Album Reviews


March 2023 – Freistil Magazin, Austria
(by Mr. Ri)

“Das inzwischen fünfte Album des dreiköpfigen Monsters ist wieder auf dem prächtigen portugiesischen Label Clean Feed erschienen, das konsquent dafür sorgt, dass Perlen der freien Musik unter die Hörerschaft kommen. “Auf Mind Raid toben sich die in Berlin lebenden Musiker wieder wunderbar aus, verschachteln die Songs oder lassen sie entwickeln, tun einfach, was sie am besten können. Dämonische Bassläufe von Fidezius, welche an die knackigsten von David W. Sims erinnern, treiben das Album immer wieder nach vorne, geben den jazzigen Auswüchsen eine durchaus postrockige Komponente. Dazu wirbelt und groovt Fischerlehner, oder er legt einen perkussiven Teppich. Einer der vielen Höhepunkte auf dem Album ist zugleich mit elf Minuten der längste Song, RumbaDub, ein äußerst groovender Track voller hypnotischer Rhythmik und Klangflächen, ein mehr als ebenbürtiger: Execution Ground … “

CF602CD-COVER-1080December 31st, 2022 – Touching Extremes, Italy
by Massimo Ricci

When an engine is in good operating order, it can be disassembled for a very long time before being put back together and starting to roar. So it makes sense that throughout a 13-year span, Gorilla Mask only released a handful of records – four, to be exact. In actuality, the most important thing is to be informed of what to anticipate when confronted with them. By demonstrating the abilities of Peter Van Huffel, Roland Fidezius and Rudi Fischerlehner at the perfect fusion of experimental intent, elastic groove and, every so often, healthy badassery, Mind Raid unquestionably lives up to expectations.

(click link above to read full review)


July 16th, 2020 – JazzWord, Canada
(by) – full review:

Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain
“With the power of oil derrick pumping, Gorilla Mask’s Peter Van Huffel uses his baritone saxophone throughout to unearth subterranean textures, in order to extract robust dynamics that slam against Roland Fidezius’ electric bass hammering and percussionist Rudi Fischerlehner’s comprehensive battering. All eight tracks composed for this Berlin-based band by Kingston, Ont,-native Van Huffel straddle metal force and improvisational exploration. Despite leaning towards the former, the trio never strays into excess. “

CF540 - COVERMarch 21st, 2020 – Jazz da Gama, Canada
(by) – full review:

Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain
“The expression of fear and chaos on “Rampage” is superbly vivid. And the monumental expression of exhaustion from “Brain Drain” is extraordinarily well done… It is this kind of craftsmanship from all the members of Peter Van Huffel’s Gorilla Mask that makes this music not only meaningful, but enormously enjoyable in its gravity, humour and ultimately its overall aesthetics as well.”

CF540 - COVERNovember 27th, 2019, Music and More (by)
full review:

Gorilla Mask – Brain Drain (Clean Feed, 2019)

“… a seriously talented modern jazz band who still remembers how to have fun and make enjoyable and provocative music, unafraid to meld their jazz with a generous helping of punk and metal. “Rampage” opens the album, with some predatory bass and drum action, leading to clusters of ripe saxophone notes, with the group developing a tight groove. The bass takes on different textures and colors with distortion interacting with splashy cymbals and raw horn, as they dig deep and push hard in a riveting fashion…”


  May, 2017 – Jazz Podium, Germany
(Review by Thomas Volkmann)

GORILLA MASK “Iron Lung” – Clean Feed CF402CD
“Jazz für Headbanger ist das, Jazz, der den Druck und die Brachialgewalt von Hardrock verkörpert, ein wenig auch das Chaos von Punk atmet. “Iron Lung” heißt es denn auch in einem der neun Titel des Berliner Trios Gorilla Mask um den kanadischen Altsaxophonisten Peter Van Huffel … ein Weckruf für Jazzfreunde, die nichts gegen klug konzertierten Krach einzuwenden haben. In diesem Sinne: haut rein Freunde, gebt dem Affen Zucker.”

cf402lp-cover-webMay, 2017 – Freistil Magazin, Austria

GORILLA MASK “Iron Lung” – Clean Feed / Trem Azul
Peter Van Huffel (as), Roland Fidezius (b), Rudi Fischerlehner (dr)

