Originality and a stubbornness have always been crucial values for jazz musicians, but here they have become self-evident parts of Bestiaal’s strikingly unique character. The animal aspect is perhaps most obvious in the unpredictability of their instincts.
The elusive nature of Bestiaal can to a large extent be attributed to the compositions of drummer Sebastiaan Vekeman, as they are still firmly rooted in jazz, but defy all conventions with glee. The compositions on ‘Absoluut’ (2016) and ‘Inenen’ (2018) are not classic structures with familiar heads and tails like exclamation points, but a safe conduct to tell stories that only respect their own contrary logic.
Together with guitarist Jakob Haghebaert (like Vekeman a member of Skordatura) and double bass player Sebastiaan Gommeren, Vekeman designs trajectories that involve sudden detours, surprising sights and confusing paths. Ideas erupt, only to dissolve again or to make way for new suggestions. They are always misleading and steering you to the edge of your seat.
A fascination for language is obviously a recurring item as well. This is not only noticeable in the musical language they invented, but also in the cadence of a spoken language, which plays a crucial role in their song titles and artwork. Bestiaal employs an excessive freedom and slightly absurd, sometimes cinematic poetry, but remains free from gimmicks or stale ideas. Most of all, this is a trio that develops an authentic sound devoid of rules, expectations and superficial hypes. It is a unit that is capable of morphing into white-hot fury, abstract exploration and whispered caresses. A third album is planned for 2020.
Bestiaal will be playing at Hot Club Gent Saturday the 6th of April. (23:30 > 0:15)