Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Herbert F. Bairy - Traumspiel

Herbert F. Bairy

Released 1980 on Sandra Music Productions
Reviewed by achuma, 25/04/2014ce

Who was this guy? Apparently even the name is a ruse – his birth identity being Ferdinand Försch, born in Germany. Barely known even now, he created this gem of eclectic, surreal psychedelic progressive music in 1979. The title (translating to ‘Dreamgame’) is appropriate for the content. Categorising these sounds in a meaningful way is almost impossible, though. As Bairy’s music continues to morph, it becomes harder to describe, taking in so many diverse influences and blending them together to create music that is just its own special little bubble-gem. Special enough that my review of this record has a frequent use of the word ‘cosmic’, because it was pretty hard to avoid. Whoever wrote the liner notes to the CD reissue on In-Akustik did a good job of trying to define the undefinable:
“Critics will file the four tracks of this CD under “New Age” or something stupid like that. But Herbert F. Bairy’s composition must not be heard like jazz or rock music heard so often before. Everytime the listener feels like having found the key to his music, Herbert F. Bairy will open the next door leading to another new playground. The TRAUMSPIEL takes place on different stages. Acoustic meets HiTech, Folk-music meets computer-rhythms, West meets East – and vice versa. Listen just the way you like it. Because the TRAUM does not allow any rules for the SPIEL.”

‘Traumspiel’ (13:42) opens the album with ghostly wind, chimes and wordless wailings, an eerie forest of sounds taking form from the ominously expanding mist, then eaten away by electronic insects to yield a lush pasture of cello, zither, organ drone and dream-inducing vocal weavings. Further psychedelic metamorphoses ensue before swinging unexpectedly into anthemic chord progressions, themselves suddenly splattered into the expanding pull of the sparkling cosmos.
‘Runnin’’ (7:41) startles with a dextrous flurry of space-prog riffs before settling into a deliciously laid-back cosmic world-funk strut across the pulsating savannah of your mind. About half way in the pace picks right up, blending cheesy latin-fusion with fiery jazz-prog that impresses even if just for the sheer unexpected oddness of it all.
Next up is ‘Lady Ollala’ (14:40), a powerful swelling of drones, guitar, chanting and ritual moaning that opens up a little hole in the back of your mind and slips right on through, expanding into light and cosmic bliss as it fills the inner space by osmosis (Between’s second album is a similar touchpoint, as is some of Claudio Rocchi’s ‘Essenza’). The mood darkens and weirdens a little towards the end, but only in the process of crawling towards a greater source of light, before falling through it and breaking the glass like an overly-refreshed gatecrasher.
‘Redpeters Dream’ (3:26) sounds like a forest gamelan ritual that’s being prowled on the periphery by large, hungry spirits which proceed to have a live dinner. A very strange ending to a very strange record!

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