Quat - Live at Hasselt (4 stars)

Quat - Live at Hasselt

Inquisitive and inspired music from a singular quartet, featuring Fred Van Hove and Els Vandeweyer

(No Business)

At times this album sounds like a late-night session from Glasgow's Sharmanka Gallery, where Eduard Bersudsky's magic realist kinetic sculptures have come to life and are improvising an abstract soundtrack for a magic realist cabaret. It's most apparent when pianist Fred Van Hove wields his accordion, exhaling Kurt Weill chords as the three percussionists hiss, clank, rattle and scrape. A vibraphone/ piano/ percussion affair, Quat are suggestive of the Modern Jazz Quartet filtered through the radical sensibilities of European free improvisation. Young Belgian vibraphonist Els Vandeweyer takes her instrument's cool, spacey sound into strange new worlds, conjuring gaseous alien tones around the veteran Van Hove's trembling piano clusters. It's not all milky way dreaminess however. There are driving passages where Van Hove's piano canters alongside a skittering hi-hat and metal on metal cymbal slices, before it all falls away leaving Vandeweyer's floating tones. Inquisitive and inspired music from a singular quartet.

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