Nordmann’s rock attitude seems to lie as much within their image, as in their sound. Dressed in black, feet astride, they take to the stage with the attitude of genuine rock musicians. That the sound-level metre systematically hits the red, and that they’d rather play to a standing audience, simply reinforces the perception. But from a purely artistic perspective they are indebted to (avant-garde) jazz.
All four are trained jazz musicians with a natural inclination towards improvisation. And in their quest for their own sound, both freedom and adventure are key. Nordmann has rapidly managed to develop an identity of its own, as a result of which the band has become its own standard.
With their latest album, The Boiling Ground, Nordmann present themselves more stringently than ever before. Lyricism and subtlety have given way to a bruising sound. The single ‘The King’ is an exciting blend of lyrical saxophone, wailing guitar and driving rhythm section. It’s over seven minutes of pure playing pleasure, or half if you listen to the much-played edit heard on Radio 1. In this album, Nordmann is undeniably flirting with rock more than with jazz, but fortunately they always strike a perfect balance.
Nordmann is not only searching for musical cross-overs, but also looking over the fence at other disciplines. In the spring of 2017, for instance, they toured with their live soundtrack for the cult film Dementia/Daughter of Horror (1955). Decried at the time, this B-movie is a dark and intriguing film, just like Nordmann’s music.
Their ominous score perfectly matches the mysterious atmosphere of the cult classic. This adventure lives on in Nordmann’s DNA, even today. Several songs on the new album seem to have sprung from this project.
Although Nordmann consciously presents itself as a collective, its members regularly appear in other bands. Guitarist Edmund Lauret (The Milk Factory, etc.) and drummer Elias Devoldere (John Ghost, Hast, etc.) frequently cross artistic lines. Saxophonist Mattias De Craene, in particular, has increasingly proved to be unstoppable.
Under the banner ‘MDC’ he has launched several projects, always with other line-ups. His trio MDC III is particularly noteworthy. No average jazz trio, but an endurance test in which he is flanked by two drummers, Simon Segers (De Beren Gieren, Black Flower, etc.) and Lennert Jacobs (The Germans, etc.). Music in its most liberated form: now subtle and introspective, then utterly ecstatic with invocatory tribal patterns.
Foto: (c) 2017 Nordmann