I’d like to present my unauthorized and as yet unsanctioned award ‘The Evolution Of Excellence’ to Hans-Jorg Schmitz and his project KING OF AGOGIK for his continued commitment to excellence. It’s a shame no such award exists – but if there were I’d proudly hand the little golden statuette to Schmitz.
His new album “The Rhythmic Drawing Room” is clearly one of the best instrumental progressive albums of 2009.
The evolution of KING OF AGOGIK beginning with the somewhat lackluster 2006 debut album “Membranophonic Experience” (which was saddled down by a bloated 15 minute drum solo), to the impressive 2008 follow-up redemptive album “Aleatorik System”, and leading up to this brilliant new double-CD “The Rhythmic Drawing Room”, has proven Hans-Jorg Schmitz to be not only be a superior drummer and multi-instrumentalist but also a talented unconventional composer, creating some of the finest experimental instrumental progressive rock produced today.
Schmitz’s challenging and unorthodox compositions are constructed like an abstract jigsaw puzzle with each piece malleable enough to fit into one of a dozen different places. Snippets of meticulously constructed soundscapes of varying lengths are interwoven to create a massive patchwork quilt. Each musical sequence is composed of inter-connecting blocks of sounds, organic samples, atmospheric electronic textures, lush orchestral melodies, blazing guitar assaults, and dynamic rhythmic patterns; melding diverse and sometime conflicting genres like symphonic rock, neo-prog, avant-garde R.I.O. and Zeuhl, ambient space jams, heavy metal, and jazz fusion into a remarkably cohesive musical moment. Within a single sonic assault no longer than 11 minutes Schmitz can seamlessly incorporate elements of YES, GENESIS, TANGERINE DREAM, UNIVERS ZERO, MAGMA, THE ENID, DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X, KING CRIMSON, RUSH, OZRIC TENTACLES, MIKE OLDFIELD, and PINK FLOYD – or any combination – into a symphonic epic.
Of course not every experiment is a smashing success. On rare occasion the heavy handed transition from one movement to another is distracting and abrupt – not all puzzles pieces can be forcibly jammed into a space where they don’t fit – but those minor musical hiccups are fleeting, few and far between. For the most part the transitional soundscapes flow seamlessly from one movement to the next, even when the mood established in one piece is diametrically opposed to the other... from kinetic chaos to hypnotic melancholia.
This two-disc collection is also laced with moments of intentional humor, including one song seeming performed by sampled farm animals, while another short tune, “Too Much Butter” is a slapstick tribute to the British comedy “Fawlty Towers”, peppered with audio clips from the series. These off-beat moments of mirth and madness give KING OF AGOGIK a Spike Jones for the 21st Century comic appeal.
One thing you can say about this CD … it’s never boring.
KING OF AGOGIK is essentially a Hans-Jorg Schmitz production with Schmitz performing a bulk of the work on drums, percussion, keyboards and guitars. But for this album he has also incorporated a host of talented musicians to augment his work including: Dago Wilms (guitar, bass, mandolin), Volker Cornet (bass), Mathias Borbonus (bass), Michael Elzer (Chapman Stick), Michael Schmoigi (bass), Erik Vaxjo (Mellotron, Moog), Enno Nilson (keyboards) and Phillip Schmitz (keyboards).
Rating 8 out of 10.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on Janaury 24th, 2010