Friday, November 13, 2015

Ougenweide - 1979 - Ousflong


01. Tobacco-Lob 4:32
02. Basse danse La Gatta 1:18
03. Ballo Francese aus Il Primo Libro Di Balli (1578) 2:39
04.How can I Keep my maiden head 4:13
05.Schöne Hexe 4:32
06.Ousflug 3:41
07. Orschel Baffmacher 4:02
08. Gerhart Atze 4:00
09. Maienzit 5:25
10. Denunziantenlied 2:03
11. Lügenlied 5:20

Wolfgang v. Henko/ E-Guitar, Mandolin
Jürgen Isenbart/ Vibraphon...
Minne Graw/ Flute, vocals, Marimba, Streicherorgel, Fender Rhodes
Olaf Casalich/ Vocals, Percussion
Stefan Wulff/ Synthesiser, Flute, vocals...
Frank Wulff/ guitars,Clarinettino, Mandoline, Tenorkrummhorn, Sitar, Bouzouki, Banjo.

 Sixth studio album from this Hamburg group and remaining truthful to their original goal, Ousflug ("escape", I think) continues a bit the trends towards some rockier songs , while remaining as authentic and traditional on other tracks. Still with an unchanged line-up from the second album onwards, With a fun Viking flying Drakkar drawn artwork, the group indeed seems to escape towards greener lands, and
Like its predecessor Frÿheit, Ousflug starts very strongly and progressively as Tobacco-Lob is a modern piano-lead piece that looks towards folk rock, but for the next three tracks, the album takes an instrumental turn with two older "dance" tunes, before taking an extended tour on a Celtic jig (Maiden Head).Schöne Hexe is taking an unexpected turn with a sitar and both Olaj and Minne taking turns in vocals, and is an album highlight, but the next two (nearly) instrumentals are fantastic; first the title track with its scats over a gentle but ever-changing chamber rock, while Orschel Halfmacher is hesitating between drone-prone medieval and chamber prog with one or two small choirs, but Gentle Giant is not far away. The last three tracks are still quite interesting although they pale in comparison, but the wordy Atze, the lament Malenzit, etc.. But the closing Lügenlied returns to a rockier format (after a few meanders) with an electric guitar and the lengthy instrumental turning into a jig around the end.

For the pure proghead, Ousflug might just Ougenweide's rockiest album so far with a whopping five instrumental tracks, but by all means don't go hope for a Tull album, even if you will find a few Tull hints.

Ougenweide - 1979 - Liederbuch


01. Im Badehaus (3:09)
02. Pferdesegen (6:50)
03. Tobacco Lob (4:46)
04. Ouwe Wie Jämmerliche (4:17)
05. Der Blinde Und Der Lahme (6:21)
06. Merseburger Zaubersprüche Und Tanz (3:33)
07. Es Stount Ein Frouwe Allein (4:52)
08. Nieman Kan Mit Gerten (2:25)
09. Kommt Ihr Jungfern Helft Mir Klagen (5:05)
10. Enzio (2:12)
11. Totus Floreo (2:43)
12. Gerhard Atze (4:00)
13. Ronde (4:00)
14. Wol Mich Der Stunde (5:38)
15. Für Irene (3:26)
16. Hinweg, Die Besten Streiter Matt (3:15)
17. Bald Anders (6:32)
18. Zu Frankfurt, An Dem Main (2:49)
19. Denunziantenlied (2:13)

-Olaf Casalich/vocals,drums, percussion
-Minne Graw/vocals (all tracks but 7 & 8)
-Stefan Wulff/ bass, doublebass, harmonium, organ
-Frank Wulff/ flute, recorders, sitar
-Jügen Isenbart/ xylophon, percussion, glockenspiel
-Renee Kollmorgen/ vocals, percussion (7 & 8)
-Brigitte Blunck/vocals, percussion (7 & 8)
-Wolfgang Henko/ guitars
-Achim Reichel/ drums, flute, bass (7 & 8)
-Hanno Mahnke/ flutes (3,12 & 19)
-Max Wulff/ piano(3,12 & 19)

This compilation of material from 1973-1979 comes from a group that, for anglophiles, can best be described as the German Steeleye Span, with added flutes. This is more folk than prog, but it hardly matters when listening to textured haunting works like "Tobacco-Lob", "Der Blinde und der Lahme", and the brilliant "Bald Anders". The tracks are often based on very old melodies and at their best Ougenweide does them proud.
The arbitrary "best-of" does not fully intersect with the tastes of this folk-prog and German prog fan, and songs like "Im Badehaus" come across as too smarmy in style, although one might wonder if the lyrics bear that out. Other tracks are pleasant enough slightly psychedelic amalgams of male and female vox but nothing more, although the classic "Totus Floreo" is clearly much more, almost Ougenweide's Gaudete if you will, even if its only a capella for the first half minute or so.

