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Monday, December 18, 2017

The Dorf - Lux (Umland, 2017) *****

By Stef

She comes barging into the room, screaming, yelling "Are you out of your mind?", shouting, "Really, so loud? Are you nuts?", trying to overpower with her shrill and terrified voice the booming sound coming out of the speakers at full volume. Not only is every object in the room shaking, but possibly the whole building itself too.

You look at her with total incomprehension, not only because you have not understood a word she said, but even the look on her face is at odds with what you would expect as a reaction to this music. You infer from her face that she's not happy. The only answer you can find is "I have no choice", and even fainter "This music leaves me no choice".

And indeed, whoever puts on this album has no choice. You have no choice. Maximum volume is what it needs.

This is The Dorf. We reviewed another album by the German big band in 2011, called "Le Record". The band, led by saxophonist Jan Klare, has changed over the years. The admiration for free jazz, Frank Zappa and Philip Glass is still present, but is now fully integrated. The sound is more focused, simpler, straightfoward. Gone are the embellishments, the sudden changes and risky angles. It is replaced by one single monolithic sound, of 26 musicians all moving forward full blast and in the same direction.

The band members are

Marie Daniels – vocals 
Julia Brüssel - violin 
Martin Verborg - violin 
Ludger Schmidt - cello  
Markus Türk - trumpet 
Stephan Gerhartz - trumpet 
Maximilian Wehner - trombone  
Adrian Prost- trombone  
Christoph Berndt- saxophone 
Felix Fritsche- saxophone 
Florian Walter- saxophone 
Veit Lange - saxophone 
Julius Gabriel - saxophone  
Gilda Razani - theremin 
Andreas Wahl - guitar  
Christian Hammer - guitar 
Serge Corteyn - guitar  
Oliver Siegel - synth 
Achim Zepezauer - electronic 
Jim Campbel - electronic
Kai Niggemann - electronic
Johannes Nebel- bass
Simon Camatta - drums
Marvin Blamberg- drums
Jan Klare – air movement

feat N– guitar

... so not your usual line-up for a big band. What you get is gargantuan, colossal, monumental, majestic, massive, formidable, mind-blowing and utterly overwhelming. You can only sit down and let this sonic steamroller run over your perplexed self and hope to survive it. 

It starts quietly though, with eery voices, electronics, high-pitched strings gradually being sucked up by a single tone coming from the horn section, the bass gives a steady rhythm, the volume picks up, and increases, and increases. It's uncanny, horrific, hair-raising. As the volume increases, so does the beat. It's simple, repetitive, like a Philip Glass composition, only massive. And totally mad. A thousand things happen in this gigantic wall of sound, shifting and changing, but the wall itself remains intact and moving, and then when you think it cannot get more intense and deafening, it gets completely overboard into something for which words have not yet been invented. The second piece is slower, more ominous, darker and as unidirectional and voluminous. Individual instruments can be discerned once in a while, with Marie Daniels' wordless vocals offering a human dimension to the solidified and magnificent sonic madness, propulsed forward by unrelenting drum beats. 

The third track gives some respite. Out of the darkness of the A-side of the LP comes "Lux", Latin for "light", like the dawn after the worst of nights, like a sudden opportunity to breathe, and again the interesting mixture of Glass-like composition and jazz orchestration offers a unique sound. The album ends with tragedy, like the death throes of a leviathan, full of agony and grandeur at the same time, with scraping electronics, chaotic instruments weaving eery textures, and a sudden wonderfully orchestrated dramatic theme that makes the whole thing disappear into a musical black hole. 

And the amazing thing is that, despite the high volume, the intensity and the violence, Klare managed to make it sophisticated, refined even, balanced despite its obvious unwillingness to compromise, carefully crafted regardless of the mad surface structure. 

This music does not fit into any category. That's what's so great about it. Klare and The Dorf offer us something new, something extraordinary in a very literal sense. 

And I'm convinced that the readers of this blog will be the first to appreciate this kind of music. You can order it on Bandcamp



Moe said...

I lost track of these guys after the Le Record album which i really really liked. Thanks for reminding me of them. I have listened to this on Bandcamp and agree with the reviewer on how good it is.

MJG said...

I don't know, these shrill-voiced, hysterical women who refuse to like this music...maybe we should ask Ms.Leandre what she thinks?

That apart, the album sounds very interesting and well worth investigating

Kenny said...

Thanks for the review/introduction. This is phenomenal!

cihan said...