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Reviews
Jahrtal - Lichtbuch
Tuesday, July 15 2008 @ 01:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Gorebatjov

Lichtbuch

Artist: Jahrtal Austria

Title: Lichtbuch

Label: Ahnstern Austria

Genre: Neo-Folk / Folk

01 Klein wild Vögelein, Reprise
02 Der wandernde Musikant
03 Innsbruck, ich muss Dich lassen
04 Abschied
05 Klein wild Vögelein
06 Es ist verspielt
07 Fein sein
08 Totenwachelied
09 Reigen
10 Wilhelm van Winsburg
11 Abschied, Reprise
12 Die Welt voller Düfte

After their debut CD-r release entitled “Zwei Lieder”, Austria’s Jahrtal is back with a full-length album. Released by Ahnstern, the sister-label of Steinklang records, they have succeeded in creating 12 new Neo-Folk songs for our ears in the same year as “Zwei Lieder”. “Lichtbuch” comes in a jewelcase with a deluxe glossy booklet with all the lyrics in them and additional artist notes. With “Zwei Lieder” Jahrtal was able to show us some of their capabilities, but also showed that there was plenty of room for improvement. Opinions may differ on the fact as to whether happened or not, but with 12 songs “Lichtbuch” gives a more extensive view of Jahrtal’s music than their previous release.

Scrolling through the supplied booklet taught me that Jahrtal’s music is immersed in natural themes in a spiritual dimension while however being limited in a progressive melodic style. Instrumentation on “Lichtbuch” is very basic, but still rather interesting. The music doesn’t hold percussion and is mainly built upon regular and irregular stringed instruments like acoustic guitar, lute and banjo that provide in this instance the necessary rhythmical pulse. The stringed instruments are used in a minimalistic way while other instruments like the flute and an organ is used to play rather simple melodies upon basic chord schemes. While the music is somewhat interesting it stays rather nihilistic and the instruments waver in close melodic unison bringing the listener to a place of progressive expectation where one never arrives. While lacking experimental qualities, the listener is carried away to a place of meditative sounds and pure (Neo)-Folk melodies. A good example of this can be found in the instrumental song “Reigen”, which takes the listener into peaceful forests and natural realms that are echoed in the haunting sounds of the flute.

As the listener…the CD, one notices a shift in the second half of “Lichtbuch” that progresses and expands in experimental value as the melodies broaden and instrumental capabilities become more prominent. All lyrics used on “Lichtbuch” are in German and are written by various writers and poets and there are also songs on it which are based on original traditional Folk songs either originally in German or translated to German. Such an example is the last song of the CD entitled “Die Welt voller Düfte”, which is a religious Tibetan hymn. These lyrics are very interesting because of their poetic and historical portrayal of Folk music. While the lyrics conjure up an artwork of images and poetical nuances through the lyrics, the vocals seem to be unsure of the words they sing and the airy sweetness lacks the depth of the strength and vulnerability of the poetry they want to bring across.

As an overall thought one can say that “Lichtbuch” is a very special release which can be perfect on a few moments in life. The CD is comparable with the wine one drinks with a special kind of food. It provides the meditative backdrop needed for those moments of reflectation and rest. And just as one selects the fitting wine for that certain dish, “Lichtbuch” should be encompassed to enhance ones atmosphere of solitary thoughts and reflectation. Just as a dessert wine is never supplemented for an aperitif; “Lichtbuch” remains captive to pure melodies and simple harmonies and does not provide the energetic stimulus needed to diverge from this tranquil atmosphere.

     



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