Boomkat Product Review:
Exquisite bass clarinet nocturnes from Belgium, recorded in 2019 but feasibly coming from any point over the last 40 years - another boutique waffle off the Stroom griddle.
Comparisons between bass clarinet-favouring Ben Bertrand and Colin Stetson are perhaps inevitable, but where the Canadian often goes macho, Brussels-based Bertrand is ineffably cooler, and better considered along with sax player Alex Zhang Hungtai’s knack for huffably intoxicating atmospheres. A dark blue velvet tone links the Lynchian to both Hungtai and Bertrand, whose 2nd LP ’Manes’ offers the equivalent of a soundtrack and setting to a noirish stage-play or art house flick where you get to pick the cast and play your own role.
Hovering into view with the Deathprod-like haunted chamber piece ‘Morton And György In The Battista Mist’, the album unfurls at an opiated heart rate with solemn instrumental sighs and trembling string tones recalling a bolder Elodie, and the coy duet of wind and sine waves in ‘Incantation 3’ is just sublime. If you aren’t convinced by this point, the Aeolian-Reichian flutters of ‘Delayed Monologue’ and Coil-like massage music of ‘The Manmaipo’ are best left for everyone else, and you should just shuffle back to that ambient playlist on Spotify. Nothing to see here. But if you know what’s good this one’s quietly amazing.