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Me, voidhanging again, this time with FLESHVESSEL, ONKOS and SARMAT

You know why of all cruel things Nu Metal is a thing again? It's a matter of cosmic karmatic balance, the necessary nuisance, because there's so much excellent merging of Extreme Metal and Jazz out there! And one label (among others) definitely responsible for that wave is I, Voidhanger Records.  My latest little haul of CDs here leaves no doubt about that.

SARMAT - Dubious Disk (CD+DVD) (2023)

"Dubious Disk" is a misleading title for the EP, because this "strictly limited to 200 pcs and never to be repressed" EP actually consists of two discs: One is the CD with one seventeen and a half minutes long track and the second is a DVD (or is it even really with an mp4 file on it?) with the same thing on video plus a couple of short behind the scenes interview snippets.

That doesn't sound like much yet? Let me tell you that it fucking is, because this live studio jam is complete Jazz Death Metal insanity. The members of Sarmat are all active in other projects too, and the most prominent (normally mostly masked) face is bassist Steve Blanco from the mighty Imperial Triumphant, who also adds some grand piano here. Together with two guitar players, drums, trumpet and a Death Metal growler he unleashes an incredibly fluid and just super legit (Free) Jazz Metal inferno that is just spectacularly good. Both sides inform this insanity in equal measure and it's just absolutely glorious, among the best things you'll ever have heard in this direction.

So don't let yourself be held back by the short total running time! This is absolutely worthwhile. Plus you get the bonus of a brilliant artwork, which also - finally! - is printed on matte cardboard. Why not always, I, Voidhanger? Sorry, but the usual glossy digipaks are an aesthetic Irrweg!

It should be mentioned that the EP also documents the first time the band actually came together to play after working apart from each other on their full debut for years. And while the title  of the the track isn't reveales yet, it actually is a drastically enhanced double-length version of "Disturbing Advances" from that now also released album...

SARMAT - Determined To Strike (CD) (2023)

Surprisingly the album doesn't start that ultra jazzy at all. The first couple of tracks are rather full-on technical Death Metal with a lot of sick Nocturnus leads and the guitar providing weird sounding higher counterpoints to the very deep and guttural, yet astonishingly pronounced vocals. The most Jazz-adjacent things happening during the first two (of six) tracks are the typiccal Dissonant Death Metal usage of "Voivod chords", a brief piano intro and some solos / breakdowns with a Masvidalian/Schuldinerian Fusion feeling to it.
Naturally there's more than one part which would also feel at home on an Imperial Triumphant record, but while also being chaotic and brutal the overall sound of Sarmat seems a little bit less monolithic and oppressive and more colourful.

It's only in the middle of the third song "Arsenal Of Tyranny" however that we get into territory the "Dubious Disk" had prepared us for. Yet still the first trumpet solo doesn't actually scream "Look at me, I'm the Jazz thing!", but rather radiates a casual naturalness of that instrument shredding a nasty solo in this context, just as a guitar would do it.
From here on however the floodgates are wide open: Almost as a starting symbol we get meditating android Cynic background vocals, and now the free soloing on this album - by guitars, brass or bass - knows no boundaries. Sickness, brutally and Jazztasy all permanently outdo each other in a brain-melting firestorm vortex, until we reach the Dubious "Disturbing Advances" and the Sarmat circle closes in a final, mental spectacle.

I already know that chosing my favorite Metal albums of the year will be a daunting task in 2023. These Deathjazz cats however are definitely in the running!

ONKOS - Vascular Labyrinth (CD) (2023)

"I, Sycophantom, the fig-bearer, with Acid and Cologne,
My innumerable hands resting reverently on the illustrious Codex Aktinic.
Rummaging around in my giddy head, quivering like sparrows in the belfry."

So you thought we've already reached the end of the Avant-Garde flagpole? That couldn't be further from the truth! *laughs in Onkos*
This former one-man project turned seven-members ensemble goes about the whole Extreme Metal/Jazz  merger in a very singular way, which still was able to really surprise me.

