For someone whose livelihood and lifeblood are all about rhythms, the COVID-19 lockdown, with its very different rhythms, must be extremely frustrating. Especially when, as is the case with Matthew Jacobson, renowned drummer, composer, promotor and record label manager, there is no drum kit in his Dublin apartment.
"I've been doing more work on the practice pad than I ever have," says Jacobson via Skype. "It's the kind of stuff that I should do regularly anyway. It would be too much trying to go back after a few months without having played. It's important to keep the hand strength up."
Jacobson's last gig before COVID-19 was at The Vortex, in London, on March 12th, as part of the pan-European, Jazz Connective project. For someone who gigs with close to twenty bands, in Dublin, throughout Europe and New York, such a fallow period is unheard of. Jacobson, however, is quick to recognize the positives of lockdown. "There's lots I've been enjoying, staying at home with my girlfriend and cooking, more regular contact with friends and family."
The lockdown has also seen Jacobson adopt a different approach to working on music.
A New Beginning...And End
"I'll work on piece until it's finished. There's an end result. That's something that I've almost never had before. If I've been writing music it's always been towards a live thing, or you record an album, but it's never really finished. There's a sense that nothing you do ever really finishes. I've learnt these past few weeks that sometimes there's value in the idea of doing something to completion, rather than always working on something and always developing thingsand that's really important toobut it's nice to have that sense of completion sometimes."
The other major advantage of lockdown is that it has allowed Jacobson to really sink his teeth into his PHD thesis. Not that he has unlimited time on his hands; there is also the day job at Dublin City University, where he teaches drums, ensemble play and music business. His students have been doing exams of late, so there's been plenty of prepping, marking and assessments. Everything, of course, is on-line, which comes with its challenges, and perhaps surprisingly, the odd advantage.
Drumming It Into Them
"DUC was pretty quick to adapt," says Jacobson. "As soon as the coronavirus happened, we basically moved the entire course on-line and made contingency plans for exams and assessments. I think that for some students, in a bizarre way, this almost suits them better. It's almost more focussed. We've had to be more prepared as teachers. You have to give them all the material, things like backing tracks, and it's very clear what they're practising," Jacobson explains.
"I think sometimes, just by the nature of the music, when everyone plays together it's a bit like, 'okay, we'll turn up and see what happens,' and they might rest on their laurels a bit, but in this situation they know exactly what they have to do and they turn up on-line and do it. I've actually seen quite big improvements in some of the students, which has been great."
Jacobson is only too aware that conditions are not easy for the students. "We're trying to keep everything as fair as possible, because some of the students are at home with their families and people are sharing bandwidth. Lots of drummers like me aren't even going to have drums at home. Somebody else simply can't play their instrument. So, there's been a lot of adjustment and a great need to be really respectful. We're going to do whatever we can and we're not going to make anybody feel bad or put any pressure on anybody. That's definitely relaxed things. It's about reassuring the students."
How though, does Jacobson encourage students to find their own voice on the instrument? "Definitely it's something I think about a lot, and I think it's something that I personally struggle with a lot because I think that's so important," Jacobson says with frankness.
"Probably one thing that I've developed in those ten years of teaching is not to encourage individuality at the expense of technique and having a fundamental grasp of the instrument. It's something you're always struggling to find the balance with as a teacher. Everybody takes in information differently, and people learn in different ways. A lot of your job is just to work out how you get the information through to them, what's the best thing for them and then doing that in a way that balances their individuality and their ability to play the instrument. Everyone is taking that information in really differently. It's challenging," Jacobson explains.
"Communication is important. Even when I'm giving the students really quite mundane technical tasks I'm always trying to say, 'look, this is really important, this will help, but you have to see the big picture and you have to know why you're doing it.' To me that's really important. You're not just sitting down and practising these rudiments so you can do these rudiments. You're doing them for some other form of expression or because you know that's going to help you be individual and have you own voice."
Thinking Outside Boxes
Jacobson's own distinctive drumming and improvisational skills have made him one of the most sought-after drummers in Ireland. It's the range of music that Jacobson embraces that is most impressive. From math-rock to avant-garde jazz, in duos with bass saxophone or flute, with sound scaping singer-songwriters, contemporary Irish folk, free improv, electronica, Americana and straight-ahead jazz. He's at home in it all. You could say he's the Bill Frisell
of the drums.
