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Jahrtal - William Blake, Lieder Von Unschuld Und Widerfahren

For his second album the Austrian project Jahrtal has provided a musical setting of parts of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience. The setting is folk, particularly a pastoral type of psychedelic folk. William Blake comprises quiet ballads performed on guitars, one of which has been customised into a sitar. Blake's lyrics for Songs of Innocence and Experience are delivered in German by Ewald Spiss in plain and indistinct tones. They are largely spoken which is hardly surprising given the source material; it hardly lends itself to a conventional verse-chorus structure. Spiss' guitarwork which is often brittle and stark is augmented by banjo, dulcimer, zither, organ and much besides. There's also a great use of flute, whose continual fluttering does at points become slightly overbearing. On several tracks Spiss is accompanied on vocals by his wife, Christine, her tender tones acting as a counterpoint to Spiss's static voice. Sixties acid folk seems to play a large influence in the musical composition of William Blake, particularly in the melodic tracks such as 'Das Hallende Grün' with its warm acoustic guitars and soft organ billows. What's good about William Blake is the use of varied and surprising instrumentation. 'Nacht' carries discordant tones over the tender guitar work, while 'Frühling' and 'Kleines Verlorenens Kind' combine guitar with banjo, complemented by woodwinds and organ chime.

The Songs of Innocence are much lighter in tone than The Songs of Experience. 'Eingang - Der Erde Antwort' is particularly good, a sombre slow-paced setting of Swiss's deep tones set against guitars, organ with a simple hand rhythm. It's much darker and more mysterious than any of the preceding tracks.

A current point of reference would be In Gowan Ring but this is largely psychedelic folk, and even though it's based on the work of William Blake this doesn't evoke Albion or England's green and pleasant land. This possesses a German folk influence due to the choice of language for these ballads. It is however a magical, mystical album. If this wasn't on Ahnstern, William Blake is clearly something I wouldn't have sought out but it is quite charming in its own way. I hope it finds its way towards acid / psychedelic folk listeners. For more information go to