"Vascular Labyrinth" is a holistically coherent package of artwork, cryptic lyrics and a creatively unlimited blend of Metal, Jazz, Acoustic, Folk, Neo Classical, Electronic etc. with one simple twist: While Progressive Extreme Metal is embedded in the core of most structures and arrangements, it's not mirrored in the instrumentation at all. We can hear brass and woodwinds, vibraphone, marimba and keyboards. There are multiple percussion sounds, but not a Rock drumkit. There's a guitar, but it's almost exclusively acoustic. In fact two of the nine tracks on this hour-long album are actually nothing more than this acoustic guitar, yet they are not mere intros or interludes, but feel as whole and important as every other song.

Very few instances remotely resemble any kind of Rock music at all. The only thing which actually always sounds Metal as rotting fuck are the gurgling Death Metal growls. On first listen that's a quite funny contrast, but once you're accustomed to the combination as it is presented here, it's just a very unique and compelling musical language.

Of course - once again - it helps to be accustomed with the John Zorns and Toby Drivers of this world. Or obviously labels like I, Voidhanger Records. But ultimately you won't find many record sounding even close to "Vascular Labyrinth". And that's nothing but an unequivocally good thing, because each and every minute of this huge statement of artistic nonconformism is fantastic! 

FLESHVESSEL - Bile Of Men Reborn (CD) (2020)

As if my brain wasn't already frizzling, here come Fleshvessel with their twenty-five minutes one-track EP, which employs a line-up of special ingridients quite similar to Onkos, yet here the unreadable band logo shirt is turned back from inside out again!

The Death Metal on this multi-part epic is brutal, viscious, cavernous... and paired with Classical piano / flute duets, 70's Prog, Doom, Jazzy Folk, Clerical vocals... well, actually much more musical information than one should be able to process after already voidhanging through the rest of this haul, but yes Baby, this also just is the shit!
No matter which unexpected turn this band takes, it's all done tasteful and expertly. Total freedom of expression in an uncompromising flow from Neoclassical Ambient to pummeling Death Metal grandiosity. Look how far we've come since My Dying Bride released "Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium" in 1991! This is absolutely magnificent.

And yes, I have noticed that this release is already two years old and Fleshvessel have recently put out a full-length album. But that one I ordered from a different label, so it will reviewed in he next part of my cassette craze chronicles.

Until then please check out all this gloriously sick and amazing stuff! Nu Metal might be the universe's price for the sheer existence of these bands, but that's ok with me. I'm content to pay it. 


VOIVOD - The Outer Limits

Oh dear, how do I explain this? Didn't I just a couple of weeks ago, in the introduction of my "Morgöth Tales" review, state pretty firmly that that I would not buy this, since I already got the 2021 Real Gone Records pressing?

Well, opportunity arose with it being available on High Roller Records without the need to directly order it from Norway... and curiosity just won? So here it is again, from Listenable Records:

VOIVOD - The Outer Limits (White vinyl reissue LP) (1993/2023)

So what is it about this album, you're asking? Since I already answered that question not too long ago, I will just copy-translate the core of my last (German) review now:

"The Outer Limits" was, is and will always be one of the best Rock/Metal albums of all time for me. Even if it is of course an impossible task to choose the undisputed best Voivod work. Without a doubt, however, the hattrick from "Nothingface" to "The Outer Limits" is by far the most listened to by me.
The fact that "Fix My Heart" was the first song of the Canadians that I was able to experience live in the Markthalle Hamburg naturally adds a strong dose of nostalgia to the mix.

I know that some fans don't like the lack of Blacky's "Blower Bass", but I always found Pierre St-Jean's clean, but powerfully produced four-string with its sometimes almost upright-bassy runs great, despite the lesser Metal values. In general the modern, super clean, but never sterile sound of the album is still spectacular.

In terms of sound, this was the closest possible approach to mass compatibility that the band was capable of, even compared to "Angel Rat", which was trimmed to look very vintage. That the varied mixture of straight Space Rock anthems, the stylistically fitting Pink Floyd cover "The Nile Song" and some of the best Prog Rock/Metal hits in the band's history ("Le Pont Noire" , "The Lost Machine" and of course the more than seventeen-minute epic "Jack Luminous") didn't make it to the charts after all, may have been disappointing for MCA.