Peter Van Huffels dritter Tonträger mit Gorilla Mask. Erschienen auf dem portugiesischen Label Clean Feed, welches für wahre Perlen von Artists wie Otomo Yoshihide’s New Jazz Quintet, John Butcher, Ken Vandermark verantwortlich zeichnet. In einem schon klassischen Jazztrio mit Altsaxofon, E-Bass und Drums bewegt sich das Trio vom Jazz weiter, hinein in den Punk und Metal. Zusätzlich holte man sich den Metalerprobten Masteringexperten James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD, Phantomsmasher) an Bord. Der E-Bass wummert in bester Jesus Lizard-Tradition, die Drums nehmen doch immer wieder auch den Helmet-Schmäh auf. So driften die Nummern oft irrwitzige, dem geschulten Metalhead oft wiedererkennbare Riffs entgegen, bleiben aber dem freiem Jazz trotzdem treu. Die Aufnahme setzt auf Transparenz statt auf Druck. Auch die Kompositionen zerlegen in feinster Jazz-Manier Riff um Riff, Groove um Groove, und verstecken sich hinter der grimmig dreinschauenden Gorilla-Maske. (mr. ri)

cf402lp-cover-webFebruary 26th, 2017 – Touching Extremes, Italy
Review by Massimo Ricci) – full review:

“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.”

kronix coverAugust 11th, 2016 – Jazz Word, Canada
click here for full review

REVIEW: Peter van Huffel/Alex Maksymiw / KRONIX
Review by Ken Waxman

A reductionist take on improvisation by two Canadian expats who have joined Berlin’s ever-burgeoning music scene, Kronix indicates the spectrum of timbres that can be propelled by just saxophone and guitar. Still Toronto six-stringer Alex Maksymiw, who has worked with the Village Vanguard Orchestra and bassist Don Thomposon’s band, appears to be more stylistically conventional than Kingston-native, alto saxophonist Peter Van Huffel, whose background includes membership in punk-jazz trio Gorilla Mask. Being polite Canadians of course, the two don’t allow potential sonic incompatibility to upset neighborliness, and like your average federal-provincial conference, the 10 originals include both comfort and challenges.”

kronix coverApril 1st, 2016 – Free Jazz Blog, Belgium
click here for full review

REVIEW: Peter Van Huffel & Alex Maksymiw – KRONIX by Derek Stone

“Peter Van Huffel is a Berlin-based alto saxophonist who many readers might recognize for his work in Gorilla Mask (a high-octane, thrash-jazz outfit) and the Boom Crane trio. Alex Maksymiw is a guitarist who has played with various groups and orchestras, and last year’s Without a Word found him occupying the “leader” role for the second time in his steadily-accelerating career. Although the two have been playing together for around three years, Kronix marks their first recorded meeting – and what a meeting it is! Fans of Gorilla Mask should not expect the same scuffed-up intensity of that group; Kronix is more contemplative, more pensive, but it lacks none of the fire that one can hear in spades on albums like 2014’s Bite My Blues (see the review above). Instead of the uncontrolled, white-hot flames of that record, though, we get a muted glow – the fire has been subdued a bit, left to smolder.”

March 24th, 2016 – All About Jazz, USA

click here for full original

REVIEW: The Scrambling Ex (FMR) – by Dave Wayne
“Deftly juggling twisted harmonic sequences, free improvised passages, sweet and simple jazz melodies, and stop-on-a-dime rhythmic convolutions, The Scrambling Ex nods at all sorts of musical reference points without aping anyone in particular. An equal collaboration between multi- reed player Peter Van Huffel, guitarist Andreas Willers, and percussionist Oliver Steidle (who’s since been replaced by the remarkable American drummer Devin Gray), the trio relentlessly pushes the outside of the musical envelope throughout their eponymous debut album. Willers, a German-born guitarist who’s been recording all sorts of interesting music—from funky fusion to free improv and all points between—since 1981, is a remarkably multi-faceted musician whose sheer versatility is front and center on this bass-less trio outing. Six of the nine compositions here are his, and they’re a diverse bunch, indeed. Van Huffel, originally from Canada but now resident in Berlin, chipped in the other three pieces. The Scrambling Ex represents a rich, musically fertile middle ground between Van Huffel’s other musical concerns: the raging, rocking free-jazz-infused frenzy of Gorilla Mask, the intricate and intimate acoustic trio BoomCrane, and the atmospheric classically- informed inventions of House of Mirrors. ”


