Mark Holub, probably still best known as de facto leader of Led Bib, has been involved with other noteworthy bands, including Mustard Pie with the great Jan Kopinski. After relocating from London to Vienna in 2012 he got together with Chris Janka and Pamelia Stickney to form Blue Blut, originally for a specific gig in 2013, but they have continued.
In 2020 Covid closed down the live music scene in Vienna, as it did in so many other places, but provided Holub with time to develop a project he had been contemplating for some time. The result, established in April 2020, was Anthropods, intended as very much a collaborative unit.
Holub wanted the musicians collectively to be free to develop the band’s approach and sound. That said, he had started to write some of the music beforehand, and his ideas determined what instrumentation he would need, so that and his choice of colleagues did, to some extent, prescribe how the band would end up sounding.
The individual Anthropods come from varied musical backgrounds, not just jazz. Holub wanted them to feel free to question each other, to say they were happy or unhappy with the direction a piece was taking. He says “the music is really about the connection between us” socially as well as musically.
Some of Holub’s compositions echo late 20th-century contemporary classical music, others have hints of early 20th-century cabaret music, and none sound much like Led Bib or Blue Blut even if some of the impulses and procedures may be related.
The album opens with trepidatious string murmurings which gradually gain confidence before they are joined by a stately theme from the reeds. Forest Capers is a jagged march that calls to mind some of Albert Ayler’s tunes, Messy To Me has a middle-eastern flavour. As the album progresses the contrasts continue, from the sombre string-led The Bells to the maelstrom of For Charles, yet there is a real sense of unity throughout.
Sea; Forest Capers; Messy To Me; The Bells; One Way; For Charles; Lunges; Pumpkin Patch; Home (60.21)
Jakob Gnigler (ts); Susanna Gartmayer (bcl) ; Irene Kepl (vn); Clemens Sainitzer (clo); Mark Holub (d). Vienna, 8-9 February 2021.
Discus Music DM117CD