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Drum Circus - Magic Theatre CD (album) cover


Drum Circus



3.78 | 21 ratings

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4 stars Festival Express - Krautrock style!

The year after Woodstock, a group of different bands joined forces to roll across Canada in a privately hired train only stopping to give concerts and share whatever music theyīd been working on on their way. The Grateful Dead, The Band, Big Brother and Buddy Guy were some of these artists, and I believe it was Janis Joplin who said, that Festival Express was to the musicians what Woodstock had been to the crowds. Booze, food, drugs, instruments and everything in between was loaded onto this train, and between the gigs, there was a non-stop party going down, where each musician had the chance to widen his/her scope on music, and the never ending possibilities of this infatuating mistress. On any given night, thereīd be a folk jam in one trolley, a rock nī roll one in the next, then a singersong writerīs convention - or maybe some jazzy get-togethers - meaning that whatever brand of music one would like to dive into - it was there complete with immensely talented musicians to work with.

Drum Circus sole album Magic Theatre is like that. On some level it truly feels like taking a stroll down through the trolleys of a great big musical party train, whilst its inhabitants are deeply focused on exploring the multitude of aspects to this highly wondrous form of expression. Starting deep within the jungle, the first trolley is clearly not what it looks like from the outside - the bellowing tribal rock nī roll beats form a firm and meaty start to our train journey. Itīs funky in its own way - a distinct monkey saucy beat dance hoedown. Before you know it, the jungle has vanished and swoosh! thereīs some tangy organs writhing and crawling around the rawkous foundation of the fuel fired drumming. This is clearly the open walkway to the next trolley, where you are greeted by an eerie sounding atmosphere and some soldier boy marching. A gathering of disturbed folks starts citing Timothy Leary poetry along the way, just to make things all the more confusing. Are we in the same trolley - you question yourself... Ahh, it was just the entrance to the next it seems, as this reciting leads us on our way into the Indian infused section with all sorts of percussive splish splashes, bells, and chiming. Demented snake-charmer vocals weave maniacally around the room, before everything turns quiet. HELLO! Youīve entered the fusion wagon, where everything is allowed in form of garrulous saxophones, drumming frenzy and discordant organs. What a surprise! Hey man, letīs go on back to the Indian trolley, Iīve heard someone is smoking some weed over there. Allright groovy! Things are of course much more subdued and pensive this time around, and the music wanders sluggishly in and out of the groove, and everything seems mellow like an overripe peach with juices and all. On the way back into the fusion freak out, a guy sits on the passageway playing strange classical sprinklings of soothing piano. It slips into the feel of the now much calmer fusion area, where everybody clearly has brought their own ganja, and the mood is now approaching a late night jazz club with melting candles on the tables and heavy smoke on the stage. We exit this final leg of our journey, and much to our surprise we now find ourselves at the starting point - back in the jungle with the tribal drums. The train conductor, a charismatic lady in black, takes her time to say goodbye with some aptly placed words from Mr. Leary delivered mystically through incantations.

Yep, itīs a quite the eclectic record this one, and if you are scared off by musical eccentricity and spontaneous course changing, then you might want to pass on this one. I find it exhilarating and mad, and had I been given the chance, Iīd jump on this train without a doubt in my mind.

The man behind this project is Swiss drummer Peter Giger. Teaming up with 2 other drummers, the sound here is one of the most rhythmically focused that Iīve ever come across. Itīs clearly an open playground, and seeping in and out of the beat weīre quite often subjected to alternating rhythms, staccato congas, stomping toms, triangles, rattles, castanets and the works. One could easily be lead into thinking that this form of approach - creating a musical project around the beat and the exploration of the same, - would lead into unmelodious and haphazard tunes, that reek of chops with no sauce whatsoever. The sauce is there though, be that in the form of organist Joel Vandroogenbroeck, who later would go on to form Brainticket, or perhaps in the terrific saxophone magician Gerd Dudek - who blows his horn like there is no tomorrow. Especially during the second half of the album, he really opens up the faucet. Sounding like the second coming of Albert Ayler - spurting out notes like a rapping rooster on amphetamine. Maybe not the most melodic feature, but it rather adds that je ne sais quoi to things, and although rumbling and disturbing, all over the place - and then some - Magic Theatre still feels together even if that is a contradiction in itself.

In Herman Hesseīs famous book The Steppenwolf, Magic Theatre was the place to loose oneself. Like it says on the way in:

"Anarchist Evening at the Magic Theatre, For Madmen Only, Price of Admission Your Mind".

That sounds about right to me...

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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