Click here to [close]

Thursday, March 2, 2023

g a b b r o - The Moon Appears When The Water Is Still (Gabbro, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

Belgian trio Gabbro gets better with the years, like good wine. We were already very pleased with their previous album "Granular" and "The Moon Appears When The Water Is Still" is even better. 
The trio consists of Hanne De Backer on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, Andreas Bral on piano and harmonium, and Raf Vertessen on drums. 

The album's conception is rather unusual. In March 2021, during lockdown, the trio walked the entire Belgian coastline in the company of a camel and a camera crew. We show you the resulting video below. (For those of you with limited geographical knowledge: the Belgian coast is only 67 kilometers long but is on average 500 meters wide, which gives enough space to walk alongside a camel). 

The five-day trip created the inspiration for the music and was originally improvised along the way between France and the Netherlands. The musical transcriptions were then used by Hanne De Backer to create the compositions on this album, together with some memory of the sounds, and further refined during a three day stay in the Belgian Ardennes. The actual performance was recorded in the studio in Brussels in December 2022. 

Despite its elaborated genesis, the sound is fragile and intimate, and at first listen not something you would associate with the seaside, the crying of gulls, the crashing of waves or the howling of the wind. The mood is tranquil, sensitive, gentle with the three instruments caressing each other's sounds in precious tender strokes. 

As De Backer mentioned about the trio's previous album, they have a "certain ‘careful’ or ‘caring’ approach towards listening, something very fragile, both as a musician and human being. A very engaged way of listening without seeking fulfillment of certain expectations".

On the middle track, "Oblivious To The Other Dancers", the mood changes, becoming more intense and powerful, although still relatively controlled, and on "I Go About It My Own Way", the sax suddenly starts howling in deep despair and agony, even if the music is still quiet and calm.

The deep sound of the baritone sax and bass clarinet are in stark contrast to the lightness of the music, yet it works well. It is obvious from the coherence of the sound, that all three musicians worked hard to have it right, to understand and feel how to move, even if all the pieces are largely improvised.

Very precious music.

Listen and download from Bandcamp

The band also recorded a 45 minute video of their trip along the Belgian coast. You can watch a teaser here.