The artistic-musical result is, however, a still relevant, excellently aged masterpiece, which in comparison to the unwieldy brain-convolution Thrash of the eighties or the apocalypse conjured up on "Phobos" may at first sight appear more conventional, but in truth this probably is the most uncopyable Voivod album of all time.

At least I haven't heard of any group that can be compared specifically to Voivod on "The Outer Limits". Sure, that may be partly due to the fact that "Dimension Hatröss" naturally enjoys a much wider distribution and established cult status. Still, if it were easier to emulate the special spirit of this pulp sci-fi Space Metal hit, then more people would do it.


This is the first vinyl version of the 1993 album with the 3D cover + glasses. Since my old CD and the Real Gone pressing both had the coloured Summer Edition artwork, this is also my personal first copy of that kind. A gimmick which honestly doesn't mean much to me, since I have always despised this rather disappointing magic as a scam. Most 3D glasses are hard to use together with my regular glasses (without whom I'm too blind) and watching movies this way, which I thankfully only ever did twice as far as I remember, is just tiring and far inferior to the regular experience.
And this cover artwork: Yeah, there's a little effect and the album title card stands out, but of course it's nothing really sensational.

That being said I actually prefer it to the Real Gone version, because the execution is just much more convincing here. It starts with the layout which isn't radically different, yet still a little bit better. A big plus however is that the lyrics aren't printed on a thin inner sleeve (which already arrived torn in many cases, since the label just packed it badly back then), but on a seperate thick matte cardboard sheet.
I also just have a thing for white vinyl, it's just so pure and beautiful. And while I haven't bothered to do a detailed track-by-track comparison, I'm also quite confident that this pressing sounds better.

So if you have the chance to choose between the two, I'd always recommend this one. Musically it's always an essential masterpiece anyway. Welcome aboard!



"Part of this release was recorded in moscow in February 2022, a few days prior to full-scale russian invasion in Ukraine. Since then we had no other idea than this will be an anti-war record. There’s no doubt that russia is the only one to blame in this catastrophe. War was declared under the slogans of “denazification of Ukraine”, but in fact it’s the nazification of russia itself — the final stage of a years-long process. And we think that the only thing that can end this war is the defeat of the aggressor country. Stop russia!" (P/O Massacre)

P/O MASSACRE + ALEX BUESS & MERZBOW - Aural Corrosion (Rust/Green Marble vinyl 45rpm 2LP + CD) (2023)

When a record declares itself as anti-war music there are still lots of directions it could go. Yet with the name of Japanese Noise originator Merzbow on the cover you can immediately rule out that it will be love music or naive Eurovision strumming guitar ballads. No, this is the sound of war, extreme music which channels the anger at and disappointment in humanity by mirroring its worst tradition. It's the sonic war we need instead of the real ones. 

Of course you can also come to that conclusion if you already know P/O Massacre and their great debut album "Massacre" from two years ago. The Russian duo (currently residing in Swiss and Armenian exile; subject to change) consists of Anton Ponomarev (who among many other projects is also a member of Teufelskeller and has performed with Pussy Riot) on electronics, trumpet and saxophone, and Noise Rock guitarist Anton Obrazeena.
For this album they recorded almost eighty minutes of "Aural Corrosion", spread over two LPs - each one containing only one two-sided track - plus the whole album on CD with a half-hour bonus track.

Side A+B aka the first piece "Chanting the Resonances of Atrocity" features Swiss electro-acoustic experimental / improvisational musician / composer Alex Buess and sounds like a blending of JK Flesh breakbeats and Techno, guitar drones and Free Jazz. It's the manifold Noise of propaganda, the forces of cognitive dissonance, Gleischaltung and Mobilmachung at work. Chaotic, confusing, but also devilishly tempting.

The next 20+ minutes belong to the collaboration with Merzbow and are simply called "Anti-War Music". The war rages now! Menacing murder machines, the constant rumble of helicopters, rockets, tanks and machine guns. Violent mayhem, dislocation, Death. The disturbing centerpiece of this album knows no mercy and it feels as if even if it wanted to spare you it couldn't, because the mission of this war report is too urgent, the reality too dire to shy away from.

