Linus is the Belgian duo of guitarist Ruben Machtelinckx and reeds player Thomas Jillings. The two musicians have been musical companions for years, first working as a duo that released the album «Onland» (2013), later teaming with fellow Belgian guitarist Frederik Leroux and Norwegian drummer-organ player Øyvind Skarbø, releasing a second self-titled album (El NEGOCITO Records, 2015) and with another Norwegian, Hardanger fiddler Nils Økland and another Belgian, euphonium player Niels Van Heertum for the release of the 2016 «Felt Like Old Folk» album (Smeraldina-Rima). Now, with their fourth release as Linus and on their own, newly founded independent label Aspen Edities, Machtelinckx and Jillings continue to collaborate with Økland and Van Heertum but add Norwegian, Madrid-based percussionist Ingar Zach.
The expanded Linus first played at the Belgian Brosella Festival at the summer of 2016, then with Danish guitarist Jakob Bro. Machtelinckx and Jillings felt that new ensemble combined the ripened maturity of a long collaboration with the crisp freshness of a first meeting and recorded it soon after the festival performance at the deSingel, Antwerpen on July 2016.
«Mono no aware» (物の哀れ) refers to the Japanese concept of impermanence, the awareness that all things are transient. Or as Linus describes it: «in the greatest happiness there is a hint of sadness, provoked by the sudden realization that the bloom will come to an end, or by the agonizing sweetness of its own beauty». This existential, melancholic feeling is stressed by the unique, acoustic-chamber instrumentation – Zach on the gran cassa, Økland playing the Hardanger fiddle, Van Heertum’s deep-toned euphonium plus Machtelinckx acoustic guitars and banjo and Jillings quiet and gentle reeds.
The immediate interplay of Økland and Machtelinckx form a delicate, resonant atmosphere, the core of the ensemble song-like melodies. The ensemble sketches these lush, dreamy-folky melodies patiently, in no rush to develop into grandiose, complex compositions. These concise, fleeting melodies are innocent and lyrical in its spirit, transparent and often even sounding as familiar one, but the last ones – «Snakes and Ladders», «Still» and «Stray» have an enigmatic, cinematic flavor. As if these nuanced, suggestive melodies just touch and go, reminding us about deeper, timeless truths and beliefs before disappearing into the eternal flow.
A beautiful gem.
Ruben Machtelinckx (g, bg, bjo), Thomas Jillings (ts, c-melody s, altcl), Nils Økland (Hardangervio), Niels Van Heertum (euph, tp), Ingar Zach (perc)