Saturday, August 28, 2010

Leo Coomans, BASEMENT RECORDINGS 1978-1982

Ultra Eczema, 2009; possibly available still, but this was limited edition vinyl, so expect to search

5 tracks, 35:59

Alright, folks, we're into strange territory here. Coomans is a long-time player in the Antwerp jazz scene. Not much had been released up until this compilation, but what was available showed Coomans as an adventurous sax player. This comp, however, shows that he had a secret career, making music that bears extremely little relation to jazz in his own basement. Take "Aerosol", for instance. You see that thing on the cover? That's an aerosol machine which Leo used to treat his asthma. It's also what he sings into on "Aerosol", and it's STUNNING. It starts off with the ambient buzzing of the machine, but as the track progresses, Coomans' mouth movements and singing alter the sound. Voice and buzz combine into what sounds for all the world like a biomechanical Tuvan singer. "Watermuziek" is the other A-side track, and this one is fairly out there too! For this extended piece, Coomans plays "tubes", saxophones (baritone and soprano), and his own voice..... into a bathtub full of water!!!! What's shocking about this track is how much it sounds like musique concrete or even glitch at times; actually, parts of it even sound like a muffled version of Jac Berrocal's "Bric-A-Brac". The B-side starts off with "Het Geraas En Het Gebral", another extended piece. This one really must be heard to be believed, but if you can imagine Riley's "Poppy Nogood" in lo-fi devolving into a free jazz maelstrom with vacuum cleaner accompaniment, you're close to the mark (and yes, there literally IS a vacuum cleaner in there). "Zonder Titel" is a brief harmonica-and-overtone piece, strangely pretty in its own way while completely covered in fuzz and distortion. Finally, Coomans treats us to his cover of "Louie Louie", which is perfomed on vacuum cleaner, alto sax, "tubes" again, and a "tape recorder with accessories" (and of course Coomans' voice as well). You've never heard a version of "Louie Louie" like THIS before, especially since it doesn't even vaguely resemble that standard until the track's almost over! Full of outsider creativity and jarring sounds, this compilation really should be more widely available, and hopefully it will be. Good luck finding this one, kids, but if you love avant-garde music as much as I do, you NEED it.

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