(Limited Edition LP available on shoebillmusic.com)
Drummer and tuned percussion player Janis Görlich’s trio means Fat Little Monk in English, and the band – Henric “Thor Oscar” Olsson is on electric guitar and banjo; Jonas Hauer is on accordion and “slight electronics” – has all the mischief and comedic potential their name implies.
Side A opens with Rage Among The Monks, which, as one might expect, is not all that “ragey” but instead is a falolloping, moderately demented ditty with a tune that could almost be written by Carla Bley, though played with a free-er, less exacting, swagger. Jans Rhorbach, usually to be found playing pop, is a guest on this and one other track. He contributes toy piano and glockenspiel.
Some tracks are minimalist, space-filled interludes, others have an almost cinematic feel, as if they were soundtracks for slightly ominous and slightly surreal tragicomedies, probably filmed in black and white. I particularly like the use of the accordion in a deadpan, repetitive, classical way, as in Klee, and also the leader’s remarkable restraint – he is sometimes able to play a simple beat, unadorned, for ages if that is what the overall music needs. The guitar, often heard in shadowy echo or with industrial distortion added, is the accordion’s perfect foil.
All the music is either written by Görlich or Olsson, or improvised by the trio with one exception: a slow, stately, tongue-in-cheek ‘Round Midnight with accordion doubled by a whistler against a sustained guitar and brushed cymbal backwash and occasional bass drum heartbeat. Imagine gloomy-looking clowns in a funeral march through the set of The Third Man…
The trio is based in Berlin and Copenhagen, and they also play in Görlich’s Bummelzug Explosion.
Categories: LP review