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Untitled # 0

(2018 – Igloo Records – BELGIUM)

An almost unbelievable 2018 double disc recording of a one of a kind, multi genre, ground breaking and incredible ‘big band’ founded by Peter Vermeersch in 1999. On this release, he composes 14 of the titles and band mate Peter Vandenberghe (who was also an important member of X-Legged Sally, and now Too Noisey Fishes) writes 3 and created an arrangement (being ‘Summertime’ by George Gershwin). With 15 members in all, ‘Untitled # 0’ is packed full of unrelentless, brisk, brave,  thrill seeking adventures, sometimes slinky, alternately atomic, suddenly friendly, then suspicious.

Formulated music puzzles that cannot be contained on one disc, and still overflowing with two, a few of the compositions have a low key surface (compared to what long time fans have grown to expect from FES), but when the listener reaches ‘Apes, Spies & Apps’ (track 3), the drive to sporadic and unknown encounters, does indeed make an entrance.  FES is rarely conservative and in an unfolding of 18 tunes, all the avant big band spin-round-the-room, cunning creations you have come to worship, are all alive and present. Musicians on this release are Peter Vermeersch – bass clarinet/compositions, Martí Melià – bass clarinet, Benjamin Boutreur – alto saxophone, Michel Mast – tenor saxophone, Bruno Vansina – baritone saxophone/flute, Thomas Mayade – trumpet, Bart Maris – trumpet, Peter Delannoye – trombone, Marc Meeuwissen – trombone, Berlinde Deman – tuba, Teun Verbruggen – drums/percussion, Peter Vandenberghe – piano/keys/compostions, Kristof Roseeuw – double bass, Pierre Vervloesem – guitar, and Wim Segers – vibraphone.

You may wish to turn your subwoofer (or bass, unless you have purists amp like mine) up on ‘Miss Man’s  Mist’ (track 4) for the jungle effects, and stirring piece of progressive jazz collage. Flat Earth Society stay true to their original intentions, with an embraced philosophy to make a different sort of art, and keep all constraints off the table. With inclusion of animation, mystery, dare devil pivots, carnival-like theatre, and experimental galore, the artists keep sinister plots to breach any number of boundaries, a firm routine. They use several eras of jazz music but the big band always design their own concoction of hop scotch, and have a sinfully gratifying time doing it. Their disregard for conventional form is your reward.

With each track the complications reveal themselves in spectacular fashion. Nearly 20 years together, FES generate music like the ultra fantastic well oiled outfit they have always been. It sounds effortless, however anyone with above average musical knowledge with music theory, hands on multiple instrument performance, and complex arrangements, will instantly know the extreme level of difficulty it takes to execute all this crowning achievement. No question that two fully packed discs are a great deal to listen to at one sitting, as it will drain you mentally (in a good way) but grow some new brain cells, and you will be the beneficiary in more ways than one. Get the physical CD and own a 3D front cover, with multi fold out digipak. A GIGANTIC RECOMMENDATION.

Reviewed by Lee Henderson 12 – 3 – 2018

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