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A Challenge of Honour - Wilhelm Gustloff

The original edition of Wilhelm Gustloff from A Challenge of Honour was on CD-R and limited to 50 copies. After being so impressed Cold Spring inquired about a licencing deal. After much deliberation with the then members, Peter S. and Johan K, a reissue was arranged. This Cold Spring edition features the original 6 tracks recorded by the duo plus an additional 7 tracks recorded solely by Peter S. A further 3 tracks again composed by Peter S. were subsequently added making a total of 16, but only 15 listed on the sleeve!

Wilhelm Gustloff is a musical documentary recording commemorating the torpedoing of the German Red Cross ship by a Soviet submarine during World War 2. A total of 9343 lives perished in the sinking. Over 1000 survived after being picked up by German ships in the surrounding waters of the Baltic sea. This is a striking recording using strident orchestrations, and musical interludes interweaving dialogue and I believe much of the original soundtrack from the 1959 German film Nacht Fiel über Gotenhafen to retell this great naval tragedy.

The latter part of the CD tends to drift somewhat. At several points various folk-noir tracks appear most notably on the instrumental 'Only Stones Remain' and general keyboard and percussion driven tracks such as the incongruous 'Ritual Sacrifice'. None of which are particularly bad. It's just that they break the overall atmosphere and quite frankly they're unnecessary. The initial 6 tracks are so powerful and complete there was no need for embellishment. A definite case of less is more. That aside many of the extra tracks continue to use dialogue and original orchestrations effectively. However there is good material herein and A Challenge of Honour have garnered much attention in the neo-folk, neo classical arena with this and subsequent releases. It wasn't the revelation that I was expecting though. For more information go to