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(76:44; Saustark Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The White Raven 6:37 2. A Day Without End 20:30 3. Carbon Soot 2:49 4. Gannef 11:08 5. Patterns on the Water 6:16 6. Plug In - Plaques Out 10:37 7. Watching the Moon 1:15 8. Back in the Second Line 3:38 9. Retromatic Lullaby 13:54 LINEUP: Hans Jorg Schmitz - drums, percussion, keyboards, guitars, bass with: Dago Wilms - guitars, bass Gary Farmer - bass Steve Unruh - flute, guitars, violin Peter Simon - brass, woodwinds Enno Nilson - keyboards Jeffrey Harlington - bass Andrew Marshall - guitars Philipp Schmitz - piano Erik Vaxjo - Mellotron Johannes Andre - guitars Scott Taylor - Uilleann pipes Alanda Scapes - voice
Prolusion. German project KING OF AGOGIK is the brainchild of composer, drummer and musician Hans Jorg Schmitz, and ever since 2006 he has created and delivered a steady stream of expressive and elaborate personal takes on the art of progressive rock, with perhaps an ever so slight emphasis on this kind of music as seen from a drummers perspective. "After the Last Stroke" is the seventh and most recent of these productions, and was released through Schmitz' own label Saustark Records in 2019.
Analysis. Whenever a new King of Agogik album is launched, those familiar with the artists knows that a demanding and expressive sonic experience is in store. Schmitz is fond of the creative and slightly dramatic approach to progressive rock, and has a tendency to be rather eclectic as well. Which is very much the case also in 2019, with the most dramatic element this time around arguably being the title of the album itself. A title which is rather ambiguous, to put it that way. The compositions themselves are an eclectic bunch of wild flowers, as is to be expected from a King of Agogik venture. The majority of them appears to me to revolve around classic era inspired symphonic progressive rock, with something of an ELP touch of drama and intensity to them at times, and usually with enough twists and turns in them to make the avid listener rather dizzy. Hence agogik of course, "the art of the slight change of tempo in the context of a musical lecture" according to everybody's language helper Google Translate. World music and more jazz oriented escapades is a part of the totality too, and those who are fascinated by drums and drum techniques will get a few creations aimed rather directly towards their tastes as well of course. More atmospheric laden excursions finds their way into this album too, both in part and in whole. Cue a more romantic laced composition like 'Patterns on the Water'. Fans of progressive metal will also get a solid nod in their direction, cue the dark, gnarly and slightly menacing atmospheres explored on 'Plug In. Plaques Out'. There's a lot to enjoy here, and with numerous compositions clocking in at the 10 minute plus range those who treasure the more elaborate approach to progressive rock will get their fill and then some, with almost 55 minutes of playtime dedicated to the long form composition this time around. The main weakness for me this time around is that some of the material strikes me as having more of a limited niche appeal, and as such that the total album experience may be ever so slightly less appealing to a general audience than the previous productions released under the King of Agogik moniker.
Conclusion. Eclectic, expressive and somewhat demanding instrumental progressive rock is the main playground for Germany's long lasting project King of Agogik, where main man Hans Jorg Schmitz and his minor army of musical guests holds court to a colorful and varied take on the genre. This time around with a foundation in the symphonic parts of this universe, but with detours to both jazz and world music in addition to occasional passages flirting with both neo-progressive rock and music that is borderline progressive metal. An album that merits a check by those who tend to enjoy expressive and eclectic instrumental progressive rock touching base with style variations as outlined.
Progmessor: October 30th 2019
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