September, 2020 – Freistil Magazin, Austria

brain drain (LP/CD)
Clean Feed
Peter Van Huffel (as, bars), Roland Fidezius (b), Rudi Fischerlehner (dr)

The Jesus Lizard war der erste Gedanke, der unglaublich knackige Basssound, die überpräsente Snare und eben die Groove. Alsbald gesellt sich Van Huffels Saxofon dazu, und tatsächlich kommt die nächste Stimmung aus dieser Ecke hervor wie ein verschollenes Relikt des Denison Kimball Trio. Es ist ein unglaublich starker und ausgewogener Sound, der sich harmonisch mit den Kompositionen verschmelzt. Ein starker Mix, in dem sich die geradlinigen Grooves des 90er Noiserock mit Freejazz-Vertretern, wie Coltrane oder Ayler, die Hand oder besser die Sounds geben. Neun instrumentale Tracks sind auf diesem äußerst kompakten Album, bei dem es viele Breiten und kaum Längen gibt. Die Produktion lässt die Instrumente wundervoll erklingen, mit ausgetüftelf eingesetzten Effekten. Brain Drain ist in sich stimmig, in einer dunklen Grundstimmung, auch wenn sich das bei der letzten Nummer noch ändert: Weil die klingt, als hätte Paulchen Panther dieses Stück dirigiert. Große Empfehlung! (mr. ri)

September, 2020 – The New York City Jazz Record, USA
(by) –

Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain
What is jazz-rock? Rock with jazz influences, or vice versa? Is it the same as rock-jazz? Answers depend on who you ask and what mood they’re in. What is rock-jazz today might be jazz-rock tomorrow and what is both today is neither on Sundays. A label that was supposed to help an album find its audience becomes a useless pointer to an unclear in-between zone. All that is solid melts into air. You’ll just have to listen to figure out whether it’s your kind of thing and that’s the very special quality of multi-genre music—it thwarts our collective Spotify-enabled mania for taxonomizing music. Even if they’re not any good, multi-genre albums always provide a jolt of un-classified unrecognizability.

Not that Brain Drain by Gorilla Mask is no good. It’s quality jazz-rock, or as the liner notes more minutely describe it, “a mishmash of punk, metal, jazz, free improvisation and written avant garde music.” The main dynamic is the effects-distorted alto and baritone saxophones of Peter Van Huffel (who turns 42 this month), which sound like Albert Ayler scoring The Twilight Zone, against Roland Fidezius’ electric bass and Rudi Fischerlehner’s drums, forming a rhythm section reminiscent of a ‘90s video game boss battle soundtrack (or, for older readers, Black Sabbath).

Like all albums within riffing distance of heavy metal, the track titles are pure poetry: “Forgive me, Mother”, “AVALANCHE!!!”, “Caught in a Helicopter Blade”. What could it mean? How can you get inside a helicopter blade? Who cares! It’s fun. And that’s the best thing about Brain Drain—the combination not just of the technical aspects of metal and jazz but also of their attitudes. This is “jazz” with the silliness and spookiness of heavy metal. The shock of this particular way of combining styles, rather than the combination itself, is what makes the album enjoyable. So don’t you dare try to label Brain Drain and lump it together with all the other jazz-rock albums, or you will be forever haunted by the telltale moan of the jazz-rock saxophone.

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. “

March 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.”

March 16th, 2020 – Nettavisen Livsstil, Norway
(by) – full review:

Anmeldelse: Gorilla Mask – Brain Drain
“Together with his co-musicians, the exceptional Fidezius and Fischerlehner, Van Huffel has for a decade created a band sound that reminds me of nothing else. Finding their own sound is something everyone is looking for, but not so many find, and Gorilla Mask should have all the honor for it.”

March, 2020 – Jazz.PT
(by) – full review:

****1/2 Peter Van Huffel’s Gorilla MASK “Brain Drain”-
” There are records that start very well and end better. This is one of them.The record has excellent songs, a dense and heavy sound and a lot of kicking, with a danceable feeling. All this tempered by industrial doses of energy and strong rhythms, with totally surprising saxophone phrases. This is the most amazing Gorilla Mask record. ”

February 10th, 2020 – Jazz Buzz
(by) – full review:

Although Van Huffel signs all the compositions from the beginning, the band’s work seems to be based more on interaction and collective work. A sound that starts from an explosive mix of free jazz, punk and metal is constantly moving to the extreme ... You often feel that the primary concern of the three musicians is to release the maximum energy possible and to make them as noisy as possible. But through the constant “building-to-deconstruction” rotation, you feel the chaotic neural soundtrack of the complex daily life and movement in the modern city emerge from the chaos. ”

