“The emotional level through compositions is capable of sudden and passionate outbursts, moments of profound tension and restlessness, as well as unexpected sweetness in evoking confused, distant emotions. Fantastic album.” – Goran Čabrajić, NEW DAWN OF PROG
“For those of you who are still searching for contemporary progressive instrumental music, this is a fine treasure chest of delights.” – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery NYC
“Working as a quartet adds further strength to an already impressive body of work and this might be Das Rad’s best yet. Let’s see how the next few years unfold.” -Mr Olivetti, FREQ,
Nick Robinson – guitars, keys
Martin Archer – woodwind, keys
Jon Short – bass guitar
Steve Dinsdale – drums, keys
with special guest
Peter Rophone – voices
For their fourth full length release since the band was formed in 2018, Das Rad have returned to basics with an expanded line up. Following on from two “lockdown” albums where the original trio worked mainly in their own studios, much of the basic tracking for Veer was played live. We also welcome bass guitarist Jon Short to the band for the first time, once again with a view on re-emphasizing live interaction in the music.
The showpiece is the 25 minute suite Expergefactor, which closes the album and which also features the extraordinary voice of Peter Rophone. But setting the scene for this finale, the preceding tracks variously revisit some stripped down krautrock / kosmiche based improv, virtuosic jazzrock, leftfield soundscaping and even (always tucked away somewhere in the music on previous albums) a short homage to the dubbed out sounds of Augustus Pablo.
Another Das Rad record where krautrock grooves, extended arrangements, free improvisation and electronic abstraction all meet in the creative centre of the sound.
Das Rad’s Veer wilfully ignores any restrictive boundaries as it pile-drives through compositions that sometimes evoke driving grooves, mesmeric kosmische motifs, vintage Frippish textures, barking saxes and spooky atonal interludes. It’s the fourth album by this UK outfit since 2018, and could well be their most accomplished and cohesive, with the hugely cathartic track Expergerfactor rolling in acid heaviness. – Sid Smith, PROG
There are now four of them. Four wheels make more sense, especially on the fourth album. Or… are more stable. With Jon Short, you now have a permanent bass player. According to the band, the basis of this music, after two lockdown albums, was created live in the studio, i.e. with the right interaction of the four protagonists in the same place. In this form, one could now also perform live, which may happen in the near future. In addition, there were various other sound tracks recorded in the period 2020-23. However, the concept has remained true despite the fourth man. Presumably, it can be implemented even better this way. The band says that “Veer” continues to be a mixture of ‘kosmiche based improv, virtuosic jazz rock, leftfield soundscaping … Krautrock Grooves, Extended Arrangements, Free Improvisation and Electronic Abstraction’. Yes, that fits. A bit more earthy and rocky, just bass-heavy, the band is active here (which you can also hear in the first track), also a bit more jam-rocking and psychedelic-monotonous striding. The cutting howling, distorted crashing or floating reverberating electric guitar is usually at the center of the music, accompanied by the dynamic rhythm section and all kinds of accompaniment, electronically surging key patterns. In addition, there is a lot of woodwind, which continues, sometimes brass rock honking, sometimes obliquely trotting, sometimes elegantly soloing, for a jazz-rock-Canterbury-like retro atmosphere. ‘Driving motorik music’, the short definition given by Archer and colleagues for the first album, can also be found here, or almost more than on the previous albums. The tones also float along in a leisurely to free-format manner, without a strong rhythm component. The whole thing sounds most like a retro-modern version of Soft Machine with an expressive electric guitarist. With “Expergefactor” there is also a long track this time. Or, actually, it’s an extended suite in six parts. Here it is sometimes a bit more cosmic-floating, which then provides certain krautrock reminiscences (you can hear e.g. “The void