"Mostly I get to play music with all these people who just let me be myself," says Jacobson. "They want me in their band to do what I do. That's an amazing situation to be in and I feel hugely privileged."
To an outsider, there appears to be a healthy intermingling of musicians on Dublin's contemporary jazz/improv scene, with musicians from jazz, classical, rock, electronic and folk backgrounds all working in each other's projects. The picture, as Jacobson explains is not so cut and dried. "I guess if you are that kind of person who plays in lots of different scenes then you are going to meet like-minded kind of people, but in terms of audiences I find that's still a bit of an issue, with things being boxed off. There could be more blurring of genres in terms of press and audiences."
For Jacobson, like most of the musicians he plays with, labels are not a big consideration "We don't care about genre," Jacobson states. "It's just about music essentially. I know it makes it easier sometimes to be able to put things under a certain banner, and that can be helpful, but it doesn't really make any difference to most artists. We have something to say and we're going to say it, and at no point are we trying to fit into any genre boxes.
Divide, Divide Again, And Conquer
Since 2007, Jacobson's main vehicle has been ReDiviDeR, a two-horn, chordless quartet, whose third album, Mere Nation
(Diatribe Records, 2020) was released in February. The band got off the ground in a slightly different guisewhile Jacobson was studying at Dublin's Newpark Music Centre, along with saxophonist Nick Roth
, electric bassist Derek Whyte
and, for a while, American guitarist John Kreiger. Jacobson only half-jokingly describes the band, then called Jalapeño Diplomacy, as "a kind of a Tim Berne
After a few gigs Kreiger returned to America and Jacobson brought in Australian trumpeter Paul Williamson
. He stuck around for a couple of years before returning Down Under. Enter trombonist Colm O'Hara
. "I was sick of getting these international guys who kept leaving me so I asked Colm to be in the band, knowing that he only lived in Wicklow and we could always go and get him for the gig," Jacobson laughs.
Now going by the palindromic name ReDiviDeR, the quartet's first release, the live recording Never Odd Or Even
(Diatribe Records, 2011), introduced the band's powerful yet sophisticated aesthetic, with Jacobson's harmonically and rhythmically intricate writing providing the framework for extended soloing. Tim Berne may have inspired the original template, but there were also elements of Ornette Coleman, Steve Coleman
, Charles Mingus
and Jim Black
in ReDiviDeR's alternatively heady and ruminative mix. Meets I Dig Monk, Tuned
(Diatribe Records, 2013) followed a broadly similar course, though with guest musicians Ben Davis (cello), Kit Downes
(keyboards), Alex Roth
(guitar) and Alex Bonney
(trumpet, electronics) widening Jacobson's sonic palette. With its second album ReDiviDeR began to attract attention beyond Ireland, with The Guardian's jazz critic John Fordham noting the band's "melodious and unswervingly exploratory music" and singling Jacobson out as "a European jazz artist of growing charisma." With all four musicians involved in multiple projects and with various commitments it has taken seven years for ReDiviDeR third album, the splendid Mere Nation
. Many bands wouldn't survive such an extended recording hiatus, but Jacobson was never in doubt. "I never had a sense that the band had stopped," affirms Jacobson. "It was just like taking a little break."
Not surprisingly, perhaps, the ReDiviDeR of Mere Nation
is a somewhat different beast. "The album is the culmination of a slightly newer approach that we were trying to take," Jacobson confirms. "When you're writing difficult music, you need a lot of time to rehearse, which isn't always practical. Everybody in the band is an improvisor, and very comfortable in that capacity, so the material that we already had just became vehicles for improvisation. Every performance is different, and we just leave it totally open and do whatever feels right. The way we started playing live became a lot freer," says Jacobson.
"This album is tunes that I specifically wrote for that kind of approach. Normally, in a compositional situation, you're spending a lot of time developing things, but you can spend so much time doing that that it starts restricting musicians like this who are really great improvisors. I thought, 'why don't I let the development happen improvisationally as opposed to compositionally?'" Jacobson expands.
"Basically, all of these tunes fit on one page. The musicians got all the parts. We then played around with those ideas until everyone was comfortable with it and then we tried to do stuff with it and see what happened. You put a lot of trust in musicians that way, but we've been playing together so long, and these are people I'm really close to, both personally and musically, that I'm happy to do that."
