Touching Extremes – Gorilla Mask – Iron Lung


By Massimo Ricci

The press release urges to quit calling Gorilla Mask’s music “punk jazz”. In spite of having used the word “punkiness” in a previous review of the band, we will gladly oblige given our scarce fondness for elementary descriptions and prosaic labeling. Additionally, a thought was spared for the (intended?) irony of the album’s title: Iron Lung could convey the image of a weak body being treated for respiratory insufficiency, whereas throughout the set Peter Van Huffel’s alto sax is a symbol of pulmonary strength, including brief invocations such as “Crooked”. Add to this the perfectly oiled mechanisms of the rhythm section formed by electric bassist Roland Fidezius and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner, whose intelligent economy in terms of useless movement is inversely proportional to their propulsive vigour.

The alternance of rather violent vamps (see also the general “chip-on-a-shoulder” mood depicted by the bulk of the titles) and intersections of fractured tempos often reminiscent of pages from the harmolodic book (“Hammerhead”) is probably the explanation of an immediate recognition. Van Huffel, Fidezius and Fischerlehner truly interact like a joint unit lacking the necessities of personalized satisfaction, and it feels. The sound is compact and articulate, heavy and defined at the same time. Notwithstanding the manifestly advanced technical level, what we get first and foremost is an overall sense of reliability and sturdiness. And even some hints at dub, for good measure (“Before I Die”). Powerful stuff by three refined machos who don’t want to be confused with semi-literate skronking bums. They are right to wish so.

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