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Janek van Laak – The Killah Gorilla

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 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 due for release this spring. It’s 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, channeling self expression and learning”.

The second single to be taken from the album is Afro-jazz inflected “The Killah Gorilla”. It’s a piece that takes its name from the U.S. Ultimate Fighting Championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) professional, Jared ‘The Killa Gorilla’ Cannioner.

The introduction to the track builds tension, conjuring up the atmosphere leading up to the start of a fight. Alto sax, flutes and bass clarinet from Richard Maegraith, and trumpet and flügelhorn courtesy of Gabriel Garcia lead the way, with their parts written in an attempt to be a cannon, and Isabel Rößler’s bassline providing the anchor point for Janek’s drums and Tim Foley’s percussion to float around freely.

The song is not only a tribute to the cage fighter, and a celebration of MMA as a pure and honest form of physical brutality, but also an appreciation of Cannonier’s work with energy giving crystals and stones. This is reflected in the song’s breakdown where drums, bass, horns and percussion then make way for the wonderfully monikered Roguish Grin’s ebbing and flowing guitar parts. These also reflect the never ending, but never repeating, dance between two MMA artists and give this evocative piece of music a very improvisational feel.

Janek intends to make as much music as he can whilst continually pushing musical boundaries and possibilities. Look out for him on the road, pushing those boundaries with his upcoming live shows.

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Janek van Laak Circle of Madness Vinyl