Marble Sounds – ‘Marble Sounds’
Marble Sounds is the band of and around Pieter Van Dessel, according to imdb.com also composer of the soundtracks of ‘Albatross’ and ‘Sense of tumor’. The oeuvre of Marble Sounds has long been the ‘Downton Abbey’ of the Flemish music scene: classy, stately and well-made, but it can hardly be called the most innovative of the class.
Fortunately, Van Dessel did not pay too much attention to this reputation during the recording of the fifth Marble Sounds, simply called ‘Marble Sounds’. Rumors had been buzzing for a while: Van Dessel had reinvented his group sound during the lockdowns, it was said. As a result, the new songs sounded better and more experienced than ever, they claimed. He wrote and played on three pianos, five tubas and seven nose flutes at the same time and produced everything himself, so the gossip went.
Not a word of lying, because: listen here, friends, what a record! Five years after the previous Marble Sounds, Van Dessel suddenly has a kind of midas touch: almost every song has the quality and envergure of a strong radio single. You know the modest but impressive opening song ‘Quiet’ from the season finale of ‘Undercover’. ‘Soon It’ll Make Us Laugh’ – with a cameo by Van Dessels’ daughters and by a Bulgarian choir – starts as a false slow one and just when you don’t expect anything special from it, the song breaks open and suddenly becomes so beautiful that – warning: metaphor not for sensitive souls – it will make your hemorrhoids flap.
Am I exaggerating? Presumably. But I do that more often when something makes me happy and moved at the same time. As with ‘Axolotl’, that beautiful things from good people like Air and Damien Jurado combines.
And so it goes – for anyone with a heart and a stomach for clever, tasteful chamber music – from one high point to the next: ‘Jacket’ does, not only through the ‘stop-start-stop’ montage and the autotune, on in a strict manner Bon Iver think.
Variety trumps: the songs alternately deal with the climate, science, ludduvuddu and ways to slow down. All sung by the same reassuringly warm voice, which strikes out twice more at the end: ‘Priorat’ and ‘The Ever After’ are bouncers of size, velvet and fortitude.
‘I probably won’t get any closer to myself as a musician,’ Van Dessel also knows. ‘Artists sometimes say they step out of their comfort zone, I feel like I just stepped into my comfort zone with this record.’
Of how many bands is the fifth album the best? ‘Marble Sounds’ is a tour de force, a new watering place on our emotional trail. Five stars for a record with ten world songs: value for money.
Can be viewed in the wild in November in the AB, the Roma and the Handelsbeurs. (fvd)
Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Return of the Dream Canteen’
From Evil to Pepper: six months after their last record Kiedis and co. Another new one out, and it’s not a good one.
The irritating ‘jajajaja’ mantra in ‘Tippa My Tongue’ sets the tone: the Peppers copy and copy and copy their own sound until only a heavily breathing greatest common denominator remains. ‘Eddie’ is about the late Van Halen, but it is not a beautiful monument. ‘Fake as Fuk’ is as bland as its title, ‘My Cigarette’ their stupidest sing-along yet.
Josh Klinghoffer, the guitarist who was dumped by the Peppers, recently testified that the band is in a tight straitjacket: ‘There is a handbook with strict rules: what is allowed with the sound of the global brand ‘RHCP’ and what is definitely not? Difficult to be creative then.’ That explains a fig like “Dream Canteen,” but doesn’t spell it right. (fvd)
Jean-Marie Aerts – ‘Domeztik’
He has 3,993 listeners per month on Spotify: a select group that appreciates quality and keeps far away from the stage-horny contemporary pop music. One would think that a person with a track record like that of Jean-Marie Aerts has a larger army of fans, but his work is too eclectic and the man himself too idiosyncratic for that.
Although you wouldn’t say that about his recent leg ‘Domeztik’: the record swings like crazy in an unabashedly old-fashioned way. ‘Domeztik’ is a trip full of kaleidoscopic, often funky soundscapes, interspersed with jazzy guitars and weird but beautiful voices. Starring Jean-Marie herself, the Gainsbourg of the Hageland, but also Kimberly Dhondt, the nightingale of Evil Empire Orchestra, sings many stars from the sky. Voodoo music from Aarschot and the surrounding area, made with many friends: the fun just explodes.
On October 14, Aerts celebrates his 70th birthday in Het Depot in Leuven, in the company of all those many friends. He is now 71, but that should not spoil the fun. In a just world he would sell out the Sportpaleis three times, but still: everyone there! (mc)
LA Salami – ‘Ottoline’ ★★1/2☆☆
With a name like Lookman Adekunle Salami this Londoner was destined for a career in the meat industry, but he opted for music: that other industry where the knives are always razor-sharp. For the forward singles – it Eagle-Eye Cherry-like ‘Peace of Mind’ and the great ‘Desperate Times, Mediocre Measures’ – may our filleting instruments be put away. Salami uses a pleasant rap singing, which is very hard on that of Damon Albarn seems, like a kind of urban troubadour. The dubby pop of ‘Systemic Pandemic’ is a tone-in-tone sociology lesson, but Salami’s flow is careful not to get too pushy. Somewhere halfway through, however, the record collapses hopelessly: the sparkle gets bogged down in intolerable campfire misery and results in unappetising uniformity. (sm)
Bill Callahan – ‘Reality’
Way down in Texas has Bill Callahan ‘Reality’ finished. Opener ‘First Bird’ is pure family happiness. ‘Everyway’ starts with ‘I feel something coming on / A disease or a song’. ‘Lily’ centers on Callahan’s late mother and zooms in on the squeaky wheels of her stretcher. ‘Naked Souls’ describes an incel: ‘Maybe he’ll buy another gun / Or maybe he’ll become / A policeman / Or kill one’. ‘Partition’ in short? You can meditate, ventilate, microdose and change clothes as much as you want, you can’t help yourself. And in ‘Planets’ the planets sing in Hawaiian, until the cosmos gets noticeably fresher and the countertones trump. ‘Reality’ is also a missing album: the horns and backings are well hidden. (gvn)
Oh Wonder – ’22 Make’
Title ’22 Make’ is reminiscent of ’22, A Million’ by Bon Iverand that doesn’t seem a coincidence: every track on this record lies on a bed of glitchy electronics that still calms, a sound that reminds of previous Oh Wonder-to work. Also the unctuous harmony of Anthony and Josephine Vander West sounds familiar, and at the same time more mature than before. The couple almost split during the pandemic, and that’s what you hear the most in ‘365’ – violins come together like the dark gray clouds above the couple. Other songs are worked up with a lick of flute or a saxophone that doesn’t want to interfere. Oh Wonder does not amaze, nor does it disappoint. (jvl)
The 1975 – ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ ★★1/2☆☆
The 1975 is a polarizing pop rock group from Manchester, fronted by an ex-junkie without a filter. ‘Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke?’ asks Matty Healy on their fifth and most focused record, ‘Or am I just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke?’ The 1975 confirms its status as a glorified cover band: ‘Part of the Band’ is Bon Iver with offensive lyrics, ‘The 1975’ looks suspiciously like ‘All My Friends’ from LCD Sound System‘Happiness’ and ‘About You’ revive the eighties à la M83, ‘Oh Caroline’ and ‘I’m in Love with You’ had – aiai! – maroon 5 can be. (jmi)