Despite the different approach, Mere Nation
is instantly recognizable as a ReDiviDeR work. Roth and O'Hara weave intricate unison lines and improvise individually or in tandem. Whyte's deep bass ostinatos and spacious grooves contrast with Jacobson's propulsive polyrhythms. The music, as it has always been with ReDiviDeR, is both simple and complex, alternatively heady and ruminative. Never predictable.
Unlike ReDiviDeR's first two albums, Mere Nation
is not released as a CD. "It maybe didn't make sense," says Jacobson. "I have found more and more, certainly in terms of reviewers and press, that the CD has become less important, whereas five years ago it felt like it was still necessary to make CDs, even if only for press and journalists. If they were going to review or make any mention of it, a lot of those people were still asking for a CD. Now, a lot of people have opened up to receiving things digitally, to me it has made the CD less necessary."
That may come as a surprise, given that Jacobson and Nick Roth's own label Diatribe Records, has released artfully packaged and beautifully recorded CDs of some of Ireland's most progressive musiciansmodern jazz, electronica, contemporary classical, modern folkloric, and experimental musicsince around 2009. It has been a labour of love. But times change.
"You have to weight it up," states Jacobson. If you are a very active band that's playing all the time, then having physical copies makes more sense, because you're more likely to sell them, whereas we all know what sales are like in terms of shops or on-line. Even doing a run of three hundred CDs, you're still going to have boxes of them sitting under your bed or in your parents' attic. That doesn't make sense because ReDiviDeR is never going to be a band that plays forty gigs a year. It would be great, but I think it's just not possible with the kinds of lives we all lead." Mere Nation
comes as an extra thick digital download card, which has all the appearance of a slimline CD. "It's just to have a physical thing that we could either give to press or as a kind of business card for the band, or just to have something at gigs, where we can say 'here's something for five quid. It's not thick enough to be used as a beer mat but it could fit into a CD rack."
Roth 'n' Roll!
Jacobson acknowledges the role of band mate and partner in Diatribe Records, Nick Roth, not only in co-running the labelfounded by Jacobson's brother Daniel founded in the late '90sbut for his dynamic impact on the Irish music scene since arriving in Dublin from Hertforshire around the turn of the millennium.
"Nick's impact has been huge," states Jacobson. "He's an amazing character and someone who just has massive belief in everything that he wants to do. Other people might come up with ideas but when Nick comes up with an idea its's like, from the beginning, 'this is going to happen.' And he feels like that about everything. Of course, not everything comes to fruition, but if ten per cent of his ideas happen it still ends up being an outrageous amount of output.
"When he tells me ideas sometimes, I think, 'That's never
going to happen! How did you think that?' Fast forward six months and it's happening," Jacobson laughs. "For me, that's been really inspiring. People like that are so important. Not everyone can be like that, and a certain amount of pragmatism is also important, but having someone like that in ReDiviDeR, someone with encouragement and ideas, is great for the band."
A Part And Yet Apart: Co-operation In Ireland
ReDiviDeR do not play that many gigs, partly because the individual band members are all so busy, but also, as Jacobson explains, because of the limitations in Ireland. "The plan with this album was to play more, and to play a bit more outside of Ireland, because there are few opportunities to play this kind of music here."
The reality is that there is still little in the way of North-South touring on this divided island. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate political and economic entities, as first Brexit and now COVID-19 have underlined. Bands tend to tour within their own national boundaries, and consequently, tours are rarely longer than five or six gigs. Yet nearly every sizeable town across the island has a modern cultural center equipped for live music, so in theory at least, the opportunity for longer tours exists. For that to happen, however, there would need to be cross-border co-operation between the island's main promotors and funding bodies. Political goodwill.
For Jacobson, the answer perhaps lies with the musicians themselves. "Ireland isn't big enough to have a Cork scene and a Galway scene and a Belfast scene and a Dublin scene, so there needs to be a little bit more outreach. We're all responsible for that and we probably need to do a little bit more. The idea of a regional touring network really wouldn't be that hard to organize. Things like that would definitely help."
