Mark Holub
Discus 117CD
Available formats: CD/DL


“A richly eclectic set of enjoyable and unclassifiable music celebrating the joy of collectivity.” – Tony Benjamin, JAZZWISE

“Simply stated, Holub’s first effort as a leader is a significant musical event.” – Glenn Astarita, ALL ABOUT JAZZ


Anthropods is the new band from American drummer and composer, Mark Holub. Holub, known mainly as bandleader of the acclaimed and Mercury Prize nominated Led Bib ( has with ‘Anthropods’ created his first project as a leader since starting Led Bib in 2003. While some of Holub’s trademark Led Bib style is evident here, the album is full of contrasts, from pastoral beauty to dense free improvisation to heavy grooves, showcasing sides of Holub’s work well beyond his work with Led Bib.

Holub has been based in Vienna, Austria since 2012. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic stopped all touring, all life, but gave Holub an unexpected opportunity- time to finally start his own project in Vienna, as bandleader, something he had been planning for years, but never found the time to do. For Holub, this band wasn’t about creating a new Austrian Led Bib, but was a total reassessment of what he wanted to produce as a composer and bandleader. With Led Bib always being very much a collaborative project, this was the chance for Holub to start afresh, and think about what he would want to make with completely new musicians, and a fresh palette.

Holub elaborates, “I wanted to create something where the musicians felt free to try and determine what the band might sound like. I didn’t want to be too prescriptive about where the band might go sonically. My first thought was to try and find instruments that perhaps by already being a slightly unusual grouping would make us not only sound different, but make us immediately think about where such a collection of instruments and musicians might be able to go sonically. It has been an amazing journey for myself as leader and composer, and I look forward to hearing how this band will further develop over the course of the touring.”

The players Holub selected include long term Vienna based collaborators, such as violinist Irene Kepl, as well as musicians like Susanna Gartmayer (also known from the Vegetable Orchestra) who appeared briefly on the latest Led Bib album, but also people Holub had met more briefly on the Viennese scene and liked their approach. Holub adds: “Playing music for me is really about people, and the way we communicate with each other. I wanted to find the right group of people to then continue to try and forge a sound together. Allowing each musician to bring their own special contribution, and thus allowing this band to create a sound which only THIS band could be.”

Short punchy compositions like ‘Forest Capers’ remind us of the Led Bib sound, but the improvisation is more open, travelling in surprising new directions. Same goes for ‘Pumpkin Patch’, a track where we hear Holub’s more groove-based writing, but in the improvising the band explores different territory. We also hear much more of the softer side of Holub’s writing such as on tracks like ‘The Bells’, ‘Home’, and ‘Sea’ and in general this album puts this more reflective, poignant approach more front and centre. While much of the improvising on the album is very free, it is never fully abstract. There is always a deep connection between the players, as well as a connection to the compositions themselves which keeps the listener always somehow anchored to something.

With this first release of this new five-piece ensemble, we get a glimpse into what these musicians have to offer the world and each other.

Mark Holub – drums
Clemens Sainitzer – cello
Irene Kepl – violin
Susanna Gartmayer – bass clarinet
Jakob Gnigler – tenor sax

117CD - Arthopods


The pandemic found Led Bib bandleader Mark Holub trapped in Vienna, his adopted home since 2012. The drummer used the enforced hiatus to to conceive Anthropods, an improvisatory acoustic band drawn from the thriving Vienna scene and, after streaming a debut gig, they made this album. For anyone familiar with his other band’s work the compositions have some structural echoes of Led Bib – and indeed violinist Irene Krepl and bass clarinetist Susanna Gartmayer featured on that band’s 2019 “It’s Morning” album – but Anthropods sonic palette has a quite distinct quality, not least thanks to the use of bowed strings. This the opening one poem “Sea” sets flowing reeds against hectic strings and percussion while a plaintive cello takes a rudimentary five note theme through the changes of “The Bells”, a lyrical violin adding an almost folky air against dissonant sax and scratchy high-register cello. On that track it’s six minutes before Holub’s drumming enters, a diffident presence, but the jaunty “One Way” gains much from his brisk and melodic contribution to an elaborate clockwork quintet of counterposed lines. It’s clever stuff that would be the album’s single, backed by the sinister energy of “Pumpkin Patch”, a climactic crescendo driven by rhythmic insistence and a fine cello voluntary. While Holub’s compositional voice is always evident there is an improvisatory enery in each track that is especially acute in the use of shifting tones, whether from individual instruments or combinations within the band. The result is a richly eclectic set of enjoyable and unclassifiable music celebrating the joy of collectivity. – Tony Benjamin, JAZZWISE

