Friday 15 March 2024

One of the many sayings usually attributed to Einstein, is that the definiton of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Janek van Laak's 'Circle Of Madness' is a musical merry-go-round that is so packed with ideas, it'll seem like a diffent result on every listen.

Sonar Kollektiv have always had more than a eye on the future and Janek van Laak's background of "punk loving father and cabaret/comedy performing mother" is a perfect grounding for this Berlin based drummer. composer and producer.

Having been a member of Liquid Brain Orchestra and 50% of Tutu Amuse (with Rosa Landers), 'Circle Of Madness' is the debut album that the single, 'The Killa Gorilla' (see review HERE) promised: like an unleashed cage fighter in a circus; and more!

There's diffinitely a lot of theatre here, even in the spacey funk of 'Left 4 Dead' there's a jazz big/marching band to be found.  Perhaps it's the German element where the legacy of Berlin Cabaret has dropped in on the fusion of Gong/Magma/Peter Brotzmann.  And then goes surfing? I think he recognises this throughout the 11 tracks with 'The Last Stylebender' (Ed. I wonder what that is in German), a sideways look at Can on 'Daiamondo' featuring Shiomi Kawaguchi on vocals (RIP Damo Suzuki) and an odd Avante-Afro-dub 'Sloppy Dreams' that's almost ideal for late-night radio (as played by Dom Servini on his new Jazz FM show).

I suspect 'Above Your Head' will get picked up for some TV crime soundtrack/bed for the vocal "Strange" in itself.  There's also a guest  vocals appearance by Australian Madeleine Rose on the jazz-creepy twang of 'Here To Slay' but the rest is instrumental and for there's the proper beach-jazzy 10 minute opus of 'OCTAPUSSY', the 70s Miles-esque 'Saints Blow' and the leftfield-fusion of 'Garlic Brown Junior' (Ed. don't tell me he's UFC too!).

I'm some folks would have prefered a whole album in one style of 'madness' but the mix of styles makes the squaring of the circle makig this is a great album with a great line-up of Janek (drums), Richard Maegraith (alto sax, flutes, bass clarinet), Gabriel Garcia (trumpet and flügelhorn), Isabel Rößler (bass) and Tim Foley on percussion.

So whilst this isn't totally mad, to mis-quote a well known space traveller, "It's Kraut Jim; but not as we know it" - one for the now and the future.

Artist: Janek van Laak
Title: Circle Of Madness
Release date: 15th March, 2024
Label : Sonar Kolletiv
Catalog Number : SK480 LP (Limited Edition Kistal-Violett splatter vinyl) / Digital / Bandcamp 



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