The latest release from the Hans Jorg Schmitz project ‘King Of Agogik’ has proven to be one of the biggest and most positive surprises of 2008. I had an opportunity to review the 2006 release “Membranophonic Experience” and was a bit apprehensive about sitting through another ‘King Of Agogik’ project for fear it would be another ‘drummers little ego trip’ – as he unashamedly proclaimed on that release - which contained a grueling bloated 10:14 minute drum solo. But my fears were unfounded; “Aleatorik System” is a brilliant collection of well orchestrated compositions, augmented by his amazing powerhouse percussive skills.
The material is a tightly constructed, complex, multi-layered wall of sound in the tradition of the finest artists working in the progressive genre.
The material mirrors the best instrumental elements of such diverse avant-garde groups as Magma, John Zorn and Univers Zero with the high energy prog/metal bands of Dream Theater and Symphony X, and generous portions of lush symphonic prog oozing with layers of ominous Mellotron.
The transition from “Membranophonic Experience” to “Aleatorik System” is positively jarring. The level of sophistication in his writing and performing is world’s apart. I had to listen to the other album once again just to see if I could detect any similarities – but this album is so much better than his previous work it could well have been another musician altogether.
“Aleatorik System” is the culmination of the best elements progressive rock has to offer as the tunes shift from energetic raw crunching metal to haunting melodic ambience and sweeping symphonic epics, and mind bending moments of challenging avant-garde dissonance. Comparisons can be made to Genesis, King Crimson, Ozric Tentacles, Pink Floyd, The Enid, Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Magma - quite a diverse bunch.
If his last album was self-christened ‘a drummers little ego trip’ then he would have to bestow the sub-title ‘a composers major ego trip’ because each track takes on a new dimension, expanding his repertoire from jazz fusion, heavy metal, melodic and symphonic progressive rock, spacey psychedelic excursions, and aggressive R.I.O. and Zeuhl.
Hans Jorg Schmitz performs on a variety of percussion instruments as well as Mellotron, Moog, Yamaha and Korg Synths, and Fender Guitar. He is joined on this recording by Dirk ‘Dago’ Wilms and Tobias Hampl (guitar) and Volker Cornet (bass).
I rate this recording a solid 10 and look forward to the next project from Hans Jorg Schmitz and ‘King Of Agogik’.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on May 31st, 2008