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The Dorf: Lux

Karl Ackermann By

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Imagine the marriage of minimal, ambient-drone, industrial noise, and a chamber ensemble. The combination doesn't likely conjure up many musical associations, but then we have The Dorf. Founded by German saxophonist Jan Klare in 2006, the name—which roughly translates to "village"—implies something small rather than an enormous ensemble of twenty-six musicians. Like a village, members have come and gone over a dozen years and six previous albums. On Lux, The Dorf also reinvents its creative approach to something more consistent in terms of sound, if not in any generally accepted musical conventions.

Klare's work as a multi-reedist, bandleader and composer dates back to the 1980s. He has appeared on more than twenty recordings from his initial outings as part of a German group called The Bad Thing and has traversed genres from gospel to opera to big band jazz, with the WDR BigBand. Klare considers himself a sociological field researcher, studying ..."listening habits, listener expectations, and their manipulation..." and incorporating those findings into his own composing. His role on Lux is described in the credits as "air movement," which one can assume is conducting.

On their previous release Made In Österreich (Umland, 2015), individual and group (horn, strings, percussion, electronic sections) improvisations are the rule rather than the exception and that pattern dates back to the group's self-titled debut (Leo Records, 2008). Lux loses none of the hard-hitting, energetic and loud qualities of its predecessors but the sound here is all-encompassing. "Inner Flames" open like a musical buzz saw, working its way closer to the ear as it moves along. The piece meets up with a propulsive beat about half-way through and that motorized hum carries through the remainder of the track. "Jour" features the more dramatic drone of orchestration with an undercurrent of hard rock. Similarly, the title track begins as a giant murmur before adapting symphonic clarity. The album closes with "Mill" its faulty ignition beginning, eventually taking on the most structured form on Lux.

With Lux, The Dorf merges jazz, trance, noise and ensemble in an epic collection of four pieces, all double-digits in length. They play with the rawness of a garage band and the classicism of orchestral musicians, all carried from movement to movement on an ambient stream. It is a rewarding listen, if not for the faint of heart. Jazz Soup—A Film about The Dorf (Rough Trade Distribution GmbH, 2014) chronicles live performances from the group and is available only through German distributors but with English subtitles.

Track Listing: Inner Flames; Jour; Lux; Mill.

Personnel: Marie Daniels: vocals; Julia Brüssel: violin; Martin Verborg: violin; Ludger Schmidt: cello; Markus Türk: trumpet; Stephan Gerhartz: trumpet; Maximilian Wehner: trombone; Adrian Prost: trombone; Christoph Berndt: saxophone; Felix Fritsche: saxophone; Florian Walter: saxophone; Veit Lange : saxophone; Julius Gabriel : saxophone; Gilda Razani: theremin; Andreas Wahl: guitar; Christian Hammer: guitar; Serge Corteyn: guitar; Oliver Siegel: synth; Achim Zepezauer: electronics; Jim Campbel: electronics; Kai Niggemann: electronics; Johannes Nebel: bass; Simon Camatta: drums; Marvin Blamberg: drums; Jan Klare: air movement; N: guitar.

Title: Lux | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Umland

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