If And Above All (2017) and Give Space (2018) prove anything, it’s that Steiger is not just a band, but a continuous work-in-progress. Gilles Vandecaveye-Pinoy (keyboards), Kobe Boon (bass) and Simon Raman (drums) eagerly explore the outer margins of jazz and dive into other universes (contemporary music, electronica, pop, free improvisation,…), but basically also remain faithful to the genre’s long-standing core principle; that of a flexible transformation. The winners of the 2017 Gent Jazz Festivals' Jazztalent award had been selected to play the 12 Points Festival in 2018. For their new EP Brick Smoke Basement, that paves the way for a third album (to be released in the spring of 2021), the trio continues its path of renewal and experiment. By doing this, the trio builds on Give Space, but also moves beyond it, to explore as yet unfamiliar territory.
Three residencies – at Vooruit (Ghent), Flagey (Brussels) and deSingel (Antwerp) – gave the band opportunities to incorporate new ideas into its music, like the use of piano, harpsichord and synths. Collaborating with an external musician was a first for the band. Australian composer, improviser and producer Joe Talia (Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke) is very active in Tokyo and Berlin, and an expert in constructing musical collages. This collaboration was a true dialogue, with Talia granted the freedom to remodel/remix the material that the band designed during their residencies. As such, Steiger’s interplay created a dialogue with this electronic artist. The end result: an electro-acoustic exploration that blurs boundaries.
As such, this new release by Steiger became the next step in a fascinating evolution. Striking is also the increased use of contrasts. The music keeps construction and deconstruction, form and abstraction, in a remarkable balance. The musicians experiment with eerie sounds and atmospheres, but the compositions also remain spontaneous and tight, in the way they use tempo/mood shifts and combine post-industrial soundscapes with playful or elusive melodies. Their authentic and personal approach leads to an organic, hybrid result, a suitable match for this dizzying and demanding 21st century.
This new EP also sets the tone for their next full-length album, for which the band intends to try out shorter songs and a stronger emphasis on sound exploration. By incorporating various synths and prepared piano, as well as inviting producer Cesar De Sutter-Pinoy into their midst, the band is already on its way towards a new phase.