Arve Henriksen / Stian Westerhus / Jozef Dumoulin / Teun Verbruggen

June 17, 2021

Live at Bimhuis

Consouling Sounds Soul CLVII

Hubert Dupont

Trio Kosmos

Ultrabolic UBR 0503

Plunging themselves into the deepest reaches of electronic-affiliated programs are two European band applying the sound currents stirred up by plugging in strings, percussion and electronics. While the members of Warped Dreamer are most attuned to voltage manipulation, Trio Kosmos associates often work in other contexts. Notwithstanding that each group creates an emblematic take on the proceedings.

Dreamers, Belgians Jozef Dumoulin playing electric piano electronics and drummer Teun Verbruggen are bother members of the Bureau of Atomic Tourism, which mixes Jazz improv with Jazz Rock, while Norwegians, guitarist Stian Westerhus and trumpeter Arve Henriksen, work with similar improv-drone bands as Jaga Jazzist and Supersilent respectively. Meanwhile French trumpeter Antoine Berjeaut is part of the Surnatural Orchestra, and British drummer Steve Argüelles was a founding member of the acoustic Recyclers trio. Fellow Gaul bassist Hubert Dupont usually leads ensembles mixing Jazz and Arabic-rooted sounds.

Energetic from the get go, Live at Bimhuis’ five selections encompass the muted beauty of brass tonality, but emphasize electric piano glissandi, steadily rising guitar pulses and cuffs and shakes from the drummer. Starting with “Kunning Place”, the band revs up into overdrive with a dizzying array of prestissimo textures that boil with keyboard trembles, drum clatters and guitar flanges at machinegun firing speed that wouldn’t phase a Metal band. Although Henriksen’s brass stutters harden to meet these voltage shaking drone and pitch vibrations, unlike what’s played by a Rock-Jazz band the program never become so corpulent that the exposition is nearly opaque. Instead on the penultimate “Umgaba” among the buzzing resonations and crackling short wave-like processes, distinctive traverse brass lowing and excited mumbling confirm the humanness of the exposition. Charging into the concluding “Camphor Bush” drum shuffles and near-lyrical yells extend the idiosyncratic interface so that even the tough vibrating guitar licks become part of the final instrumental mosaic.

While Warped Dreamer limits itself to five selections, Trio Kosmos moves through a dozen tracks. This is a drawback since the briefer pieces don’t have enough space for the three to fully develop their ideas. Happily, although this isn’t a live date like the other, the performances usually become more sustainable as disc develops. Case in point is the lengthy “Diodes”. As the output from muted trumpet shakes, high-string guitar-like frails from the bassist and pitter-patter drumming join, the trio creates singular sounds. Perhaps this is what collaboration between Pierre Schaffer’s electronics and an African drummer’s pulse would sound like. The result is both danceable and horizontal; with brass arpeggios flaring at the same time as hip-hop drums bounce. “Free and Blue” is another standout since it swings with rhythm and Blues without becoming cliché R&B. Bass fuzz tones and percussion shuffles advance the theme as Berjeaut’s multi-tracked timbres provide pointillist decorations. Not all the tracks are that straightforward, with intergalactic tone challenges issuing from trumpet echoes, electric bass line heaviness, robust drum ruffs and ring modulator-like gonging. But again like the other CD, billowing oscillations aren’t allowed to dehumanize the session. Staying true to that strategy, but propelling relaxation as well, “Roads” serves as a distinctive instance of this. Argüelles’ repetitive percussion becomes light taps and pats, sluicing bass thumps stay in mid-range and mellow trumpet lines curl and arch over the casual bounce that is the rhythm. Undulating but understated, Trio Kosmos proves that electronic interface doesn’t have to lead to excess. In its way, but with a more raucous interface, Live at Bimhuis comes to the same conclusion.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Live: 1. Ixwele 2. Golden Geek Award 3. Lights Out – Darkness 4. Umgaba 5. Camphor Bush

Personnel: Live: Arve Henriksen (trumpet, voice and electronics); Stian Westerhus (guitar, voice and electronics); Jozef Dumoulin (Fender Rhodes and electronics) and Teun Verbruggen (drums and electronics)

Track Listing: Trio: 1. Bathyscaphe 2. Kunning Place 3. Diodes 4. Reckon 5. Not Jazz 6. Héliogravure 7. Free and Blue 8. Immersion 9. Upfront 10. Roads 11. Do Up 12. Busy Bee

Personnel: Trio: Antoine Berjeaut (trumpet and FX); Hubert Dupont (electric bass and FX) and Steve Argüelles (drums and, electronics)