All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Joost Lijbaart: Under The Surface

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Silence frames music—before it sounds and after the final vibration of the last note has died. Often associated with an absence of communication, silence is also revered in certain communal ritual/cultural spaces. Poetic or damning, eerie or calming, silence never leaves us indifferent. Some composers have embraced it to a significant degree as part of the compositional process, John Cage's "4'33" being surely the most famous example. With Under the Surface Dutch drummer/percussionist and composer Joost LIjbaart embraces silence as an important element of the spontaneous interplay between himself, singer Sanne Rambags and guitarist Bram Stadhouders.

Although the musicians in turn guard silence, intermittently and repeatedly, there is never a single moment without play. Instead, where silence plays protagonist is in its necessity as the environment in which to listen to and fully appreciate the trio's susurrus improvisations. Joost's spare playing and sotto voce use of brushes and mallets here echoes his work on Batik (Challenge Records, 2015)—an approach seemingly light-years away from his long-running gig with Yuri Honing's electric ensemble Wired Paradise. Yet even in that environment, Lijbaart has demonstrated that economy and subtlety are often more powerful and persuasive than their opposites. On the essentially acoustic, chamber-like music of Under the Surface even the smallest gestures are amplified.

Rambags' original poetry provides the starting point for half the pieces, her introspective lines deceptively simple yet inviting, and above all contemplative, setting the tone for the wholly improvised musical exchanges. Her whispered intro to "Silent Conversation" draws delicate, dreamy percussive responses—isolated woodblock soundings, shaker and brush rustlings, harp-like lyre strums. The singer's spoken-sung words, delivered slowly and softly, exert a quiet spell on the music, which punctuates and subtly buoys the gentle vocal stream.

"Above" features the only non-original poem, Wallace Steven's austere yet hypnotic "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Here, Rambags glides on the back of insistent rhythms and eddying acoustic guitar arpeggios. Rambags' tone and pace remain constant as the musical pulse quickens and intensifies, her wordless singing towards the end adding an ethereal allure. The aptly named "Dream Cave" sees Rambags recite then sing, lullaby-like, over minimalist gongs and silvery lyre voicings.

More animated the trio's completely improvised dialogues, notably on "Adem"—where Stadhouder's probing counterpoint to Rambags' repetitive chanting is underpinned by Lijbaart's less-is-more mallet and crying-cymbal atmospherics—and on the powerful "Going Native," with its tribal rhythms, spikey guitar and vaguely American-Indian-esque chanting. In a set of varying emotions, bells, shakers and mini-chimes infuse the bucolic "Together," as vocalist and guitarist merrily dovetail, while "Sibylla" charts hauntingly balladic terrain. The trio sings off with the dream-like "Before," ghostly synthesizer drone providing the backdrop to Rambag's beautiful wordless song.

Under the Surface signals a change of direction for Lijbaart away from strict compositional form to more open-ended, improvised excursions. Clearly there's a pre-conceived aesthetic at work here that stems from minimalism and whose vocabulary is dictated by intuitive drives and responses. That the resulting music, so beautiful and affecting, feels finely sculpted, is down to the chemistry between these fine musicians.

Track Listing: Silent Conversation; Above; Dream Cave; Adem; Together; Kyrie; After Silence; Under The Surface; Sibylla; Going Native; Before.

Personnel: Joost Lijbaart: drums, percussion; Sanne Rambags: vocals; Bram Stadhouders: acoustic guitars, lyre, synthesizers, additional percussion (1).

Title: Under The Surface | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Challenge Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read This City CD/LP/Track Review
This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read West Coast Trio CD/LP/Track Review
West Coast Trio
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Sun Embassy CD/LP/Track Review
Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9 CD/LP/Track Review
The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "Morphometry" CD/LP/Track Review Morphometry
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Master Legacy Series, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Master Legacy Series, Volume 2
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 8, 2018
Read "Bright Yellow with Bass" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Screen Sounds" CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Aqustico vol 2" CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017