Euroblast Festival, D-Cologne
That Panzerballett mastermind Jan Zehrfeld does not shy away from difficult musical experiments was and is a fundamental principle of Panzerballett. After the last album “X-Mas Death Jazz”, however, one could well ask oneself if and to what extent this could be topped. Not only drummer Sebastian Lanser had set the bar very high with his drum arrangements. So Jan Zehrfeld came up with a new, crazy plan: to bring together the most experienced drummers of their kind on this new Panzerballett album. But that’s not where his own reinvention ends. In addition to his own pieces, this time he had to record custom-made works of highly esteemed composers to the highest perfection.
A whole handful of world-class drummers from the circle of prog, jazz and fusion legends such as Frank Zappa, Devin Townsend, Meshuggah and Allan Holdsworth, will be performing on “Planet Z”. And Jan Zehrfeld succeeds in combining rhythmic lunacy and compositional shamelessness in one “unheard of” album. For what Jan “Z” does together with drummers Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati from Planet X, Grammy Award winner Morgan Ågren – ennobled by Zappa, Gergo Borlai from Tribal Tech and regional representatives Hannes Grossmann – Blotted Science – and Andy Lind on “Planet Z” is simply brimming with “unheard of”.
On “Planet Z”, Panzerballett once again pushes the boundaries of the possible. Already the complex opener “Prime Time” by avant-garde composer Nélida Béjar impressively proves that Jan Zehrfeld and his chosen line-up can play with many ideas without losing their own identity.
“Who The Jack Is Migger” by Martin Mayrhofer, on the other hand, is heard in best Panzerballett style and unites Martin with his former Illegal-Aliens band colleague Marco Minnemann. Saxophonist Sam Greenfield conducts a virtuoso solo conversation with guitarist Joe Doblhofer with shameless ease.
If there was anything like a single in the Panzerballett cosmos, it would be “Mind Your Head” by composer Leonhard Kuhn. A catchy heavy riff at first perfidiously feigns normality, until it is surrounded by Morgan Ågren’s unusual drumming and Florian Fennes’ saxophone lines in a wonderfully filigree way.
The highlight of the album and definitive sample tip is the big band number “No One Is Flying The Plane” by composer Jeff Novotny. There is no better way to combine metal and big band jazz: a fat brass section, the piano voice brilliantly transposed by jazz pianist Jan Eschke, impressive big band breaks and an epic, dynamic build-up towards the finale, in which many things turn out differently than expected.
During the “Walkürenritt” (“Ride of the Valkyries”) Richard Wagner’s well-known theme – with Hannes Grossmann on drums – was translated into quintuplets in such a blatant metal death style that Wagner’s reputation as a “heavy metalist among the classics” could thus be finally cemented.
The only composition without saxophone is the guitar cabinet piece “Urchin vs. Octopus”, which Jan had originally written to demonstrate various seven and eight-string guitars.
For a piece whose working title was “Mathprog”, “Alle meine Ändchen” also leaves room and time for melodies despite rhythmic pitfalls. It is a matter of honor that composer Andy Lind drums it himself.
With “Coconut” there is also a piece by Jan’s former guitar student Simon Backes, which Minnemann refines rhythmically brilliant on drums. The crowning finale is “SOS”, a treatise on what can be derived from the SOS Morse code as rhythmic inspiration.
Like the musical performance, the production and sound of the album are on the highest level. Despite the completely different line-up, sound engineer Victor Bullok succeeds in creating a homogenous sounding album. An astonishing achievement when you consider that all musicians have recorded themselves.
Panzerballet “Planet Z” is state of the art, which is musically possible in the field of tension between jazz, fusion and heavy metal. Simply a fascinating album, which is a must for fans of prog, jazz rock and metal.
|Release||18 Sept 2020|
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|
Hooray, Christmas was cancelled!
How beautiful Christmas could be – if it weren’t for Christmas. What may seem like a utopian idea of cultural romanticism is actually the premise of Germany’s major avantgarde outfit Panzerballett’s new record X-Mas Death Jazz.
