Mr. Vast’s experimental jazz-pop group Kröter is even weirder than his solo stuff

kroter

Remember Mr. Vast, our favorite fat-suit-wearing, avant-glam-pop Englishman living in Germany? Turns out he’s been keeping busy since we added him to the Weird List way back in 2014 (my, how the time does fly). In addition to releasing his second album, Touch and Go — which is already getting a reissue, on picture disc, next month — he went and formed a whole new weird band on us. They’re called Kröter, which is German for Toad, and he describes them as “tadpoles wiggling in Jazz Pop ponds, then sprouting back legs [as] they begin to jump around in Techno and krautrock.” They released their debut album(s) just last month and they’re gloriously bizarre, stream-of-consciousness jams that pull from all those sources, plus maybe a little Mark E. Smith, Psychic TV and Suicide. Here’s a taste:

Besides Mr. Vast (aka Henry Sargeant), Kröter features Jo Zahn on guitar and bass and Christoph Rothmeier on drums, synths, production and pretty much everything else, along with a rotating group of guest collaborators. Here they are live in Berlin earlier this year:

Kröter’s three albums are called ( kröter ) *a, ( kröter ) *b, and ( kröter ) *c and are all available now via Bandcamp.

In other Mr. Vast news, he also recently created his first theater show, The Peter Pan Syndrome, and made a couple of videos for Touch and Go. We’ll leave you with the more whimsical of the two, for the album’s closing track, a Bowie-esque psychedelic ballad called “Bottlenose”:

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Mr. Vast

Mr. Vast

So as usual, we got something wrong when we first wrote about this week’s weird artiste, the inimitable Mr. Vast. We said he’s from Germany. But that’s not quite right. He is apparently based, at the moment, in Germany. But he’s British. His accent should have tipped us off, but we were probably day-drinking again. Anyway, our apologies to the entire nation of Great Britain for not properly crediting you with bestowing Mr. Vast upon the world.

Mr. Vast is the alter ego of one Henry Sargeant, an actor, musician and performance artist whose previous musical project was (or maybe still is—they’re still releasing music and Sargeant might still be involved) a jokey crew called Wevie Stonder. He relocated to Germany in 2005 and took a break from Art to become a Dad. (Not that those two occupations are mutually exclusive, but the hours are pretty brutal in both.) He returned to music in 2012 as a solo artist called Mr. Vast, making what I shall tentatively describe as tongue-in-cheek New Wave electro-glam-pop until somebody comes up with something catchier to describe his bizarre but surprisingly infectious tunes.

At his best, Mr. Vast reminds us a little of our current favorite Australian weirdo, Kirin J Callinan. Like Callinan, there’s something highly theatrical and fully formed about Mr. Vast, like he’s already a rock star and the world just hasn’t discovered him yet. Also like Callinan, he’s capable of being both unabashedly pop and slightly avant-garde, often in the same song, and doing both in a way that feels both fully committed and slightly tongue-in-cheek. Take, for example, “Teflon Country,” which might be a country-fried psych-rock parody, or it might be actual country-fried psych-rock, albeit one with a junkyard dog impersonation in the middle of it:

That’s from Mr. Vast’s one and only album, by the way, a brilliant, 14-track opus called Grievous Bodily Charm that we pretty much can’t stop listening to. [Update: He now has a second album, called Touch & Go, which you can hear on SoundCloud.] It’s got sci-fi Afro-pop workouts (“Process of Illumination”), fuzz-toned heavy rock freakouts (“Henry the 8th”), Groove Armada-style downtempo makeout music (“Elemental,” which contains the high-five-worthy lyric, “The sangria made me angrier”). You can listen to the whole thing on SoundCloud and decide for yourselves if it’s a masterpiece. We’re leaning towards yes, but it might be the sangria talking.

We’ll leave you with a few videos, because that’s how we do it. First up: An extended experiment in toast physics called “Buttercide.” For the record, this is one of Mr. Vast’s weirder tracks, so if you can’t hang with it, don’t give up on him yet.

Next: The far funkier “Ease & Speed,” which we maintain is best described as Gary Numan meets Professor Elemental (I think last time we said Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, but hey, po-tay-to, po-tah-to).

And finally, here’s a glimpse of Mr. Vast live and in concert. Well, it’s not so much a glimpse as a bit fat fucking eyeful. Not since David Byrne has oversized costumery looked so sexy. [Update: Sadly, this video has since been taken down. We’ll try to find another live clip of His Vastness soon.]

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