Dark jazz, doom jazz, and ambient jazz noir are just three of the (sub)genre terms regularly used to describe the music of Germany's Bohren & Der Club of Gore. After emerging from hardcore punk and metal bands during the late 1980s, these musicians sought and discovered a new direction that reveled in sheer unhurried lethargy, a music persistently sedate, modally performed, and harmonically minimal. Their primary influences included film noir soundtracks, the bleak sonic landscapes of Lustmord, the scores of Angelo Badalamenti, the languid sax and soul ballads of Ben Webster, and the bleak, perverse, violent imagery of in the novels of Big Jim Thompson. Their first two albums consisted of guitar-driven imaginary midnight soundtrack-esque compositions including 1995's monolithic, two-hour Midnight Radio. Saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Christoph Clöser arrived in 1998 to replace founding guitarist Reiner Henseleit birthing their second stage with 2000's globally acclaimed Sunset Mission. With a plodding, syrupy slowness, Bohren & Der Club of Gore sought a beguiling, beautiful yet ominous stasis in their music. Their tunes seemed to begin already in the middle and end the same way. Later recordings, such as 2008's Dolores, employed Clöser's vibraphone and Fender Rhodes as primary instruments, slightly easing the late-night dread, in bringing this second phase to a close. The new one began in earnest with 2011's Beileid. Mike Patton guest crooned on an unrecognizable cover of "Catch My Heart," by '80s German doom metal act Warlock. On 2014's Piano Nights, B&DCOG eschewed the Rhodes in favor of a Yamaha digital piano (that sounds almost exactly like an acoustic grand) while Clöser's breathy saxophone vibratos trailed behind, supplanting it with a tonal sense of hollowness. Ever a study in contradictions, Bohren's Piano Nights was at once the band's most "upbeat" and their coldest and thinnest-sounding.
Formed in 1992 by longtime friends Thorsten Benning (drums), Robin Rodenberg (bass), Reiner Henseleit (guitar), and Morten Gass (guitar/piano), self-described German all-instrumental "doom-ridden jazz music" quartet Bohren & der Club of Gore were forged from a shared love of grindcore, hardcore, death, and doom metal. Originally called simply Bohren (German for drilling), the band expanded its moniker in 1993 to reflect one of its biggest inspirations, the Dutch instrumental band GORE. In 1994, after the release of an eponymous 7" EP for Suggestion Records, the group put out its full-length debut, Gore Motel, followed in 1995 by Midnight Radio, both of which appeared on Epistrophy Records.
Henseleit left the band the following year, a move that resulted in the group's sound becoming even more brooding and minimalist. Composer and saxophone player Christoph Clöser joined in 1997, resulting in 2000's Fender Rhodes-heavy Sunset Mission. After a brief hiatus, the same lineup returned for 2002's Black Earth, 2005's Geisterfaust, and 2008's Dolores. They released Mitleid Lady on Southern Records in 2010 and followed it with Beileid on Mike Patton's Ipecac imprint in the summer of 2011. After an international tour and an extended break, the group emerged with Piano Nights in early 2014. In 2015, Benning left the band, in essence leaving them a trio. Other than a double-disc comp entitled Bohren for Beginners the following year, Bohren & Der Club of Gore kept a low profile until they re-entered the studio as a trio in 2019. On the October pre-release single "Sollen Es Doch Alle Wissen," they employed the warm sax and bass sounds from Dolores, acoustic piano a la Piano Nights, and the grooving vibes and some Rhodes from Sunset Mission, essentially ushering in the band's fourth chapter. Their ninth album, Patchouli Blue, was released in early 2020. ~ James Christopher Monger