Some ideas are just so good, they deserve a second chapter. Like Christian Prommer’s Drumlesson Vol. 1 album, released in 2008, which featured instrumental jazz versions of legendary techno and electronic tracks including Derrick May’s Strings of Life, Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express and Josh Wink’s Higher State of Consciousness.
Critics and audiences were united in their positive reactions to the album. "Makes you feel cool just listening to it," gushed Mixmag’s four-star review, while Clash Magazine called it "an intriguing and successful outing. FlyGobalMusic claimed "this album is as near perfection as it is possible to be", and Properly Chilled conclude that "Christian Prommer’s Drumlesson will put a tap in your foot, a snap on your fingers, and a smile across your bohemian soul."
High praise indeed. Even more flattering, the artists themselves sent warm messages of support to Christian. "Nice work Mr. Prommer", said Derrick May. "It’s an honour to be covered in such a brilliant way," agreed Patrick Pulsinger.
Now the Munich-based drummer, DJ and producer returns with a second volume of inspired electro-organic cover versions. The musical mix remains ambitiously broad, from Carl Craig to Laurent Garnier, from Underground Resistance to Jean-Michel Jarre. Since the first album, the Drumlesson collective has grown from a studio concept to a fully working live band. Christian was also more directly involved in playing drums, piano and percussion alongside guitarist Uwe Karpa, keyboard player Roberto Di Gioia, percussionist Ernst Str√∂er, bass guitarist Christian Diener and drummer Matteo Scrimali. After the recording sessions, he also worked on each track in his studio, switching roles from live player to electronic producer.
"On the last record, everything was played and performance oriented," Christian explains. "This one was more produced and laid out like a concept. Normally when I do my electronic music, everything is programmed and very controlled. So for me, this was the best of both worlds ‚Äì having the guys play really interesting stuff, and then working with it."
As on the first album, classic Detroit techno is a key inspiration for Drumlesson Zwei. The album opens with the cinematic majesty of Sandstorms, a shimmering and seductive reworking of an obscure Carl Craig tune. Christian and his band also sink their teeth into two versions of Jaguar, the legendary dancefloor anthem by DJ Rolando and Underground Resistance’s Mad Mike Banks.
"A classic Detroit techno tune," says Christian. "We did two versions ‚Äì part one I like to call the ‚ÄòWhite Stripes of jazz’ version because it’s really rocking, just drums and bass and not much more. The second part is more of a Belearic-goes-Middle Eastern dance anthem with a lot of prepared piano, guitar tracks and drum layers. That’s a real killer tune for me to play when I DJ."
Christian and his band have also applied their open-minded jazz attitude to the cream of European house, techno and electro. The minimalist throb of Groove La Chord by Stockholm’s Aril Brikha is reborn as a futuristic tropical samba. Sleepy Hollow by the Berlin-based Stefan Goldmann becomes a kind of avant-garde film-noir soundtrack. And High Noon is a cool, moody version of an early cut by those Viennese rhythm maestros, Kruder and Dorfmeister. A regular collaborator with Christian, Peter Kruder was involved in mixing both Drumlesson albums.
French music is also well represented, with a lush chamber-jazz reinvention of Laurent Garnier’s club classic Acid Eiffel and an alluring deconstruction of Jean-Michel Jarre’s immortal electro anthem, Oxyg√®ne Part IV. "The Jean-Michel Jarre track is not a club classic but it’s an electronic classic," Christian explains. "It’s still very popular as it helped to make electronic music a household name so I tried to keep the well-known melody,¬†but also do more of an avant-garde arrangement around it, like a Tortoise tune."
Bringing the album full circle, Drumlesson Zwei ends with Sandcastles, a sublime instrumental soundscape based on the club smash by Dennis Ferrer and Jerome Sydenham. Jazz meets house, electronic meets organic, Drumlesson Zwei is a testament to music’s limitless potential for inspiration and reinvention.
Drumlesson Zwei is not about narrow labels, fads or genres. Great music lasts forever.