Unique as far as I know among German bands for their merging of traditional northern European folk with prog elements, Ougenweide is well served by this compilation, which probably contains all you will need as a fan or completist.

Ougenweide - 1978 - Frÿheit


01. Die Bauern sind aufrührig geworden 3:23
02. Diese sind die Henkersbuben 1:45
03. Das heil'ge Reich ist schwer verletzt1:35
04. Ich sinn', ich denke hin und her 3:10
05. Lang erhoffte Friedenstaube 3:23
06. Mit Mann und Roß und Wagen 2:50
07. Lützow's wilde, verwegene Jagd 3:30
08. Zittert, zittert blöde Toren 2:48
09. Schwarz, Rot, Gold 1:54
10. Was zieht dort zur Brigittenau 2:50
11. Deutschland oh zerrissen Herz 3:10
12. Schwefelhölzer, Fenchel, Bricken 2:02
13. Hinweg, die besten Streiter weg 3:12
14. Zu Frankfurt, an dem Main 2:47

Minne Graw/ Vocals, Harmonium, E-Piano, Organ,Stringensemble, Synthesizer
Olaf Casalich/ Vocals, Percussion
Frank Wulff/ Flute, ombarde, Musette, Krummhörner, Alt-Saxophon, Electric & acoustic Guitars, Bouzouki, Dulcimer, Mandolinenbanjo...
Stefan Wulff/ bass guitar, E-Baß, Mundharmonika, Harmonium, Marimbaphon, Synthesizer, vocals
Wolfgang v. Henko/ Electric & acoustic guitars
Mandoline, vocals
Jürgen Isenbart/Marimbaphon, Percussions, vocals

Ougenweide's fifth studio (sixth in all) Frÿheit (freedom) continues what the first four albums had started to do, but there is an attempt at rocking it up in certain songs. Don't get me wrong, this is still the same Ougenweide and there is plenty of nearly authentic material, but the slight tendency to go more rock on some tracks is not shocking at all. Let's just sayu that on some of these tracks they go one step further than Fairport, Steeleye, Malicorne or Parzival and get closes tosome Tull tracks that would sit on Songs From The Woods. Great artwork representing an ancient poster almost advocating revolution on some street wall.
You might be startled a bit as the needle hits the wax, if Ougenweide had suddenly turned to Brittany for its music as the bagpipes of Die Bauern have a Stivell/Ar Bras flavour, despite the higher German dialect. Drums, electric guitars and bass, as well dramatic vocals give plenty of "rockier" interest to the proghead, while the following two short ditties go back to more realistic ancient pre-classical folk music. They even add some synth in Ich Denke Hind Un Her or electric piano in Friedenstaube to the rock instruments. Zittert Blode Toren and Schwarz Rot Gold are even sounding a bit like Jethro Tull, the flute helping somewhat.

But there are still the usual tracks that tend to remain as authentic as possible, including the haunting dronal Mann Ross Wagen, Brigittenau (this comes closest to being the title track) and plenty others are there for the trad fans. Just another typical Ougenweide album, albeit a bit rockier, but certainly just as constantly good as the previous ones and no worse than the coming Ousflug, making it difficult to name one as a starting point, though!!

Ougenweide - 1977 - Ungezwungen


01. Bald anders Ohrenschmaus 6:40
02. Wol mich der Stunde Eulenspiegel 6:50
03. Ouwe wie jaemerliche Ohrenschmaus 4:04
04. Der Rivale All die Weil ich mag 6:09
05. Ougenweide Ougenweide 11:46
06. Der Schlemihl Ohrenschmaus 3:37
07. Ihr Herren wollt ihr schweigen still Frÿheit 3:31
08. Swa gouter hande wurzen sint Ougenweide 6:37
09. Wintertanz All die Weil ich mag 3:13
10. Till und die Gelehrten Eulenspiegel 4:55
11. Ronde (erstveröffentlicht) 3:38
12. Der Fuchs Ougenweide 6:29