Holub’s latest band project is Anthropods, which appears to serve as a group name as well as an album title. This new quintet is very much a project of lockdown with Holub confined to Vienna and unable to travel or to play any live shows. Isolated from his collaborators in Led Bib he decided to establish a new collaborative project with other Vienna based musicians, enlisting the services of his one time duo partner Irene Kepl on violin plus Clemens Sainitzer (cello), Susanna Gartmayer (bass clarinet) and Jakob Gnigler (tenor sax). Kepl and Gartmayer both guested on the most recent Led Bib album, 2019’s “It’s Morning”, an album that represented something of a radical departure from that band’s earlier work……The inclusion of Kepl and Gartmayer, plus the fact that “Anthropods” was recorded at the studio of Blueblut’s Christian Janka (who also carried out engineering duties) provides an element of continuity with Holub’s previous work. So, too does the unusual instrumental line up, neither Led Bib nor Blueblut boasted anything like a regular instrumental configuration. With regards to the Anthropods line up Holub comments; “I wanted to create something where the musicians felt free to try and determine what the band might sound like. I didn’t want to be too prescriptive about where the band might go sonically. My first thought was to try and find instruments that perhaps by already being a slightly unusual grouping would make us not only sound different, but make us immediately think about where such a collection of instruments and musicians might be able to go sonically. It has been an amazing journey for myself as leader and composer, and I look forward to hearing how this band will further develop over the course of the touring.” He continues; “Playing music for me is really about people, and the way we communicate with each other. I wanted to find the right group of people to then continue to try and forge a sound together. Allowing each musician to bring their own special contribution, and thus allowing this band to create a sound which only THIS band could be.” The programme on “Anthropods” features nine original compositions by Holub, some written in a groove based style reminiscent of Led Bib, others more loosely structured with the premium placed on collective creativity and improvisation. It’s not without humour, but the music is less self-consciously wacky than that of Blueblut. The album commences with “Sea”, which emerges from a loosely structured intro featuring the increasingly frantic bowing of Kepl and Sainitzer plus the rustle and bustle of the leader’s drums. In time the reeds of Gartmayer and Gnigler hove into view, their long melody lines sailing serenely above the ferment of strings and percussion bubbling beneath. The punchy, riff based intro to “Forest Capers” recalls Holub’s writing for Led Bib, but the piece also includes more abstract improvised interludes with the leader’s drums mediating the exchanges between strings and horns. The core riff lurches in and out of view on more than one occasion, punctuated by increasingly garrulous improvised episodes. It’s an approach that sometimes reminded me of saxophonist Cath Roberts’ band Sloth Racket, another group that likes to mix exploratory improvised passages with killer riffs. “Messy To Me” opens with the sound of Holub’s drums and Sainitzer’s plucked cello bass lines, subsequently joined by violin and reeds. Kepl’s violin brings a European folk / classical feel to the music, contrasting effectively with the more obviously jazz approach of Gnigler’s tenor sax. Again this is music that straddles the bridge between composition and improvisation, Holub’s themes are strong enough to engage the listener but flexible enough to provide more than adequate scope for vigorous and highly creative group improvisation. The piece closes with a fascinating dialogue between Holub’s cymbals and Kepl’s violin that recalls their “Taschendrache” collaboration. The evocative “The Bells” represents a gentler, more impressionistic side to Holub’s writing. The delicate rustle of his brushes underscores the melancholic sounds of Sainitzer’s cello and Kepl’s violin on a piece that evolves slowly over the course of its near eight minute duration. The focus here is on maintaining a mood, one of solemn introspection and melancholy beauty. By way of contrast “One Way” is an agreeably quirky riff based piece featuring the sounds of Gartmayer’s bass clarinet and Sainitzer’s pizzicato cello bass lines. The playing is vigorous, with Holub’s drums at the heart of the music and with Kepl also deploying both arco and pizzicato techniques. The lengthy “For Charles” (Mingus, perhaps?) commences with the sound of droning strings and multiphonic reeds, later augmented by the bustle of the leader’s drums. The structure of the piece is very loose, allowing for improvised dialogue between the group members, with Holub and Kepl particularly prominent as the discourse becomes increasingly animated. The aptly titled “Lunges” is cut from the same cloth as the earlier “Forest Capers” and “One Way”, mixing riff based energy with a whimsicality that draws on European folk and cabaret traditions. Even though there is an American at the helm Anthropods is emphatically a European band. The staccato rhythms of “Pumpkin Patch”, variously generated by drums, strings and reeds, infuse the piece with an edgy urgency, with Sainitzer stepping up to deliver a brilliant solo, one of the few in the context of the album as a whole. The climax of the piece is reminiscent of the malevolent power of Led Bib in full flow, like Holst’s “Mars” on steroids. Again it’s one of the rare episodes where the music evokes comparisons with the intensity of Holub’s ‘other band’. The final piece, “Home”, commences with Anthropods exploring classic free jazz territory, a dialogue featuring the sounds of Gnigler’s tenor sax multiphonics combining with Holub’s extended drum techniques, among them the clatter of sticks on rims and the scraping of skins and cymbals. The subsequent conversations between strings and reeds are more muted, but no less abstract, as the drums temporarily drop out, eventually re-emerging with a shimmer of cymbals. There’s a haunting quality about the playing here, one which truly finds expression in the more obviously composed closing section, which at times attains an almost anthemic grandeur. Less intense or accessible than Led Bib and less wilfully irreverent and eclectic than Blueblut “Anthropods” is still a worthy addition to the Holub canon. Like that of his other bands the music of Anthropods is difficult to categorise, a quality enhanced by the unusual instrumental configuration and the broad range of musical influences, these ranging through jazz, rock, chamber music, folk and cabaret. As with all of Holub’s recordings there’s a sense of urgency and inquisitiveness, laced with a welcome shot of musical humour, Holub is a musician who always seems to play with a grin on his face. He’s a serious musician who doesn’t take himself or his music too seriously. Neatly straddling the cusp between composition and improvisation “Anthropods” is an intriguing recording that offers much for the adventurous listener to enjoy. It shows Holub continuing to mature as both composer and improviser and adds new strands to his writing. The group has just completed a short series of live performances in Europe and the prospect of seeing the band in this environment is an exciting and intriguing one. Let’s hope that Holub is able to bring Anthropods to the UK, as he did with Blueblut, as Covid restrictions ease – although he will still have the horrors of Brexit to contend with. Here’s hoping. – Ian Mann, THE JAZZ MANN