For too long the festivity has wasted away between well-meant “Merry Christmases” and gifts that would best be put away again right away. However, Panzerballett now offer a solution to that dilemma. “Extremized” Christmas songs – entirely without the dirty snow, crowded city centers and disgusting spiced wine.
On their new album X-Mas Death Jazz Panzerballett this time utilize universally known Christmas songs from all over the world such as White Christmas, German classic Leise rieselt der Schnee as well as Last Christmas. However, the jazz-metal impresarios show no mercy so that, except for the basic tone progression, no stone is left unturned – none whatsoever. Once again Panzerballett utilize their self-perfected concept of “Verkrassung” (“extremization”) and thus create jazz-metal monsters that fuse technical force with the warmth of ease. The virtuoso skills of Jan Zehrfeld (guitar), Joe Doblhofer (guitar), Alxander von Hagke (saxophone), Heiko Jung (bass) and Sebastian Lanser (drums) add to a record that does not only have something to say but is also an enormous amount of fun. X-Mas Death Jazz can be summed up in few words: Hooray, de-Christmastized Christmas!
Now, is that also contextual criticism of the shameless Christmas machinery of a consume society that applies an obligatory Merry-Christmas-coercion which can dominate all our lives up to a point where the individual is driven into insanity? Well, at the very least Panzerballett seems to be a vehicle for mastermind Jan Zehrfeld to channel aggression. And once again the band delivers an extremely entertaining display of the process of translating anger into art. The meeting of societal awareness and artistic quality facilitates the transformation of former products of tinsel into an enormously relevant and coherent work of art. Especially the removal of all Christmas aesthetic makes X-Mas Death Jazz a commentary that is as sarcastic as it is angry. A formidable feast for every enthusiast of ambitious entertainment!
Panzerballett have evolved from the status of the insider’s tip a long time ago, which is why it is no surprise that in guest musicians like Mattias IA Eklundh (Freak Kitchen, Steve Vai), Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani), Jen Majura (Evanescence) or Steffen Kummerer (Obscura) a raft of glitzy names has agreed to be part of X-Mas Death Jazz.
The twelve songs of X-Mas Death Jazz politely smile at the listener – just to take him on a supposed hell ride that used to be “holiday season.” But there is no doubt whatsoever: never has anybody gotten something off their chest in a more exciting, fast-paced and yet incredibly charming way.
So, without further ado… Merry Christmas!
PS. The album won’t only be released as a double vinyl (180g each), but also as a CD-Digipak incl. “pop-up”: when opening, a X-mas tree will unfold itself.
|Release||24 Nov 2017|
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|
Yes, it is true: it does not happen all too often that words like “disturbing”, “confusing”, “complicated” or “crass” are read in the same sentence – let alone in a positive context. But “Breaking Brain” is not a regular album. And Panzerballett are not your regular band – because it is them who say these words about themselves… and they pride themselves on it! However, what might point to a combination of megalomania and borderline personality disorder in other bands, in this case hits the nail on its head in the most wonderful way.
That analogy alone, however, would not do Panzerballett justice. It has to be added that in this case the hammer does not simply hit the nail and make it disappear into the wood. That would be way too straightforward! The Munich-band has made it its declared task to disprove the popular notion that ‘real beauty lies in simplicity.’ That is why “Breaking Brain” has a familiar and yet entirely new scenario in stall for the listeners. Yes, the elements remain the same, but in this incarnation of the analogy the nail seizes control and throws it’s very self onto the hammer with all its might to disappear in the smooth structure of a wooden beam. Yes, “Breaking Brain” is still music – but its underlying pattern of thinking is all different.
The explanation confuses and tempts you all at the same time?
Well, then you have a rather good idea of what the listener can expect from the music of Panzerballett now. It is mighty, it is complex, it is artistic, it is intelligent, and yes, it is completely insane. It is one of these most wonderful constellations that caress our brains – or corrode them. Or both.