Bass – Stefan Wulff
Congas – Michael Schrader
Flute – Frank Wulff
Guitar – Frank Wulff, Wolfgang Von Henko
Instruments [Historical Instruments, Special Efects] – Frank Wulff
Keyboards – Minne Graw
Percussion – Olaf Casalich
Vibraphone – Jürgen Isenbart
Vocals – Minne Graw, Olaf Casalich
Xylophone – Jürgen Isenbart

Double live album, released after their first four studio albums, is an excellent introduction to Ougenweide's early career, as it delves in fairly equal proportion between them, substantially extending the three songs from their debut, slightly lingering on the second album's tracks, doing the same for Ohrenschmaus, while surprisingly not over-exposing their then-latest Eulenspiegel album. Two tracks were back then not yet familiar to the fans, the first finding its way onto the next Frÿheit album, while the second remained undone in the studio, but it's just a jig. The gatefold artwork showed the group in humorous mood, pretending to have gotten beaten up for playing their music and displaying their bruised portraits in the gallery.
Of major interest to fans, is that Ougenweide manages to sound the same live than in the studio, while being "rockier" as well. Some of the added lengths in the original tracks is often due to solos or duo, such as the 11-mins+ eponymous track, with percussion solo and duo, amongst others. Other tracks take on a new dimension like the highlight Swag outer Hand. Another crowd favourite Der Fuchs (the foxes) closes the album in a grand fashion in all of its 9-minutes glory.

This double live album received also the Bear Family record label reissue (into a single disc) and now boasts a lightly modified artwork to fit the reissue series with Ougenweide's new logo, and one might find the 67 mins duration a little short, both for a double live vinyl and a single live disc. It's too bad Ougenweide did not look in their drawers to give us a few bonus tracks.. I'm sure it would've been possible and positive it would've been appreciated.

Ougenweide - 1977 - Eulenspiegel


01. Till 0:23
02. Tyllurius Spiegelius 3:21
03. Der Hofmaler 5:05
04. Till und die Gelehrten 4:28
05. Tills Ende und Vermächtnis 5:20
06. Welscher Tanz und Hupfauf 2:46
07. Totus Floreo 2:36
08. Wol mich der Stunde 5:28
09. Durch den Ermel gat dâz Loch 4:58
10. Enzio 2:06

Minne Graw/ Flutes, E-Piano, Harmonium, vocals
Olaf Casalich/ Percussion, vocals
Wolfgang v. Henko: Guitars, Mandolin, vocals
Jürgen Isenbart: Percussion
Stefan Wulff: Bass, guitar, accordion
Frank Wulff: Flute, Krummhorn, Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki, guitar,vocals

The group's fourth album pretty well picks up where the previous three had left it. The group now will attack the Eulenspiegel myth and work it into the concept of the album. While this Protestant against Catholics/Spanish domination is not German per se (the Dutch and the Flemish also count it as theirs), this widely known story/myth of a blond boy almost single-handedly driving the Spanish occupants out of the Low Countries through trickery is rather common. Again the young boy of the Wulff family is appearing on the sleeve dressed as a fool, symbolising Till Eulenspiegel's cunnings.

When compared with the previous three albums, Eulenspiegel is well in the musical continuity as its predecessors, but also marks a progression. The group's pieces, telling a story through their Middle High German lyrics, become more narrative, giving more drama and some tracks become fascinating and even haunting. Tyllurius and Der Hofmaler are astoundingly beautiful, drawing small chills down the spine as the solemn ambiances and spellbinding melodies are riveting you to the depth of your sofa. Later on Vermachtuis is another pearl from the same nursery takes us to heaven, as is the (almost Pentangle-like) Wol Mich Der Stunde track. And if that was not enough the second last track is the album's most flabbergasting moment with vocal cannons and outstanding musicianship.

Compared to their previous album, I'd say that the album is a tad more Tull-esque (maybe due to a slightly more present flute) and Gryphon-esque (the odd crumhorn and the ever stronger medieval ambiances) and a bit less Malicornesque. Again what strikes (as in all Ougenweide albums) is the power of the electric bass, often being the driving force of the sextet. Eulenspiegel is probably my fave Ougenweide album, but I would not say it is their most representative, due to a slightly more restricted musical spectrum. But where eclectism lost, the story gained.

