Belgian vocalist, experimentalist Lynn Cassiers' debut album with this band is largely unclassifiable. So, we take the easy way out and state that it heavily leans towards the avant-garde spectrum, although these loose, semi-structured works are embedded with jazz, free improv, and the leader's silky vocals, intermittently treated with electronics. No doubt, the music parallels the inferences of the album moniker.
Moody, otherworldly and gently magnetic may loom as accurate descriptors. The program includes alien dialogues, oddball maneuvers and captivating electronicsused in good taste and not overbaked. But Cassiers is also like a traffic cop here, as the musicians buoyantly follow her vocals and low-key accents with underlying themes and atmospherics, other than saxophonist Sylvain Débaisieux's fierce and brawny solos. But the septet has room to move via supple buildups, complemented by the leader's poetic swagger and a few spoken word instances.
"Gugu" is an airy jaunt amid pianist Erik Vermeulen's sprinkling notes and drummer Marek Patrman's textural cymbals work. However, each piece stands on its own.
"Namekian Color" is patterned with Cassiers' unearthly chants and oscillating electronics effects, offset by Niels Van Hertum's euphonium lines atop odd-metered beats and a few choruses that convey mayhem. At times the ensemble embarks on gradual descents into minimalistic vistas and introspective passages along with the soloists free-form outbreaks.
Moving forward, "We Talk" is built with a dream-weaving blues gait and quietly haunting motifs, countered by blossoming progressions. Although the following track, "7 Ways of a Hermit," starts as a temperate piano and vocal vamp, followed by bass and drums and the saxophonist's tense dialogues. Imagery of reaching an impasse in life surfaces, akin to "Shelf," where the musicians morph another perplexing ballad with a menacing background.
Cassiers' vivid imagination yields bountiful residuals on this persuasive set. Among other aspects, it's a calming album, but not sedate or blissful. And that is one of the more thought-provoking elements of these compelling abstracts, thriving with off-kilter sound designs that traverse a buoyant pathway to some previously undetected terminus.
71%; Water Falls; Korrels; Busy Chick; Gugu; Namekian Color; Kapitein Antonio & Toutes les Gares; Frillin (the cartoon madness); We Talk; 7 Ways of a Hermit; A Full 6%; Shelf.
Lynn Cassiers: voice, electronics; Ananta Roosens: violin; Sylvain Débaisieux: soprano and tenor saxophone; Niels van Heertum: euphonium; Erik Vermeulen: piano; Manolo Cabras: double bass; Marek Patrman: drums.