Considering the high standards that the band holds itself to, it was by no means an easy task to make “Breaking Brain” another homerun of a record. But Panzerballett showed courage and took the leap to shake up the long-serving recipes and blaze new trails. For instance, the band consciously reduced the amount of time and tempo changes, which resulted in no Panzerballett piece ever having had as steady and dynamic a pulse as “Breaking Brain” does. And it is courtesy to the exceptional artistic quality of the five-piece that none of the wonderfully disturbing ecstasy that is loved by fans all over the globe was abandoned along the way. “Breaking Brain” is another bold blueprint of what is possible in music.
Not only did all the members of the elegant Panzer-brigade study music, but in the past they have individually collaborated with such diverse genre giants as Klaus Doldinger, Deep Purple’s Ian Paice, Martin Grubinger, Pee Wee Ellis and German extreme metal outfit Obscura. All of them magnificent virtuosos in their own right, something special happens when Panzerballett come together to make art together: this is a record that excessively stimulates both the brain as well as the muscles required to bang one’s head. Panzerballett create beautifully enchanting complexity – for its own sake.
The band have established and always made use of the artistic principle that they call “Verkrassung,” which is German and stands for the idea that preconceptions have to be challenged and everything always has to be made a little more extreme than what already exists. Jazzy complexity merges with the warmth of the blues and influences of world music fuse with the relentless brutality of metal music. This band only accepts the existence of borders to pulverize them. On this account “Breaking Brain” does not only hold a fascinating interpretation of Piero Umiliani’s “Mahna Mahna” but also offers originals like the violent “Frantik Nervesaw Massacre.” The record’s flagship song, however, is the complex “Typewriter II,” which incorporates programmed samples of the referenced analogue typing tool. As the title indicates the piece was conceptually inspired by Leroy Anderson’s “Typewriter.”
Asked about what the audience should be prepared for on the upcoming “Breaking Brain”-tour the band offered the following answer: “A soulless and overly cerebral exhibition of virtuoso musicianship that will touch your hearts and make your jaws drop.”
Enough said, right?
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|
The music of Panzerballett is just about as conventional as the on-stage-headdress of its frontman Jan Zehrfeld is. What we are talking about here is a black helmet-like hat that has multiple cables coming out of its upper end, which makes the singer and guitarist look a bit like a head-banging robot penguin wearing dreadlocks on a stage.
It is quite frankly impossible to put into words how Panzerballett, a German composite term for a tank and ballet, pay musical honor to both the military vehicle as well as the delicate art of dance. Metal, Jazz, Funk, classical elements, rhythmical daredevilry, ingenuously witty jokes – you name it. It explodes and it smokes, sometimes it is deafeningly loud and then again it is subdued and quiet. There are sparks flying all over the place, the listener catches fire, burns ablaze and yet, when it’s all said and done, he finds himself feeling crestfallen in the best way possible facing the behemoth named “Live at Theatron Munich 2013.”
One gets an idea of the extent of insanity involved when taking a look at the setlist: next to various original songs like “Vulgar Display of Sauerkraut”, the new DVD, for instance, also contains interspersed elements of Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt-suite or “Some Skunk Funk” by the Brecker Brothers. In addition to that there are also more than unconventional versions of “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life” from everybody’s favorite 80s flick Dirty Dancing as well as Germany’s Nicole’s Grand Prix-Schlager-anthem ”Ein bisschen Frieden.” For these two songs Panzerballett have brought Conny Kreitmeier on the stage as a guest performer. Not only is she a real heavyweight of the German live music scene but also a brilliant singer as well as exceptionally lovely.
This DVD was recorded in front of the backdrop of the beautiful scenery of Munich’s Olympic Park and what Panzerballett displays on it is a stunning artistic demonstration that, to be precise, only starts at a point where usually the end of virtuosity is reached. The band defines its very own rules and sticks to those in the most extreme way – without paying the slightest attention to conventionality. The guys themselves have established a perfectly fitting neologism for their artistic approach and the term is “Verkrassung”, which when put into English, means something like “extremeatization.” The mission, clearly, is to push the limits. Everything is supposed to be taken one notch further. That – and nothing less! – is the aim, as it is appropriate for these five southern German academically experienced professional musicians of international acclaim.
