Dark-ambient jazz is a genre that I’m hearing more and more of recently, and, I must confess, I generally like what I’m hearing. That said, in a genre so full of really talented groups and individuals, it takes a great deal of talent and just a smidgen of originality to stand out. Gareth Davis, Thomas Cruijsen and Leo Fabriek have both talent and originality, and, for me, they truly do stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The group first got together to work on the soundtrack for a Dutch TV documentary called ‘Visserman’ and, deciding to continue as a trio thereafter, this is their first LP. The album consists of three semi-improvised pieces, recorded in one take with only a short discussion as to the outline of the piece and tuning as a basic guide.
What sets the trio above other groups in this genre is, I feel, Gareth Davis’s bass clarinet. Drawing on jazz and folk melodies, Davis leads the music down to an almost subliminal level where notes and melodies are suggested rather than explicitly expressed. Thomas Cruijsen’s guitar work is reminiscent of Robbie Krieger at his most haunting, while Leo Fabriek’s percussion is superbly understated.
Musically the group paint a dreamlike world of dark fantasy, a David Lynch type world where menace lurks behind every velvet curtain. There is an almost palpable sense of unease which is deliberately left unresolved courtesy of the modal structure of the pieces.
This is very much music for darkened rooms, similar to Dale Cooper and the Dictaphones or the Mount Fuji Doom Jazz Orchestra. As dark-ambient jazz goes, this is one of the best records I have heard, and I’ll be checking the guys out when they tour later this year.