The Madman of Naranam by Philipp Gropper’s Philm

2015 WhyPlayJazz (RS018), CD + MP3 Album Download

Philipp Gropper’s Philm »The Madman of Naranam«

Track listing

  1. Madman of Naranam  7:07
  2. Quintuplets 3  2:39
  3. Photostomias Guernei (The Deep)  6:46
  4. Quintuplets 7  2:59
  5. Ze  5:49
  6. 2nd Try  6:32
  7. Quintuplets 5  2:36
  8. Für die 68er  7:49
  9. 01101010010  3:49


Philipp Gropper (ts, comp), Andreas Lang (b), Oliver Steidle (dr), Elias Stemeseder (p)

Production credits

Recorded 9th and 10th December 2014 by Marco Birkner at Studio H2, Berlin, Germany. Mixed and mastered by Marck Fuck. All compositions by Philipp Gropper. Artwork by Natalie van Sasse van Ysselt.

With Elias Stemeseder (p) as a new member of the band, Philipp Gropper (ts) takes PHILM to new heights. In the interplay with Andreas Lang (b) and Oliver Steidle (dr) Gropper‘s uncompromisingly complex compositions unleash an archaic force full of sensuality.

»The Madman of Naranam« is the title of the new album of Philipp Gropper’s PHILM. In Indian mythology the »Madman of Naranam« is attributed to the figure of Naranth Brantham who dedicated his life to constantly dragging a rock up a mountain, only to then let it roll down again. Contrary to Sisyphus however, the »Madman« persued his task voluntarily and with great joy, in spite of the vast effort and the lack of an aim or a foreseeable end.

Saxophonist and composer Philipp Gropper, born in Berlin in 1978, has a similar approach. To me he is one of the most interesting and inspiring jazz musicians who were influenced by the group »Der Rote Bereich« and have grown out of it. Over the past years he has found his very own and special musical language and never tires of improving it, nor of expanding its vocabulary consistently. He is certainly one of the most technically skilled saxophonists of the now international scene in Germany, and in my opinion, also one of the most mature. He is uninterested in displaying his technical achievements. It is something more fundamental that is important to him:

„The longer I play music, the more important it becomes and the more clearly I perceive what a band conveys, which message it sends out. This essence, which can be experienced through the transcendant quality of music, is what it is all about, and it is absolutely independent of style or set-up. Sole virtuosity, sole flights of intellect or the elevator-approach bore me - what I want is directness and aura. I am deeply connected to tradition and constantly try to understand and carry forth its liveliness and fire - which could only develop in the context of its time ; and thus secure the old masters their lasting impact.“

The recordings for the second album of his band PHILM (Philipp Gropper’s first band as a leader after the collectively-led bands HYPERACTIVE KID and TAU) are not only the result of a highly rewarding search that has now been going on for five years, but also of uncompromising, and impressively determined work. It has been a long time since I have listened to such a deeply touching recording by a European band. Together Elias Stemeseder (Jim Black Trio, Nels Cline Trio etc.), Andreas Lang (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gunther Hampel etc.) and Oliver Steidle (Der Rote Bereich, Peter Brötzmann etc.) raise Gropper’s compositions to a new musical level. Their atmosphere is reminiscent the spectralist Gerard Grisey, but they are more intuitive. Despite of its rhythmic complexity and virtuosity, I find that Philipp Gropper's music radiates an archaic force while being full of light.

— Wanja Slavin, Berlin, April 7th, 2015


Der Jazz hat schon viele Facetten – «Philm» jedoch hat eine weitere Nische geöffnet. [...] Doch diese Bezeichnung wird der Sache nicht gerecht. Denn bei allen Freiheiten, die sich die Musiker nehmen, halten sie sich doch an ein kompositorisches Gerüst, bringen Struktur, Disziplin und Organisation ins Spiel.

Saxofonist Philipp Gropper ist fest verwurzelt in der Berliner Szene und schreibt sein Konzept fort. Die Jazzgeschichte wird nicht zitiert, sie irrlichtert höchstens durch seine dichten Kompositionen, die ein exzellentes Quartett wach, temposcharf und eng verzahnt umsetzt. Die Musik ist ebenso diszipliniert wie spontan, sie wendet ihr Material um und um, auf dass es kaleidoskopisch schillert. Das Thema- und Chorusprinzip weicht einem hohen Abstraktionsgrad, und es ist die Kunst der Band, den mit Sinnlichkeit aufzuladen. Die Details addieren sich zu einem funkelnden Fluss. Es geht nicht um Virtuosität, die ist Voraussetzung dieser komplexen Klänge, die neuerdings mit dem österreichischen Pianisten Elias Stemeseder einen mit Vitalität und Fantasie schlicht sensationellen Mitspieler haben, der das Programm zu neuen Höhen führt.

Dr. Ulrich Steinmetzger, Leipziger Volkszeitung


Also available

Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2019, CD)
Live At Bimhuis
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2018, Download)
Sun Ship
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2017, CD)
Philipp Gropper’s Philm
(2012, CD)