In 2008, Robert Polsterer, operating under the nom d'arte of Umnachter, released the impressive Gedankensplitter (here), a CD with cover art that seemed to promise heavy metal but instead yielded a sophisticated meld of an array of modes based in folk matrices, European old wave refitted for our day. Polsterer is the only person on this recording—plying guitars, didgeridoo, singing, and etc.—and the effect is completely as of a well integrated small ensemble.
This time around, Kleingeist kicks the affair into a spookily martial cadence, somewhat a la the flying monkey brigade in Wizard of Oz, before ratcheting down into the gentler Von Himmen, a lacy guitar duet adopting Beethovenish aspects with Spanish resolves, repeated again in Mooswald, this time with gypsy airs, delicate and relaxing. Wurzelwicht uncovers Polsterer's discipined tuva throat singing, a striking ability that never fails to fascinate, making the human voice a cross between a theremin and electrified space ghosts. The composition layers up as the melody develops, didgeridoo edging in to underwrite a Tibetan monk profile. A 7-minute composition, it warps into more than one phase while masterfully carrying forward the extremely catchy baseline.
Thijs van Leer (Focus) yodels can also be heard, as the deep well of Polsterer's inventiveness is ever flowing, constantly unearthing new and old devices to blend holistically. This is music quite unlike most anything else, playful, serious, transforming, bemused, capricious, and literate in the forgotten ways. Probably the closest correlates would be over in the older progressive rock annals, in the odder offshoots of that ingenious genre, bands like The Strawbs, Magma, Anders Koppel's solo work, David Hykes, Anthony Phillips, early Long Hello, etc. As with Gedankensplitter, Schall und Rauch is music for sophisticated palettes, but there's plenty for the purely adventurous as well, and I couldn't help but suppress mirth when a jaw harp suddenly appeared in Nach Dannen, lending an almost Spike Jones-ish tang to the stately cut, ushering the courtly back out into the fields and pastures.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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