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Monday, December 13, 2021

Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido - Traantjes (Astral Spirits, 2021) ****

By Kenneth Blanchard

The best thing about knowing at least a little of several other languages is that you can sometimes puzzle out phrases, even in languages you haven’t studied. I can speak and read English without torturing the tongue too much. No one speaks classical Greek. I read it with, let us say, middling competence. I’ve enough French and Italian to tell a bad translation of Baudelaire or Machiavelli when I see one.

I have no Spanish, but Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido looks like Lost Time Orchestra to me. Google translate agrees. It is a good idea to take one’s own translations with a healthy dose of doubt. This rule works well with the music.

The Orquesta is the creation of Jeroen Kimman, guitar player, composer, and big band leadernot necessarily in that order. The core players include Kimman, Mark Morse on lapsteel, Tristan Renfrow on drums, Onno Govaert on glockenspiel, pandeiro & timbales and Floris van Bergeijk plays synth. You can get the rest of the Orquesta at the Bandcamp site (from which I borrowed the above information).

If you can’t judge a recording by its jacket, you can still notice the jacket. I love the title and image. Traantjes means tears. The cover image depicts an attractive blonde in a skimpy robe sitting in a very relaxed position, apparently in a train compartment. Out the window are cliffs (perhaps) and green landscapes. She is smoking a cigarette. Lost times to be certain. It reminds me of the covers of albums that my parents bought (early sixties) when we got our first stereo. I listened to them. They didn’t.

The first cut feels begins with some Spanish sounding enthusiasm and quickly moves into a county fair calliope-like melody, with guttural blat (tuba?) marking time. I wouldn’t quite call it festive. There is a subtle but evident sadness in it.

The second, climate war one won theme, opens with a guitar chord beat quickly repeated by horns. Again a vivid, marching melody. It moves until the cycles begin to wrap around one another.

The third dos o tres cervezas (two or three beers… I think?) is a very string heavy dose of surrealism. A voice chatters in Spanish from a distance of maybe ten yards, presumably one of the “sneaky overdubs” advertised on the Bandcamp site. #4, poppin’ chops, continues the move into the dream world with a very non-sneaky voice dubbed over.

The fifth is a ballad. I could not understand the language of the vocals (German, I believe). A feminine voice softly singing followed by a masculine voice in prose mode. Lots of bent notes.

The seventh cut, with snippets of dialogue telling the story of a disintegrating affair, weaves a tragic tapestry. This, just behind a mournful trombone, guitar and percussion. Quite a lot of storytelling, for this kind of jazz.

On number 10, bye bye things we get a singing saw.

I found the mood and pace a bit challenging at times, but that diminished with repeated listening and more attention. This is a recording that stands out as unique even by the standards of the Free Jazz Collective. I say check it out.


rod j said...

I feel for you at this blog because the scene you cover is so overwhelmingly vast, the number of worthy artists enormous and ever expanding.

To offer conclusive coverage is impossible and you do a great job.

And then you get all this wonderful free improvised music going on that isn't quite jazz; it's experimental, psychedelia, prog... definitions start to make less and less sense the more interesting things get.

Astral Spirits are the mothers!

MEM said...

Thanks for the review! The German-ish language in question is Dutch!

Ken Blanchard said...

Is the title Dutch? It sure looks like Spanish. Thanks for the comment.

Stef said...

Yes, the title is Dutch. "Traantjes" means tears (or actually little tears), implying that "you may be sad now, but the issue is not all that bad".

Ken Blanchard said...

Thanks so much for the information. I am fascinated by languages, both spoken and abstract.