Belgian duo LinusRuben Machtelinckx, guitar and banjo; Thomas Jillings, saxophone and clarinethave been recording with additional musicians for several years. This grouping is the largest they have gathered together and revisits the one from the album Mono No Aware (Aspen Edities, 2017). It is rich instrumentation, expanded by Machtelinckx's additional baritone guitar, Jillings' synthesizer and Niels Van Heertum's trumpet (along with his usual euphonium). Nils Økland sticks with Hardanger fiddle and Ingar Zach again provides percussion.
The program's balance has shifted back towards group improvisation, with only two individually composed pieces. "Playful" opens the album with a brief rhythmic idea interrupted by fiddle and synthesizer. "Ostinato" is an aptly titled Jillings composition. Machtelinckx's guitar provides the ostinato pattern (along with atmospheric percussion), while fiddle and saxophone play a slow melody over the top. The title tune is by Machtelinckx, and definitely sounds composed, with moving harmonies and a striking melody. The generally gentle group sound builds to a striking crescendo before settling down to a calm conclusion.
"Affirms Nothing" is all atmosphere: bell-like percussion, synthesizer drones, high fiddle and gentle guitar harmonies. "Conway" is the longest improvisation (and the longest track on the album), and it opens with a nervous, jagged rhythm that supports long-note saxophone and fiddle lines. Eventually, Økland emerges with a solo, followed by Van Heertum's euphonium. "First Notes" starts out as a guitar/fiddle duo, joined by alto clarinet, then euphonium, building into a collective conversation. "Echo" closes the album in a reflective mood, anchored by baritone guitar. It is an appropriate ending to this mostly improvisational outing, equal parts chamber jazz and New Music. The ensemble has developed a distinctive sound, one that values the contributions of all of the players over soloists: even the percussion is more about texture than timekeeping.
Playful; Ostinato; Light As Never; Affirms Nothing; Conway; First Notes; Echo.
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