The music of JK’s Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° begins with a low howl, and a sustained gust of wind as if in a gathering storm, portents of a darkness to come. Thick tuba lines overlap the ululating euphonium, with the sizzle of electronics soldering the instruments. This is “Stroom” a profound opening to an extraordinary, atmospheric recording by Niels van Heertum, a young improvising musician on the Belgian scene with powerful lungs and an intellect that he, himself, will have a hard time controlling as it darts around in his musician-brain looking to open doors of perception into breathtaking new and even fearful new melodic and rhythmic prospects.
Mr. Van Heertum speaks of this aural exploration as being an approach to music “with a strong focus on sound-design… presenting music with “sound” itself as its repertoire. Exploring sound boarders and possibilities by using the instrument as a sound source…” The word “boarders” quickly becomes irrelevant as the brass-player becomes infinitely more seized by a blue-in-the-face daring-doo as he performs some incredible feats of circular breathing, looping phrases and melodic motifs as one track overlaps the other in the repertoire getting ever more adventurous as the music progresses. The addition of the trumpet introduces a keening element as Mr. Van Heertum turns to sharper and more vivid colours that sizzle and overpower the darker textures of the tuba.
Throughout the almost-three-quarters of an hour of music there is no noticeable track-separation with brought about by breaks in the sound. Instead there are lulls before the sense of storminess is amplified and vice-versa. Of course Mr. Van Heertum tells us in no uncertain terms where all of this replication and personification of “Flow” and “Shadow”, peripatetic “Tour” and venerable scorching by the “Sun” is being created: it’s all in the title of the recording itself (at) – JK’s Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° a windmill – his home – in the fields of Flanders. Hinting at the disturbing quiet after a great war?
Perhaps… And with one musical “incident” following another it is music evocative of glinting lights, mysterious depths, expectations, frustrations, hopes and doubts, like the shattered shadows of a sinister quasi Mendelsshonian scherzo or cadenza glimpsed by moonlight in an ink-black forest. In sheer colour and variety, in the depth of its characterisation and in the exceptional range and refinement of his playing Niels Van Heertum has created something truly memorable in music.
Track List – 1: Stroom; 2: Schim; 3: Tocht; 4: Zon
Personnel – Niels Van Heertum: euphonium, tuba, trumpet & electronics.
Released – 2017
Label – Smeraldina-rima
Runtime – 40:08