Dead Country feat. Alfred 23 Harth – Gestalt et Death (CD Al Maslakh)

This is essential listening as these guys create absolutely fantastic moments of mutual joy. With their freeform freakout jams and the whimsical directions they take, I would nominate this effort as one of the greatest freeform rock collective in years. Gestalt et Death is the result of a chance meeting between Turkish Dead Country and German veteran Alfred Harth, already for 40 years leading one of avantgarde’s frontlines. Harth started in ’67 and  ever since has contributed, lead, supported, inspired, constructed, deconstructed and mobilized outsider art in several forms. I guess that when he received an invite from Istanbul’s Dead Country, Harth must have identified that this was probably the only artistic encounter that he still had on his to-do list; supporting local underground blossoming somewhere in a melting pot of over 17 million citizens. Harth went to Istanbul in 2011 to meet and play together with Dead Country members and the result of that assemble is what this album offers. 

Everything sounds like improvisations, but what is really making things outstanding is the intensity and insanity of most moments. Fiery Red DC is unequalled in boldness and the bluesrock of ‘Lady Deathstrike’s healing factor’ is a precursor of the changing directions that ultimately leads to a deep dive into the meandering stream that is ‘Cessily in liquid…’, which is a 14 minute jam that tells restrained tales through air slowly channeling through the tube of Harth’s sax, and with the final track, which is mainly centered around intense electrified guitar rumblings combined with Harth trying to convince the listener to give in to this psychedelica of the insane and when doing so, a total elsewhere is the reward.  

The name references Gestalt et Jive, a sextet in which Harth played with Steve Beresford and others during the second half of the eighties, when Harth already had started to add the number 23 to its identity. Gestalt is a german term that translates as ‘the complete picture’, realizing that only with understanding this referenced total picture, the sum often can be more than just their parts. Naming this occasional line up Gestalt et Death rightfully gives an interpretation of the paradox of the sum and its parts. Oriental fuzzy youthful enthusiasm and matured melancholia, maybe not all in it’s perfect form, yet still it comes close. A true killer album one has to hear. PvdG.