Dance With The Anima
(Geomagnetic Records)


Once again, London based guitarist Phi Yaan-Zek turns in a brilliant instrumental rock fusion recording. Amazingly, the entire track list of Dance With The Anima is recorded in and around a 51 minute drum solo by drummer Marco Minnemann, who is featured here along with the keyboards of Lalle Larsson and several guest artists as well. What follows musically sounds like navigating uncharted waters with daring ears. Described as a dazzling film score, and a prog-rock fusion journey, Phi Yaan-Zek's Dance With The Anima is a poly-rhythmic instrumental rock fusion masterpiece that owes as much to European music icons such as Sweden’s Zamla as it does to modern fretboard aces like Steve Vai and Mike Keneally. Funny how, while listening to certain Dance With The Anima tracks, I was imagining some pretty far out scenarios—like how about Frank Zappa producing a rock album by the exotic Island music bandleader Martin Denny? That’s how truly offbeat and how musically all inclusive Phi Yaan-Zek is. Signaling further unique musical approaches here, the rhythmic percussive backdrop for this unusual album—Minnemann’s “Normalizer 2”—is actually the latest in a series of related releases, comprised of 50+ minute Minnemann drum solos that also, not so randomly, appear as the basis for other albums by pioneering fusion guitar figures including Mike Keneally, Trey Gunn, Jason Sadites and others including Marco himself. Witnessing Minnemann’s latest drumming merger with cutting edge musicians—it’s just incredible to hear how masterfully Phi and Larsson duck and dive in and around Minnemann’s startling, precise and innovative drum work. The 22 track CD sounds as fantastic as the music therein, and coupled with some high tech recording and mastering innovations, the CD really captures the esprit de corps with audiophile clarity. Plus, the Dance With The Anima CD cover art is also quite intriguing, featuring some fantastic, surreal paintings enhanced by an unusual glossy packaging sheen. Somewhere in heaven, Lars Hollmer is smiling down on us mere mortals. /


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Musical Background

I've been playing guitar for over 25 years now, although I still feel like a beginner as there's always so much more to learn and discover. I studied guitar at the American Institute of Music in Vienna for 2 years (1992-93), which is where I met keyboard player Lalle Larsson and we've stayed close friends ever since. I've also studied classical and modern composition.

New CD

My new CD Dance With The Anima is part of Marco Minnemann's Normalizer 2 series of releases which also includes albums by Mike Keneally, Trey Gunn, Alex Machacek, Jason Sadites, John Czajkowski, Kerry Chicoine, Mario Brinkmann and Marco himself. Each album features the same unedited drum tracks but with totally different music composed and recorded over the top.

Marco invited me to be part of the project in 2007 and it’s taken three years of intense work to complete. I composed the bulk of the music pretty quickly just jamming to the drums with an acoustic guitar. I made a decision to go with my first inspirations and it was surprising that I didn't end up doing the musical equivalent of painting myself into a corner but compositionally it all seemed to flow quite easily. However the actual recording was another story, and it was a real performance challenge at times locking into Marco's intricate poly-metric rhythms, which being a live 51 minute uninterrupted drum solo was done without a click track. It took a long time for me to nail some of the timings, especially given the organic pacing of the drums. Thankfully Lalle Larsson's superb keyboard playing really helped to glue all the performances together so that the end result was akin to the early ‘70s production feel I was after. It was certainly worth the effort with the resulting music sitting very naturally with Marco's playing. You would think that Marco is playing to my music rather than the music being composed and performed to his drumming.

I also used this project as an opportunity to showcase other sides of my guitar playing that listeners of my previous albums would not have heard before. There's lots of lyrical and spacious clean tone Strat playing, acoustic guitar solos, electric sitar solos, and well as my usual freaky shredding lead playing. The diversity of the guitar playing also serves to highlight the different cinematic moods of the music on the album. The main bulk of the recording was done in 2008 at my home studio in London (Sci-Phi Studios), however by the end of 2009 I was unhappy with the feel of my mixes and this precipitated a new wave of recording in the first half of 2010 where I added Ola Olsson's trumpet/flugelhorn playing, Amandine Ferrari's choral vocals, extra percussion, additional guitar layers and the chanting Elves of Richmond Park on "Ecstasies Of The Starlight Self". Also featured is harmonica player Gary Compton, who's played with Eric Bibb and was a member of blues band Panama Limited who were signed to EMI's Harvest label with Pink Floyd in the late 60s.

Favorite Guitars

I basically had 3 different guitar set-ups for the recording: clean, distorted and acoustic. Clean was a Fender Ash Deluxe Strat via Barber Tone Press compressor, Red Witch Chorus, and MXR EQ pedals, then into a Fender Princeton recording amp. Distorted was my Ibanez RG550 custom, my fave and most played guitar, into Fulltone Full Drive 2 and Maxon analog delay pedals into a Mesa Boogie DC3 or Nomad 100W. The acoustic guitars used were a Fylde Falstaff (steel string) and K Yiari nylon string classical cutaway. I also used a Line 6 Variax via my clean set-up for the electric sitar parts. Strings used are Ernie Ball 10-52s. Lalle used my Roland Fantom X8 as the main keyboard, but mostly for playing software instruments on the Mac.

Musical Influences

My musical influences really encapsulates all of life—nature especially is pure music for me. Also dancing the 5 rhythms has been a huge influence in my musical temperament recently. In terms of inspirational recorded music, I listen a lot to Hermeto Pascoal, Pharoah Sanders, Mike Keneally , John Barry, Stravinsky, Conrad Schrenk, The Beatles, Deerhoof, Lalle Larsson, Ane Brun, Ry Cooder, Pizzicato Five, Mats/Morgan, Stevie Wonder and Kevin Gilbert. The guitarists I find myself coming back to the most these days would definitely include Joe Satriani, Ali Farka Toure, Shawn Lane, Jeff Beck, Marty Friedman, Fredrik Thordendal and Derek Trucks. My most influential albums would include Inner Mounting Flame—Mahavishnu Orchestra, Trends And Other Diseases—Mats/Morgan, Magical Mystery Tour—The Beatles, Engines Of Creation—Joe Satriani, Flex-Able—Steve Vai, Sluggo—Mike Keneally, and Sol Niger Within—Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects.

Upcoming Plans

I'm currently playing gigs in London with a tribal/world music ensemble called Urubu, which is a really great high energy live event which also gives me a lot of scope for improvisation. Recording wise, at the moment I'm finishing off the companion remix album to Dance With The Anima called Deeper With The Anima, which includes lots of exciting new pieces based on the original project. Then I have a lot of material that I recorded in California with Marco Minnemann, Bryan Beller on bass, and Mike Keneally on keyboards, vocals and guitar, and the first album from these sessions Reality Is My Plaything should be out later this year. So its already gearing up to be jam packed year musically!

Web Site

My website is which also includes my contact details. Information about the Normalizer 2 project can be found at and
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