above”), but they usually come in a more modern sound garb and jazzy dirty. In the suite there are also a few slanted vocal interludes and scrambled tape recordings, especially in “Evian”, and also a lot of Mellotron, e.g. in “Island of stability”, which could be described as a flawless, nicely edgy retro prog in places. Otherwise, there is also the one section higher sketched mix on the ear, whereby – as already indicated – free-format sound-floating can be seen a little more often than in the first seven numbers. The title? Well, it just sounds like the German ‘vier’. Apparently, the verb ‘to veer’ is also used in England to describe the throwing away (or flight?) of a paper airplane. In any case, the instructions for building the ‘Veer Glider’ can be found on the formation’s website. What does that have to do with the album? No idea. Otherwise, on “Veer” we as listeners turn blithely in circles, as if on a colorfully vibrating sound carousel. All in all, I would say that “Veer” is the most rocking album of the project so far. – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_21012.html#oben
This seems to be the fourth disc from Das Rad, British quartet which includes Discus founder Martin Archer. I hadn’t heard of the bassist before now although the drummer, Steve Dinsdale, can be found on a dozen discs from the Discus and Cuneiform labels (where he plays in Radio Massacre International). Das Rad is a sort of progressive quartet. Right from the opening of “Lutraphobia”, the electric guitar and sax(es) are up front and playing in rapturous harmonies over a fine somewhat funky, rocking groove which slows down to stopping before it pick right back up. Guitarist Nick Robinson uses some effects (pedals) to get that strong proggish sustained tone sound which matches the layers of saxes just right, even taking an impressive, quick-tapping, note-bending solo in the last section. Mr. Archer is a fine producer and knows how to use the studio to get musicians or bands to sound focused and inspired. On “Bergen Cross”, Mr. Robinson’s Frippish guitars are layered as are Archer’s saxes. The bassist and drummer sound like they’ve been playing together for a long while as they are consistently locked into their own grooves/rhythmic schemes. Mr. Robinson takes the first of several impressive guitar solos while the bassist interweaves his own web of lines. The sound of this quartet is closer to mid-seventies British progressive than anything else. Both guitarist Nick Robinson and saxist Martin Archer are well schooled in this sound and hence, they use several layers of guitars, saxes & keyboards, seamlessly blending them into that older prog sound. Archer often puts his saxes through some devices to alter their sound which often works just right with Robinson’s varied guitar parts. The quartet at times has a King Crimson-ish sound but not nearly as dark. There are some unexpected magical moments going here as well: On “Farfalla”, the acoustic guitar, flute and watery keyboards makes this sound like a prog fairy tale. Bassist Jon Short used to play in ambient projects and has a distinctive occasionally fretless sound on bass. The quartet get into a dub groove on “Kingdom Fall” and erupt forcefully on the “Expergefactor” suite. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought that this disc was recorded in the mid-1970’s. All that’s missing are those proglike vocals. For those of you who are still searching for contemporary progressive instrumental music, this is a fine treasure chest of delights. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery NYC
The addition of bassist Jon Short to Das Rad‘s long-term trio of Nick Robinson, Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale has lent an extra heft and low-end adventure to an already adventurous trio. Although recently released, this album compiles work that dates back to 2020 and perhaps because of that runs an absolute gamut of styles and sounds, constantly switching positions, leading the listener astray and dropping hints that don’t always come to fruition and instead end up far from home. All players bar Jon are credited with the extremely vague “keys”, so as well as the strength and density one might expect from players of this ilk, there is much mysterious and external stimuli that fill in any resultant gaps