The “Not Missing Drums Project” is a consortium of European (predominately German) improvisers who occasionally collaborate under the auspices of the aforementioned name. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, there is not a drummer to be found on this CD. Anyhow, Offline Adventures is a truly interesting excursion into free jazz as the performers also blend many disparate elements including chamber-music, opera and scatological vocals all injected with intermittent doses of wit and humor.
Saxophonist Joachim Gies, trombonist Thomas Wiedermann, cellist Thomas Bohm-Christl, and clarinetist Jurgen Kupke are some of the more recognizable names to be found here yet the cast includes over 20 musicians who perform as separate units throughout these 23 pieces. Tracks such as Thomas Bohm-Christl’ “Rudimentary Ambient” features 2 cellists, 2 bassists, voice and saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky. On Joachim Gies’ composition, “Beyond The Timber-Line” we hear vocals, Gies’ lyrically rich sax, trumpet, bassoon, trombone and bass as the music is multi-faceted and at times free, yet as with many of these unorthodox compositions there is structure and form. The ensemble work is generally tight as in Thomas Wiedermann’ “After This Excitement”. Here, the classical overtones coupled with free jazz tendencies are interspersed with endearing choruses from the hybrid string-woodwind ensemble work. On this piece, pianist Bardo Henning takes a free-flight piano solo, which adds another wild dimension to this track. Joachim Gies’ piece titled, “Kip Torro!” is humorously mock operatic in nature due to the vivacious vocalizing of Margarete Huber and Margreth Kammener. Here, Opera meets Chamber meets Free Jazz! Thomas Bohm-Christl’ composition “Texture Non-Pictural” features feverish sax work from Gies atop of the dual walking basses of Matthias Bauer and Hartwig Nickola. Brief yet emphatic choruses from the 2 cellists combined with vocals, illegible dialogue (not sure if it would make sense in German?) and a slight “Monk-ish” arrangement make for a bizarre listening experience. Joachim Gies’ “Out Of Order” features Yoko Ono style vocal gyrations from Margarete Huber and Wolfgang Ritthoff.
The highlight of the recording and most tangible or “radio-friendly” of the lot is Thomas Bohm-Christl’ “Air From Another Planet No. 48”. This composition is lively, extremely melodic, playful and altogether quite endearing. Here, Jurgen Kupke’ clarinet work adds spice and runs the gamut from being highly emotional to sonorous and frolicsome.
Offline Adventures while heady and experimental in certain areas should also be viewed upon as fairly accessible for those who are less inclined to enjoy modern improvised music. Listening to this recording is similar to watching a movie as we anticipate the next scene or in this case, composition. What will they do next, one may ask? Recommended. * * * *