If film director Jim Jarmusch had been born in Ghent, Belgium, instead of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, he probably would have used the trio Sweet Defeat to score his early movies instead of John Lurie. This Belgian trio of multi-reed player Tom Wouters (Flat Earth Society), guitarist Bert Dockx, and cellist Lode Vercampt create a sort of chamber jazz that sidesteps conventional routes for back alleys, gin joints, and boxcars.
Their eponymous initial release opens with bowed cello, clarinet, and picked guitar notes. "Backdrop Teardrop" has a simplicity of melody that expands outward into a complex web spun from a blues guitar riff and pizzicato cello. The music here, while framed as cultured, constantly threatens to become feral. "The Throbbing -FruitExposure" juxtaposes inside with outside, the staid chamber lines of Vercampt's cello are spliced with the punk attack of Dockx' guitar. Is he quoting "Blister In The Sun" by the Violent Femmes?
Sweet Defeat treads a territory similar to that explored by Tom Waits. They find nobility in the carny's caravan of song. Maybe the musicians are a bit tipsy, their manner is brusque, but the dirt under their fingernails cannot disguise the loveliness of a composition like "Maybe This Is Shit," an inebriated blues, or the off-kilter circus- themed "This Enigmatic Body is Achin.'" Elsewhere, the trio plots a succinct groove on "Thin Din" that would make Django Reinhardt grin, doses the ears with the barking hardcore "The Squirrel Apologizes," and weaves a fitting theme song with "The Vomiting Beauty." Their music, as opposed to their song titles (gulp!) is indelibly memorable.
Backdrop Teardrop; Cocooning Bitch; The Throbbing - Fruit - Exposure; From Gutter to
Nowhere; Jingle Toe; Formula Spatula; Maybe This is Shit; The Squirrel Apologizes; This
Enigmatic Body is Achin’; Thin Din; The Vomitting Beauty; Virtual Zombie.
Tom Wouters: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Lode Vercampt: cello; Bert Dockx:
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