On the CD bonus "Nonslaught" we have passed the threshold of the initial invasion. War is there and eats itself through everything. Lingering in silences  between the storms, exploding in deadly alerts, seeping trauma through the soul of a generation. Creeping, droning, always unsettling. There can be no true calm until there is peace.

As always on WV Sorcerer Productions the sound, pressing, presentation of "Aural Corrosion" leave little - if even anything - to be desired. The entirety of this release is a labour of love, a compelling piece of art. You shouldn't need it to be convinced of its anti-war cause, but you must respect it for how dedicated it processes the subject.
As the artist themselves say: No words or sounds can stop military aggression and genocide. But at least parts of this album's sales are being donated to a children's hospital in Kyiv.



Sulas Saturnlandung mit LANDING und SATURNIA

Ja, es ist mal wieder Zeit für was wir redaktionsintern (also in meinem Kopf) gerne (als seit jetzt gerade eben) eine Schmidtsche Doppelschnitte nennen, nämlich die Kurzbesprechung von gleich zwei aktuellen Veröffentlichungen aus dem Hause Sulatron Records. 

Und gleichzeitig schließe ich hiermit gar nicht so unpassend an meinen letzten Post, das Livereview vom Steve von Till-Konzert am Montag, an. Denn ganz wie dort stehen die Zeichen beim ersten dieser beiden Alben auf in langsamen Wellen auf- und abebbender Ambient-Musik.

LANDING - Motionless I-VI (2023)

Eine LP hat zwei, oftmals alphabetisch bezeichnete Seiten. Beim aktuellen Album der seit über zwanzig Jahren aktiven Amerikaner Landing muss dieses Wissen ausreichen, um vorab zu wissen welchen der beiden titellosen Longtracks man sich zu Gehör führt. Der Albumtitel verrät dafür hier mehr als man zunächst denken sollte. Statt mit Songs haben wir es auf "Motionless I-VI" eher mit sechs paradoxerweise zumindest in Teilaspekten stets stillstehenden Bewegungen zu tun.

In der ersten Viertelstunde lassen sich diese dann ganz eindeutig meditativ auf der Stelle schwebendem Ambient zuordnen. Erst gegen Ende der A-Seite melden sich ein flottes Motorik-Krautrockschlagzeug und flitternde Psychedelikgitarren zu Wort, während die sphärischen Synthiesounds darüber weiterhin ganz tiefenentspannt in sich ruhen.

Apropos Wort: Während die B-Seite wieder ohne Beat, aber gitarrenlastiger beginnt, kommt nun auch - ganz sanft und unaufdringlich, wie ein zum Gedankenflug einladendes Mantra - weiblicher Gesang hinzu. Auch die Percussion, welche die Stimme irgendwann ablöst, hat eher ritualistisch spirituellen als rockmusikalischen Charakter.

Dies ist Musik, in welcher tatsächlich viel mehr passiert, als sie vorzugeben scheint, gewissermaßen wie der Klang des Meeres, der einen umspült, während man nicht weiß, ob man selbst irgendwann tiefer ins Wasser gegangen ist oder ob der Sog der See einen ganz sanft bewegt hat.

zelebrieren auf diesem Album meisterhaft die Kunst des Innehaltens. Pure Seelenmassage! 

SATURNIA - The Glitter Odd (2001/2023)

Was sanft vibrierend die Gehörknochen umspülende und durchdringende Wohlklänge angeht, muss sich der portugiesische Multiinstrumentalist Luis Simões nicht vor Landing verstecken. Insgesamt ist das komplett von ihm alleine eingespielte 2001er Debütalbum seines Projekts Saturnia, welches nun erstmals auf Vinyl erschienen ist, allerdings ein weitaus ereignisreicheres Album.
Was an sich ja erst einmal eine wertfreie Aussage ist, schließlich zählt ja die Qualität jener Ereignisse. Und die ist zwischen mediterran sonnendurchtränktem Gitarrentrip, leicht angedeuteten Orientalismen, wabernden Orgeln, Synthesizern, Gongs, Flöten und gelegentlich aus einem weichgezeichneten Tagtraum flüsterndem Gesang zweifellos gegeben.

