Askr by Kreis

cover

Kreis | Askr
self-released (CD)

This is the debut of Kreis, a trio “on the brink between lyrical jazz, pondering chamber and film music” made up of Benjamin Hermans (saxophones & clarinet), Stan Maris (accordion & compositions) and Kobe Boon (double bass). They flex their musical muscle somewhere between improv and components of composition. The opener Walter In The Water has a melancholic sway that is instantly engaging with common traits to those cyclical rhythms in the realm of Philip Glass. The lows are generously warm and the highs are harmonically emotive. Their record and its title signifies their take on the Old Norse tales of an ash tree (Yggdrasil), in fact, according to myth, the first man on Earth – made out of such a tree. It’s an intriguing and poetic concept.

Some pockets are spare and open, while others play like a wilderness anthem bent on a bit of traditional blues. The players are adept at giving each other just the right amount of room to have a musical conversation, hence weaving a bit of storytelling. In this light I could imagine their sound as a backdrop for a hazily lit stage play, or a good read that would entertain all ages. Fueled by playful folky nuances this comes off with a certain earnest narrative that makes it incredibly easy listening within an adjusted diatonic scale that begins to meander into slightly darker territory on tracks like Claus.

Elsewhere on Askr it’s as though they have invited us to an intimate cavelike lounge (Alpurnar) on the outskirts of Amsterdam or Brussels, some lil’ village, where the traditions of Amstel beer overflowing at dusk are custom. Kreis truly operates as a unit, no flailing solos, and never straying too far from their one on one first-hand relationship with their audience, with the exception of the sudden intro on Stuurloos, though even that quickly flows back into their lapping sound. The closer, Magdalena, offers a breathy repose and is also the clearest opportunity to appreciate Maris’ accordion – always a unique memory-inducing instrument. You can also almost touch the silky air swirling from Hermans’ sultry clarinet and the earthy/folksy grounding of Boon’s bass. For whatever reason this piece sounds so incredibly familiar, almost like one of those American songbook classics. And they most definitely saved the most evocative and emotional work for the finale, which is as laidback as those days between Spring and Summer – here’s to looking forward….

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