Investment in an integrated Irish touring network would be a huge boost to the Irish music economy, Jacobson believes. "You see it with big acts anywhere in the world. When they start a tour, the music comes together after five, six, seven gigs, and it really becomes a different thing. We're always at a disadvantage here, because if bands aren't going abroad then they're always going to struggle to get to the next level and really develop the music like you can in other countries by playing more. Young bands in Germany, Switzerland, France are playing like forty or fifty gigs a year," Jacobson emphasizes.
"I think a lot of Irish bands are doing great playing five or six gigs a year," he continues. "Imagine what it would be like if Irish bands were playing forty or fifty gigs a year? It would be a different thing. It would benefit not just the musicians and the bands, but the sense of community."
Jacobson has certainly been doing his bit to broaden the base of the Irish jazz community. In early 2019, Jacobson inherited the baton of guest curator of Dublin Jazz Co-op. This artist-led initiative, which provides performance opportunities for jazz/improvising musicians, has been held on Sunday evenings at the Vintage Room in the Workman's Club. The series, as the name suggests, is Dublin-centric, but Jacobson, who knows a thing or tour about curating through his directorship of Match & Fuse
, decided to cast the net wider.
"My idea was to programme as many people as possible from outside Dublin, people I knew and people whose music I liked, like Aoife Doyle
who's in Clare, Scott Flanigan
in Belfast, Matthew Berrill
in Galway, Danny Walsh
in Cork, Joe O'Callaghan
from Tipperary. There are a lot of great musicians from all over the country that audiences in Dublin just don't get a chance to hear so much. That's really important. "We probably all need to make more of an effort to represent Irish jazz and not make things too Dublin-centric. There's probably more need for an Irish jazz co-op."
There is the New Irish Jazz Orchestra, which brings together musicians from all over Ireland, and provides a platform for new composers and arrangers. Jacobson pays tribute to its founder and string puller, Paul Dunlea
. "Paul is another guy who is amazing at making stuff happen. I have a huge amount of admiration for all the work he puts in, and he has a young family and a full-time job. It's kind of outrageous really.
Jacobson, however, is under no illusions. The audience for contemporary jazz/improvised music in Ireland is a small one. "There's a strange relationship with jazz in Ireland. People have lots of different ideas about what it is, and it's never been a massive part of the culture. Telling people you're a jazz musician always gets you a very strange reaction. Or if I tell them I'm a jazz lecturer in a university they go "What
? You do what
?" he says laughing. "They just don't really get it. Whereas you go to London, Berlin, Copenhagen or New York and you say you're a jazz musician and people go 'Oh yes, so is my brother-in-law' or 'so is my aunt,' it's just a normal thing."
To The Source...New York Days
Jacobson knows New York well, having spent the guts of a year there on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2013/14. "I had wanted for a long time to go there and spend time there, so it was amazing. It was a dream really. So many of the musicians that I was listening to since I was fifteen were thereTim Berne and Jim Black. They were my heroes and my inspiration, but then you get there and they're playing in bars with five people in them, and with a ten-dollar cover charge, just like people back home."
Getting a foothold in the scene proved less challenging that Jacobson might initially have expected. "I think the idea that New York is really difficult, or that it's harsh, I mean, I just didn't get that at all. It was this small, quite specific scene that I was interested in, the Downtown, Brooklyn improv scene and once you start going to those gigs, they pretty quickly get to know you. It's like 'oh, there's that guy from Ireland.' If you're going to the gigs and you start asking people to play, people are up for playing."
For many musicians New York can be a hand-to-mouth existence, but, Jacobson says, they just get on with it. "It's difficult to be in New York because it's really expensive, but everyone deals with that, and I feel it's not something that is talked about much there. You go to New York because of all the great musicians and all the creativity there. You do whatever you have to do to survive, make that music, be creative and hang out with people."
When not sitting in on gigs Jacobson organized private sessions, wrote music, rented a rehearsal space, and generally immersed himself in the scene. "I learnt a huge amount that year," he acknowledges. In the years since returning to Ireland Jacobson admits that he has often thought about returning to New York, where he has a wide network of friends and colleagues. "I thought, 'maybe I should go back,' but I can still get the benefit of having spent that year. I still know loads of people there and I can go back and forth, stay for a few weeks and organize sessions."