American drummer/composer Mark Holub—currently residing in Vienna—is the founder of the ultra-hip jazz quintet, Led Bib. Yet he presents somewhat of a U-turn on his debut as a leader, which leans more toward progressive chamber, spiced with nouveau classical overtones and spunky rock grooves, all consummated by engaging improv among the performers. The musicians wear many hats, quickly evident on the first track, “Sea.” Here, the band generates a furious chamber vibe as the jazz element creeps in and out with a stretched-out theme via bass clarinetist Susanna Gartmayer and tenor saxophonist Jakob Gniger’s elongated notes, offset by scalding strings. Occasionally, the musicians generate swirling crescendos, playful mini-motifs, dips, spikes and intersecting improvisational patterns amid Holub’s multilayered rock grooves and asymmetrical movements. “Messy To Me” is launched with Irene Kepl’s sweet-toned violin phrasings atop a slashing pulse and rough-hewn undertow. Indeed, the artists aim for the listeners’ aural networks due to the leader’s emotive comps. But they also cultivate subliminal auditory settings as if they’re performing at the bottom of a canyon, bordered by desolate backdrops. And during “One Way” the band gels through contrapuntal lines, idiosyncratic unison choruses and Gnigler’s whirling sax part, injected with rubato and Clemens Sainitzer’s commanding lower register lines, as they also toss daggers into the proceedings for good measure. Each piece is its own little story. In certain instances, they execute animated cartoonlike patterns, although they rough it up on “Pumpkin Patch,” fashioned with the chutzpah of a heavy-duty progressive rock outfit using acoustic instruments. Simply stated, Holub’s first effort as a leader is a significant musical event. – Glenn Astarita, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

