Saturday, March 01, 2003


Album: Inner Noise
Artist: Asaf Sirkis (with Steve Lodder and Mike Outram)
Released: February 2003
Catalogue: Konnex Records KCD5113
CD: 1

"Like a melange of Yes and the 1970s Mahavishnu Orchestra, with episodes of electric-ambience atmospherics" and references to composers such as Messiaen, declared John Fordham in his recent review of Asaf Sirkis' new album. It was meant as disapproval. To NFE it sounds more than a little encouraging. Sirkis, for those who don't know him, is a composer-drummer of daunting technical skills, a wide palette of sounds, and the desire to combine some of his passions from the vividly colourful and thoughtfully energetic ends of the classical-jazz-rock spectrum.

'Inner Noise' is Sirkis' second solo album (following his Trio debut with 'One Step Closer' in 1995), and his first in Europe since he arrived from Israel in 1999. Besides working with his own band (after which the latest album is named), Sirkis has performed regularly with Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble, Christine Tobin, the Phil Robson Trio, Martin Speake and Adel Salameh (a Palestinian oud player/composer). He occasionally plays with Theo Travis, Emmanuel Bex, Ari Brown, Gary Husband, John Taylor, John Etheridge, Dave O'Higgins, Claude Deppa and others. This is some pedigree.

Inner Noise consists of Sirkis on drums / percussion alongside Mike Outram on electric guitar and classically trained Steve Lodder (famed for his work with Andy Sheppard and Joanna MacGregor) on organ. The album features nine pieces: "Lucidity" (7:46),"Three Ways" (4:59), "Hope" (8:30), "Floating" (6:53), "Inner Noise" (8:45), "Desert Vision" (11:19), "The Only Way" (9:12), "Questions" (3:06), and "White Elephant" (12:05). It was originally commissioned by the Tel Aviv Department of Arts and toured in Israel during 1997-98, but has taken just over four years to see the light of day on disc. I've only heard a few clips, but it sounds a fascinating brew, and nothing like the monochromatic disappointment indicated by Fordham. Look out also for supporting tour dates on the European Jazz Network pages.

See also James Griffiths' review of Asaf Sirkis with saxophonist Atzmon at London's Pizza Express Jazz Club earlier in February 2003, where the band drew on source materials ranging from eastern European folk through to hard bop, funk and French accordion music. Like his Israeli compatriot, Sirkis has been openly and courageously critical of his government's treatment of the Palestinian people.

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