ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


King Of Agogik - 2010 - "The Rhythmic Drawing Room"

(134:28, ‘Saustark’)


Prolusion. German composer and instrumentalist Hans Jorg Schmitz has been plying his trade for three decades or thereabouts now, being an active and contributing member in a variety of bands all the way back to 1981. KING OF AGOGIK is his solo project, basically a one-man band with a few permanent guest musicians and a few more side participants. "The Rhythmic Drawing Room" is his third such solo effort.

CD 1 (66:58)


1.  The Last Guru 11:22
2.  Ed Gate 6:12
3.  Stick, Trick and Track 4:48
4.  The Disgusting Life of Lupus W 13:38
5.  Ostia 7:08
6.  66 Scary Seconds 1:06
7.  Sunset on Chinese Wall 3:48
8.  T Parade 2:22
9.  The Old Backyard 8:15
10. Prog 'n' Roll 2:51
11. Moonlit Window 2:51
12. Too Much Butter 1:52
13. There Is More to Come 0:45


Hans Jorg Schmitz – drums; keyboards; guitars
Dirk Wilms – guitars, bass, mandolin
Volker Cornet – bass 
Michael Elzer – Chapman Stick 
Mathias Borbonus – bass 
Erik Vaxjo – keyboards 
Enno Nilson – keyboards 
Analysis. A lot can be said about so-called one-man bands, but one of the most common critical remarks about them is that they tend to lack the dynamics and fluency of a genuine band effort. The problem is not so much due to recording technology and circumstances, as it is rather common for each instrument to be recorded separately anyhow, but because the one man doing it all possesses his or her strengths on a limited number of instruments. Schmitz is wise enough to use additional musicians to compensate for just that, and it would appear that he masters all the instruments he uses himself well enough for it not to be highly noticeable if he plays basses, guitars or keyboards either. One detail that makes this venture somewhat more intriguing than many others is that Schmitz is a drummer, this due to most projects of this kind being initiated by keyboardists or guitarists. And as one might suspect, the quality of drumming is a major positive asset for this disc. Be it energetic and explosive backing or beats of a more steady variety, there are always some fine details and unexpected fills that should please those with a soft spot for the rhythmic parts of compositions to no end; a few drum solos too, but kept short, sweet and to the point. The music itself has a basis in symphonic progressive rock, of a kind that places an emphasis on moods and atmospheres, in some instances reminding ever the listener ever so slightly of Camel, but to a much stronger degree of so called Neo-progressive bands, often richly layered, but only rarely heading off into rampant virtuosic territories, instead mostly used to craft rich, melodic displays with an emphasis on harmonies. Guitars play a more subservient role, but on occasion Schmitz and his fellow musicians will take on a darker-tinged, metal-oriented sound with compact riffs given the limelight. Alongside the drums, the bass guitar also has an important role throughout, both due to a dynamic interplay with the sticks as well as in providing motifs that generally have a strong impact on the proceedings: subtle rhythmic as well as melodic details that are a positive aspect to this production. A slight weakness on this disc may be that it is an all-instrumental affair. Schmitz manages to conjure up compelling themes with ease, and while the transitions don't always manage to work out perfectly, the main themes themselves are often stunning. But the fluttering from one theme to the next, often with a great deal of variation between them, also results in compositions that are ever so slightly lacking an identity of their own. Vocals might have solved that slight detail, and while it did not trouble me, there are listeners who are sensitive to such matters. By and large, this is an entertaining display of instrumental and compositional prowess, not faultless by way of charm for sure, with T Parade as the most brilliant example to my ears, showing how interesting this project is at its best.

CD 2 (67:30)


1.  Leave 14:14
2.  Welcome to the Butchery 5:47
3.  Moonlit Night 1:29
4.  The Crimson Drawing Room-1-2 23:55
5.  Bob Food 7:00
6.  Under the Ark 10:19
7.  Eos 1:30
8.  Withdrawal 3:16
Analysis. As one might expect, the second disc of this double release continues in pretty much the same fashion as the first one. Symphonic art rock is still the name of the game; the preferences for moods, melodies and harmonies that add a distinct touch of Neo-Prog to the music are just as prevalent here, the drum work continues being a high quality exponent to the proceedings, and all the compositions are instrumental affairs. The longer tracks are pretty similar in scope too, easily fluttering from theme to theme and motif to motif, arguably with slightly better worked-out transitional phases, however, while the shorter efforts are to a greater degree used to explore more singular or experimental territories. Bob Food is the major exponent for the latter on this disc as well as on this whole production; from the gentle ambient opening this piece heads off to territories of a more experimental art rock nature, leaving the strict mood and melody approach behind on this particular occasion. The two-part title track does take a slightly different approach compared to the rest of this release. Here we're treated to a more thorough exploration of a central, recurring theme, with variations aplenty, both in terms of minor ones and more or less subtle differences in arrangements. And while the opening part moves between various symphonic- and metal-inspired themes, the second one stays more firmly put inside the former, but with inserts of a more experimental nature as an additional asset, in particular some impressive drum-dominated passages. Towards the end of this double entry a slightly different landscape is taken on as well, with gentler, ambient-oriented sequences being blended with majestic and at times bombastic movements, with similarities to artists like Vangelis for the dream-laden parts and tendencies towards a band like ELP for the more dramatic ones, the latter comparison in terms of sound to a much greater degree than style as such however.

Conclusion. King Of Agogic has created a compelling and interesting double set of CDs with "The Rhythmic Drawing Room". With instrumental symphonic art rock incorporating strong tendencies towards Neo-Prog and occasional metal-oriented flurries, we're treated to just over two hours of enticing and intriguing progressive rock with this one. Not faultless or flawless, but a charming acquaintance that should please many with a taste for projects of this kind. And in particular if you have a general interest in high-quality drumming, which is a central and natural component throughout.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 22 & 23, 2011
The Rating Room

Related Links:

King Of Agogik


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