Anthropods is the new album from American drummer and composer MARK HOLUB, who is based in Austria and besides Mark other musicians involved on this new ‘band’ album are Clemens Sainitzer – cello, Irene Kepl – violin, Susanna Gartmayer – bass clarinet and Jakob Gnigler – tenor sax. All of the compositions are done by Mark himself and musically speaking it is experimental music as always like every DISCUS MUSIC release. I would describe it as freejazz with a lot of experimental moves, and as best songs I would mention Messy To Me and One Way that are a bit more friendly jazzy tunes. It’s all about improvisation here and an interesting own style for sure, because there is a lot to discover, even for the progfans (KING CRIMSON) out there! – Strutter’zine

Fine record of free-thinking forward-moving contemporary what-is-it jazz + improv glonkery from Mark Holub and crew on Anthropods (DISCUS MUSIC DISCUS 117CD)…Holub is the American drummer who is notorious for creating quite a “hullabaloo” on his set, hence his name…he has been spotted in the UK at jazz club The Vortex often with Colin Webster crying into a bowl of brass beside him, but it seems our man Mark is holed up in Vienna just now, home of the funfairs and coloured giraffes. He’s been beating the cream in that locale for ten years now, but it turns out he got marooned there during the COVID times and, according to some versions of the story, all of music, touring, and life itself ended for him. Seizing the red-hot poker of opportunity, he managed to put together a band of European players active in that part of the world, and Anthropods is the result. The point about anthropods (creepy things like scorpions, crabs, trilobites) is that they have segmented bodies and jointed limbs, and it’s those features that Holub is trying to emulate with his group, in musical terms (hopefully, unless he’s aiming to re-enact the Human Centipede movie with them). The talented zonksters here are Clemens Sainitzer on cello, Irene Kepl on violin, Jakob Gnigler on tenor saxm and Susanna Gartmayer on bass clarinet. Gartmayer we heard and enjoyed on her fab solo blaster AOUIE from around 2015, though she’s very familiar with group situations as well. Holub is no stranger to being composer and bandleader (you may have heard him in Led Bib, who made a number of jazzy records for Cuneiform and other labels), but here he reports that he wanted to try something different, a group where the players had an equal voice in determining the sound of the music, and he stopped himself from being “too prescriptive” about it. I think it’s paid off here with the two string players, who not only contrast nicely with the two woodwinds but also emerge as real highlights for me personally. Irene Kepl in particular is capable of pouring out a droplet or eight of strong emotional discharges, and I’m intrigued to find she’s done a record for Another Timbre (with George Cremaschi and Petr Vrba). Also nifty cello stabs from Sainitzer when he’s called upon to act as quasi-rhythm section with his loping trundles. While the band do seem to pursue the upbeat and pro-active hopsters, such as ‘Forest Capers’ and ‘One Way’, there are some excursions into more introspective and cloudy vista-gazers, such as the very moving long piece ‘The Bells’, and ‘For Charles’, another long-former which contains plenty of ambiguous passages, riddles, and floating question marks over the heads of all concerned. Impressive how quickly this new combo have evolved into such an effective unit; no wonder Holub is exciting about touring and seeing how the Anthropods sound will develop. To use his own phrase, “allowing this band to create a sound which only this band could be.” – Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