One such visit at the end of 2018 saw Jacobson play on a session led by Australian tenor saxophonist Daniel Rorke
that produced Naked Allies
(Orenda Records, 2019). Electric bassist Simon Jermyn
and alto saxophonist Oscar Noriega
round out the quartetanother two-horn, no-chord ensemble in the Jacobson portfolio. "You'll find me in a lot of those," laughs Jacobson, who also plays in German alto saxophonist Ingo Hipp
's two-horn quintet AERIE. Naked Allies
is a visceral, harmonically sophisticated outing, which like ReDiviDeR's Mere Nation
owes something to the music of Jim Black
, Tim Berne
and Steve Coleman
. "I guess it's maybe obvious," says Jacobson, "but the music that I play, and the music that I love and the music that I write, and maybe feel a natural affinity towards, is coming from that kind of music."
What A Strange Boy...
Jacobson fell in love with jazz at a surprisingly early age, introduced to the music at the age of twelve by his older brother, Daniel. "I remember him giving me [John Coltrane's] Giant Steps
[Atlantic Records, 1960] to listen to, and me being, 'Okay, this is cool! This is what I'm going to listen to.' So, from an early age I listened to a lot of Miles [Davis], Coltrane and Bill Evans. People were probably thinking, 'Who is this strange kid listening to jazz?'"
Within a few short years Jacobson was listening to more contemporary jazz. "Around fifteen or sixteen I got really into Jim Black, Vijay Iyer
and Steve Coleman. So that's what I was into at quite an early age, which is obviously very unusual, and I realized that. None of my friends listened to what I listened to and they maybe thought I was just a little bit strange. It didn't bother me."
Poacher Turned Gamekeeper
Jacobson, who has determinedly followed his own path ever since, has benefitted from the experience of numerous teachers and mentors over the years. At secondary school there were private teachers like Nigel Flegg and Eddie McGin, who showed Jacobson the basics. At Newpark Music College there were Conor Guilfoyle
and Kevin Brady
, then, as now, two of the finest drummers in Ireland. Sean Carpio
was another. "I was going to all of Sean Carpio's gigs," says Jacobson. "I really liked the way he played, and I learned a lot just from watching him. That was important."
A major step in Jacobson's musical evolution came when he went to Lucerne to study a Masters degree. There he studied under Gerry Hemingway
and Norbert Pfammatter
"I remember coming out of the drum lessons every week just really excited about playing and working on the exercises," recalls Jacobson. Other significant figures included trombonist Nils Wogram
, who played in Jacobson's workshop project band, and guitarist Frank Möbus
. "Frank's an amazing musician who has influenced a lot of guitarists with his sound," says Jacobson. "There are definitely things he told me that I still think about a lot."
Studying with so many influential teachers, and playing in multiple ensembles, have given Jacobson valuable insights into teaching, as well as an understanding of the demands placed on new students. Listening, he says, is a key skill, particularly in ensemble playing. "When students first come in there is so much information to deal with and we as teachers, or as people who have been playing this music for a long time, can forget that sometimes," Jacobson concedes.
"There's a lot of information to deal with in a group situation. You're trying to play in time and you're trying to deal with harmonic information and melodic information. They forget that there's four or five people in the room with them trying to do the same thing. It's just getting used to what's happening around you and to actually working as a band, and the earlier you get into that the better."
Listening to what's going on around you might seem like an obvious skill to be aware of, and even a natural one for students of music, but it's not that clear cut, as Jacobson explains: "Depending on their backgrounds people might be better or worse at that. Maybe if someone has come from a classical background where they've been sitting in a room practising on their own most of the time then it's a bit harder, because relying on the people around you, and the idea of time being a little bit more fluid -that's not what they're used to. Whereas someone who has maybe just been playing in a band is more used to the idea of locking in."
Listening to the ensemble is second nature to Irish traditional musicians. "Trad players are really good at that because they have to lock in," says Jacobson. "They arrive already totally used to using their ears. They don't have their head in a page and they're very used to adapting to what's going on around them. That's really important, because if you listen to a band or an ensemble, once they're listening to each other and communicating with each other, then regardless of the content it's probably going to sound okay at the end of the day."
Jacobson is aware that's it's all too easy to fall into generalisations when talking about improvising and non-improvising musicians, and about risk-taking. "There are classical musicians playing new music who are doing way
crazier stuff than the vast majority of jazz musicians I know, so when it comes to this free improv module I often get people to check out new music and classical music and play them things like [Luciano] Berio's "Sequenzas" and ask them if it's improvised. It can be dangerous to get it into people's heads that classical music is like this, or classical musicians are like that, because there's so much to be learned from both sides."