Ougenweide - 1976 - Ohrenschmaus


01. Bombarde-Ment 1:10
02. Kommt ihr Jungfern helft mir klagen 5:03
03. Eines Freitags im Wald 3:11
04. Pferdesegen (Contra Uermes) 2:00
05. Bald anders 6:32
06. Im Badehaus 3:08
07. Owê wie jaemerliche 4:21
08. Engelboltes Tochter Aven 3:01
09. Rumet uz die Schäemel und die stüele 1:54
10. Alfol 1:00
11. Der Schlemihl 3:55
12. Merseburger Spieluhr 0:37

Minne Graw/ vocals, Harmonium...
Olaf Casalich/ vocals, percussions
Stefan Wulff: bass guitar, accordion...
Wolfgang von Henko/ electric guitar, mandoline...
Jürgen Isenbarth/ Marimbaphone, Vibraphone...
Frank Wulff: flute, Bombarde, Bouzouki, Mandoline,Harmonium, vocals

Third album from this Hamburg sextet and the second with the same line-up, Ohrenschmaus (ear-fest in German) is slightly different album (the one that broke them nationally), this short (34 mins) album is a little more upbeat (even danceable at times) and is yet another essential album of theirs. Sporting a charming artwork (the kid is of the Wulff brothers' family), the album is again full of old Middle High German texts (from the 13th Century) put to the group's music or traditional songs.
After a rather difficult start (the opening track is thankfully short, but sounds eerily badly played), the album settles quickly into its groove with the jumpy Kommt (the middle section is superb) and the reflective Freitags with its dominating piano. The album climaxes with the superb Bald Anders, which is constantly evolving and twists your hearing sense silly. After the charming Owe Wie Jaermerliche (where Minne Graw's voice reaches treble peaks), the instrumental Engelboltes is sending the listener to heaven again, with delightful drumming, great flute work. Around the end of the album we are treated to a superb Der Schlemihl track and a short outro.

Yet another great album that only confirmed Ougenweide's reputation as a adventurous group, reaching into pre-classical and medieval music (much like Malicorne did in the same years) and if the album is also essential, once linked with the following Eulenspiegel album, it becomes a must-have.

Ougenweide - 1974 - All Die Weil Ich Mach

All Die Weil Ich Mach

01. Der Fuchs und der Rabe (3:00)
02. Der Rivale (6:37)
03. Der Rattenfaenger (3:35)
04. Fuer Irene (3:24)
05. Merseburger... (3:30)
06. Ich spring an disem ringe (2:18)
07. Wan sie dahs (2:16)
08. Der Blinde und der Lahme (6:17)
09. Palaestina Lied (3:41)
10. Wintertanz (3:04)
11. Einen gekroenten reien (3:04)

- Frank Wulff / tranverse flute, recorders, mandoline, acoustic guitar, Indian harmonium, big drum
- Stefan Wulff / E-bass, E-piano, acoustic guitar
- Jürgen Isenbart / marimbaphon, xylophone, chimes
- Wolfgang von Henko / mandoline, concert guitar, western guitar, electronic guitar, voice
- Minne Graw / voice, recorder, harmonium, harpsichord, piano
- Olaf Casalich / voice, drums, percussion

After their highly successful debut album (artistically anyway), Ougenweide suffered their first two departures with both female singers leaving. The outstanding Minne Graw replaced both Kollmorgen and Blunck, and the line-up would remain stable for the next few years.
The least we can say is that the noticeable visual line-up change was almost inaudible sonically-speaking as this second album (while not a carbon copy) is rather similar even if less Fairport Span, and slightly more medieval and more even. As the tracks unfold their medieval ambiances, the album also appears less electric (but Ougenweide's albums never really were electric, anyway), more reflective and even more authentic than the debut. Again, Malicorne comes to mind, sometimes Harmonium (on the instrumental Fur Irene) or The Amazing Blondel where they get baroque on Rattenfanger. The good thing is that the album avoids a bit the "Celtic Jigs" clichés (only Ich Spring comes close), but the album avoids getting repetitive. Bassist-keyboardist Stefan Wulff (excellent electric piano on Fur Irene) is again the key member of the group, with his irresistible bass lines. The highlights are the two lengthiest tracks, the great Der Rivale (the rival) and Der Blinde Und Der Lame (the blind and the mute), where the group gives itself room to expand musically with a great flute solo.

Yes, this album has less of "rock feeling" and is much more pre-classical oriented, and it is usually considered their best, even if their first four albums are all outstanding. This album came in a gatefold with the Middle High German lyrics and its modern German translations both printed on the inside fold. Purer medieval, slightly more progressive, but very marginally better than its predecessor, this album exudes authenticity and commands solemn respect in regards to the performance. A must.