Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia articulated a rare existential wisdom in a concise poetic sentence: Percibimos el vacío, llenándolo, i.e. We become aware of the void as we fill it. Belgian guitarist Ruben Machtelinckx thought that he can fill the freezing voids of the Belgian winter with a new quartet, completing with this quartet a triptych of albums released in 2019. In the spring he released the debut album of the duo Poor Isa with banjo player Frederik Leroux («Let’s Drink The Sea And Dance», Aspen Edities, 2019); in the summer he came out with the cassette «Sualme» (Kunst en Zwalm, 2019) with field recordings, improvisations and compositions. The vivid artwork of Swedish artist Jockum Nordström on the winter-released «porous structures» emphasizes the season spirit.
The new acoustic quartet features fellow Belgians- clarinet player and vocalist Joachim Badenhorst, who have collaborated before with Machtelinckx, and Bert Cools, who plays steel-string guitar, just like Machtelinckx – and French percussionist Toma Gouband. The music of Machtelinckx tends to be sparse, fragile and sometimes even suggests imaginative, dream-state tension and narratives. This kind of lyrical music also stresses a sense of modest and unhurried movement. There are times you that you can sense Badenhorst and Gouband moving and walking gently through the recording space and enriching the acoustic dynamics, but on other times the quartet chooses to fill the space with simple silences. The delicate «porous structures» flow seamlessly while sketching its rounded architectural lines.
Badenhorst contributes soft wordless, singing vocals that deepens the warm, intimate atmosphere, but also brings to mind the manner that Norwegian trumpeter employs his voice as a means to expand the ethereal range of instrument. Gouband charges these «porous structures» with unpredictable, intuitive resonating percussive sounds. The guitars of Machtelinckx and Cools sound as not belonging to any distinct genre or legacy, Western nor Eastern, but keep driving the sparse improvisations with minimalist, poetic touches. Only «structure 6» surrenders to a familiar, somehow linear narrative.
Beautiful music that already fills the dark voids of this years’ winter.
Ruben Machtelinckx (steel-string g), Joachim Badenhorst (reeds, v), Bert Cools (steel-string g), Toma Gouband (perc)