Review: Jahrtal - William Blake - Lieder Von Unschuld Und Widerfahren (2009)


artist: Jahrtal
release: Wil­liam Blake - Lieder Von Unschuld Und Wider­fahren
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Ahn­stern
dur­a­tion: 57:57

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Aus­train Ewald Spiss and his pro­ject Jahrtal has been act­ive the past year in devel­op­ing his own take on altern­at­ive folk, res­ult­ing in the release of sev­eral albums recently. One of them is this one, released by Ahn­stern, a set­ting of ten poems by Wil­liam Blake from Songs of Inno­cence and Exper­i­ence.

In terms of style, Spiss remains quite close to the Ger­man neo­folk from around the turn of the mil­len­nium like Orplid and For­seti. This means an emphasis on calm, fin­ger­picked acous­tic gui­tar melod­ies, soft male and female vocals, and the addi­tion of sup­port instru­ments like flute and fiddle here and there. Jahrtal adds to this a pleas­ant touch of Indian instru­ments in some places.

The prob­lem with this kind of neo­folk is that it runs the risk of becom­ing kitschy at times, like a num­ber of other Ger­man genres. On the whole, the music on this album is some­what tame, seem­ing to express in sound only the first stage of Blake’s lyr­ical dip­tych. The strong con­trast between Unschuld and Wider­fahren could have been emphas­ised more strongly with a twist in the music halfway, with a more sat­is­fact­ory res­ult.

That said, the music is very relax­ing, and Spiss’ trans­la­tions of the poems are very eleg­ant. As such, this is an album that will please enthu­si­asts of this par­tic­u­lar calm and pas­toral neo­folk style, as well as those who col­lect musical set­tings of Blake’s writ­ings.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

Lieder Von Unschuld

1. Eingang - Der Pfeifer (4:15)
2. Das Hal­lende Grün (5:55)
3. Nacht (8:51)
4. Früh­ling (4:58)
5. Wie­gen­lied (7:14)

Lieder Vom Wider­fahren

6. Eingang - Der Erde Ant­wort (5:41)
7. Mein Hüb­scher Rosen­strauch (3:06)
8. Das Schul­kind (5:47)
9. Kleines Ver­lorenes Kind (7:01)
10. Ach! Sonnen­blume (5:060

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