Nur in "A Trick Of The Light" schlägt der Sulatron Records-Running Gag unter den Déjà Vus mal wieder zu und es wird so maßlos Entspannungsgezwitscher aus der Vogelvoliere in die Freiheit gescheucht, dass es schon wieder stresst. Wir sind hier doch nicht bei Hitchcocks!
Das ist aber zum Glück nur der zweitkürzeste von insgesamt neun Tracks. Hier und da sucht Simões zwar noch die gefährliche Nähe zur Kitschgrenze, bleibt jedoch - zumindest für mein Empfinden - noch auf der vertretbaren Seite.

Insgesamt ist es bereits sehr selbstbewusst und musikalisch komplett, was Saturnia auf diesem remasterten Einstand präsentiert. Abgesehen von der generellen Verankerung dieser Art Musik in den Siebzigern kommt "The Glitter Odd" sehr zeitlos daher. Kraut, Ambient und kifferfreundliche Effektspielerei muss man tendenziell natürlich schon mögen. Auf wen das zutrifft, der sollte hier reinhören!

Beide Alben (Landing und Saturnia) sind direkt bei Herrn Bassana in limitierter Pressung auf schwarzem Recyclingvinyl zu haben. 


STEVE VON TILL und INNERWOUD live im Indra Musikclub (21. August 2023)

Ich hatte ja bereits vorher legendäres von seinen Shows gehört. Doch nach der Performance namens "A Remote Wilderness" im Rahmen des zwangsweise vorm Bildschirm stattfindenden Roadburn Redux Festivals 2021 war klar, dass Steve von Till live zu sehen unbedingt auf meine Bucket List gehörte. Leider sah es auf dieser Tour nicht danach aus - ehe ziemlich spät die letzten Lücken im Tourkalender gefüllt und der Indra Musikclub als Station bekanntgegeben wurde.


Passend zum introspektiv langsamen Programm des Abends war der Raum bestuhlt, man fühlte sich beinahe als erwartete man ein Kammerorchester. Und so kam es zunächst im Grunde auch, als der Kontrabassist von Steves vierköpfiger Band, Pieter-Jan Van Assche aka Innerwoud, zunächst alleine auf die Bühne kam und sich zupfend, streichend und perkussiv schlagend durch ein kurzes Set aus drei Kompositionen loopte. Dröhnend neoklassischer Ambient, gespielt nach Art von Jo Quail oder Helen Money, und musikalisch eine stimmige Hinleitung zum Hauptact.

Der einzige Schönheitsfehler des Abends war eigentlich nur, dass die Sets nicht unmittelbar oder wenigstens mit sehr kurzer Pause ineinander übergingen. Das wäre machbar gewesen und hätte sich hier doch so sehr angeboten.


Zwei Soloalben des Neurosis-Frontmanns kannte ich bisher: "No Wilderness Deep Enough" von 2020 und "A Life Unto Itself" von 2015, eine Auswahl für die ich mir doch mal kräftig auf die Schulter klopfen muss, war es doch die perfekte Vorbereitung auf diesen achtzigminütigen Auftritt, in dem nur zwei Songs und zwei Lesepassagen aus seinem Gedichtband "Harvestman" nicht von diesen beiden Werken stammte.

Und auch wenn hier alles langsam und vieles ruhig vonstatten ging, war die Songauswahl so geschaffen, dass niemals Gefahr von Langeweile aufkam. Dafür war einfach jedes einzelne Stück zu stark und eigenständig, ein Umstand, der auch durch Variationen in der Instrumentierung begünstigst wurde. Von Till selbst wechselte zwischen jeweils mit cleverem Effekteinsatz weiter akzentuierter akustischer und elektrischer Gitarre und rahmte den Auftritt mit Songs am Klavier ein. Begleitet wurde er dabei wie bereits erwähnt von einem sehr wandlungsfähigen Kontrabass, sowie einem Keyboarder/Knöpfchendreher und einem weiteren Multiinstrumentalisten an Tasten, Elektronik, Gitarre und Schlagzeug.

