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Mixed Reviews - Muff Kopf, Progressive Metal, Rhythm Frontier

The Muff Kopf

An interesting accessory for your bass drum beater, the Muff Kopf resembles a small furry animal; my initial reaction being a Star Trek fan was “It’s a Tribble, but what do I do with it?”

The answer is incredibly simple, you tie it over the bass drum beater using the robust tie cord and it softens the attack of the beater on the head. As a concept I’m amazed no one has actually manufactured a product for this purpose before, at least as far as I’m aware.

If you need to change the attack of the beater on the fly, it’s quick and easy to do and as far as the sound goes, extremely effective. 

As a product they seem to be sturdy and well-made. One concern I had about the fluff coming off seemed to be unfounded as I didn’t experience that at all. They come in black, green or orange but frankly with the colour on the inside, it’s more or less invisible when actually in use. 

I did find that when using the Muff Kopf on a double pedal, the extra thickness of the accessory meant it was actually catching the slave pedal beater as well. You can’t really use this on anything other than a single pedal but I imagine most people who will be interested in the softer sounds the Muff Kopf provides will be single pedal players anyway. 

There are two different options of Muff Kopf, I call them “fluffy” and “fluffier” but they call them “standard and fleece”. The fleece version is extremely fluffy and I found more prone to moving around on the head of the beater, however not to the point it was no longer having the effect it was intended to. 

If you’re after a quick way to soften the attack of your usual beater then the Muff Kopf is a decent product, although I’m not sure it’s really any easier to use than to whip out your regular beater and pop in a softer one. If you don’t own multiple beaters the Muff Kopf is in my view a sensible price in comparison and does the job just as well. 

Oh and if you wondered; Muff Kopf is simply German for Muff Head.

Progressive Metal Drumming Techniques Volume 1 - Dan Foord

Dan is a British metal drummer best known for his drumming with Sikth.

Written and produced by Dan himself, this book and DVD series is designed to introduce played to some of the musical aspects of progressive metal and the first of the series introduces the idea of 3 over 4 polyrhythmic grooves. 

The book is well presented with clear and straight forward text explaining the exercises and nicely presented transcriptions, which actually use colour to differentiate between notes.

I was really impressed with the quality of the DVD too, as Dan has clearly taken time to make sure there is a definite feel and vibe to it. Some nice touches to bring it to life, from the imagery of the cogs as a theme which runs through the book and DVD but also the exercises on the screen are easy to follow and well presented.

It shows Dan has thought about presentation and that in turn shows this is not just a book and DVD, but also a labour of love.

Dan himself is also very good at talking you through concepts and comfortable on camera. 

These ideas may be fairly familiar to metal aficionados, but as a beginner there are some great ideas here and I’m hopeful the rest of the series will also be of the same high standard and explain things in a way that even a beginner can assimilate.

It’s worth mentioning that Dan’s playing on the examples is also very groovy, this is not a chops release at all, but a master class in locking it down in a progressive metal environment.

The play along tracks that Dan has used for this DVD are also of a high quality, bringing some real metal to the exercises for enjoyable and effective practise at different tempos. 

I’ve often said I prefer books that don’t overcomplicate or try to cram too much in. I feel they are more effective at getting their point across and Dan has done a great job of this.

Rhythm Frontier – Pete Lockett and Gabor Dornyei

Featuring two of the worlds’ finest percussion and kit players, this DVD release is an exceptional showcase of how drum kit and percussion can interact and play together.

There are a total of 11 compositions on this DVD, mostly from Pete and Gabor although Bill Bruford and even Max Roach have arrangement and composition credits on the back cover. 

The way the DVD has been shot really impressed me. They’ve utilised a fluid camera which moves in and out in order to get the best shots of exactly what Pete and Gabor are doing and it adds a real intimacy to the release.

Both artists get to showcase their individual skills as well as playing their duets; some of what Pete was playing on a single instrument is simply staggering and yes, he does use vocalisations as well, especially during his solos.

Gabor also gets his chance to shine and the track “Alexander Hedgehog” is a great example of just how talented a player Gabor is as he flies around the kit, layering up rhythms in what appears to be almost an effortless fashion.

A highlight for me was track 8, “A Drift in Time”. This track features not just Pete and Gabor playing together, but also some layered up playing over the top of themselves. It’s powerful, groovy and exciting. 

As you’d expect there are many different styles and would rhythms being played across the DVD and drums from all four corners of the planet; some I found familiar, others certainly not.

There’s also some bonus material from live performances such as the 20th Drummers Gala which is worth a watch and a bit about Gabor and his cymbal selection.

It’s not a DVD for everyone and will appeal mostly to fans of world music and percussion, but it’s certainly worth a watch, even if like me your knowledge of exactly what they’re playing is somewhat eclipsed by the barrage of sound and rhythms that comes your way.

Hunnia Records

Rob Crisp 

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