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4 Sep 2016

Drum Circus "Magic Theatre” 1972 Swiss jazz rock ethnic,kraut folk,Psych













Drum Circus  "Magic Theatre” 1972 Swiss  jazz rock ethno,kraut folk
full
A remarkable and very obscure exclusive discovery by Garden of Delights. Drum Circus was the project of three Swiss drummers: Peter Giger (pre-Dzyan), Marc Hellman and Alex Bally, previously undocumented except for a few gigs in the early-1970’s. They also recorded this LP, aided by local talents from Brainticket and jazz winds player Gerd Dudek. MPS, however, didn’t know what to do with such a strange album, and it remained unreleased until this 2003 CD issue. 
An extremely diverse and unclassifiable album that bridges too many genres to classify, it’s much much more that its title suggests. The Brainticket connection is very strong with Joël Vandroogenbroeck’s multi-instrumental work, and the unmistakable voice of Carole Muriel taking it towards Brainticket’s CELESTIAL OCEAN at times. This is amongst an array of percussion work-outs and free-jazz freak-outs counterpointing other more rock focused sections. Fans of Timothy Leary will also find it a treat. It all amounts to what is a challenging listen even today…….. 

Founder and leader of Drum Circus from Switzerland has been the master drummer Peter Giger. “A giant on drums”, as the newspaper “Rhein-Main-Zeitung” called him. He was joined, among others, by two additional drummers, as well as by Joel Vandroogenbroeck and Carole Muriel, both from Brainticket. Therefore, it’s not surprising that “Magic theatre”, with its LSD-dripping lyrics (partly written by Timothy Leary, partly influenced by “The Tibetan book of the dead”), reminds sometimes forcefully of the early Brainticket. “Magic theatre” was recorded in the excellent studio of Horst Jankowski in Stuttgart. Yet, it remained unreleased, then. Shortly before his death, Horst Jankowski gave the tapes to Peter Giger. The front cover shows Peter Giger on drums and Joel Vandroogenbroeck 

This Swiss psychedelic classic dives directly to a dense jungle of groovy and exotic drum-dominated sounds. The first long song filling the A-side of the vinyl does not contain very solid compositions, but is more like a college of freely flowing tonal associations. A web of synth layers hover upon delicate percussive tingling, and as mysterious flute sounds unite the music, creating a slight association with Ralph Towner’s Solstice’s “Song of the Shadows” feelings. Marching and recited declarations for the quest of consciousness expansion follows. I was quite delighted by phases where the lady narrator describises what I “must realize”. Later the flow streams as pretty Indian-flavored sitar and vocals scenario. A free jazz turmoil is then introduced, in vein of Ornette Coleman’s classic style, strengthened here with keyboards and poems, reminding bit the “Dental hygiene” cartoon from Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” movie. Crash of gong announces the returns back to India, where laid back flute and drum activity is enjoyed. Soon tender upright bass and classical jazz piano calmness create beautiful basis for a lovely saxophone and percussive theme, a sound texture I have heard on Bill Bruford’s latest Earthworks albums. At the end of the long song the trip returns to the starting point battering and hippie teachings. 

On the B-side song “Now It Hurts You” focuses to ethnic drums, sitar, hazy synths and echo-treated vocals, which orientate towards hippie rock melodies, achieving quite interesting mixture of divine feeling and chaotic jazz passages. Quite minimal from content, but pleasant innovation. “Papera” blows some euphoric jazz with piano, saxophone, layers of chimes and bass, diving to really beautiful pool of calmness. This tranquility shifts as more groovy lounging with powerfully driving drum and melodic saxophone theme. Following “La-Si-Do” builds up from careful chiming revealing soon the huge drum arsenal, and reciting praising the chemicals developed by doctor Hoffmann are presented. Apparently with these fellows this substance did not create an unclear state of chaos, but instead beautiful jazzy pastures. A quite short and distracted idea musically however. “Groove Rock” is very powerful drum-driven jazz track, and one of the most favorite tracks for me on this record. This great free jam flow reminds in my opinion quite much the awesomeness familiar from Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” record. Final song “All Things Pass” lingers as an open jazz passage, where most fronted piano and bass are relived from restraints of rhythm. At some moments the song morphs as soulful tune with more solid sequenced form. 