TSX-CoverJune 5th, 2015 – Downtown Music Gallery, NYC

click here for full original

REVIEW: The Scrambling Ex (FMR) – by Bruce Lee Gallanter
“PETER VAN HUFFEL/ANDREAS WILLERS/OLIVER STEIDLE – The Scrambling Ex (FMR 387; UK)Featuring Peter Van Huffel on alto sax & clarinet, Andreas Willers on electric & acoustic guitars and Oliver Steidle on drums. Canadian-born saxist, Peter Van Huffel, has more than a half dozen discs out on various labels, each one with different personnel and sound. German guitarist Andreas Willers also has more than a half dozen discs as a leader and has worked with Paul Bley, Louis Sclavis and Gebhard Ullmann. Drummer Oliver Steidle records for the JazzWerkStatt label and leads a quartet with Rudi Mahall and Jan Roder as members. All of the pieces on this disc were written by Mr. Van Huffel (three) or Mr. Willers (six). The first piece, “Beast”, starts off slow and spacey before the trio erupt with quick, free lines furiously played together, tight and intense. For “Case of Need’, Mr. Willers wrote some complex lines for the trio to play together with the guitar and sax playing their crazed fractured lines together. On “Happenstance” the trio quiets down to some more restrained, somber playing with delicate guitar and clarinet weaving. Each piece appears to be a different set of challenges for the trio to play through. Sometimes the guitar and drums will play one tight connected line together while the sax plays his interconnected lines in between the tight lines of the rest of the trio. This is pretty amazing trio that sounds as if they have been working hard on writing and recording this material. Hopefully that will make it here someday. – Bruce Lee Gallanter”


October 20th, 2014 – Music Works / Jazz Word, Canada full review:

by Ken Waxman- Peter Van Huffel’s Gorilla Mask – Bite my Blues
“With a program built around his rugged compositions, Canadian expatriate alto saxophonist Peter Van Huffel and his Gorilla Mask trio mine the seam of improvised music with implements forged equally from effervescent melodies reminiscent of Ornette Coleman’s electric bands and the obdurate rhythms of punk rock. At the same time, the Berlin-based saxophonist and his Teutonic associates, bassist Roland Fidezius and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner, bring a refreshing originality to the tracks, with animated musicianship stressing exhilaration over power beats.”

BMB-CoverOctober 10th, 2014 – Wall of Sound, Canada –
full review:

Kingston Kong: Bite My Blues by Peter van Huffel’s Gorilla Mask
(Clean Feed, 2014) – Review by Neil Hobkirk

“Raised in a city readily stigmatized as an alternate take—an other London (Ontario), as opposed to the London (England)—I’m heartened to note the people and things that help my adopted hometown qualify as the Kingston. Alongside Sir John A. Macdonald and the non-trumpet-playing Don Cherry, my Kingston (Ontario) includes alto saxophonist Peter van Huffel among notable past and present citizens. Fellow native son Mike Allen has gone on to make waves on our west coast as a superb mainstream tenor saxophonist, and the versatile Jonathan “Bunny” Stewart continues making them locally on the same instrument. But Peter van Huffel, born and raised here, now resides very much there, based in Berlin after years spent refining his chops in New York City.”

BoomCrane_CoverJanuary 15th, 2015 – Touching Extremes, Italy –
click here for full article

Boom Crane – review by Massimo Ricci
“After nearly a year from the release of Boom Crane, and having this commentator granted a sizeable amount of analysis to its content over the last days, what the mind sees is a contradiction of sorts between the album’s title – implying a devastating power, on paper – and the disciplined lucidity that permeates the trio’s interplay, aligning the music to areas not exactly neighboring with blaring fury and crumbling walls. This CD is, by all means, an illustration of how jazz can evolve bit by bit through the addition of compositional factors unheralded in such a context (say, a fast alteration of both tempo and velocity inside an apparently natural swinging constitution, as occurring in “Automatic Vaudeville”). It is also a way to inspire the listener to abandon – at least for an hour or so – the classic “glass-in-the-hand, head-oscillating-to-the-pulse” attitude concomitant to analogous environments.”

