All the releases of the Belgian label Aspen Edities are works of art. Obviously, musically, but always framed with a poetic quote and unique cover art. The duo of Belgian sax player Thomas Jillings, known from the group Linus, and drummer Stijn Cools, documented on «promesa», was born from Jillings’ fascination for synthesizers. Cools has already ventured into electronic experiments but on this project, he keeps to his core science: drums. The album is framed by the paradoxical saying of English philosopher G.E. Moore: «It is raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining», and offers the beautiful cover art of Belgian visual artist Ives Maes.
Jillings and Cools established an intimate, minimalist, and almost naive manner of communication. On first listening, you may get the impression that they follow parallel narratives. The distant, surprisingly innocent sound of Jillings’ synths tells a coherent, melodic and harmonious story. Cools’ drums add incoherent but always original rhythmic patterns. But this duo is based on trust and openness, leading the parallel narratives to common ground and deeper sonic essence. A «promesa»–promise of finding each other across individual perspectives.
The atmosphere of promesa is quiet, cinematic and often transparent. The ethereal, minimalist flights of Jillings are grounded by the clever rhythmic choices of Cools, and this delicate dialog suggests fragile tension and reserved dramas. In a way, «promesa» reverses the roles of Jillings and Cools. Jillings’ synths produce sounds that are usually associated with acoustic instruments while Cools clearly translates and adopts the rhythmic language of experimental electronics, acid and techno, into his own live playing. This elusive game of sounds and dynamics promises enigmatic and poetic soundscapes like «Miras», «Lukto» and «Alveno» and the most beautiful piece, «Hejmloka».
Thomas Jillings (synth), Stijn Cools (dr)