Double Drums

It’s great fun to see how Double Drums, the percussion duo of Alexander Glöggler and Philipp Jungk, get to work. Two percussionists have rarely been seen swirling across the stage like that. Not only popular drum kits and percussion utensils belong to their rich range of instruments, but all sorts of sounding utensils, up to hardware store equipment such as saws or drills. And yet, beyond their showmanship, the musical result always speaks for itself. This is proven by the four CDs they have released so far, and even more by their most recent project: “Groovin ‘Christmas”.

Once again, the project was born out of the sheer fun of the percussive experiment: “We just like to fool around on stage at the soundcheck or during the rehearsals. Last winter, we played around on cans and pots and came across ‘Jingle Bells’, probably because of the season. That was very funny, especially because it quickly moved in a completely different direction,” says Jungk. Quickly the two had licked blood: Why not make a Christmas CD with their special instruments, one, that really does not exist yet?” Christmas and drums – that seems to be a total contradiction. That’s exactly what appealed to us and was the original idea for this CD,” reports Jungk. So that the supposedly incompatible, inappropriate, fits together perfectly, is now demonstrated by Double Drums on a percussion journey across genres, styles and continents. Glöggler and Jungk show how much rhythm is in Christmas music, but also how much melody and emotion can be found in percussion.

Since they founded Double Drums in 2004, Alexander Glöggler and Philipp Jungk have been testing out the manifoldness they can address with drums, and how virtuoso, dynamic, emotional, funny and visual they can sound. It was the same year in which they both received their master class diploma in classical percussion from Peter Sadlo at the Munich Academy of Music. Of course, such a project can only work, if you have the necessary instrumental skills in addition to the necessary playfulness and humor. The two have proven their genius as soloists and ensemble members in renowned orchestras such as the Radio Symphony Orchestra of the SWR or the BR, the Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera or the Munich Chamber Orchestra, or as members of the internationally known “Li Biao Percussion Group”. But also, in the collaboration with artists of all kinds, from classical stars like Sol Gabetta to the Thilo Wolf Big Band and to the Krautrock band Amon Düül. But especially with their duo “Double Drums”, where the two combine all their experiences. So successful, that in 2010 they received the Bavarian Art Award for this, and – just one example among many eulogies – the Berliner Tagespiegel wrote about them, as the “ultimate percussion spectacle”.

Already during their studies, Glöggler and Jungk realized that their interests went far beyond the usual classical field of percussion and that they wanted to exploit and demonstrate the universal possibilities of their instruments not only in the orchestra pit, but also as front men on stage. And so Double Drums now prove, with this one of a kind Christmas record, that two percussionists can almost reproduce the polyphony of an orchestra alone, but in any case, the rhythmic force and the melodic quality of a band. A particularly beautiful example of this is “A child is born”: The marimba introduces the basic chords with pulsating decompositions, then the vibraphone gradually layers the melody, a shifted motif by the Egg shaker and various rhythmic counterpoints snap and click over it. Only one way to take pleasure in Christmas in a completely new way: Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”, for example, gains an enormous dramatic moment by the harsh rhythm with stops and surprising changes, heavy bass sounds and sounds almost like a James Bond soundtrack. And when “Jingle Bells” becomes “Jingle Beats”, it almost sounds like once upon a time at the Football World Cup in South Africa. Finally, the biggest of all Christmas classics “Silent Night” suddenly gets a completely surprising, irresistible Latin groove with Double Drums.

As versatile as the interpretations are, so widely diversified is the selection of the pieces on “Groovin ‘Christmas”: The repertoire ranges from Bach – with “Jauchzet, Frohlocket” from the Christmas Oratorio as well as the hybrid processing of Gounod’s C major Prelude to “Ave Maria” – from German (“Morgen Kinder wird’s was geben”) or international folk songs (“Good Rest Ya Merry Gentlemen”) up to four original compositions such as the Asian-style “Mongolian Sleighride”. Which comes from the pen of their old friend, the composer Hermann Weindorf, who also arranged and produced the album.

Without having to forgo beloved melodies and listening habits, the magic of the Advent season gets a whole new twist by Double Drums. “Groovin ‘Christmas”, makes you ready for Christmas, with a record, which has never existed before.