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Janek van Laak – Circle of Madness

Berlin based drummer, composer and producer Janek van Laak was born in the fashion-fuelled metropolis of Düsseldorf in 1995, and briefly spent time as a toddler in the music loving municipality of Leipzig before settling in the country’s capital in 1998 whilst it was in the midst of its post Berlin Wall cultural explosion.

Under the influence of his punk loving father and cabaret / comedy performing mother, Janek moved from singing in his school choir to learning to play drums and piano. Now, as well as producing music under his own name, Janek is also one of the founding members of the Neukölln based outfit Liquid Brain Orchestra, and one half of off-kilter duo Tutu Amuse with guitarist, vocalist and actor Rosa Landers.

Janek’s debut solo album “Circle Of Madness” is a record that is best described by himself as a snapshot of “something at some point” and encourages the listener to “stay curious while trying to maintain a balanced and non toxic relationship with perfectionism on this discovery of new land through music, channelling self expression and learning”.

The album opener “a little GOLD” encourages all of thosefeelings with delicate synths and percussion making way for fuzzy guitars and wordless vocals that anticipate the wide ranging, diverse and experimental sounds to follow. “Here To Slay” is something of a statement of intent and features the rasping, bold vocals of Australian artist Madeleine Rose to great effect. The horn section takes centre stage on the sinister “Saints Blow” which, like the percussive frenzy of “Daiamondo”, which highlights the voice of Japanese singer and multi-instrumentalist Shiomi Kawaguchi, was a track originally sketched for the Tutu Amuse and Liquid Brain Orchestra projects respectively. On other tracks, Janek takes on lead vocals himself, such as the evocative “Above Your Head” with its almost Latin feel.

Elsewhere, the instrumentation tells the story with Janek’s drums vying for attention against percussion, horns and electronics on “Sloppy Dreams” and “Left 4 Dead” and there are sweeter, softer moments too such as on the shimmering “Glintstones”, the guitar led “The Last Stylebender” and the moody “Garlic Brown Junior”.

And then there are the singles. The Afro-jazz inflected “The Killah Gorilla” – a piece that takes its name from the U.S. Ultimate Fighting Championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) professional, Jared ‘The Killa Gorilla’ Cannonier; and “OCTAPUSSY” – a ten minute epic that begins with a delicate interplay between dreamy keys and drum rolls which are then joined by silky guitars to create an effortless modern fusion sound.

With “Circle Of Madness”, Janek intends to continually push musical boundaries and possibilities. Look out for him on the road, pushing those boundaries with his upcoming live shows.

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