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An outstanding new release by a powerhouse Dutch quintet. For drummer Sietse Huisman and his associates, good fusion chops are apparently second nature. Art Attack is packed with rich sonorities, driving beats and virtuosic performances that are highlighted by the crisp, clear production. The compositions by three of the band members are lush, multifaceted, and handled with exemplary taste and facility.
Of the five performers, perhaps saxophonist Hubert Heeringa is best known outside of Holland for his work with the American Chapman Stick-artist Greg Howard. Everyone on this disc is a notably original talent, all familiar with fusion’s past but none content to merely rehash it. The joyous spirit of Art Attack pervades the disc, making for an uplifting listening experience. The key to the band’s taut synergy is Huisman, who ties it all together with liquid drumming that avoids ostentation.
Huisman wrote four of the well-crafted tunes; he also solos most inventively on the sixth track. “Coming Home” at first seems a bit reserved to kick off the disc, beginning with long chords and a prettily reflective guitar melody from Wietze Koning. The pace gradually picks up, and soon the piece is sold by its real majesty. Bassist Henry Sopacua plays a significant role here, alternating percolating lines with small spaces of suspended funkiness, and Heeringa takes a brief, vibrant solo on EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). Huisman’s stuttering rhythms on the intricate “Juan Griego” makes it amusingly difficult to determine the actual meter of the tune. Conversely, the title of “Seven8” gives its meter away; that one is a robust engine driven by marimba-pulses and acidic guitar.
Among the disc’s other highlights are Koning’s “Beatlejuice”, which sounds like one of the better morsels from Chuck Mangione’s bag, and the jagged-edged “Kind of Rhythm” with the guitarist affecting a John Scofield vibe. Keyboardist Will Maas keeps a rather low profile while remaining supportive. He particularly shines on his own tunes: the lovely “Playgrounds”, offering a gentle foundation for Heeringa’s alto, and the lurking “The Gangster”.
The liner notes indicate that this project, a longtime dream of Huisman’s, took a year to finally bear fruit. But from the cohesive camaraderie here, one suspects that the musicians might have collaborated in some form or another for several years. The myriad elements of Art Attack come together like the layers of a good club sandwich, a most tasty combination that lingers on the palate for a good while.
Track Listing: Coming Home; Beatlejuice; The Gangster; Kind of Rhythm; Close Encounter; Solo; Juan Griego; Playgrounds; Zero Visibility; Seven8; Moned Zap.
Personnel: Hubert Heeringa, saxophone and EWI; Henry Sopacua, bass; Wietze Koning, guitar; Will Maas, keyboards; Sietse Huisman, drums.