Dans Dans are an improvising group, but one whose collective musical history (the members have played with the likes of Mark Lanegan, Dez Mona and Flying Horseman) gives them a wide range of genres through which to move. 3 is accordingly broad in sound, rarely sounding like ‘jazz’ even if the group are playing by jazz’s rules. Out on Unday Records.
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- 3 by Dans Dans
8/10 Robin Staff review, 07 May 2015
Named Dans Dans even though they should be called Dans Dans Dans for conceptual symmetry, this Belgian trio take jazz as a reference point and then dance about it, delving into musical premonitions before improvising around them for as long as they see fit. There’s a bit of kraut resilience to their sound, too -- opener “Zephyr” relies on the rhythm section running in place with repetitive bass and ramshackle but unnerved percussion -- but '3' is ultimately anonymous, giving off the feeling that anything could happen, even if it’s not actually going to.
Like improv forefathers Supersilent, Dans Dans seem to have an intuitive understanding of when an improv tune should clock in, shuffling around with ideas in brief bursts that make them sound inventive and compelling. “Take A Close Look” takes a cheeky muted guitar riff and places it next to shaken percussion, procuring a silky sound that eventually unravels into a sporadic solo and a subtle heightening of tempo. It starts simple and gets curious. “Feurette Africaine” suggests an instrumental Ought, a bass line slithering around an absent-minded guitar riff to suggest some sort of crossroad between lethargy and adventure.
It’s these minimal pieces that reward the most, offering reclining space like avant-garde lounge pieces. '3' loses itself as it gets less particular about construction. The aptly titled “Coffee Grounds” would sound glorious on any other album, a crash of free jazz drums and guitar sneezes living in conflict as the rhythm tries to drive them back onto the road. That mix of chaos and clarity is what Dans Dans graduated in; I just like it when they do it quieter.
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