One classically trained musician doing 'way crazier' stuff, as Jacobson puts it, is Dublin-based Australian flutist Lina Andonovska
. The pair have teamed to form the duo Slapbang, which features amplified bass flute, an array of smaller flutes, and drums, in composed and improvised settings. Jacobson plays on a couple of tracks on Andonovska's adventurous solo outing A Way A Lone A Last
(Diatribe Records, 2020). Andonovska arrived in Dublin in 2017 and, as Jacobson relates, immediately made an impact on the music scene.
"Straightaway she was going to all of the gigsjazz gigs, classical gigs, rock gigs. She's one of those people who really brings communities together. Lina's an amazing musician who can play anything, and make any noise on her instrument, and she has that thing I love where her expression and communication are just so clear."
The duo was Andonovska's idea, and she commissioned a number of Irish composers to write music. Barry O'Halpin wrote a piece inspired by genetics. Donnacha Dennehy drew on the paintings of Bridget Riley. The movement of air drove Judith Ring, while Nick Roth wrote two pieces, the first inspired by the writing of James Joyce, and the second mixing jungle music, fugue and spoken word. It's a challenging undertaking by any standards. "We both like reading music, but we're also really happy improvising, and maybe playing off a small bit of material, and everything in between," explains Jacobson. "There's an amazing range of sonic possibilities and musical possibilities with these instruments. Lina's amplified bass flute sounds amazing with the drums."
Another duo of longer standing is Insufficient Funs, which pits Jacobson's drums with Sam Comerford
's ferocious bass saxophone. "It can be quite intense but it's definitely clear," says Jacobson. "The rewards are in the communication. In terms of compositional ideas, you only have to explain one thing, and I kind of like that. It's obviously limited but there's more clarity."
Insufficient Funs released its eponymous debut
at the beginning of 2017. It's a potent offering, but it's in the live arena where the sparks really fly. Jacobson has a near-constant smile on his face throughout an Insufficient Funs gig. Comerford, when he can take the bass saxophone out of his mouth for a moment's pause, is scrambling for breath.
"In Insufficient Funs I ask an outrageous amount of Sam," admits Jacobson, grinning. "I guess I only do it because I know he can. But sometimes I forget and after a while he'll say 'this is really hard,' because he's trying to be a bassist and he's trying to come up with these harmonic ideas and he's being a soloist, sometimes all at the same time," Jacobson says laughing. "I'm just playing a groove, and I'm like, 'Yeah! This is amazing!,' while Sam's absolutely dying out there because physically the bass saxophone is a monster. A lot of people play it on a stand or sitting down but he plays it with a harness, standing up."
A certain amount of inspiration for Insufficient Funs came from Joey Baron
& Crackdown, Baron's trio with Steve Swell
and Ellery Eskelin
, in particular the album Crackshot
(Avant, 1998). "I think you can feel the reference for Insufficient Funs there," acknowledges Jacobson. "It's those quirky grooves. Joey Barron has an amazing sense of humor, and that's a really big thing for me. Sometimes it's just about having a good time and doing something whacky. I always have so much fun playing with Insufficient Funs. I love it. It's probably the quickest a project has come together for me in terms of the sound that was in my head."
When COVID-19 has blown over, and a semblance of normality returns, recording a second Insufficient Funs album with Comerford will be one of Jacobson's main priorities. Despite the present hardships, Jacobson knows there's much to be thankful for. "Sometimes it's easy to dwell on the negatives and I've been guilty of that in the past, but if I stop and think about it, I'm in this really great situation. I'm in a privileged position where I have a job in a university so I know I can pay my rent, and there's family, friends and loved ones around, and Ireland is beautiful, so it's great to be here. Added to that I've spent time in different countries and in different scenes, so I still have access to that. That's definitely my mind-set at the moment."
When it's safe to play again Jacobson isn't fussy about what music he plays or where he plays. "Just playing with people live is going to be a really, really nice feeling...in any of the bands I play in," he adds. "I'll be happy playing anything. It's nothing to do with the actual music itself, it's the idea of communication and expression. It's very special."
Photo: Courtesy of Steven Cropper/transientlife