Balance Point Acoustics

Fred Van Hove: piano, accordion; Peter Jacquemyn: double bass; Damon Smith: double bass

In a recent email exchange with Damon Smith regarding a renowned contemporaneous pianist, the shard of a somewhat polemical line remained hanging in the memory: “he doesn’t really know about Fred Van Hove”. Upon further rumination I came to realize that neither do I, in spite of having listened to inventive musicians throughout my adolescent-to-mature life. Damn, the holes in my knowledge are so many, the Belgian recusant – whose name was met hundreds of times in writing – definitely among them. So, what better occasion for deepening the aesthetic cognitions than this trio with two matter-of-fact double bassists?

Recorded in 2008 at Brussels’ Archiduc, these über-flurries belong to the category of (mostly) fast instrumental burnout which, at the kickoff, sets a consenting head in the condition of stating “OK – now I’m not going to let these guys go anywhere and will manage to follow every single pitch they emit”. All it takes is, more or less, seven minutes to abandon that bully-ish intent (or, as Mike Tyson would have it, “everyone’s got a plan until they get hit”). The stuff is overwhelmingly voluminous in terms of superincumbent ramifications, and extremely rotund as far as the amassing of resounding clout is concerned. Inside, a lot happens – quick chordal commotions, intoxicated screaming, hysterical arcolepsy, infinite looking towards points of no return, Tibetan vocalizations, turbid growling, implicit dissolution of any conception related to some idea of “well-tempered” harmony. Exhilarating and ear-stuffing (with just a few instants of relative pause), the playing might not leave room for immoderate thoughts but is as democratic as a nudist beach, three bare entities roasting in the rays of a god-awful sun and spitting out swearwords by the dozen – yet still grinning. Burns longer indeed.

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