It is that geniality in terms of musical craftsmanship that, in stark contrast, also allows Panzerballett not to take itself all too seriously. That fact is proven by the selection of songs, titles as the already mentioned ode to the symbiosis of German food and Texan heavy metal-heroes or even several stage-announcements in between songs. Jan Zehrfeld (guitar, vocals), Joe Doblhofer (guitar), Alexander von Hagke (saxophone), Heiko Jung (bass) and Sebastian Lanser (drums) have nothing left to prove to anybody. Panzerballett’s members’ willingness to experimentation and pure pleasure are the heart of the band – what a great combination for music lovers, especially in live situations.
“We have no idea why we keep doing all this to you and ourselves.” That is one of Jan Zehrfeld’s ironic lines in a break between two songs. Jazz legend Randy Brecker, on the other hand, says: “Panzerballet is the first band I’ve heard that really leads music into the 21st century!” And the crux of the matter is: both statements speak the absolute truth.
Content: Concert “Live at Theatron Munich 2013” (filmed at 5th Aug 2013)
Bonus material: Concert Backstage Munich (26th Oct 2012), “Vulgar Display of Sauerkraut” (12th Oct 2012 Berlin), Interview Mattias IA Eklundh, Film “Panzerballett on US-Tour”
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|
It is a more than fitting name for this band: When hearing the name „Panzerballett“ (eng: tank ballett) from Munich, the international music scene is pricking its ears. The unequaled fusion of Jazz and Metal – called „Verkrassung“ („phatting“) – is now at its peak of meaning, especially when looking at all the brilliant VIP guest musicians. This music spectacle will be presented live by a four-week tour around Release Date at 28th September.
Panzerballett are hauling off for a further stroke of genius: Having released highly appreciated Hit-Albums like „Hart Genossen von ABBA bis Zappa“ or „Starke Stücke“, their fourth Album „Tank Goodness“ will be in stores at 28th September.
High-class media like „Die Welt“, „ARTE“ or the german „Goethe-Institut“ are attesting the band a (frequently mistaken) quite special sound description: Panzerballett’s sound is unique!
Saxophone and hard guitar riffs are arising with quintuplet-grooves, metric modulations, polyrhythmic overlaps and virtuosic improvisations to a groovy mélange of Metal and Jazz. When this unique trademark gets transferred to the accurately selected Cover-Songs (Time Of My Life, Take Five, Some Skunk Funk, Giant Steps), Bandleader and Guitarist Jan Zehrfeld is speaking of the art of „Verkrassung“ („phatting“).
Although the instrumental work of the five musicians is real precision work, all band members are still capable to paint stirring mood-pictures with their songs: In „The IKEA Trauma“ the swedish guest musician Mattias „IA“ Eklundh is singing and shredding himsfelf into a man’s nightmare come true while portraying a shopping event at IKEA.
Generally, the gaggle of guest musicians on „Tank Goodness“ is downright illustrious.
Next to alltime-attendant Conny Kreitmeier, the world-famous trumpeter Randy Brecker is honoring the band by performing his own Jazzrock-Milestone „Some Skunk Funk“ together with Panzerballett after 36 years.
Pop-Songs like „Time Of My Life“ are receiving the unmistakable Panzerballett mark as well as „Take Five“ – the most popular Jazz-Standard of all times – and are merging to a homogeneous eight-song-album.
Mastermind Jan Zehrfeld is explaining the concept quite simply: „We’re defining a new kind of moshpit etiquette – Panzerballett stands for advanced headbanging“.
Especially live, this music spectacle is something that you shouldn’t miss: Panzerballett will be presenting „Tank Goodness“ from 28th September live in Germany and Austria.
But there are some closing words from Jazz-Icon Randy Brecker, that are quite on the point: „Panzerballett is the first band I’ve heard so far, which is leading music into 21th century“.
|Label||Gentle Art Of Music|