By Eyal Hareuveni
The Belgian-based trio Llop (wolf in Catalan, pronounced Ljiop) plays free-improvised songs. Llop's aesthetics are informed by an inclusive perspective of the jazz legacy but more often it's the incorporation of editing and processing techniques that add a dimension of danger and unpredictability to the eclecticness. The trio - sax player Erik Bogaerts, guitarist Benjamin Sauzereau, and drummer-vocalist-electronics player Jens Bouttery - toured Scandinavia after releasing its debut album, Lampke (el NEGOCITO, 2015). There, Llop was invited by the Swedish organization Arna to work in an old church in the southern village Harlösa. Denmark-based, French bass player Brice Soniano, known from the Carate Urio Orchestra and the Rawfishboys duo, who also resided at that time in this countryside village, joined then the trio for the recording of J, Imp.
The cover which depicts a half asleep eye of a little fat cat already establishes the relaxed, dreamy atmosphere of this album. The concise improvised pieces sound as organic, gentle songs and the short songs sound like ethereal soundscapes, both options enriched by subtle, repetitive samples, weird voices and electronic manipulations. Bogaerts' sax whispers quietly, Sauzereau resonating guitar adopts the country-ish tone of Bill Frisell blended with Ry Cooder economic lines and only drummer Bouttery and bass player Soniano attempt from time to time to charge the reserved, patient interplay with a sense of playful urgency.
Like Soniano’s group Carate Urio Orchestra, Llop defies any genre conventions. Bouttery’s song “Il Pleut” (it is raining) sound like a folk song an emotional sax solo that captures the chilly atmosphere of autumnal rainy season. Bogaerts’ title-song, the longest piece here, offers a hazy-lazy cinematic narrative that highlights his sympathetic interplay with Bouttery, ornamented gently with sonic manipulations. The improvised “Washandje” already sails in West-African quiet percussive waters and Sauzereau’s song “Le Sous - entendu” (the hearing) has an infectious, delicate theme, embraced in a lyrical-melancholic chamber jazz arrangement. The last improvised piece “Troupeau” sound inspired by the folk songs adaptations of Jan Garbarek, transformed now into a bit warmer and breezy scenery.