Led Bib ist die Londoner, Blueblut die Wiener Klammer, mit der sich Holub fassen lässt. Hier aber probiert der Drummer was Neues, mit allerdings wieder der Superstringtheoretikerin Irene Kepl (wie schon bei „Taschendrache“ und Perlin Noise), an Cello Clemens Sainitzer (von Sain Mus, Echoboomer, Anna Mobo), Susanna Gartmayer (Black Burst Sound Generator, Christof Kurzmann) an Bassklarinette und Jakob Gnigler (ihr Partner bei Aljamosuthovi) an Tenorsax. Beats, Reeds ‘n’ Strings, getragen und doch fiebrig gleich bei ‘Sea’, kasperllaunig und bruitistisch verzettelt bei ‘Forest Capers’, bei ‘Messy To Me’ lieber eigensinnig und diffus als bloß im Kreis zu tanzen. Das besenverwischte, folkloresk begeigte ‘The Bells’ wird von einem wiederholten Cellomotiv in schleppende, sonor brütende Melancholie versetzt. Zu Cellopizzicato und zu diskanten Stößen und Staccato-Achteln kommt ‘One Way’ knarrig beschwingt daher. Holub selber besticht als tongue-in-cheek klappernder Hansdampf und Trommelrührer. ‘For Charles’ hebt an in summend gezopftem Halteton und bekümmerten Strichen nahe am Nullwachstum, noch näher jedoch an melodischem Aufschwung, mit schmachtender Geige, wühlendem Cello, feierlich vs. furios. ‘Lunges’ kontrastiert damit mit erneut launig repetiertem Tanzmotiv, das sich fünfstimmig zerlegt, aber durch Holubs Marschtrommel wieder auf Linie gebracht wird. ‘Pumpkin Patch’ tastet sich in sein rhythmisches Muster hinein und ruckt tutend und schrammelnd vorwärts mit melodisch drängendem Gefiedel und rockendem Tamtam, stürmisch und grandios. „Anthropods“ endet mit ‘Home’, scharrend und kläglich krächzend, diskant und kleinlaut verhuscht, doch trotz der Tristesse zunehmend rauschhaft verdichtet, mit rauschenden Becken, schmerzlichem Wimmern, cellistischem Trauerflor, wobei Holub hartnäckig gegen die Wiener Wehmut anpoltert. Home-Weh vs. Home-Office? Work hard, play hard, feel good? Illustriert mit A picture of the words ‘a beetle on its back’ auf schwarzem „Oeconomia“-Desktop mit weißem Raster. – BAD ALCHEMY

Ein amerikonisch-österreichisches Unternehmen, ongesiedett zwischen Free Music und Komposition, dos keine Wünsche offen [össt. Der in New Jersey geborene Drummer Mark Holub wurde vor ollem bekonnt ots musikotischer Kopf des 2003 in London gegründeten RockJozzQuintetts Led Bib. Seit 2012 ist Wien seine neue Heimot, Und ouch hier zeigt Hotub dos richtige Gespür für odöquote musikotische Portnerinnen und Portner. Anthropods nennt sich sein oktuettes Projekt, dos (Sound)dromoturgisch keinen Leertouf kennt. Holub (Drums, Kompositionen) entwickelt gemeinsom mit Susonno Gortmoyer (Bossktori nette), lrene Kept (Viotine), Jokob Gnigler (Tenorsoxophon) und Ctemens Soinitzer (Cetto) einen so focettenreichen wie sponnungsgetodenen Ensembte ktong, Eine Musik, in der kompositorische Disziptin und freitonotes (oft kottektives) Spiet kottoborieren, noisige Exkursionen sich mit wehmütigen Themen verbinden, kontropunktische Strenge und vom Metrum bef reite Begegnungen dobei sind. Atte Beteitigten erkunden konzentriert dos SoundPotenziot, die (mögtichen) Chorokterelhrer lnstrumente wos dos Hörertebnis zuscitzlich bereichert. Und wenn der Leoder freien Puts in ongerockte Beots übergehen [össt, bekommt diese CD einen weiteren ouf regenden Kick, – Udo ANDRIS, JAZZ PODIUM

ANTHROPODS is an avant-prog quintet founded in 2020 in Vienna by American drummer Mark Holub (of Led Bib) and featuring Austrian musicians Clemens Sainitzer (cello), Irene Kepl (violin), Susanna Gartmayer (bass clarinet; of the Vegetable Orchestra) and Jakob Gnigler (saxophone). The band plays an energetic form of chamber prog similar to Present or Univers Zero, retaining the dissonant, punchy and improvisation-rich nature of the music of Led Bib, but with a radically different instrumentation than Led Bib’s jazz-based sound and with more room for solemn, introspective pieces. – PROG ARCHIVES

