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King of Agogik - 2011 - "From A to A"

(77:26, ‘Saustark’)


1.  12 BC 5:00
2.  From A. 21:36
3.  Moonboys 0:55
4.  Bongen 4:39
5.  Capricorn 1:31
6.  Early Bird and the Edible Dormouse 4:44
7.  Personal Jungle 6:40
8.  Free Water 6:05
9.  "A" Theme 1:08
10. Tanks on High Street 4:18
11. Blue Tears 2:50
12. To A 11:24
13. Now 6:36


Hans Jorg Schmitz – drums; keyboards; guitars, bass
Enno Nilson – keyboards 
Erik Vaxjo – Mellotron 
Dirk Wilms – guitars 
Gary Farmer – bass 
Michael Kreutz – bass 
Philipp Schmitz – guitars 
Michael Elzer – Chapman Stick
Peter Simon – flutes, oboe
Ralp Chambers – saxophone 
Alanda Scapes – voice 
Gernot Jonas – voice 
Wendy Hirst – voice 

Prolusion. The German project KING OF AGOGIK is the creative vehicle of veteran drummer and composer Hans Jorg Schmitz. In between his job and various band and live duties he has issued four productions under this moniker since 2006. "From A to A" is his most recent album, and was released in 2011.

Analysis. When instrumental specialists decide to set up solo projects of one kind or the other, one tends to expect these to explore material where the musician’s principal instrument is highlighted throughout. In some cases the end result may be a bit too close for comfort to technically oriented exercises, while others manage to harness the display of technical skills to be sued as effects utilized within well-developed compositions. King of Agogik is an artist that doesn't really fit into either of these categories. Those fund of drums and rhythms will find plenty to enjoy on this disc, and the occasional insert of instrumental flamboyance does indeed pop up now and them throughout this album. Movements and passages with more of a technical nature and approach are another feature it won't be too hard to find. But on most occasions they are placed in a manner which feels both natural and logical, providing an additional level of interest rather than becoming distractions. As is the case with the two-part construction that opens and ends this disc: 12 BC as the initial part and Now as the end part, the pieces with a strongly linked nature and sharing a few crucial thematic approaches, but also with a fair share of distinct differences one might surmise the nature of when taking a look at how these two pieces are named and placed. And the dual nature is one explored on other occasions, from the split title track to the album itself which perhaps does have something of a planned cyclic nature to it. Be that as it may be, the music itself may also merit a description at this point. And at this point, variety is a word that does come easy to mind. Ambient passages, more or less weird electronic-dominated excursions and hard-hitting, distorted bass- and guitar-driven themes all have their place here. Covering territories close to the likes of Vangelis on one hand, a detour into more of a King Crimson-ian landscape is an interesting one-off; Pink Floyd-ian moods have their rightful place too alongside sequences closer to progressive metal of the majestic variety fans of acts like Ayreon will savor, with something of a foundation in symphonic inspired themes in general and frequent use of the Mellotron in particular. But the variety in pace, arrangements, intensity and style are all natural and logical. Transitional phases are few and far between, sudden shifts are plentiful, but none of them are instigated in a dramatic manner as such. As the drum kit instigates quite a few shifts, the instrument itself does have a dramatic nature of course, but there aren't too many occasions where Schmitz hones in to add additional emphasis to the very nature of the instrument as such. Instead he opts for the smooth, elegant and refined approach, sometimes utilizing the rhythms as the constant element while altering the flow and use of the instruments, on other occasions using an elegant and smooth shift in the rhythm foundation to set off a song on a different route altogether. The two-part title track may be described as something of a showcase in how to utilize the rhythm department to instigate shifts and alterations in a natural and sophisticated manner, as the emphasis seems to be on that aspect of the composition rather than the melodies and harmonies as such on these particular occasions.

Conclusion. People with a profound interest in drums and rhythms will probably be a designated key audience for this latest production issued under the King of Agogik moniker, as the very nature of this album offers plenty of material to enjoy for that particular audience. Those who enjoy symphonic-oriented material, covering plenty of stylistic expressions, are another crowd that should find this disc to be compelling, especially if they tend to enjoy instrumental albums. If you fancy one or the other or both, "From A to A" is an elegant creation, made and performed with a great deal of finesse.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 6, 2012
The Rating Room

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