and prompting excrescent sidelines that move focus away from the main event. Whatever the album contains though, it is hard to describe it as jazz; there is much more of a cool European feel to the sly hypnotic bass groove of opener “Lutraphobia”. Why anyone could fear otters, I have no idea; but the swing of the track jars with the sticky, sleazy sax and guitar. There is an angry sort of energy in the guitar and that is palpable throughout the album, as if Nick is tired of pressing the point home where as Martin’s woodwind is generally lighter, often dropping hints to the listener and leading them into a fruitless search. Meanwhile the rhythm section forges its own muscular, sharp shapes. It is more about concocting an atmosphere than adhering to anything like guidelines; so the shadowy, barely contained mass of action that is “Bergen Cross” with its full kit work out and distorted ghost of Jon Lord keyboard runs melts into the brooding abstraction of “Confiture”. Tones combine for a thick fug that binds the listener, ensnaring with slow moving force; a gaggle of clarinet, a surge of disparate noise, all knitting together like a web around the listener, the looseness and surge of the sax tearing up the sky. Some of it really broods with a sinister edge, prowling, searching in dark corners, gradually upping tempo until the pursuit is in full flight, querulous keys abetting malignant guitar. At other points, there is an airy lightness, with the pressure dropping and a clear sunrise sound appearing, turning its back on the night. The flute on “Farfalla” adds to a kind of sylvan fantasy with typewriter and radio lending a surreal edge. Incredibly, before the sprawling song suite “Expergefactor” takes hold of proceedings, the quartet takes a dash through a heavy ’80s influenced splurge of post-punk, the bass as wilful as you would want and the shards of guitar, sprinkling in your hair and also the reggae-ish swagger of “Kingdom Fall”, airy with echo that winks towards dub, but provides much space for surf-influenced guitar. To be honest, the album would be satisfying if it ended there; but the six-part finale really takes all the ideas already provided and slows them down, intensifying them, stitching them together and then unfurling them with the added confusion of Peter Rophone‘s treated voices, hidden insinuating whispers and random, restless outbursts. It is slow, it simmers, working at tangents, players feeling their way in, allowing time to take its toll, the tension and strength of guitar and bass offset by the flightier woodwind and the steady percussive precision. At points it flirts with metal, but is far too fluid and changeable to stay for long, instead switching tack and looking down the long meandering road towards prog. Is it prog? Well, it is certainly progressive in ideas and outlook; but it is always restless and you know that momentum is in the back of their minds. At one point Peter’s voice echoes a train whistle, but a tranquil garden will ever be round the corner; and although some distant landmarks are possibly familiar, the scenery is in constant flux, its changes eventually rendering you lost and inevitably in their power. Working as a quartet adds further strength to an already impressive body of work and this might be Das Rad’s best yet. Let’s see how the next few years unfold. -Mr Olivetti, FREQ, https://freq.org.uk/reviews/das-rad-veer/
Once DAS RAD has been invented, things will move forward. With Veer (DISCUS 154CD) Nick Robinson – guitar, Steve Dinsdale (ex-Radio Massacre International) on drums and Martin Archer – Woodwind (all three also keys) have now even switched from three- to four-wheeler, with Jon Short (who created chilling soundscapes with Deep Sky Divers and with Sheelanagig turned up fiddle folk) on bass guitar. The first thing I learn is that ‘Lutraphobia’ means the irrational fear of otters, how crazy is that? In addition, butterflies flutter with ‘Farfalle’, or noodles? How does that work together with ‘We Too Shall Rule’ and ‘Kingdom Fall’? Turn the “Not my King!” faction on the wheel? Can this be sweetened with ‘Confiture’? Or is this just another lie by the government? Is “Expergefactor” good as an alarm clock that brushes aside the bickering (‘Brabble’) between the ‘Meadow Hell’ and ‘The Void Above’, the dirty ‘Evian’ water, the