DRUMS OFF CHAOS & JENS-UWE BEYER 5/5 review at The Milk Factory (posted by Harry)


Drums Off Chaos & Jens-Uwe Beyer
Magazine 2011
04 Tracks. 42mins51secs

The Milk Factory Magazine Interview

One of the pioneering acts of the German experimental music scene of the seventies, alongside Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dreams, Cluster and Neu!, Can contributed extensively to the Krautrock movement during the ten years they were active, with albums such as Tago Mago (1971), Ege Bamyasi (1972) and Future Days (1973) defining not only their own sound but also that a whole era, and has since influenced generations of musicians across the world. At the heart of Can was drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who had previously officiated with free jazz ensembles. His hypnotic style, which often favoured complex rhythmic patterns, formed an intrinsic part of the band sound, alongside Holger Czukay’s equally mesmerizing bass loops and Michael Karoli’s guitar motifs. Three years after the band separated, in 1979, Liebezeit formed the percussion ensemble Drums Off Chaos with Reiner Linke, Maf Retter and Manos Tsangaris. While the formation has been performing live for nigh on thirty years, they have until now almost entirely refrained from recording together, preferring to concentrate instead on the energy of their live set.

At age 71, Liebezeit shows no sign of taking it easy. In recent years, he has formed a very fruitful partnership with Burnt Friedman, resulting in three albums so far, with a fourth one due out in the next few weeks. Here, Liebezeit and friends team up with Jens-Uwe Beyer, who is best know for his work as Popnoname, a project which has seen him releasing music on Italic, Firm and Kompakt. Beside this project, Beyer is also the co-founder of the imprint on which this collaborative effort is released, Magazine.

Formed of just four tracks, all clocking around ten-to-eleven minutes, this album sees Beyer adapting to the Drums Off Chaos pace and structure remarkably well. Rather than fight the might of the percussions quartet’s intricate rhythms and deeply hypnotic patterns, Beyer cleverly weaves fluid electronic textures and wide soundscapes right into them, and feeds from DOC’s tribal energy, at times quite openly, as demonstrated with the recurring string motif on Second Half, at others through much more elusive pulses, as is the case on Even S, on which sounds appear to constantly bounce from one point to another in the backdrop. These eventually merge into one sprawling soundscape, returning to the vast atmospheric vaporous forms he applied on the opening two tracks. On First Half and 4 Of 7, Beyer chooses to wrap the quartet’s drums with vast smoldering ethereal sound forms, letting them ebb and flow gracefully against the relentless drive of the rhythm. There are hints of isolationism in his treatment as he drenches his original sound sources in extremely wide open reverbs, blurring their edges almost entirely to give them a dreamy feel.

This is in sharp contrast to the clear-cut percussive lines drawn by Drums Off Chaos. Where Beyer’s soundscapes are at best only vague structures with almost no physical consistency, the presence of the four drummers remains firmly in focus, the razor-sharp aspect of their performance slicing through the voluptuous clouds of electronics to drive each one of the four pieces. While Beyer’s contribution undoubtedly serves the quartet by broadening their scope, the subtly and dynamic which is generated from their collaborative effort, combined with the impressive level of detailing in the various motifs and nuances in the tones and rhythms found throughout is totally fascinating.

Capturing the energy of an ensemble such as Drums Off Chaos was never going to be an easy thing, but they have here, with the help of Jens-Uwe Beyer, creating such an enchanting record, which feels so utterly primal, and yet so beautifully controlled that one can only suggest that it was well worth the wait.


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