In the covering information sheet the band also owns a sub name: The Avoidance Of Standardized Styles. I guess this sub name covers a lot of the music on the debut album of this German band. RPWL keyboard player Markus Jehle (RPWL) participates in Schizofrantik and the album has been released by the Gentle Art Of Music-label known from RPWL and related releases. These facts immediately gave me the impression that this album must contain a kind of progressive music that could have been influenced by the label's main band, but that appeared to be completely wrong. Schizofrantik' s band leader and main songwriter is guitarist and vocalist Martin Mayrhofer, who has played together with the jazz-metal band Panzerballett and with Marco Minnemann, who's well-known for almost all he did.
Mayrhofer takes us on a musical trip to the outskirts of progressive music: from the relaxed guitar tones in Red Dragon In A Möbius Strip to the metal outbursts in It Happens and the jazzy interludes in Last Signal Distorted. In all songs the atmosphere changes with almost every chord, which makes it very difficult to describe the intention of the song. Personally I like this complete freedom and the seemingly chaos in a composition, but this band really drives me to my extremities. The instrumental parts are weird and surely have a kind of virtuosity in the handling of the instruments, but what about the vocals? That's the most difficult part for me. Does Mayrhofer really sing on the album? Well, he does, at least sometimes, but most of the time he sounds as if his speaking voice has run through a computer. Moreover, the vocal lines don't match with the rhythm of the instruments, which provides for an interesting, but a rather strange effect.
According to the sub title of the band's name they tried to avoid standard musical styles. By adding influences of Frank Zappa and Primus, the music drifts towards the soundtrack music in a film by David Lynch : nice to watch, but not a clue what it's all about. I get a similar kind of feeling while listening to Schizofrantik; many interesting sounds and impressively played parts, but I've got no idea where it's going to. Perhaps this is just what the band had in mind. Personally I regard Nerds Don't Smoke which lasts over ten minutes, to be the highlight of this album. It has a perfect metal guitar sound, a brilliant keyboard part and it's the most coherent song.
Oddities is not the easiest album I've heard lately. It really takes some effort to appreciate the compositions and Martin Mayrhofer's vocals. On the other hand, instrumentally, it's very challenging and if you're a progressive music lover with a very open mind, you should at least give this album a try.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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