myth of England as the ‘Island of Stability’? Only Short’s bass pulse is stable, from which Archer as a colorful Woodwind plural and the anything but fearful sounding prog guitar let themselves be pulled in the keyboard wind. Das Rad, just as they wave the good old prog flag, fulfills all the criteria to make freak hearts beat faster. Averse to the demons of metal and any hysteria, jazz-rock psychedelic is the only true means to storm the brain with firestorms, droning and fluttering waves, with milling guitar, tickling, crashing, rattling beats, rumbling bass, roaring, chuckling reeds. As burning air. Through floods of keys, with heavy draught, growling bass, solemn style. Drifting, with fluttering flute, silvery strings, through booming torrents. With a crisp 4/4 beat, sweeping keys, inverted arrow of time. Das Rad is rolling, old school rules. The false king rushes over soft Dub-Groove and delicate melodica. A hellish slump makes the air thin, only the bass still grounds the emptiness. Until another heavy groove hooks in, with blues harp, milling guitar and the bright voice of Peter Rophone. Birds are chirping, what could cloud the water? Avalon stands up to anything, with brass cheers, resilient harmony, ostinat, but not monomaniacal. The dream in front of my eyes, the wind at your back, grandiose and carried. – Rigobert Dittmann BAD ALCHEMY [BA 120 rbd]
Veer is the 4th album of the Sheffield, UK based band DAS RAD, and on this new album they welcome new bassist JON SHORT to their line-up that further consists of MARTIN ARCHER (sax, woodwind, keys), STEVE DINSDALE (drums, keys), NICK ROBERTSON (guitar, keys, loops) and as guest on 1 song PETER ROPHONE (vocals). The band’s music is instrumental 70s progressive rock orientated, so this is a proggy adventure for sure, although you can also smell the 70s jazz and even some alternative rock influences here and there. Opener Lutraphobia is a real straight-ahead uptempo rocking tune that is perhaps the rockiest song ever released on DISCUS MUSIC. Great start and straight until the end this is an exciting progressive rock dominated album that has an own identity for sure. The guitarwork is upfront, but the sax of Martin is also present quite often, just to give it his freestyle-jazz touch. This is really a great album.– Gabor Kleinbloesem, STRUTTER’ZINE
The trio we already know ( Martin Archer on sax, Nick Robinson on guitars, Steve Dinsdale on drums) has recently been joined by bassist Jon Short , making the group’s sound even more robust from the beginning of the album, yet also more capable of adapting to other musical possibilities. The album is conceived in such a way as to present at the beginning ( Lutraphobia ) an intense and controlled energy, which gradually develops. It expands, in fact, into more “atmospheric” situations ( Bergen Cross , ( Configure ) and psychedelic and “sylvan” explorations ( We too shall rule , Farfalla ), to then resume a tense and enveloping rhythmic scansion ( Veer ) and relax into a darker upbeat movement ( Kingom fall ), before concluding with the long suite Expergefactor , divided into 6 movements. Going through phases of gloom that paint undesirable scenarios to expressions of liveliness or at least of conviction and solidity, the album expresses a fusion between genres (progressive, psychdelia, improv, post-punk) which makes the album attractive and more interesting than other works, perhaps more monolithically vigorous, but less articulated. Rating: 8/10 – Alessandro Bertinetto https://www.kathodik.org/2023/11/16/das-rad-veer/
With their third album LAIK TORS, the band Das Rad had somehow shifted right into my taste range with what was a quite a surprising and invigorating release, full of great themes, work-outs and many surprises along the way. As such, based on their history, they were never going to do a sequel to that, as they seem to shift to a different stance, style and approach with each release. Okay, they do have a style in there somewhere that runs through all their releases, yet they don’t let it dominate what they do. So, enter album number four, cunningly named VEER after the German for four: vier, and also (I guess) an indication that they’ve changed direction. As an album, what we get here would encompass three sides if it was put out as vinyl, a first LP with seven