When I spotted this album for review I must confess that it was seeing Tony Levin’s name that intrigued me, however this thought does a disservice to the other very talented musicians on this release, a project that belongs to Dominique Vantomme. After some research I decided to do the review and found the album to be excellent and beautifully played by all. I like it a lot. Review done. If only it was that simple! Let’s look at things in a little more detail.
Dominique Vantomme is a pianist, keyboard player, composer, music educator and producer who has worked with many European rock and pop acts, as well as being the jazz piano instructor at the Music Conservatory in Kortrijk, Belgium. Dominique states that this album was born out of his nomadic adventures; travelling in 2016 to see the Stick Men in Holland and meeting up with his old pal, MoonJune’s Leonardo Pavkovic. Shortly after befriending the bass and stick player Tony Levin, whose work with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and Stick Men are well known, the pair got together in the studio, joined by Michel Delville on guitar and Maxime Lenssens on the drums. The four of them have created an album that has a freshness about it, all of them at the top of their game and demonstrating an instinct for the music.
Vegir was produced by Dominique, mixed by Fritz Sundeman and mastered by Mark Wingfield. It consists of eight tracks across seventy four minutes, the download version appearing to offer an extra track, Odin’s Wig. The music contains some great melodies which are underpinned by excellent bass and drum work to accompany the equally fine keyboards and guitar. It appears to find its own path, partly due to the individual skills of the musicians who play with and at times off each other to offer an almost telepathic understanding of where the songs need to go.
The album is full of ideas and there is a lot to digest, but it is worth investing time in doing so, as they manage to blend jazz, psychedelia and rock effortlessly. They also deliver some wonderful grooves along the way. The longest track on the album at some thirteen minutes, The Self Licking Ice-cream Cone is a great example of what they can do with a bright groove beginning, the keyboards later developing a jazz-like feel as the band support and play around the melody. The intensity picks up towards Delville’s guitar solo where they ease back into the groove before picking up the pace again. Throughout, Vantomme’s keys always create the mood, vibe and melodies.
There is an undercurrent of darkness to some of the songs, most noticeable on Agent Orange, a sinister feel created by the keyboards, Levin’s stick providing some excellent bass, where he is joined by some stinging guitar runs, all ably supported by Lessens’ drumming.
This is by no means a one man show, Dominique Vantomme has managed to surround himself with some of the best, allowing them the room to express themselves, and in doing so they have created something special. Do investigate this album, I don’t think you will be disappointed. I know I was not.
01. Double Down (7:36)
02. Equal Minds (10:19)
03. Sizzurp (10:45)
04. Playing Chess With Barney Rubble (9:04)
05. The Self Licking Ice-cream Cone (13:08)
06. Plutocracy (4:38)
07. Agent Orange (9:46)
08. Emmetropia (9:00)
09. Odin’s Wig (1:54)*
*Download version only
Total Time – 74:12
Dominique Vantomme – Fender Rhodes, Electric Piano, Mini Moog, Mellotron
Tony Levin – Bass Guitar, Chapman Stick
Michel Delville – Electric Guitar
Maxime Lenssens – Drums
Record Label: MoonJune Records
Date of Release: 5th January 2018