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In case you were wondering why, here is why

Here’s an index page for all the other details. Just click on the song to find out more about who did it and why I choose them and what they did with it.

Burd Ellen – The Highland Widow’s Lament

Alvarius B – Corn Rigs

Andrew Liles – The Landlord’s Daughter

Good Shepherd with Maydo Kay – Gently Johnny

Magpahi – May Pole

The Owl Service & Harriet Bradshaw – The Tinker of Rye

Meg Baird – Willow’s Song

Sophie Cooper – Fire Leap

United Bible Studies – Procession/Chop Chop

Hawthonn – Lullaby

Teleplasmiste – Festival/Mirie It Is

Sharron Kraus – Sing Cuckoo (Summer Is A-Coming In)

David Colohan – Loving Couples/The Ruined Church

Burial Hex – The Masks/Hobby Horse

The Banshees of Bunworth – Searching For Rowan

Michael Begg – Appointment With The Wicker Man

Dean McPhee – Sunset

Available on digital, CD and gatefold double vinyl from our Bandcamp page.

It will also be stocked at the following quality record shops

Monorail Music, Glasgow, Scotland

It will NOT be available from Amazon or any streaming site.

Artwork, design and photography by Richard Wells. Here is his online Big Cartel shop and his Instagram

Mastered by Andrew Liles

Repress!

OK, we hear you. We will do another run and we’ll start with black vinyl.

Another 200 copies will be shipping again from Arizona, Scotland & Germany this Summer. Pre-orders are now live. CD reissue to follow later. Go get ’em! I can’t keep repressing this forever…

All gone, repress?

Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of the album, it’s now completely sold out everywhere.

That said, I see its already been scalped on Discogs and people do keep saying on social media posts that they didn’t get a copy so a repress does seem in order. What do you think?

23
Format poll

What format should we reissue "Ballads of Seduction, Fertility & Ritual Slaughter" on?

Great write up from Dogrando

Stumbling around Google I found this great write-up from Dogrando:

https://dogrando.net/2023/09/09/v-a-ballads-of-seduction-fertility-and-ritual-slaughter/

My favorite quote is “I would argue that a good cover version needs to do two things. Of course, it must sound good on its own terms. But it should also make you notice things you’d not heard in the original. This collection has an astonishingly high hit-rate on both counts.

Seems the album also made their end of year list, the first compilation to do so!

Terrascope Dig it too!

Lovely review from Ian Fraser over on the Terrascope website for their September reviews section.

They reckon it “ranks as a more than respectable companion to the soundtrack and one that stands tall without seeking to either emulate or surpass the original. ‘Folk Album of the Month’? Possibly so, although its experimentalism and amorphousness suggests that such a narrow designation would be insufficient.

Sgt Howie would never have approved, mind you.”

Aye, I reckon they’re right. One blast of Teleplasmiste’s pipes would surely send him running to his sea plane.

Really in-depth review from Folk Radio UK

Really made up by this very in-depth review from Folk Radio UK

https://www.folkradio.co.uk/2023/08/various-ballads-of-seduction-fertility-and-ritual-slaughter-album-review/?fbclid=IwAR2uH7c0NUqKuJTpY3lK-LRUtKPpIB3iDADlvizeUKrPKnfqE6FkSPbRX9Y

Their reviewer Gavin McNamara there certainly knows the score as this quote deftly illustrates “Ballads of Seduction, Fertility And Ritual Slaughter is a wonderfully consistent, decidedly spooky reimagining of a brilliant soundtrack. It is full of odd delights and is, almost certainly, best listened to sitting down. Shocks are, after all, so much better absorbed with knees bent”.

nice review over at Skug

German magazine Skug have a review from Holger Adam of the album.

https://skug.at/various-artists-ballads-of-seduction-fertility-and-ritual-slaughter-was-ist-das/

I used an A.I. to translate it then edited the results to make it smoother:

The folk-horror film The Wicker Man is an entertaining yet ruthless hybrid of musical and crime – and it flopped at the box office when it was released in 1973. Today, the film is a pop culture icon with appeal far beyond the folk horror genre. In the decades since its initial release, the film has achieved cult status, the Paul Giovanni soundtrack has been repeatedly reissued and the film is now available in various edited versions on DVD or Blu-ray. And the crappy remake from 2006 with Nicolas Cage in the leading role shows: The original is unattainable, the version with Cage is a farce (and therefore worth seeing, at least once). 

In 2023 »The Wicker Man« celebrates its 50th birthday and on this occasion in Phoenix, Arizona based label Was Ist Das? released a tribute album. The small underground label is run by Ned Netherwood, an Englishman in exile (because of love, of course). He has enlisted a number of well-known musicians to reinterpret the original soundtrack’s compositions, and the 17 exclusive tracks on »Ballads of Seduction, Fertility and Ritual Slaughter« cover a relatively broad musical spectrum, which – however – fortunately – not removed from the sinister mood of the original. 