tracks, followed by an addition near 26-minute suite occupying the third LP side. The opening Lutraphobia (I had to look that up, “the irrational fear of otters” apparently) is a thumping bass-line driven groover, full of double saxophone hooks, and freaky solos from other instruments, with a peculiar break at round a third of the way through and then a freaky section two-thirds through. In all, it’s quite crazy. The following Bergen Cross comes across like a Soft Machine tribute, although not to any Soft Machine style in particular, more an amalgam of different factors largely of the 5 through to SOFTS era. After that it’s time to move to more avant freaky ECM type sounds, then a funky soundtrack style number with Hugh Hopper type bass, then some gentle Latino experimentation (hints of some Egberto Gismonti I think), high flying Phil Manzanera territory with the title track, and then – totally out of the blue – we get a sleazy laid-back almost reggae number! After that, it’s time for the big one: Expergefactor (which, kind of means “Rude Awakening”), aptly opening with a moment of mad chaos of blurting saxophone and other instruments, before shifting somewhere close to more freeform realms of Barre Philips and Terje Rypdal for a while, then heading to “no wave” Bill Laswell territory and many other places. It amounts to quite a jumbled mixture that’s quite a lot to take in. As such, this is a much more challenging and diverse album than LAIK TORS, and one that’s not so immediate. Whether that makes it better or not is up to the listener, of course! – Alan Freeman, AUDION
Hoy tenemos un disco muy especial que presentar: el cuarto trabajo del ensamble avant-jazz-progresivo británico DAS RAD, el primero como cuarteto. El disco en cuestión se titula “Veer” y fue publicado – como es habitual – por el sello Discus Music el pasado 26 de mayo. Los integrantes de la aumentada alineación de DAS RAD son Nick Robinson [guitarras y teclados], Martin Archer [vientos, armónica y teclados], Jon Short [bajo] y Steve Dinsdale [batería y teclados]. Tras dos discos producidos durante la época de pandemia (“Adios Al Futuro” y “Laik Tors”, de los años 2020 y 2021, respectivamente) en los que los músicos trabajaron en sus propios estudios individuales, el grupo volvió a trabajar como en su álbum homónimo de debut del año 2018: trabajando con una buena cantidad de pistas tocadas en vivo en el estudio y creando piezas adicionales a lo largo del camino. El ingreso de Short ayudó al grupo a remodelar su musculatura expresiva, lo cual dio buenos resultados para la refrescante interacción que tenía planificada para este nuevo álbum. Peter Rophone aporta voces ocasionalmente. De los cuatro primeros temas del álbum, tres de ellos duran poco menos o poco más de 8 ¾ minutos: ‘Lutraphobia’, ‘Confiture’ y ‘We Too Shall Rule’. El primero de estos temas mencionados abre el repertorio con un groove vivaz y un swing frontalmente arquitectónico que sirve para focalizar los aportes de vientos y guitarra llamados a ornamentar el esquema musical en curso. Es como si se hubiese recuperado un jam perdido de NEU! (etapa de los dos primeros álbumes) y se le hubiese hecho una cirugía radical con artilugios procedentes del paradigma Gongiano y otros procedentes del taller sónico de HENRY COW. Algunos breves interludios ralentizados se insertan para azuzar las chiribitas deconstructivas latentes en el tema. En cuanto a ‘Confiture’, el ensamble se dispone a explorar atmósferas deconstructivas en medio de una atmósfera situada entre lo noctámbulo y lo taciturno, coqueteando con lo lóbrego, pero, a fin de cuentas, asentándose en lo arcano. Alrededor de la frontera del quinto minuto, las cosas se iluminan un poco, pero con el fulgor también aumenta la densidad expresiva. ‘We Too Shall Rule’ entabla un cuadro sonoro de señorial parsimonia donde el discurso del jazz-rock recibe algunas dosis de oscurantismo propios de la tradición del RIO francófono. En medio de ellos se sitúa ‘Bergen Cross’ (más específicamente, se trata del segundo tema del repertorio). Su enfoque avant-progresivo es manejado con la incorporación de generosas dosis de magia psicodélica al estilo de una cruza entre KING CRIMSON y SOFT WORKS, añadiéndose matices propios de la vanguardia psicodélica de vieja usanza (un poco de AGITATION FREE, otro poco de ASH RA