While Drums Off Chaos is nominally led by Jaki Liebezeit, founding drummer of Can – the collective “drum orchestra” function seamlessly, weaving a hypnotic spell that is incredibly potent. Liebezeit was joined by Reiner Linke, Maf Retter, and Manos Tsangaris in the early eighties, and the quartet have been playing together ever since. With the addition of multi-instrumentalist Jens-Uwe Beyer, this is their first studio recording to be made available to the general public.
The four pieces that make up Drums Off Chaos & Jens-Uwe Beyer are filled with the type of fearless experimentalism one would expect from such a grouping. “First Half” opens the proceedings with the sound of a muted gong, which expands and absorbs many other sounds as it progresses. The drums are always there, but never in a strict sense. The various sounds weave in and around each other for a natural flow.
On “4 Of 7” the militant order of precision drumming is fully explored. Beyer’s instrumental colorings become much more dark on this track, as we are led into territories that are far more uncertain than they had sounded previously. While never truly frightening, “4 Of 7” is a bit disconcerting at times.
“Second Half” is next, and recalls elements of the more ethereal moments in Kraftwerk’s career for me. That may be a ridiculously slight way to describe the metronomic sound Beyer and Drums Off Chaos achieve on this track, but there is a definite resemblance to Trans-Europe Express here. There is much more as well. The various drum interplay is extremely absorbing, as are the chanted vocals, and overall ambience of the music. This is a wonderful piece of music.
Before you know it, we have come to the final song – “Even S.” Drums Off Chaos live up to their moniker on this one. Beginning with a foreboding, and mesmerizing theme from Beyer, slowly Liebezeit come in and take over with their powerful drum beats. This is some of the most intriguing music I have ever heard, and I am happy to report it stands up to repeated listens.
It seems you never quite get to the bottom of Drums Off Chaos & Jens-Uwe Beyer, but that is the point. This is music that will take the listener on a wild journey – if they are open to it. This Cologne-based group definitely get the nod from me.