The experiment of venturing into a quasi sacrosanct artefact of pop culture succeeds precisely because »the old ways« are not negated. »Sumer Is A-Cumin In« remains a song piece with Sharron Kraus, only instead of a choir, Kraus sings alone and layers her voice over one another, creating a dreamy, hypnotic mood. And Meg Baird’s rendition of “Willow’s Song” stays close to the original — but the former Espers singer has the experience, and the gesture of homage doesn’t devolve into mere imitation. Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound) and Alvarius B (Alan Bishop), among others, deviate further from their templates. He snarls his way through »corn rigs« in his own crooner manner, while Liles’s »The Landlord’s Daughter« dresses in a post-industrial sound atire. 

As the Banshees of Bunsworth, members of Ireland’s Woven Skull let off steam with “Searching for Rowan,” and David Colohan features twice on the album, once solo and once with his band United Bible Studies. – And so it goes on and on, lively around the »Maypole«, so to speak (here interpreted by Magpahi, the musical project of the British artist Alison Cooper). The majority of the performers represented here have been working in the musical underground at the experimental intersections of folk, drone and noise for many years. The contributions to »Ballads of Seduction, Fertility and Ritual Slaughter« testify to a musical expertise that does not deny their being a fan. And how can you not be a fan of »The Wicker Man«? 

I think Holger in his last two sentences hit on why this album turned out so great. Every artist I spoke to had a sincere love of both the film and the soundtrack. I picked them for their abilities but it worked because of the sincerity of their intentions. No matter how much the songs were reinvented, they all remain true to the spirit. I’m not sure the success of this project could ever be emulated because is there another film and soundtrack so universally loved and so ripe for reinterpretation?

review in the African Paper

The German website African Paper has reviewed the album

http://africanpaper.com/2023/07/03/ballads-of-seduction-fertility-and-ritual-slaughter-wicker-man-tribute-u-a-mit-andrew-liles-meg-baird-united-bible-studies/

Below is a translation that I ran through an A.I. translator then refined a little.

On August 18th, the Was Ist Das? label releases a compilation of reinterpretations from Paul Giovanni’s “Wicker Man” soundtrack , cited as one of the starting points for dark, eccentric and occult-tinged folk music. The 1973 film directed by Robin Hardy stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland. A prudish police officer wants to solve a case on a remote Scottish island and gets more and more caught up in a maelstrom of seduction and pre-Christian fertility rites and is still unrivaled as a milestone in folk horror. The line-up of musicians involved, who are covered in depth on the label’s website, is more than impressive and ranges from different kinds of dark folk to surreal soundscapes to ritually colored or psychedelic ambient sounds.

The popular “Willow’s Song” – also known as the “Wicker Man Song” in cover versions – is interpreted by Meg Baird ( Espers , among others ), a version of “Sing Cuckoo (Summer is a-coming in)” by Sharron Kraus is represented, while The Owl Service performs “The Tinker of Rye” with Harriet Bradshaw and Alan Bishop aka Alvarius B sings about the “Corn Rigs”. United Bible Studies , whose line-up also includes Scotsman Gray Malkin and Kitchen Cynics contribute a more soundscape-like track with their version of “Procession / Chop.Chop”, as does the Téléplasmiste consisting of Mark O. Pilkington and Michael York , while Andrew Liles puts the drinking song “The Landlord’s Daughter” through the meat grinder. Additional contributions are from Burd Ellen, David Colohan, Burial Hex, Good Shepherd with Maydo Kay, Magpahi, Sophie Cooper and Hawthonn. The collection features artwork by Richard Wells and is available on LP, CD and download. Proceeds go to the Scottish Wildlife Trust .

Nice write up in the Guardian

Great to see a mention of the album in print in The Guardian newspaper (UK).

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2023/aug/04/playing-for-the-man-at-the-dooor-smithsonian-folkways

Jude Rogers, the resident folk critic said “Ballads of Seduction, Fertility and Ritual Slaughter (Was Ist Das?) is a fittingly weird 50th anniversary tribute to The Wicker Man’s startling soundtrack. Magpahi’s synth-drizzled Maypole, Dean McPhee’s Sunset and Meg Baird’s Willow’s Song are particularly gorgeous.”

and it’s not just great artwork

When you got 17 different acts recording in 17 different ways you really need someone who can make it all fit together smoothly. Also when Bandcamp offers high res downloads and vinyl needs special treatment to sound good and CD needs a different approach you really need somebody to master it who’s got a good grounding on all the formats.

A good understanding of the mission and the music would help too. So it had to be Andrew Liles who’d himself contributed a track to the album with his blood-curdling take on “The Landlord’s Daughter”.

As well as being a seasoned producer, composer and musician, Liles’ technical skills have leant themselves to many a mastering job for the likes of Nurse With Wound, David Holmes, Ben Chasny, Jarvis Cocker, Gnod, Bill Fay, Current 93, The Lounge Society, Natural Snow Buildings, Comus, Kawabata Makoto, W.H.Lung, The Orielles and many, many more.

No good having such a great line-up for the album, all giving their best, if we’re not going to make it sounds as good as possible. Being so heavily experienced in mastering all the types of music featured on here, Liles has done a perfect job.