1

Poor Isa: let's drink the sea and dance

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
Poor Isa: let's drink the sea and dance
At first glance, Poor Isa is primarily a banjo duet. But the actual sound of the album belies any assumptions about how such a project should sound. As on their joint album When The Shade Is Stretched (Aspen Edities, 2017), Belgian banjo players Frederik Leroux and Ruben Machtelinckx tend to subvert the traditional style of the instrument. That album presented two solo recordings, but here the players truly collaborate.

"Oceanfuls" opens the set with unearthly low drone sounds (punctuated by ritualistic woodblocks) that inspire another look at the album credits. Nope, no electronic instruments listed; it turns out the drones are created by playing a banjo with an EBow (an electromagnetic string driver that can create bowing effects). The later "Seagarden" shares a similar sound world and, in fact, the entire session was produced acoustically, with no overdubs.

"Sill" uses identifiable banjo sounds, but played more like a Japanese koto. That effect is even more pronounced on "The Sun at Two," with the addition of a voice like the bowed Chinese erhu. "Izu" finally has plucked banjo sounds all the way through, but it is a sparse, pointillist presentation just as far away from bluegrass as the earlier international evocations. The closer, "Sunday Lemons," wraps things up with a meditative texture of acoustically-beating close drones, a final minimal foray into territory where few banjos have gone.

Leroux and Machtelinckx are clearly on the same page here. This is music with an emphasis on atmosphere over drama, and a pacing more Eastern than European. A fascinating sound world, made even more so by the knowledge that it was produced acoustically.

Track Listing

oceanfuls; sill; the sun at two; elsewhere; izu; seagarden; noonstroom; shroud; sunday lemons.

Personnel

Frederik Leroux: banjo, woodblocks, voice, thunderdrums; Ruben Machtelinckx: banjo, woodblocks, voice.

Album information

Title: let's drink the sea and dance | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Aspen Edities

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Ikue Mori / Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura
Read Time OutTakes
Time OutTakes
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Read In Baltimore
In Baltimore
The George Coleman Quintet

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.