Underground music scenes in all urban centres naturally develop their own amoeba-like existence, dissolving and reforming in different shapes as the mood and the Muse takes them. Belgian capital Brussels is no different, and one such meeting of like minds is in a group called The Gödel Codex. Consisting of Etienne Plumer (Rêve d’Elephant, Animus Anima), Michel Delville (The Wrong Object, Machine Mass, Comicoperando), and Antione Guenet (Univers Zero, The Wrong Object, Beautiful Badness), these stalwarts of the Belgian underground scene here join up with Christophe Bailleau, “a sound artist with an interest in the function of noise as a musical code in music.”
Emerging like some brash and confident new language, the overture rumble-dances its way from the back of the room to shimmy centre-stage. This will be a thoroughly danceable experience. The Needle’s Eye sends signals with a paw-paw negro blowtorch, and lets the camel be. A Cantabrian journey in song on the back of Antoine Guenet’s marvellous synth solo, the scene is thoroughly set.
An atmosphere of Berlin-era Bowie filtered through a dark pop magus permeates this music, and any band claiming to draw influence from Jim O’Rourke and David Sylvian is doing something right. This is left-field avant-pop of a kind that is increasingly rare in these generic days. It makes you sit up and take notice of its unexpected twists and turns while you concurrently snap your fingers and tap your toes to the simple but effective melodies buried in the likes of One Last Sound. This song combines the wistfulness of the aforementioned Sylvian with the impish popsense of Eno.
Guitarist Michel Delville, long a favourite plank spanker of mine, lets rip with extreme heaviosity on the swirling dervish intro to Matisse, in a manner Keith Levene would not have turned his nose up at, before the song descends into a morass of ultra-modern ambience, all orange-glow and skittering beats. This is a form of post-rock that does not rely on cliché, but continually surprises.
Modern electric jazz musicians playing what they term “pop”, music that might not be recognised as such by many, can only be a good thing. Antione’s classical instincts are never far from the shower of notes sprayed over Stand Or Fall, and on this and the other tracks, the modernistic rhythms of Etienne Plumer, both acoustic and electronic, make for a heady mix of delights, possibly best accompanied by one of those unfeasibly strong and dangerous drinks that Belgians think is “beer”.
Most of the lead vocals are taken by Michel, whose gruffer voice is in contrast to Antoine’s higher, clearer tones on the two tracks the keyboard player takes to the microphone. Throughout, a Canterbury sensibility guides the vocals into a mystical, slightly otherworldly garden where the flowers grow in all directions at once. Can It Be epitomises this psychedelic tinge and will leave you with a smile on your face.
The rumble of the overture returns at the end in a live reprise, a piece of music that has an edge-of-seat thrill to it that makes me need to see this band live. Until that opportunity presents itself, I will make do with this fine album. 2019 is already shaping up to be a good year, musically at least.
01. Oak – overture (1:43)
02. The Needle’s Eye (2:32)
03. Granules (6:56)
04. One Last Sound (4:58)
05. Matisse (4:02)
06. Stand or Fall (3:54)
07. Bells (3:48)
08. Can It Be (5:30)
09. Oak – live reprise (4:18)
10. Lux 4 (5:52)
Total Time – 43:40
Michel Delville – Guitar, Roland GR09, Loops, Electronics, Lead Vocals (tracks 2, 3, 4 & 7)
Antoine Guenet – Keyboards, Synth, Acoustic piano, Electronics, Lead Vocals (tracks 6 & 8)
Etienne Plumer – Drums, e-Percussion, Glockenspiel, Trumpet, Electronics, Samples
Christophe Bailleau – Electronics and Samples (tracks 3, 5, 9 & 10)
Philippe Franck – Additional electronics (track 10)
Record Label: Off Records
Date of Release: 4 th January 2019