Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Julian Cope’s Album of the Month

Allerseelen - Allerseelen Sampler

Allerseelen
Allerseelen Sampler


AOTM #64, September 2005ce
Released 2005 on --
ALLERSEELEN SAMPLER was compiled by Julian Cope from the albums PEDRA (2003) and ABENTEUERLICHES HERZ (2001)

  1. Feuersalamander (4.25)
  2. Steingeburt (4.55)
  3. Spanische Tanzerin (5.27)
  4. Unverandert (2.26)
  5. Nest (4.00)
  6. Skarabaus (5.55)
  7. Marques de Pubol (5.44)
  8. Santa Sangre (5.59)
  9. Sommerherz (4.29)
  10. Abenteuerliches Herz (5.10)
  11. Annaherungen (3.33)

Gerhard

Gerhard

Inhabiting that idyllic underworld hinterland somewhere between Waldteufel, post-Damo EFS-style Can and Boards of Canada, the remarkable music of Allerseelen is a bizarre Teutonic-Iberian hybrid shot forth from the mind of the visionary Austrian traveller, photographer and eco-artist known simply as Gerhard. The music of this stern-faced be-mohawked Gnostic makes September’s Album of the Month not only because of its sound, but because of the manner in which it is achieved, and the entire lifestyle that goes on behind it. Gerhard’s sonic creations are melded together from various natural sounds captured at source (often beside a brook at an ancient temple or somesuch), plus other rhythm sections retrieved from various Allerseelen live performances throughout Europe. Heaped on to these rough nuggets of sound are massively inappropriate guitar riffs and orchestral samples that up-end the balance and conjure up in the listener’s mind a feeling similar to the degraded samples of the Mellotron, the viewed-through-a-gauze atmospheres of a DW Griffith movie, the epic-soundsamplescapes of Cornelius’ first band Flipper’s Guitar, and the multiple overdubs soundloss techniques found in early Phil Spector and Joe Meek. Imagine the organ solo at the tailout of The Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You” sunk into a piece of music concrete and you reach a similarly disorientating place to that which Gerhard’s Allerseelen muse inhabits. Combine all this with Gerhard’s love of reading old Hermann Hesse texts along with his own gnostic poetry over these meditations and you soon grasp Allerseelen’s heady psychedelic combination; one that conjures in the English speakers’ mind similar feelings to those experienced by heavy doses of Nico’s DESERTSHORE and Walter Wegmuller’s monumental TAROT. Within the music of Allerseelen, disembodied samples such as the Stones’ “Monkey Man” merge seamlessly into elements of John Cale’s THE ACADEMY IN PERIL, which in turn givc way to the mid-1960s Japanese music concrete located within the grooves of the AMALGAMATION LP and People’s 1971 classic CEREMONY – BUDDHA MEETS ROCK.. “Nest” is like hugely evocative Chinese strings driving a sample snatched from the rhythm of my old “Charlotte Anne” single, whilst the manner in which Gerhard repeats the chanted title of “Santa Sangre” Gabi Delgado-Lopez-style suggestive of DAF’s hyper-catchy “Sato Sato”. Gerhard’s real artistic power lies in its usefulness – yup, this is one pragmatic motherfucker. His words reveal an intense need to fuel both himself and his listener. Like his music, Gerhard’s lyrical ideas are more of the same disembodied snatches of ideas thrown at us in a manner that is both suggestive, impressionistic but entirely complete. In “Feuersalamander”, the opening track of this compilation, Gerhard states (here translated):

“Still I was discouraged, a tired warrior,
But then, in that night in my nest, I was listening to music,
Took a certain song, powerful and dark - music like medicine,
Encouraged, cheered on by the sound, my power returned - Music like ammunition.”

In his nest, motherfuckers… in his nest. Gerhard is always ‘in his nest’ because he is a traveller with an unsettled lifestyle – the itinerant poet/artist never yearning for warmth and the cosy hearth, but drawn on by the next adventure and project, as the lyrics of his storm song (“Sturmlied”) attest:

“I don’t want a pillow under my head,
No walking on soft carpets.”

In the introduction, I described the music of Allerseelen as a Teutonic-Iberian hybrid mostly because it also contains huge elements that are redolent only of the Mediterranean as seen through the lens of the Northern European traveller at large in the hot southern climate, complete with castanets, Spanish rhythms and titles (“Spanish Dancer”, “Marques de Pubol”), bullfights, even Spanish lyrics here and there. This is because Gerhard is dedicated to “drinking from the Castalian source” (as he sang on an early track “Kastalische Quelle”), and Allerseelen has performed at such outdoor theatres as Spain’s Teatro Romano at Segbriga. Furthermore, his marvellous album ABENTEUERLICHES HERZ – the vast majority of which was taken by me for this compilation – features Gerhard’s photographic celebration of Menorca’s taula monuments. Perhaps my only complaint about Allerseelen is that each track could be rendered even more useful as a meditational piece were it only to be four times longer! Indced, the main groove of the “Abenteuerliches Herz” title track could last 20-minutes for my satisfaction. But it’s hardly a complaint when yooz demanding more rather than less of an artist’s work.