So “Magic Theatre” has strong jazz leanings with notably powerful drum presence are adapted here to the free flow of psychedelia. Also the ethnic capabilities of psychedelic music are explored, and thus I believe this record is very recommendable for fans of jazzy vintage hippie music, if the mind is open for more vivid chaos of musical evolvement. Melodically the music is very pleasant, and there are not very challenging avantgardistic tonal “difficultness” found from this album. …… 

This Swiss psychedelic classic dives directly to a dense jungle of groovy and exotic drum-dominated sounds. The first long song filling the A-side of the vinyl does not contain very solid compositions, but is more like a college of freely flowing tonal associations. A web of synth layers hover upon delicate percussive tingling, and as mysterious flute sounds unite the music, creating a slight association with Ralph Towner’s Solstice’s “Song of the Shadows” feelings. Marching and recited declarations for the quest of consciousness expansion follows. I was quite delighted by phases where the lady narrator describises what I “must realize”. Later the flow streams as pretty Indian-flavored sitar and vocals scenario. A free jazz turmoil is then introduced, in vein of Ornette Coleman’s classic style, strengthened here with keyboards and poems, reminding bit the “Dental hygiene” cartoon from Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” movie. Crash of gong announces the returns back to India, where laid back flute and drum activity is enjoyed. Soon tender upright bass and classical jazz piano calmness create beautiful basis for a lovely saxophone and percussive theme, a sound texture I have heard on Bill Bruford’s latest Earthworks albums. At the end of the long song the trip returns to the starting point battering and hippie teachings. 

On the B-side song “Now It Hurts You” focuses to ethnic drums, sitar, hazy synths and echo-treated vocals, which orientate towards hippie rock melodies, achieving quite interesting mixture of divine feeling and chaotic jazz passages. Quite minimal from content, but pleasant innovation. “Papera” blows some euphoric jazz with piano, saxophone, layers of chimes and bass, diving to really beautiful pool of calmness. This tranquility shifts as more groovy lounging with powerfully driving drum and melodic saxophone theme. Following “La-Si-Do” builds up from careful chiming revealing soon the huge drum arsenal, and reciting praising the chemicals developed by doctor Hoffmann are presented. Apparently with these fellows this substance did not create an unclear state of chaos, but instead beautiful jazzy pastures. A quite short and distracted idea musically however. “Groove Rock” is very powerful drum-driven jazz track, and one of the most favorite tracks for me on this record. This great free jam flow reminds in my opinion quite much the awesomeness familiar from Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” record. Final song “All Things Pass” lingers as an open jazz passage, where most fronted piano and bass are relived from restraints of rhythm. At some moments the song morphs as soulful tune with more solid sequenced form. 

So “Magic Theatre” has strong jazz leanings with notably powerful drum presence are adapted here to the free flow of psychedelia. Also the ethnic capabilities of psychedelic music are explored, and thus I believe this record is very recommendable for fans of jazzy vintage hippie music, if the mind is open for more vivid chaos of musical evolvement. Melodically the music is very pleasant, and there are not very challenging avant-gardist tonal “difficultness” found from this album….by progarchives…. 

DRUM CIRCUS’ sole album was recorded in 1971 but not released until 2003. Peter Giger the man behind this project said that Horst Jankowski the owner of the Swiss studio was very enthusiastic about DRUM CIRCUS but then he never did release it. Too “out there” I suppose. Anyway Horst was kind enough to give Peter the master-tapes before he died which i’m very thankful for because this is a unique Krautrock album, a classic if there ever was one.There’s not too many bands outside of Germany that are considered Krautrock but most that are, are from Switzerland just like DRUM CIRCUS. Several of the band members went on to have significant careers. Before I get to that i’d like to share Peter’s vision that he had for this band. He dreamed that this band like a small circus would go from town to town all over the world sharing their music.This lineup had three drummers, hence the band name.We also get bass, organ, flute, sax, Fender Rhodes and sitar.The music was a blend of psychedelia, free Jazz, Eastern and more. Peter was actually known in Switzerland as “A giant on drums”. He would go on to join DZYAN and play on their final two studio albums and eventually he formed his own band. Drummer Alex Bally has worked with some Jazz giants like Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer and many more. Joel Vandroogenbroeck and his then girlfriend Carol Muriel would go onto form the legendary Swiss Krautrock band BRAINTICKET. In fact the first side long track with her speaking out reminds me of that band. 

