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På skive


«The moon appears when the water is still»

g a b b r o is the project of Belgian, Antwerp-based baritone sax player Hanne De Backer, known for her collaborations with Signe Emmeluth, Terrie Ex, Paal Nilssen-Love, Jakob Bro and Martin Küchen. She describes g a b b r o as a conglomerate of sounds, musicians and places, with the aim of each production to confront improvised music with unexpected locations and explore the impact of these locations and their inhabitants on the music. So far, g a b b r o has been playing and recording in empty exhibition halls, old sewage systems, parking lots, laundrettes, the prison of Antwerp, on roofs and on mountains.

The moon appears when the water is still, referring to the teachings of Buddha, is the third album of g a b b r o, following the self-titled debut album (El Negocito, 2017) and granular (Dropa Disc, 2019). De Backer collaborates with different musicians on each album. On the debut album of g a b b r o she played with fellow-Belgian baritone sax player Marc De Maeseneer and on granular she collaborated again with De Maeseneer, and added Belgian experimentalist bassist Raphael Malfliet and Austrian vocal artist Agnes Hvizdalek, but many other musicians participated in this ongoing project.

On The moon appears when the water is still is based on a previous project of g a b b r o, As We Walk, in which De Backer with Belgian, Brooklyn-based drummer Raf Vertessen and Belgian pianist Andreas Bral walked the whole Belgian coastline in the company of a camel and a camera crew. The goal was to register this coastline by recording the musical impressions of the trio alongside the road. Everyday improvised set was played and recorded at different locations, in and outdoors, starting at the French border and ending five days later at the border with the Netherlands. The moon appears when the water is still is based on transcriptions of this project, together with the memory of the sounds during the journey.

De Backer wrote six new compositions that served as a guideline for new improvisations with Vertessen and Bral, reflecting on their musical direction and identity. The album was recorded at Jet Studio’s in Brussels in December 2022. The moon appears when the water is still is most likely De Backer’s most personal album to date. Most of the time she plays with great restraint but with a commanding, soulful voice. She often employs extended breathing techniques but always lets the music flow naturally. De Backer, Bral and Vertessen’s dynamics are delicate and minimalist but suggest an organic equilibrium. The music, with its suggestive titles, is introspective and intimate, offering imaginative, fragmented images and rare, poetic beauty.

Eyal Hareuveni

Hanne De Backer (bs, bcl), Andreas Bral (p, harmonium), Raf Vertessen (dr)

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