Belgian drummer-percussionist-sound artist Karen Willems describes herself as one who refuses to conform always confronts and never stops transforming. She has studied classic music and jazz, performed with local pop and rock bands like Yuko, Zita Swoon Group and Jan Swerts and is s also active in theater, dance and contemporary music productions. The double album «Grichte» – sound, noise or racket in the Flemish dialect of Willems’ region, is part of her Terre Sol project, a sonic quest to turn inwards and find her personal motives, but it is also about connecting with others in times when evident concepts such as collaboration and exchange have become fragile. Or as Willems puts it: «Grichte is a mission of searching, feeling and letting go, the spontaneous game with adventure and connection as underlying key motifs».
The first part of the project, «Grichte 1», was recorded at the Dunk! studios in the middle of the fields of Zottegem. It is a mysterious auditory play that moves back and forth between organic sonic searches, futurist, ritualist rhythmic patterns, shamanic spells, sound art, innocent songs and playful turmoil. Willems cleverly experiments and weaves an endless arsenal of sounds – organic but light percussive sounds, evocative and suggestive field recordings and subtle and minimalist processed, in-the-studio soundscapes, with a restless sense of adventure, complete openness and cinematic imagination. «Grichte 1» offers a fascinating series of ambient and drone constellations and a deep and immersive sonic experience.
The atmosphere of «Grichte 2» is completely different. Willems turns things upside down with baritone sax player Vincent Brijs (of local band BRZZVLL), baritone sax player Marc De Maeseneer (of El Tattoo del Tigre) and tenor and soprano sax player John Snauwaert (of John Snauwaert Quintet) with three guest confidants (Frederik Croene, Glen Steenkiste and Jürgen Augusteyns). The sound here is raw and earthy and Willems investigates here meeting points between rugged free jazz and tough rock with thunderous, driving and repetitious rhythmic patterns and ecstatic sax cries. But the eight pieces on «Grichte 2» refuse to surrender to familiar narratives and simply follow the idiosyncratic sonic vision of Willems – always surprising and inquisitive but also inclusive, rich, passionate and openly emotional, or as Willems calls it in one of her most touching pieces here: «Honking For Love».
Karen Willems (dr, perc, field rec, v), Marc De Maeseneer (bs), John Snauwaert (ts, ss), Vincent Brijs (bs), Frederik Croene (p), Glen Steenkiste (bjo), Jürgen Augusteyns (g)