Aber natürlich natürlich selbstverständlich im Zentrum des mal sparsam, mal gewaltig tönenden Zeitlupenfolks zog diese unfassbare Stimme alle Aufmerksamkeit auf sich. Dieses tiefe, mal beinahe erzählende, mal kehlig röhrende Reibeisenorgan, bei dessen Nachahmung sich selbst die meisten in der Stimmlage heimischen Sänger nur lächerlich machen könnten, ist ein rares Phänomen. Wie der gute Olli vor Ort ganz richtig sagte, könnte der Mann damit im Grunde Megastar sein. Mit der "richtigen" Musik versteht sich. Zum Glück macht er diese nicht.

Persönliche Highlights in einem von vorne bis hinten starken Set waren vor allem das dramatische Finale von "Indifferent Eyes" (Gänsehaut!), die krautig wabernde "Night of the Moon" und  das spannende Arrangement des twangigen Übersongs "A Language of Blood".

Fazit: Ein entrückendes und erdendes, emotional epochales und dabei immer ehrliches, einfach ganz großartiges Konzert!


CAZAYOUX - Cazayoux

Drummer Forest Cazayoux? Never heard of him before.

Dakota Colby, Joseph Woullard, Fumihito Sugawara, Damian Valenzuela - to name just a couple of random picks from the fourteen musicians strong group gathered here? Neither.

I only stumbled upon this record because Lulu Neudeck's Worst Bassist Records is one of the five labels collaboratively releasing it, the others being Echodelick, Ramble Records, We Here & Now and Weird Beard. Good job guys, since this is an unexpectedly fantastic revelation!

CAZAYOUX - Cazayoux (LP) (2023)

I think I will keep it short, so you're faster through my rambling and can hit the play button below earlier! If the premise of instrumental Funky-ass Psychedelic Latin Afro-Beat Jazz Fusion with many layers of percussion, bass, keys and horns horns horns sounds at least interesting to you, than you're mandatorily obliged to give this multi-national band from Texas a listen.

You'll only risk a likely addiction to the rush of dopamin, endorphin, serotonin and all that other good happiness stuff triggered by this. So what are you waiting for?

It's a sweet and short record, almost humble in its format, but it effortlessly breathes a global legacy, echoing influences from Fela Kuti to Dom Um Romao, from British Fusion big bands to Ryo Kawasaki, from Klaus Weiss' Niagara to Santana.

The instrumentation is so smooth and rich and filled with so many great individual performances by flutes, guitar, trumpet, balaton, organ... But again there's something humble about this music, as noone unduly steals the spotlight. These are all teamplayers, always acting in favor of the fat Funk ensemble sound. It's just fiery, spicy, great. Undoubtly among my top contenders for the title of most uplifting feel-good album of the year!


LONDON ODENSE ENSEMBLE - Live At Jaiyede Jazz Festival

Is this the one? Is this the ultimate Danske Psych Jazz Fusion record? - Hard to say, since half of El Paraiso Records' output seems to be combatting for that title and almost every album is such a new exciting journey on its own.

LONDON ODENSE ENSEMBLE - Live At Jaiyede Jazz Festival (Ochre vinyl LP) (2023)

Indeed this live LP stands on the shoulder of many predecessors. We've heard the madness of Black Cube Marriage, we've seen Mythic Sunship and Causa Sui both bringing guest saxophonists into the fold. The label has even specifically gathered spectacular Jazz Rock ensembles before - the Ellis Munk Ensemble and the Chicago Odense Ensemble.

And even if we only look closely just on the string of albums which subsequently lead to the live recording at hand, we're already opening Pandora's wallet: It started with a double strike of two LPs by the Martin Rude & Jakoc Skøtt Duo in 2020. The Danish duo then became one-third British by transforming into the Rude Skott Osborn Trio for "The Virtue Of Temperance", which could have been the final culmination. But it looks as that had only been the start, because afterwards the gates opened even wider and the group became the five-member London Odense Ensemble, releasing the two absolutely stunning "Jaiyede Sessions" in 2022 and 2023. Yes, that's this year and damn, it has already been good to us, right? Enter the logical next step, the baptism by fire, the first live album of the formation. Actually, as the title already suggests, this live show was recorded in 2021, immediately following the sessions, which led to the two studio albums.

Similar to the live album of Edena Gardens, the other project the label heavily focusses on at the moment the three jams on "Live At Jaiyede Jazz Festival" mix reprises of established material with completely fresh tunes.

