a smattering of woodblock and metal percussion. It's the finest example on Sanguis of the former Crash Worship member exerting his percussive muscle with intricate rhythms.

The entire album has a timelessness about it. It's deeply romantic evoking the landscape and deep forests of his natural homeland. Waldteufel, along with their European compatriots Sturmpercht, Allerseelen and Svarrogh, are injecting some fresh and spirited elements into their folk infused music. Sanguis may well be considered an album of German folk, but it's in no way traditional folk, as Waldteufel have successfully incorporated guitars and moog synths into their highly idiosyncratic sound. Wolff may be a heathen, but apparently not an unenlightened one. File under psychedelic, metal, volk music.

Oh, and having found themselves on Beta Lactam Ring Records Sanguis is available on CD in a book bound edition and on vinyl in a number of editions including plain vinyl, vinyl and 7-inch, vinyl, 7-inch with plaster cast relief. Get whatever suits your pocket, but don't miss out. For more information go to www.blrrecords.com