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Album Review

Linus + Økland/Van Heertum/Zach: Light As Never

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Linus + Økland/Van Heertum/Zach: Light As Never
Belgian duo Linus—Ruben Machtelinckx, guitar and banjo; Thomas Jillings, saxophone and clarinet—have 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.

Track Listing

Playful; Ostinato; Light As Never; Affirms Nothing; Conway; First Notes; Echo.

Personnel

Ruben Machtelinckx: guitar; Thomas Jillings: woodwinds; Nils Økland: violin; Niels Van Heertum: euphonium; Ingar Zach: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Ruben Machtelinckx: guitar, baritone guitar, banjo; Thomas Jillings: tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, synthesizer; Nils Økland: hardanger fiddle; Niels Van Heertum: euphonium, trumpet; Ingar Zach: percussion.

Album information

Title: Light As Never | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Aspen Edities


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