The quarter-hour opener "Energy Ascending" doesn't only bear a title which seems to be plucked right out of the golden age of Free Spiritual Jazz, but also takes us there musically. Coltrane worship isn't anything new in these parts of Denmark, but starting with the flute (which later switches to saxophone), adding the piano and playing around a groove that is very much a variation of "A Love Supreme" or Sanders' "The Creator Has A Masterplan" these guys have seldom hit the tribute nail on the head as precise as here. Yet while maintaining the Jazz core of the idea, they push it into Rock aesthetics towards the finale.

Much more a Kraut jam right from the beginning, but very distinct due to its flute alone is "Sojourner", a dreamily expanded interpretation of the track from the "Jaiyede Sessions Vol. I".
The closer's title "Exit Momentum" refers to "Enter Momentum", also from "Vol. I", but isn't build on the same theme as far as I can tell. Instead it mostly is an ever-ascending smooth Jazz Rock play upon the canonical "Tomorrow Never Knows" Psychedelic Rock groove.

As always with music like this almost everything relies on the ability, tastefulness and chemistry of the players. And Tamar Osborn (wind instruments), Al McSween (keys), Jonas Munk (guitar), Martin Rude (bass) and Jakob Skøtt (drums) have all of those in spades.

So is this the one? - Well, it's probably too short for that with just over half an hour playing time. But who cares, it's amazing as long as it lasts! Yet another stunning entry into one of my favorite label catalogues.  


SUN RA ARKESTRA live at Kampnagel, Hamburg (August 16th 2023)

Wednesday began not only too early, but also with a primal scream as I woke up with a cramp in the calf. I didn't half one of those for an eternity and it comes now? Not enough to hold me back from my fourth show of the Sun Ra Arkestra since 2018!
Besides the remainder of pain in my leg the lack of sleep became an annoying issue. I didn't even have time for a quick power nap between work and driving to Hamburg, since I had to go early, so that I was in time to pick up some cassette shelf pieces from a fine specialized manufacturer on the way. That saved me twenty-five Euros of shipping costs.

You're noticing that I'm in need of peripheral filler sentences? Yeah, the thing is that the last Arkestra show had only just been nine months ago. The two and a half hours set wasn't radically different and even the circumstance of band leader Marshall Allan being absent repeated itself this night. And again I cannot be mad about that. It is what it is: The man is ninety-nine years old, still playing shows close to home, but cannot fly overseas anymore for health concerns. Being part of this band since the 1950's and leading it for decades since the departure of Sun Ra himself he certainly doesn't owe anyone anything. Nothing but best wishes and respect for the legend!
And of course the twelve musicians left on stage did everything in their power to make him proud again. So all in all I could just copy-paste my report from last November, right?

Uhm, no. And luckily so! Because as great as they were back then, the Elbe Philharmoc Hall isn't the proper place for their energetic big band Jazz. Give me a real stage, where I can stand in the first row and feel the wind instruments blowing in my (beard) hair! Man, this was so much better!

The trumpets and all the saxes were on fire, but also keys and guitar were allowed a lot of spots to shine, as Knoel Scott conducted the band, somehow holding all the wild overflow of musical joy together, while he was always busy alternating between instruments himself.
If there was a star of the show though, then it was obviously spectacular singer and Arrival Day child Tara Middleton with a performance that radiated so much fun, love and that soulful stuff which gives you goosebumps! What an amazing ensemble!

And as I said - that greatness just an arm's length away with the horns and upright bass and percussions engulfing you from both sides. That's how it has to be!

I have no idea how time works, because that went by much too fast for over two hours, right? Again, seeing the Arkestra play is always more mind-blowing than I remembered from the time before. And introducing the band members in their empty chairs while most of them are already backstage is a fun little twist on that tradition. Yeah, this was a great night!

When I got back into my car, which was parked next to a stone wall, a marten walked by on top of that, stopped right at my passenger door and said Hello.
Again, I have no idea how that is of any significance for anyone who just wants to read about one of the greatest Jazz bands of all time, but come on, it's yet another successful filler sentence. And where else should I tell that?