mon 04/03/2024

Album: Aksak Maboul - Une aventure de VV (Songspiel) | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Aksak Maboul - Une aventure de VV (Songspiel)

Album: Aksak Maboul - Une aventure de VV (Songspiel)

A work of total world creation that will take you to very strange places - if you let it.

One of the greatest things a musical artist can achieve is world building. That is, creating a distinctive type of environment, language and coordinates for everything they do such that the listener is forced to come into the musical world, and to engage with it on its own terms rather than by comparison. It’s something that musicians as diverse as Prince, Kate Bush and Wu-Tang Clan achieve have achieved, likewise plenty of more underground creators too.

Belgian polymath Marc Hollander has achieved this in particularly special way. Over more than 45 years, he’s built his sonic world not only through his own music – in Aksak Maboul, the collective he founded in 1977, put on hiatus for 30 years after two albums, then revived in 2014 – but through his revered Crammed Discs label, which has long been a nexus for avant-rock and jazz, film music, global sounds and more. Somehow the label has been part of the same work of ongoing collage as Aksak Maboul.

So, even though this is only the fifth AM album proper, it’s actually a continuation of a mind-bogglingly vast flow of music over those decades. And it feels like it: from the second you hit play, you’re straight through a portal into Hollander’s own musical universe with its own rulesets, and for an hour, you’re taken for a meandering exploration of it. It’s dreamlike, with various voices and players coming in and out (including musical friends from acts like Tuxedomoon and Stereolab), and the music mutating from electronic to acoustic and back, often without the edges showing.

You could spot influences for ever: this dreamworld overlaps Tom Waits’s eternal boho bar crawl, the fairyland of Gong, the spaceship corridors of The Orb, and the tunings and structures are from a reality where Sun Ra, Zappa and Beefheart were the defining pillars of modern music. It’s weird and, most times you listen to it, very very wonderful. It doesn’t always sound the same, though: sometimes you may not be in the mood to let yourself fully immerse in Hollander’s world, and those times, it may just meander past bafflingly – but other times, when you can step fully through that portal, it’s a work of total magic.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Talking With the Birds":

This dreamworld overlaps Tom Waits’s eternal boho bar crawl, the fairyland of Gong, the spaceship corridors of The Orb

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