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BWAA, 015

«Painting is nice because I don’t have to do it,» Steve Lacy once said. Belgian double bass player  Nils Vermeulen (aka Smolikas) and pianist Thijs Troch – known from local alternative, genre-free bands like Kabas, Jukwaa, Nordmann and Uma Chine, adapted this kind of useful wisdom and decided not to limit themselves to their comfort zones or their instruments. Instead, they explored unknown sonic territories, without counting on muscle memory or a book of tricks that has already paid off. On their «Split» album, Smolikas and Troch focus on intimate, open-ended and unpolished musings on guitar, banjo, violin, percussion and even Casio toy pianos.

Smolikas and Troch documented this solitaire, exploratory work in the course of 2020. Smolikas opens the first side of the limited edition album (200 copies plus download option) with four spontaneous, puzzling bluegrass meets Avant-folk songs, full of eccentric melodic hooks and ironic ideas. He also composed a poem that captures beautifully his approach: «… My best friend is a mountain / And his little rocks are already floating / Without any assistance / A true mountain is free, you know, / Free in mind and spirit / A little bit introvert, perhaps, / With lots of secrets, / But always truthful…» The last song, «A Tree Walks Into A Bar», is the most beautiful one and has a mysterious, melancholic aura.

Troch has six solo pieces of his own that are more abstract, poetic and hesitant, but all search for an elusive melodic core. He sounds as eager to take risks, subtle and brief ones, with no rush, and no need to surrender to any musical convention. Surprisingly, this brotherly side-by-side project stands as an impressive, intimate correspondence between two highly creative and adventurous musicians.

Eyal Hareuveni

Nils Vermeulen (vio, bjo, Casio, g, other strange objects), Thijs Troch (g, bjo, synths, prep.piano, perc)


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