Der Blutharsch & Aluk Todolo - Untitled [WKN - 2011]After Aluk Todolo had organised a show in their hometown of Paris for Austria’s Der Blutharsch the two bands agreed to make an album together. Each set about creating a couple of basic tracks that were subsequently swapped and redeveloped resulting in this untitled album.
Here Der Blutharsch, having ditched the tediously provocative and generic martial/neofolk stylings of old, brings their more mature and accessible psyche pop to the table that they’ve been developing since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, lurking beneath is the earthy, primal occult rock of the sensational Aluk Todolo that has been brewing for a similar length of time. Their respective sounds, although wholly evident throughout, are so deftly bound together it’s hard to guess who initiated each of the four ten minute tracks presented across this disk; while any fears that their communion would dilute each other’s potency is rapidly allayed upon the first listen.
If analysed in a scientifically cold manner the structures are simple: the eerie organ, pulsing drum machine and fried wah guitar of Der Blutharsch drift through Aluk Todolo’s stubbornly singular yet mightily propulsive rhythms and blackened guitar textures to create minimal extended workouts whose combined energies steadily surge, climax then drop-out at least once or twice per track. But the grooves are so very, very infectious that, despite a lack of anything approaching a chorus or other deviation from the main refrain, their ten minute durations are never enough.
The album opens with a track that’s closest to Aluk Todolo’s solo recordings as their forceful loping rhythms guided by the filthiest of bass lines inspires long, doomy power chords to simmer along with a sinister church organ to provide a soundtrack for a resolute wounded beast going to ground. This is followed by a lift in tempo as Aluk Todolo’s inspired drummer forges a beat suitable for either krautrock or hip-hop, at times reminding of a slightly slowed Cypress Hill until a scary circus sideshow organ and Syd Barrett-esque vocals asking “I love you, I hope you love me too?” fill the tent with the sickly aroma of a thousand joss-sticks. Surprisingly the tempo ups a few notches more on the penultimate track creating a busy chase theme that reminds of the swamp rock rhythms of Gallon Drunk before the final piece sees the two bands at their most accessible, riffing on a dirty metal hook that has the ghost of The Stooges ‘I Feel Alright’ amidst its constant flow of acidic energies.
While it’s arguably much more accessible than Aluk Todolo’s artful altars carved from more ritualistic rudiments, this collaboration demonstrates that, in the right hands, rock still has the power to both disturb, inspire delirium and most of all make you dance. Der Blutharsch main man, Albin Julius, has since described this album as “the best release I ever was involved with,” - and it’s easy to see why.Russell Cuzner