Blind Date With Music

As wonderful as this band is, none of us is good at self-marketing, so we often end up with one gig per year. At least we have that one gig! The annual The Absurd gig usually happens during the first days of the year at the LOFT in Cologne, and we have done it so often that it has become an institution.

Michael Frank’s wife Vera painted blindfolded this time, translating the music into pictures.

As usual, there was a wide range of musical styles between jazz and rock and punk. Guest artist Max Höfler performed pieces in the local Kölsch dialect, Sercan Özökten sang a sirtaki with Turkish lyrics, there was a very fast free jazz explosion dedicated to Enzo Ferrari, and the evening had some quiet lyrical moments.

My solo guitaret composition ‚With Me Pluck‚ (that we had worked on for quite a while until the tricky rhythmic structure sounded good in a band context) was unfortunately not performed successfully because its quiet pulse disappeared in the stage mix and we got out of sync.

I played a vaguely Mike-Ratledge-y solo during MF’s piece ‚Passing State of Mind‘.

Here is a best-of video, 48 minutes of sonic mayhem. The audience loved it, as always 🙂


00:05 – Reykjavic 2004
06:38 – 520 PS
08:15 – It never rains in Wuppertal (excerpt)
10:22 – Wir warten auf den Entstörungsdienst
15:22 – Passing State of Mind
20:03 – I Love You
24:14 – Benden nefret et ama acıma
27:17 – English Waltz (Procol Harum)
36:01 – Zukka Attakk
44:44 – Du Hengst

Gernot Bogumil: trumpet
Matthias Ebbinghaus: vocals, percussion
Michael Frank: guitar, vocals
Gala Hummel: drums, vocals
Michael Hausmann: drums, vibraphone
Marcus Jovy: bass
Manfred Meurer: drums
Sercan Özökten: vocals, percussion
Michael Peters: guitar
Hans Salz: drums, vibraphone
Andreas Wagner: alto saxophone
Martin Ziegler: e-piano
Martin Zierold: vocals
Vera P. Frank: live painting

Sentimentals & Instrumentals

Another wonderful new year’s concert by The Absurd at Cologne’s LOFT.

On this saturday, the streets were so icy in Cologne that I saw several people slip and fall during the few minutes I was out to have some food after soundcheck. Police issued a level 3 ice warning (I had no idea that there are levels of this): people should stay at home if possible, so we were afraid that we would play in front of an empty room. But apparently, our fans love us so much that they risk their bones! the room was almost as full as usual when we started to play.

My favorite tune of the night was a new piece called ‚Reykjavík 2004‘. It was based on an improvisation recorded in 2004 with guitarist Michael Frank on bass and me on guitar, plus Manfred Meurer on drums. ‚Manni‘ had been the Absurd drummer during their beginning, more than 30 years ago, and he was supposed to play drums at this gig but sadly, he couldn’t come. Göttin Gala replaced him on drums and did a great job.

Why have I never before composed anything for The Absurd? I should do that, it is so much fun hearing your ideas played by a bunch of great musicians.

This composition was a collaboration between Michael Frank (who came up with the bass line and the strange somewhat Magmaesque trills, and who had the idea for the furioso end of the piece) and me (chords and melody). I am grateful that Michael insisted that our seemingly sparse 2004 ideas were interesting enough to turn them into a piece, and that I could see how effortlessly he structured them. He is a music educator and knows what he is doing. There is still so much to learn for me! Although I strongly believe in the value of not knowing in music making, I see that knowing is of great value as well 🙂

People liked this piece a lot, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it as well.

Gernot Bogumil – tr
Michael Frank – g, voc
Vera P. Frank – voc
Göttin Gala – dr, voc
Michael Hausmann – vibes, dr
Max Höfler – g, voc
Kim Jovy – reeds
Marcus Jovy – b
Sercan Özökten – voc, perc
Michael Peters – g
Hans Salz – dr, vibes, perc
Andreas Wagner – reeds
Norbert Zajac – voc
Martin Ziegler – p


An Absurd Weekend

25 years ago, a guitarist from Cologne called Michael Frank started a band called The Absurd. Their mixture of rock (often including odd meters and political lyrics), jazz, and free improvisation was always open-minded and full of crazy ideas, experiments, and fun. Many musicians (including myself) were members of The Absurd for a while.

After 25 years, today’s incarnation of this band is still alive and kicking. We met for a hot July weekend in Berlin to record in the Andere Baustelle studio that belongs to a member of Berlin’s most famous experimental band, Einstürzende Neubauten.

We were 16 musicians this time, some from Berlin, some from Cologne – a real big band, with several guitarists, several drummers (one at a time) and percussionists, several bass players (two at once at times), lots of singers and brass players, plus keyboards and vibraphone. When all these people were all in full flight, the sound was mindblowing. I was reminded of jazz orchestras like Centipede at times.

Travelling to Berlin by train was already fun 🙂

We were very happy with the studio personnel and gear (although it was so hot in there at times that the air conditioners had a hard time to cope).

My workstation was an ancient Marshall tower. I played the Turkish Cümbüs during the piece „Zukkaattakk“ and my little Höfner Shorty guitar (with an inbuilt speaker!) into my modified Ibanez UE400 multieffect – so I was mostly using real vintage gear this time.

Studio work is exhausting …

A wonderful weekend, big fun with good friends. I haven’t heard the studio recordings yet, and I don’t know how much of it will end up on the silver jubilee vinyl that is planned. I think there was lots of incredible energy, I hope it got caught on tape.

On Sunday night, we did a „video concert“ in the studio. We played all pieces while being filmed by several cameras. For some reason the realtime video podcast didn’t work but we have the video material. Here’s Sercan Özökten’s video cut of „ZukkaAttakk“ (play it VERY LOUD to get an idea of the energy that was in the room) and „More Miles per Hour“.