UNDER THE REEFS ORCHESTRA

Some band names capture the sound they emit almost perfectly and Under the Reefs Orchestra is one such band. “The underlying poetic idea is that by drowning, being at the bottom, losing everything, we discover a new and hidden world,” says Clement Nourry. “Like walking at the bottom of the ocean.”

The Belgian trio is a band that ostensibly evolved out of the guitarist’s solo work, with him being joined by Louis Evrard on drums and Marti Melia on sax and bass to expand the sound. “My compositions became our compositions,” Nourry says.

The result is an instrumental debut album that spans genres, seamlessly gliding through jazz, post-rock, psychedelia and art-rock. Nourry himself describes it as: “An instrumental playground for melting folk influences, jazz from the 1950s and post-romantic music. A meditative trance fuelled by dark grooves, simple melodies and improvisations.” Yet amongst all of that it manages to retain a cohesive spirit, an album that feels intuitive and unpredictable but one that has captured the interconnectivity and personality of its three band members exploring new sonic terrains together.

What has come of this album is an extension of Nourry’s solo work but also something new altogether. “I wanted this album to catch all the involuntary qualities of a new band playing my music,” he says. “To capture what happens in my musical blind spot.” That has been achieved, with the band sounding very much like a unit. Whether it’s from gently unravelling guitar lines that glide from slick solos to fuzzed out tones (Tucuman) or to full band eruptions as drums crash and smash atop of accelerated noise (Une Île) the band gracefully manages to sound like they are travelling forward as one.

This has come from a focused yet trusting approach to direction from Nourry. “I am a really instinctive composer,” he says. “I use improvisation to develop obsessive themes and patterns and I like to give simple information and suggestions to other musicians and let them surprise me.” The relationship that Nourry has with Melia goes years back, so they share that intuitive spirit. “We used to play together in the streets, in marching bands,” he says. “I was always amazed by his ability to groove so hard that the whole band can just rest on him – no matter how many strong Belgian beers he drank.”

The band manages to sound equally loose and tight, structured yet expressive, and this stems from an approach that welcomes improvisation but then settles on a firm approach. “Once we find the sound and structure that works for us, we keep it but with slight variations,” says Nourry. “When we play live we are playing a really structured set but with very defined improvisation spots.”

Nourry went into this album with zero expectations but has come out with something that far surpassed any that he could have had. “I had no idea how I wanted it to sound,” he says. “I just wanted to experiment with these people.”


photo groupe 1 O.Donnet

photo groupe 4 O.Donnet
IMAGES: To download, click above. Photo credit to Olivier Donnet.

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