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King Of Agogik: Exlex Beats

Although they are billed as a band, King Of Agogik is mainly the plaything of multi-instrumentalising drummer Hans Jörg Schmitz - a stick-smith who can clearly paradiddle his way out of a tight spot! Released in 2014 Exlex Beats is the outfit’s fifth album where Schmitz plays not just drums but also guitars, basses, keyboards and probably most other things that were within reach. Thankfully he’s mighty fine at each and every one but with a further ten musicians also credited talent is in no short supply.

Sitting in a broad progressive spectrum where a symphonic base sidles neatly next to a much more aggressive rock outlook the amount of ground covered across what is a lengthy journey is impressive indeed, however it is also achieved safe in the knowledge that bringing the listener along for the ride is the key to success. “11th Sense” gives a strong indication of the fun that can be had as Exlex Beats hammers home its message, although the first hint at a different intention comes at the tail end of the track before. Closing, as it does, with the chiming riff from the Yes hit “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, “Bronto’s Navel” gives way to a piece where snippets of everything from Van Halen to ELP and Asia to Genesis are used to link passages of what would appear to be original keyboard and guitar motifs. With the whole album being instrumental it’s the keys and guitars that ape their heroes here and, while maybe appearing to be a little throwaway, there’s no doubting it’s all tremendous fun. Where things become a touch more questionable is that it’s a trick replayed a few times across this album, one or two other cuts bulging with riffs from Metallica, Aerosmith, Sabbath, The Knack, The Beatles, or even modern classical/jazz themes.

That said there are a lot more skins to this drummer’s toms, everything from intricate and pastoral guitar sessions to tubular bell chiming atmospherics heard in the likes of “Nomouglea”, whereas “Sheol” reminds of something that early Genesis or solo Anthony Phillips might have coaxed from a beautifully poised acoustic guitar. If that all feels like a wistfully passive experience then it’s worth noting that even within that one song we also get blistering guitars and riffs aplenty. Add in a percussive performance that could be described as busy - maybe too busy for some - and the mix of attacks is wide, varied and on the whole, rather satisfying.

As instrumentally progressive albums go Exlex Beats is an unusual beast - full of fun and surprisingly catchy moments and yet still housing a contradiction of beauty and brutality that catches the ear and seldom lets go. For some the wild veering may be a little too much but if you can park any preconceptions at the door, then the King Of Agogik will prove to be a right royal riot.

Track Listing
1. Bronto's Navel
2. 11th Sense
3. Nomouglea
4. The Chasteness
5. Making Of SWEP
6. Musicogenic Epilepsy
7. Sheol
8. Lick Me
9. The Venturous Dream Of A Schlabbershirt
10. Thin As A Skin
11. Arrived Without Travelling

Added: April 15th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: King Of Agogik online
Hits: 2570
Language: english

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King Of Agogik: Exlex Beats
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2020-04-16 05:13:56
My Score:

Continuing my enjoyable foray into German band King Of Agogik, here is another morsel for progressive rock fans to dig into. The album is titled Exlex Beats and was released in 2014. The project is led by Hans Jörg Schmitz and like all the albums I have heard from the band the musicianship is exquisite. Playing on the album are Schmitz (drums, keyboards, guitar), Dago Wilms (guitars, bass), Gary Farmer (Rickenbacker and Fender bass guitars), Steve Unruh (violin and flute), Michael Elzer (12-string Chapman stick), Michael Kreutz (Fender bass guitar), Erik Vaxjö (M400 Mellotron), Pantelis Petrakakis (Ibanez, Yamaha and Schack bass guitars), Andrew Marshall (Spanish guitar and keyboard), Arne Schäfer (electric guitar) and Peter Simon (Fossati oboe).

To kick things off we have the humourlessly titled “Bronto’s Navel”, demonstrating the band’s dramatic symphonic sound. With “11th Sense” just sit back and have fun with it. You will hear snippets of past tunes, all played by the band and it just had to make me smile. There are so many change ups and shifts in tempo it can get a little daunting but one has to be impressed at the level of musicianship on display. With “Nomouglea” a cool guitar effect is followed by crystal clear violin and flute from Unruh and a lovely guitar arpeggio. When the electric guitar breaks out there is a definite Pink Floyd vibe. Just a beautiful melody here. The moody “Making of SWEP” is a short track featuring Schmitz on all instruments and leads directly into the bass heavy “Musicogenic Epilepsy” where the guitars have plenty of heft and the keyboards offer a myriad of symphonic sounds, all in the space of about four minutes. The sprawling “Thin as a Skin” is the longest track at almost twenty-three minutes. Flute trills, fat rhythmic grooves and fabulously tight playing all around, this one should have garnered lots of attention from progressive rock fans across the board. Unruh really puts his stamp on this one, just listen to his violin solo to hear what I mean.

If you missed this the first time around like me, now is your chance to do some catching up with this excellent band. Highly recommended.

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