February 3rd, 2020 – The Free Jazz Collective
(by) – full review:

“When The Thing announced a long break in March last year it was sad news for fans like me. But actually it was a miracle that the band have kept up their concept at such a high quality level for 20 years. The question remained which other bands could fill the gap left by The Thing … However, if you’re looking for a less obvious alternative, you might check out Gorilla Mask…

Brain Drain is a very good album but if you have the chance you should see the band live. Their rampant improvisations are even more developed and lush than on the album, in a weird way they reminded me of Grateful Dead. In concert the compositions are rather used as a framework in which the improvisations are able to escalate marvelously. ”

January, 2020 – DZIKIE NUTY 2.0 (Poland)
(by Rafał Zbrzeski) – full Polish review:

“… Unbridled wildness, reaching up to the most primal instincts, can be an advantage. Particularly valuable when it comes to music genres, which put more expression and directness into the artful workshop, on the one hand, many varieties of free music, on the other, those streams of rock music that are devoid of any imagination. The Berlin trio of Peter van Huffel draws from both of these sources … On the fourth album, the formation led by a Canadian saxophonist settled in Berlin, flexes it’s muscles from the very first measures. The massive bass guitar riff, broken percussive rhythm and jagged, jumping phrases of the alto saxophone are nothing but a manifesto of the power of a powerful animal. It is true that the pace is not deadly, but the weight alone is enough to gain respect…

(review segment translated with Google)

December 27th, 2019 – (Portugal)
BEST OF 2019 – “Melhores do Ano 2019 em Revisita”:

*with special mentions from Nuno Catarino and Rui Eduardo Paes*

December 22nd, 2019 – Something Else Reviews (USA)
(by) – full review:

“… The trio brings punk and math-rock sensibilities to crash the jazz improv party, and now they are four albums into their raid with the recent release of Brain Drain. As before, Gorilla Mask is often in your face. That said, their tactics with rhythm and harmony remain an integral part of their attack, too. The fuzzed-out bass and the jungle-rhythm drums following along in a staggered path herald the start of “Rampage,” and Van Huffel’s alto sax sets a thematic pattern that goes in lock step with the rhythm section…

December, 2019 – Dragon Jazz (Belgium)
(by) – full review:

Il ne faut pas sous-estimer le pouvoir d‘envoûtement de cette musique extatique dont on se rendra bien compte sur l’extraordinaire Drum Song qui démarre, forcément, sur un solo de batterie avant d’évoluer en une texture mouvante, presque marécageuse, qui charrie un saxophone dont les accents rauques et primitifs remontent du fond des âges. On retrouve ici le sens et l’innovation qui caractérisaient le rock expérimental allemand des 70s et plus particulièrement certaines ambiances du génial Tago Mago de Can…

December, 2019 – Jazz & Mo’ (Belgium)
(by) – full Flemish review:

“… Put the explosiveness of punk, the intensity of metal and the freedom of free jazz together and you have Gorilla Mask. Sax, bass and drums go on an adventure together and don’t shy away from the effect. Gorilla Mask is an intriguing example of how contemporary trained musicians bring influences from punk, rock and metal into jazz.

December 10th, 2019 – The Stash Dauber
(by) – full review:

Things we like: Vomit Fist, Gorilla Mask

“… Whether they’re essaying a heavy groove tune like opener “Rampage,” the wildest freeblow (see “Avalanche!!!”), or a balls-out rocker like the closing “Hoser” (perhaps a nod to Van Huffel’s Canadian roots?), the trio’s music packs a visceral punch worthy of Naked City, Last Exit, or ’73-’74 King Crimson, made even more impactful by the finesse and intention with which they wield it. To these feedback-scorched ears, their most memorable outing yet.”

December 9th, 2019 – Jazz Press PL
(by Rafał Garszczyński) – full review:

Alternate Link:

Gorilla Mask – Brain Drain

“… “Brain Drain” is an example of how to create a hit album without catchy melodies and virtuoso performances. Twisted, though not recombined rhythms are the basis of Gorilla Mask’s music. Against the background, Peter Van Huffel can freely improvise on his saxophones, sometimes in a more free-jazz atmosphere like in “Avalanche !!!”, in a moment more rock – like in “Barracuda”. The improvising saxophone against the backdrop of dynamic bass and percussion is fortunately not the only musical scheme that the band’s musicians have to offer. Hidden at the end of the album “Hoser” is a collective improvisation, a break with the saxophone formula plus a section...”

(translated with Google)

November 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…”