TEMPEL). Hay un solo de teclado realmente fabuloso cerca del final, el cual estimula la gestación del clímax final; también cabe destacar el consistentemente sofisticado swing armado por la batería, un ancla esencial para el efectivo llenado de espacios que concreta el esquema compositivo. ‘Farfalla’ es una pieza afable a la vez de bizarra, teniendo como foco central una calidez lírica que no hubiese estado fuera de lugar en un álbum de HAPPY THE MAN o HOWEVER. A su vez, hay ornamentos surrealistas persistentes que, en última instancia, terminan disolviendo todo en una bruma onírica que donde confluyen lo místico y lo inquietante. Un remanso etéreo con aristas pasmosamente nerviosas. La sexta pieza se llama justamente ‘Veer’ y se caracteriza por retomar parcialmente la jovialidad del tema que abrió el álbum y permutarla en algo más tenso por vía de dos estrategias sucesivas: una aspereza más pronunciada en los riffs de guitarra y la inserción de arreglos majestuosos de teclados. También hay un electrizante solo de saxofón que ayuda crucialmente a la concreción de este vigor renovador. ‘Kingdom Fall’ es como un reggae psicodélico filtrado a través de aires krautrockeros bajo un ropaje elaborado en el telar del nu-jazz. Las líneas de los vientos flotan por ahí mientras los gentiles fraseos de la guitarra acústica brindan recursos de contemplativa sobriedad. ‘Expergefactor’ es el título de la suite de poco más de 25 ¼ minutos de duración que cierra el disco, siendo sus seis partes respectivamente tituladas ‘Meadow Hell’, ‘The Void Above’, ‘Brabble’, ‘Evian’, ‘Island Of Stability’ y ‘Expergefactor’. Todo comienza con un caos entusiastamente neurótico que, de alguna manera, se da maña para mostrar más alegría que angustia, pero que se complace en regodearse en sus propias vibraciones chocantes. Lo siguiente que emerge es un ejercicio de matices impresionistas revestidos de chamber-rock bajo la dirección de una estrategia avant-jazzera que se focaliza en tonalidades expandidas de forma libre, con total serenidad, como una luz mesuradamente encendida que se interna en un bosque otoñal para encontrar algo valioso que no quiere seguir escondido. En las últimas instancias, se nota un comedido aumento de exuberancia en las intervenciones de los vientos y la batería, lo cual anuncia el arribo de una tercera sección tremendamente ceremoniosa. Ésta juega con un tempo lento para sustentar una musculatura contenida donde reina el jazz-rock con orientación progresivamente psicodélica. La soltura descontrolada de la primera sección es ya una memoria distante; ahora opera aquí una maraña ceremoniosamente ingenieril absorta en sus propias agitaciones brotadas bajo una vigilancia marcial. Una nueva sección centrada en un minimalismo sereno nos trae de vuelta lo ensoñador, esta vez, bajo un atavío bucólico. El sosiego evocador es un oasis anticipatorio de la vitalista gentileza transmitida por buena parte de la siguiente sección: su augusto preludio al estilo de una cruza entre los KING CRIMSON de la fase 1969-70 y los TANGERINE DREAM de la fase 1973-75 no permite adivinar el despliegue de jovial agilidad que se instaura como núcleo central de la nueva sección. Eso sí, hay un extenso intermedio marcado por una enigmática nebulosidad que marca un amplio contraste frente al cuerpo central. La sección final homónima se centra en una capitalización sintetizada de los aspectos más misteriosos de la suite, la cual se activa con una arquitectura señorial que hace que la densidad patente no se desborde mientras impone la pauta sónica. Una mención especial va para el magnífico (aunque breve) solo de guitarra del final. Todo esto fue “Veer”, uno de los aportes más notables para la producción avant-progresiva del año 2023 desde Gran Bretaña. La gente de DAS RAD se ha lucido una barbaridad con esta nueva configuración de su logística instrumental: ha hecho muy bien en continuar con su trayecto de peculiar creatividad en un vehículo 4X4. ¡¡Recomendado al 400%!! – César Inca Mendoza, AUTOPOIETICAN
Led by Discus boss Martin Archer, this quintet make a kind of exuberant avant-prog jazz, given extra heft on this occasion by new member Jon Short’s bass. the 26-minute 6-part suite Expergefactor is a suitably epic nod to their proggy roots. – Kevin Whitlock, JAZZWISE
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