Jozef Van Wissem – Ex Patris
Important Records 2010
(click cover artwork to see vinyl)
[tags: acoustic, folk, neo-classic, instrumental, lute, 2010]
Listen while reading:
A very interesting and fascinating release for today: Jozef van Wissem (hailing from Brooklyn/New York) recently released his newest long player Ex Patris on Important Records and it is one that I strongly recommend to check out. If you don’t know Jozef, as I did before I heard Ex Patris, let me tell you that he made it his task to re-invent compositions for baroque lute, the forgotten instrument (according to the label’s description). The sound of the baroque lute isn’t too far away from a nylon string acoustic guitar (the guitar itself belongs to the family of the lutes, more exactly to the Kastenhalslauten), but I think the baroque lute got a wider tonal pallet and sounds warmer.
Ex Patris is a vinyl only release and it features four tracks; on side A there are the opener The Day Is Coming, Amor Fati (Love Is A Religion) and the intro for the B-side track, Son Of Dawn. The B-side then only got one 13 minutes track called After The Fire Has Devoured All, It Will Consume Itself. You can tell from most of the song names that this won’t be happy music – and this thought is correct. The keynote of the record is thoughtful, dark sometimes and dauntingly stoic. This stoicism is created by the minimality of the compositions, which seem to stand above the stories they try to tell. This also gives an apocalyptic note to them, not because they would sound apocalyptic, but because they seem not to be affected by their surroundings – l’art pour l’art at death’s door.
I for myself think of this music as a mixture of acoustic folk and instrumental minimal neo-classic. The folk tag comes from the overall impression I get listening to it: very intense and intimate, containing much feelings and reflections of the writer himself. Neo-classic tag comes from the whole structure of the album as a big composition with the goal to reintroduce the lute as suitable candidate for contemporary music. With After The Fire Has Devoured All, It Will Consume Itself Jozef really showed his enormous talent in writing songs as well as the huge potential that lies in the baroque lute. These 13 minutes are clearly one of the best tracks I heard so far in 2010. The sarcastic character of it is outstanding, because in view of the song name, this is the “happiest” track on the album, but, as I said, this happiness is more a stoic careless one and therefore like the smile of death itself, a modern memento mori.
In the end all four tracks are very recommendable wherefore I advice buying a copy of this fine record. The first 100 copies come on red vinyl (click album cover above to see it) and the rest will be black wax. To get yours, head over to Important Records by clicking here. Also make sure to check out Jozef van Wissem’s MySpace and listen to the whole After The Fire Has Devoured All, It Will Consume Itself.