Various Artists - Oak Folk [Ahnstern - 2011]“Oak Folk” is a new compilation of edgy and experimental, to more traditional and Germanic tinged folk tracks that pay tribute to mighty Oak tree. The collection appears on the always rewarding Austrian experimental and quirky folk label Ahnstern which is home to the likes of Allerseelen, Jahrtal , Phase II, Sangre Cavallum and Svarrogh
The compilations curator and organiser is none other than Gerhard Hallstatt, who of course has been the main and constant mind behind the Allerseelen project and it’s distinctive mixture of post industrial, folk, military pop and all manner of experimental music. Each of the twelve projects taking part in the compilation where selectively chosen by Hallstatt from worldwide artists he admire or has some connection with, and each project had to create a exclusive track that was either in praise of the oak tree or somehow about it. So as you can imagine this is a very varied, quirky, beautiful and often surprising collection of tracks.
On the whole pretty much ever track here is great, but a few of my present favourites are: the jaunting and highly Germanic accordion laced drinking mountain folk of
Swiss based project Fräkmündt and their track “Eiche, Tüüfu, Geissebueb”. Hrefnesholt’s “Winter Eiche” and it’s off kilter yet dramatic mix of strummed forlorn folk, Black metal vocals ‘n’ riffing and jazzy panio edges. The woodland sinister meets overgrown junkyard, meets brooding alpine folk groove of Sturmpercht’s “Die Tausendjährige Eiche”. The weathered almost country like male vocals and forlorn yet harmonic raising acoustic strum of Changers “The Oak Trees”.
The disc comes in a six panel glossy digit-pak that features moody pictures of oak leafs, oak bark and branches- it all looks very nice and fits the compilations concept perfectly. I only wished that maybe they could have added a booklet to the set talking about each band involved, and of course about the oak tree it’s self- but this is just a minor moan really.
So all told this is a very well thought out, put together and wholly consistent compilation of creative and experimental line folk music that pays tribute to the wonder, grace and strength of the mighty oak tree.Roger Batty