“Magic Theatre” is the side long suite that is classic Krautrock as far as i’m concerned.This is a trip ! It opens with drums and percussion then electronics take over before 1 ½ minutes. Deep organ runs are next then we get a calm 2 minutes in as sparse sounds including flute come and go.The sound of soldiers marching takes over with marching styled drums 3 ½ minutes in.They start to chant. An exotic eastern vibe with sitar takes over before 5 ½ minutes.Vocal melodies a minute later. Female spoken words after 8 minutes then dissonant sax a minute later as random drum patterns come and go. Male and female spoken words are shouted out in this intense section. A gong ends that then a peaceful section takes over with sitar, percussion and flute. A change before 17 minutes as the bass and piano take over. Sax 18 minutes in then drums and percussion end it. Incredible ! 

“Now It Hurts You” is a short piece with drums, percussion, sitar and processed vocals. “Papera” opens with sax, bass, piano and atmosphere.The drums roll in and out. It picks up 1 ½ minutes in reminding me a lot of SOFT MACHINE. “La-Si-Do” is mostly drums and percussion with words from a Timothy leary poem. 

While the side long suite “Magic Theatre” might be worth the price of admission alone, for me “Groove Rock” ranks right up there as well.This is like a Miles Davis electric Jazz piece with that Fender Rhodes but sax instead of trumpet leading the way. It opens with bass and drums. Such an intense ending to this over 8 ½ minute delight as well. “All Things Pass” opens with piano, cymbals, bass and vocals.The lyrics here are also from a Timothy Leary poem. A very cool sounding track…….by progarchives…. 

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 they´d 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, there´d be a folk jam in one trolley, a rock n´ roll one in the next, then a singersong writer´s 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 n´ roll beats form a firm and meaty start to our train journey. It´s funky in its own way - a distinct monkey saucy beat dance hoedown. Before you know it, the jungle has vanished and swoosh! there´s 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! You´ve entered the fusion wagon, where everything is allowed in form of garrulous saxophones, drumming frenzy and discordant organs. What a surprise! Hey man, let´s go on back to the Indian trolley, I´ve 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, it´s 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, I´d 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 I´ve ever come across. It´s clearly an open playground, and seeping in and out of the beat we´re 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 Hesse´s 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…….. by progarchives…. 

Something pretty strange must have been seeping into the Germanic water supply in the early 1970’s. This uber-freakout involves Swiss drummer Peter Giger, some folks from Brainticket including Joel Vandroogenbroeck playing flute and sitar, and apparently Timothy Leary sending some of the lyrics their way. The sound here is definitely follows a firm trajectory through the outer reaches of the krautrock universe, but there’s also a notable jazz influence that sets this one apart. 

The main event here is the twenty-four minute long track, “Magic Circus.” This tune offers several distinct sections, with percussive walls of sound, clouds of flute, sitars, modal jazz passages, spoken word, and odd chants. The chanting in particular makes me start thinking about the Firesign Theatre or the Monkees’ oddball chant from their film Head. It’s a first rate musical trip and chances are that even if you don’t dig all of it, some of it will get your attention. Side two brings us some shorter form pieces, with “Papera,” “Groove Rock,” and “All Things Pass” putting on a convincing jazz and/or funk hat on pretty convincingly, and “Now It Hurts” and “La-Si-Do” recalling the lysergic sounds of Brainticket. 

If there’s nothing else you can say about this album, it’s pretty diverse. But I can say a lot more in favor of it and I’d be willing to toss it at least in the “underrated minor classic” category. Drum Circus is very ambitious in terms of their sonic targets, and I think you’ll find that they mostly hit the mark. I just wish that someone had made some groovy psychedelic artwork for the cover instead of the ‘I just learned Photoshop yesterday’ look (I’m assuming this art is for a more modern release). …… 

01. Magic Theatre (21:32) 
02. Now It Hurts You (2:48) 
03. Papera (3:32) 
04. La-Si-Do (2:22) 
05. Groove Rock (8:44) 
06. All Things Pass (3:25) 

- Peter Giger / drums, percussions 
- Marc Hellman / drums 
- Alex Bally / drums 
- Joel Vandroogenbroeck / organ, flute, sitar 
- Gerd Dudek / sax, flute 
- Isla Eckinger / bass 
- Carole Muriel / vocals 
- Polo Hofer / vocals 

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