Jazz is attracting bigger and younger audiences all across the globe and Belgium is no exception to this revival. You might have heard of ethiodub jazz band Black Flower or the broken hiphop and jazz influenced funk group STUFF. Both have been picked up frantically by the likes of LeFtO, Gilles Peterson and The Gaslamp Killer.
In the meanwhile local music fans tried to keep up with all the other high level groups that popped up everywhere – such as Urbex, a project from drummer Antoine Pierre. Recently they took their project to the next level with the release of Sketches of Nowhere, an album infused with the fascinating chaos of Pierre’s hometown Brussels.
Let’s go on an urban exploration.
The album opens with a retrofuturistic collage that brings French art film vibes and electronica together in a mysterious tale of Dreams of Sand and Snow And the Horse-Sized Cat. It is immediately followed by a dark and nervous piece. Are we being followed? No time to look back, track 3 (Entropy) brings us drum and bass rhythms combined with the flute work of Magic Malik and piano interventions by the gifted Bram De Looze.
Like nightcrawlers we stumble from one atmosphere into the next, the whole album through.
There’s the slow yet epic piece ‘Aux Contemplatifs’ where Estiévenart shows why he’s one of Belgium’s most lyrical trumpet players. Then there’s Tomorrow that starts off stuttering (almost cubist) but ends in crescendo with the whole octet giving it all. There’s something going on all the time.
It makes Sketches of Nowhere a fascinating addition to the fast expanding catalogue of Belgium’s new wave of jazz. Dive in.