Readers will already be familiar with Mark Holub’s rambunctious playing with Led Bib, founded during his time at Middlesex University, and may already know that he has long resided in Vienna. Here he has forged an interesting, almost parallel, career in broader avenues of avant-garde music. On this set, he teams up with Kepl and Gartmayer who have previously played with him and developed this into a broader range of friends and colleagues from Vienna. I was puzzling over the band’s name for a while. I know that the word ‘arthropod’ literally refers to creatures with jointed feet and defines a collection of species that include spiders and crabs. I could also see that putting the ‘anthro’ into this would suggest a link to humans (as in anthropology). I’d be very interested to hear the etymology of the name chosen for the band. In terms of modus operandi, Holub has said that he wanted something where the musicians had freedom to explore sounds, not simply in terms of ‘conventional’ instrumentation but also in terms of musical directions. The tunes have themes which Holub might have provided as sketches, hinting as chordal and rhythmic patterns, but the improvising band take delight in deconstructing these and finding many, many alternatives of hearing the ideas contained in each theme. You only have to look at the collection of instruments that this Anthropods band are playing to realise that this will be music which pulls in a variety of directions that traipse back and forth across the path that you might recognise as ‘jazz’. Fortunately, the music finds directions which let the music sing and swing, even in its most obtuse. And behind this, lie Holub’s precise percussive patterns – at times, providing self-contradictory drum patterns at odds with himself, at other times using the drumkit to produces sputters and crackles that goad and encourage his bandmates. The first piece, ‘Sea’, opens with ‘cello and violin scraping a gentle but argumentative conversation, with Holub using his drum-kit to punctuate and accentuate. There is, in part, the sound of an orchestra tuning up (albeit in miniature) but also the sense of boxers squaring up in the ring, with the drums as Master of Ceremonies. When the reeds step in, their roles are almost to placate the strings and find a resolution to the argument (which continues and builds). Through the use of quite simple chord patterns, Holub builds the composition as a staircase that ascends from the initial discord into a state, if not of reconciliation, then at least to a sense of an ending. Across this, his drumming increases in intensity and he creates a rattling accompaniment that builds with the piece. In this composition, we are provided with the blueprint for the bands modus operandi. The pieces totter on the brink of chaos and then drawback is testament to the find blend of improvisation of the band and Holub’s compositions. Each piece has a unifying head to and from which playing flows. These are often seemingly quite simple, almost like folk tunes or circus songs. I was, more than once, reminded of Albert Ayler’s music, in the honesty and simplicity of the themes here – but this is to, perhaps, ignore that many and varied ways in which European Art music, for want of a better term, is created a rich tradition of improvisation. And it is this European tradition, in which archaic folk music, kletzmer, roma, classical, and jazz musical traditions warp and blend that Anthropods (because the music just feels so much bigger than one member of the group) draw on to great effect. – Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS

Mark Holub stammt aus New Jersey, lebte lange Zeit in London und ist derzeit (seit 2012) in Wien ansässig. Der Schlagzeuger wurde vor allem mit seinem seit 2003 bestehenden Projekt Led Bib bekannt, ist aber auch sonst im Bereich Jazz, Avantrock und Improvisiertem umfangreich aktiv. Anfang 2020 stand eigentlich eine Tour mit Led Bib an, um das damals neue Album vorzustellen (siehe “It’s Morning”). Dann kam das Coronavirus und die Lockdowns. Um nicht untätig zu bleiben kontaktierte Halub daher Musiker aus Wien, darunter Irene Kepl und Susanna Gartmayer, die auch schon am eben erwähnten Led-Bib-Album beteilig waren, mit der Idee eine neue lokale Formation auf die Beine zu stellen. Im April 2020 formierte sich so das Quintett Anthropods, welches im Januar 2022 bei Discus Music aus Sheffield ihr erstes, im Februar 2021 eingespieltes Album vorlegten. Halub selbst beschreibt das Werk als Album der Gruppe Anthropods. Das Label ordnet die Scheibe aber mit dem Titel “Anthropods” dem Künstler Mark Holub zu. Auf dem Digifile und der CD steht nur Anthropods. Da alle Kompositionen von Halub stammen, sei “Anthropods” auf den BBS den Labelvorgaben folgend aber einmal als Holub-Album einsortiert. Mehr als bei Led Bib, die immer eine Art von Jazzcombo waren, versucht Halub mit den Anthropods, die jeweiligen musikalischen Hintergründe der Beteiligten einbeziehend, zwei Musikwelten, Jazz und modern-klassische Kammermusik, zu vereinen. Das Ergebnis ist nach Ansicht des Rezensenten ein farbiger Kammerprog von akustischem Charakter, der jazzige, symphonisch-klangvolle, rockige, klassisch-kammermusikalische, liedhaft-tanzende, dynamisch-treibende und auch freier tonbastelnde Momente zu einem homogenen, bisweilen beeindruckend voluminösen Ganzen verschmilzt. Die Musik von Aranis, Metamorphosis aus Tschechien (und dem Ableger Rêve Général) oder Louise Avenue ist hier nicht so weit weg, allerdings sind die Anthropods etwas sperriger und freiformatiger zu Gange, bisweilen die Musik auch mit dem schrägen Skronk von Led Bib (siehe “Sensible Shoes”) verunreinigend. Einige ruhigere, elegischer dahin mäandernde und tonmalende Stellen gibt es auch, doch sind auch diese recht kantig und gegen den Strich gebürstet ausgefallen. Wer also free-jazzig-rockigen Bläseravantprog und dynamisch-treibenden Streicherrock schätzt, der bekommt mit “Anthropods” eine sehr gelungene Vermengung von beidem. Macht Spaß! – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN

