STUFF.

Portraits

STUFF. is a jazz quintet that appears to want to hurl itself into the future. Young and new audiences appear particularly drawn to their uncompromising approach. First and foremost, STUFF. is a group with five musicians who had all earned their spurs individually before deciding to form a band. Consequently, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. When you understand the distinctive qualities of each musician, not to mention what it means to unite such talents and make optimal use of their skills, then you realise the immense potential that is inherent within STUFF.

Drummer Lander Gyselinck steers the band rhythmically with complex, hip-hop-inspired grooves, supported by bassist Dries Laheye. The groove is always the foundation, topped by the melody that is traded in collective improvisations.

In the first instance, you would expect the melodic lines from a wind instrument or keyboard. Due to the flexible role distribution in this (democratic) collective, however, it can be played just as well on the bass. This gives rise to situations in which it is not always clear which sound belongs to which musician: the EWI (electronic wind instrument), keyboards and turntables often seem indistinguishable from one another.

STUFF.’s music thus becomes an auditory whole, a sound that doesn’t per se need to be unravelled. It is a confusion that speaks to the imagination, and one that Andrew Claes (saxophone and EWI), Joris Caluwaerts (synths and keyboards) and Mixmonster Menno (turntables) readily exploit. In the meantime, echoes of Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, Weather Report and Badalamenti rise to the surface.

Founded in 2012, STUFF. hit their stride during monthly jam sessions at the White Cat bar in Ghent. Their repertoire developed, quite literally, through live performances. Hip-hop beats and electronica are as much a part of their DNA as funk and fusion. Wringing and swinging: this band can do both simultaneously. STUFF. is concerned with the commonalities between jazz and dance.

In 2014, they were the first European band to be invited for a live Boiler Room session. Their untitled debut album was released the following year, with their second, Old Dreams New Planets, appearing in 2017. On certain occasions, STUFF. will also play for seated audiences under the name Hybrid Love.

They’ve produced work for the Ghent Film Festival based on Howard Shore’s film scores but, at the same time, like nothing more than performing in sweltering, jam-packed clubs, full of dancing fans. STUFF.’s music is hard to define. While their compositions exude freedom, they are also devoid of solos. This emphasises the collective nature of the band rather any individual frontman. But the quintet certainly knows how to build an arc of tension and, as befits the context of being programmed between other big festival acts, their sound is highly persuasive.

STUFF. tells its own extraordinarily dynamic story, one that drifts along on bold beats and astounding grooves. At the same time, they effortlessly defy all expectations. And in this way, they continue to build on their idiosyncratic trajectory.

Foto: (c) Alexander Popelier

Auteur:
Lies Steppe

For as long as she can remember, Lies Steppe has been guided by music in everything she does: whether listening to music or making it herself, and as a radio presenter (Late Night Jazz, Take 7 and Round Midnight on Klara).

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