Boomkat Product Review:
Legendary pop experimenters and genre-hoppers Aksak Maboul channel classic chanson and smoky jazz in a subtly mould breaking-and-reshaping style reminiscent of their classic 1977, 1980 sides - maybe hard to believe this lot comes from the guys who brought Konono No.1 and Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) to the wider world, but all will become apparent in wonderful style on ‘Figures’ which somehow sounds like Sterolab getting down with Miles Davis at Jon Hassell’s gaff.
“Figures is a double album containing 22 tracks and interludes, resulting from the flow of creative ideas which arose after a gap of over thirty years (see the Aksak story overleaf). Drawing again from the multiple sources which have always inspired the band (from electronic music and pop to experimentation, jazz, minimalism, contemporary classical etc), Aksak Maboul transcends and reconfigures them with its inimitable style, to create an impressive, rich and unclassifiable piece of work.
Seamlessly weaving electronic and acoustic instrumentation, improvisation and programming, songs, beats, found objects and sound collages, the album works as a labyrinth, full of secret passages and interconnections. Figures clocks in at 75 minutes, thus deliberately shunning the laws of instant gratification and the myth of today’s reduced attention span: the Aksak Maboul aficionados will surely be happy to engage in an immersive session of deep listening (in two halves), in order to enjoy the album’s many layers and details.
Véronique Vincent & Marc Hollander wrote the album together, by following parallel courses with their own respective internal logic, while remaining closely connected. Enigmatic and finely chiseled, feeding on her love for painting and literature, Véronique’s texts form a dense fabric which mirrors the sonic kaleidoscope assembled by Marc, who wrote and arranged all the music (aside from a track co-written and sung by Véronique and Julien Gasc). Véronique also made the drawings and paintings which illustrate the cover and inserts.
The two protagonists recorded most of the album in their own studio, with contributions by the young members of Aksak Maboul’s current live line-up: Faustine Hollander (bass, vocals, co-production), guitarist Lucien Fraipont and drummer Erik Heestermans. Also featured are performances by several friends and guests, including revered improvisor Fred Frith, Tuxedomoon’s Steven Brown, members of Aquaserge (Julien Gasc, Audrey Ginestet & Benjamin Glibert), former band members (including Michel Berckmans and Sebastiaan Van den Branden), and several others.”