For Mark Holub‘s latest album and his first for Discus, he has expanded on his usual collaborative numbers and put together his first group as bandleader since starting Led Bib twenty years ago. Here, the accent is more on his songwriting rather than the more collaborative efforts of Led Bib, but allows the chosen players to lend colour and texture to his compositions, all of which are laced with the most intricate and suggestive drumming. Choosing the right players is clearly important and the ability of the string players to alternately scour and sweep while the reeds are easing and cajoling. It makes for a varied and complex journey that moves from space and freedom to more structured rhythmically dynamic numbers, but all the time keeping the listener on their toes. The thrum of the cello and the scrape of the violin are pretty and puzzling on opener “Sea”, while the drums gently tumble and the cymbals shiver. It’s itchy and nervy compared to the slow salve of the reeds, and this dichotomy runs through quite a lot of the album. There is an incredibly addictive refrain on “Forest Capers”, but it is slightly meandering with the drunken horns adding a certain playfulness. Tension builds as it progresses, with all the players squeezing their way in around the drums. It is a rollercoaster tracklist veering from the bass-led discordant lullaby “Messy To Me”, with its romantic and frantic strings chasing one another around the drums, to the slow melancholy sweep of “The Bells”, with its drones evoking a misty post-battle landscape; a comedown vibe with a ridge of solidity that offsets the melancholy and scraps with the surge and clash of drums. It is interesting watching how the more open pieces slowly unfold; the lengthiest track here, “For Charles”, is more of a soundscape with the punctuating drums often the only dynamic thing, with other elements moving slowly, searching in spaces and shadows for the ghosts of memories and the textural sensations. Comparatively, “One Way” has a strangely ungainly groove and each of the players seems to revolve at different orbits around the endlessly inventive percussive textures. By the time we more through more playfulness and the almost neo-classical unfurling of “Pumpkin Patch”, it has been quite and dramatic and hugely entertaining trip; at times disorientating, but always welcoming and certainly irresistible to follow. The drums are the glue, but the deft touch of the other players makes for a true collaboration. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ

Mark Holub, probably still best known as de facto leader of Led Bib, has been involved with other noteworthy bands, including Mustard Pie with the great Jan Kopinski. After relocating from London to Vienna in 2012 he got together with Chris Janka and Pamelia Stickney to form Blue Blut, originally for a specific gig in 2013, but they have continued. In 2020 Covid closed down the live music scene in Vienna, as it did in so many other places, but provided Holub with time to develop a project he had been contemplating for some time. The result, established in April 2020, was Anthropods, intended as very much a collaborative unit. Holub wanted the musicians collectively to be free to develop the band’s approach and sound. That said, he had started to write some of the music beforehand, and his ideas determined what instrumentation he would need, so that and his choice of colleagues did, to some extent, prescribe how the band would end up sounding. The individual Anthropods come from varied musical backgrounds, not just jazz. Holub wanted them to feel free to question each other, to say they were happy or unhappy with the direction a piece was taking. He says “the music is really about the connection between us” socially as well as musically. Some of Holub’s compositions echo late 20th-century contemporary classical music, others have hints of early 20th-century cabaret music, and none sound much like Led Bib or Blue Blut even if some of the impulses and procedures may be related. The album opens with trepidatious string murmurings which gradually gain confidence before they are joined by a stately theme from the reeds. Forest Capers is a jagged march that calls to mind some of Albert Ayler’s tunes, Messy To Me has a middle-eastern flavour. As the album progresses the contrasts continue, from the sombre string-led The Bells to the maelstrom of For Charles, yet there is a real sense of unity throughout. – Barry Witherndon, JAZZ JOURNAL

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