Howl_CoverNovember 5th, 2012 from Something Else! Reviews
(by S. Victor Aaron)
Read the full review

“Huffel and his crew, dubbed “Gorilla Mask,” bring both the Brötzmann and the Black Flag in a tidy, compact package… Huffel’s more direct, confrontational method results in a thrash-jazz record that’s more purposeful, unpredictable and just plain fun. Huffel and Gorilla Mask have created the perfect gateway drug into acoustic jazz for Henry Rollins fans.”

Howl_CoverNovember 2nd, 2012 from “Touching Extremes” (by Massimo Ricci)
Read the full review

“Look at that “acoustic bass & noise” following the name of Mr. Fideyius: that tells a lot about what to anticipate from Howl!, debut release of Gorilla Mask. The macho snarl of the bass / whose earthz sound, I suppose, was now and again augmented bz pedals / defines the blood-pumping propulsion of tracks like “Z” and “Dirty City”, two of the several intemperately grooving pieces of this concrete record. Van Huffel’s improvisational vision rides across the rippling vehemence with a combination of fervour and matter-or-factness, with the add-on of near-pastoral explorations of melody…”

March 29, 2010 – All About Jazz Review by Raul d’Gama Rose
Like The Rusted Key – Peter van Huffel Quartet |
Fresh Sound New Talent (2010)
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“The Berlin-based Canadian alto saxophonist, Peter van Huffel may be one of the most intense performers on this instrument. He creates sharp images with his playing, is exceedingly energetic—in sections of music that demand quieter moments his calmness is most elastic and taut—and although he has a tendency to play with broad glissandi almost throughout Like The Rusted Key, he has an inventive sense of rhythm. In this respect he is like Eric Dolphy, who played with a pulse that originated from the inventions of Charlie Parker, but carried the ideas of that genius into a wholly different sphere of consciousness. While Van Huffel may have some ground to cover before he hits the markers that Dolphy did in his lifetime, he may be half way there already.”

rustedkeyFree Jazz Review by Stef Gijssel
– Peter Van Huffel Quartet –
Like The Rusted Key (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009) ****

(Monday, March 15, 2010)

(Click here for the original)

I saw this young quartet perform in less than optimal circumstances, in a pub with over two hundred students totally uninterested in the band performing, probably considering them nothing more than background noise to their chats. The four musicians are Berlin-based Canadian altoist Peter Van Huffel, pianist Jesse Stacken, bassist Miles Perkin and drummer Samuel Rohrer, and all four extremely rich in their skills and versatility. They feel as easily at home in pieces with composed themes as they are on total improvisations. “Drift” starts hesitatingly but evolves into a nice theme and strong improvisations, “Tangent” has a great rhythmic drive, a strong unison theme, allowing for great staccato accentuations, then stopping abruptly for an alto solo intermezzo that tears the piece to pieces, and even if the band re-joins, it does seem to get off the ground again, but of course the great theme builds up momentum again to come to its finale. “Enghavevej” is more joyful, “Excerpt Two” is more minimalist, “Backward Momentum” another beauty of composed interplay, “Melancholic” is driven by the slowest piano chord progression ever heard, making it fun and sensitive at the same time, “Beast II” is dark and menacing. The compositions are strong, the voices rich, the sound pallette broad and deep. This music goes well beyond mainstream because of its sometimes raw delivery, wild improvisations, deconstructionist attitude, but the careful attention to themes, structures and arrangement keep the music relatively accessible. This is clever and intense music.


by Massimo Ricci, February 2, 2009

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“Hufflignon is the result produced by a group led by Canadian saxophonist Peter Van Huffel and Belgian vocalist Sophie Tassignon flanked by trombonist Samuel Blaser and bassist Michael Bates. Van Huffel, in this instance on alto and soprano, is the owner of a sophisticated technique and a suavely faultless tone that Tassignon is all too eager to stimulate…”