Umnachter is the pseudonym Robert Polsterer operates under when composing his progressive folk music…and I mean 'folk' in the strictest sense, the kinda stuff Bela Bartok was looking for when he was searching for inspiration in the old country. Hailing from Austria, Polsterer is already in the middle of a historical cultural crossroads, so it's not surprising he'd choose to blend a number of traditions and instruments, including didgeridoo, acoustic guitar, and tuva throat singing. The lead cut, Finsterguner Morgentau gives an excellent overview of what to expect in the entire CD, building to reach a blend of chamber, world, classical, and light rock. Umnachter's adaptations are supple and well-informed, whether fingerpicking complex rhythms and melodies or emitting eerie vocals from the outback and the heights of Tibet.
Dudelsack Fur Arme is going to be compelling to fans of David Hykes and of the very few ensembles conducting this kind of singing where the human voice does the impossible, splitting tones and pitches, often sounding like a synthesizer. Polsterer, though, chose impeccably when deciding to interpolate yodels into the mode as well. The cut blends ancient traditions from East and West in what sounds very modern but really isn't. Deceptive, and I can't shake the feeling that Moondog and Jack Nitzsche would've loved this unusual affair, which a couple of times climbs up to an almost Looney Tunes height, as in sections of Wesenheiten.
The cool liner art indicates Goth, threnody, and metalline fare, but that's not what you get. However, the material's sufficiently outré that surrealism is an incorporate element, and there are indeed passages shading into the mists, the title cut particularly. Beyond that, the ancientness of a lot of the material can't help but bring about medieval ambiences. Umnachter tracks himself very well, seeming to be an ensemble, yet none but he appear throughout, from layered work to delicate guitar (Nackinger Schalk). Cuts like Schindluder recall Apocalyptika to a degree but as if they had blended with Brit classical guitar player John Williams, and when the kettle drums roll in, you get a shiver and recall bits of Fantasia. Listeners will have to possess a broad, sophisticated, and slightly antiquarian palette to appreciate what's going on here, but if you're one of them…well, what are you waiting for?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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