Now for the second outing from this crazy equine fusion outfit from Germany. They are the brainchild of Wolfgang Schmidtke (saxes and keys) and Jan Kazda (bass and keys) who co-composed all the tracks. On this record, we have phenomenal fiddler Billy Bang (remember him?) guesting as well as Randy Becker on trumpets and flugelhorns. A certain Markus Wienstroer is on guitar. Singer is Rosay Wortham (great voice).
Here we have an interesting case, not uncommon, in which the band is being pulled in two different directions. We have the logical extension of the ST's instrumental prog jazz with angular dissonances and tritones, alternating track by track with more commercial sung jazz songs, belted out in that typical loud shouting late-80s jazz style (think Diane Schuur for ex.) which to me are throwaway though I know others will vehemently disagree and find them to be standouts. As before, the musicianship and solos are just shockingly excellent. All of these guys are true 100% professionals.
Das Pferd went on to make some more albums, including a live in 1989, "Blue turns to grey" in 1991, and lastly "The world of das pferd." Would it be a pretty good bet that the commercial songs won out over the progressive instrumentals?
As sample, the most progressive track, note the great tritone opener and gorgeous bass line, and the electric violinwork of Billy recalling Michel Ripoche.
Porta da Barra, track 9
Das Schwere Los, track 6
Finally I really have to mention the coverart... It clearly seems to imply the threatening situation of a stranger in a trenchcoat abducting a little girl. I doubt such a taboo cover would be tolerated today, even in metal music. Remember, this was the eighties, long before the zero tolerance for child abuse became commonplace in western society. In this regard I want to mention a formidably interesting book by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker called "Better angels of our nature" in which he talks about the very slow evolution of our society towards less and less violence, based on less social tolerance for all forms of aggression, whether school bullying, anti-gay, animal cruelty, even children's cartoons, all things that were not given a second thought as recently as 30 years ago. He points out that the decline in violence in our world has been ongoing since long before history and is evidenced in all kinds of ways today, esp. notable is the shocking drop in crime that sociologists and criminologists find so perplexing in all western societies since the sixties. Correctly, he provides the statistics that make clear this trend started long before the sixties thus, the mystery of dropping violent crime is really a progression of our society that is ongoing and not at all inexplicable-- if viewed within the deepest historical context. What occurred was a reversal in the previous trend, when the drug use and anti-social tendencies of the sixties became fashionable.
So looking at this cover today, we get a completely different visceral reaction from what was intended, 34 years ago when the record was released. For those in N America, who can forget the hysteria of the 'satanic ritual child abuse' cases (remember Geraldo's obsessive anatomizing of it on his show?) and multiple personality disorder obsession of the eighties, leading to the daycare sex abuse convictions of so many innocent people? Some of whom-- believe it or not, are still in jail in the US today.
On a personal note, let me point out how for all my life I thought it would be ok to spank my kids if they misbehaved. Then, when I became a father, I realized I could never really do it-- hit my child. Why? Dr Pinker articulates perfectly (and carries through to the society-wide scale) my personal reasons: It is not effective; there are better punishments; the actual lesson being taught is the power of anger to make one lose control and regret one's actions; another lesson is the strong can hurt the weak with impunity, purely by virtue of being stronger; but most importantly why not strive for a world in which violence or aggression is minimized in every interaction, isn't that a good lesson to teach children too?
For me, it seems obvious now that to a child, the lesson from corporal punishment is a lesson in anger management, it's very easy-- every day-- to lose control and start screaming at them. Far better is it to teach the child that anger control is always better than losing one's temper. And one thing I really didn't understand before is that one can be strict without resorting to violence, it's a classic knee-jerk behaviour. This is the big lesson society learned too, the multiplicity of rules and laws in our world are far more effective than any kind of cruel punishment as was commonplace in medieval times.