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The wonderfully named Beat Love Oracle are a fusion outfit from Belgium formed in 2017 and released Turning the Table via áMARXE at the back end of 2022. The personnel Frank Nuyts (marimba & synth), Frank Debruyne (sax & synth), Stijn Deldaele (bass & vocals), and Ronald Dhaene (drums & multipad) combine to bring a very interesting work which takes in a range of influences from progressive rock to barmy Zappaesque via the avant-garde fusion road. As such, it is a challenging listen not to be taken lightly, but, as ever with intelligent and well performed music, patience brings its own rewards, and having listened over the past few weeks, I can recommend it highly, especially for those of you reading this review who want to expand their musical horizons into the eccentric world this lot inhabit, although you might want to be on the sharpish side as some of the wares on offer at https://amarxe.bandcamp.com/album/turning-the-table would appear to be almost sold out.
There are eight tracks, with only the one more than seven minutes, and it is a frantic ride, somewhat like those frightening things that go up and down at modern theme parks.
So, to the music.
We open with There Are No Downbeats, which might, I think, be a decent descriptor of this lot. Dhaene impresses immediately with his drum & percussion grooves before the band provide some strange noises and the sax interplays with synthesised vocals. A frantic organ duetting with the sax, all the time the rhythm section pushing matters along. Some of this music would sit well within a sci-fi film or, indeed, a documentary about the impact AI might have upon us in the future, with the synth vocals talking about new life as it ought to be and coming across as rather sinister despite the song title’s absence of downbeats, or perhaps from the AI perspective, there are no downbeats in control of us by machine. As we progress, we get a nicely balanced fusion of psych, jazz, and joyous improvisation before the final passage turns completely dark and manic, perhaps as we are erased, and the machines have their day.
Just Thumb Luck follows.
The bass is brilliant leading the moody sax and drum/percussion before it then takes a more subdued turn with the sax and rhythm thoughtful in an interesting jam with the drums then taking centre stage. What follows is an improvisational track with the main themes of the song reprised throughout. Best played in the dark loud with a drinky at your side following a difficult day’s work.
Too Early Bird!
is a clear contender for title of the year at the 2023 Lazland Awards, or, perhaps, Best Track Inspired By That Zappa Bloke Award. Whatever, there are some noises in amongst this that after several listens take your breath away, especially some of the basslines and some gorgeous marimba. Just over two minutes in, the track amongst the jams takes a more sort of traditional progressive rock turn with crunching bass riffs and melodies which could feature on any Chris Squire or Jonas Reingold work, it is that good. As the track reaches its denouement, the riffs, melodies, and noises compete.
Don’t Bump Your Head Above The Cloud is another cracking title and is also a beautiful piece of music. Just over six minutes of ambient joy which I must say comes as a complete surprise and contrast to the music which preceded it. Marimba, mournful sax, melodious bass, and some delightful complex patterns on drums create a pastiche where you feel yourself rising, almost as a child in those waking dreams of flying on your bed navigating the world. Halfway through, the interplay between marimba and drums are wonderful with some achingly gorgeous notes moving towards the close. This is a very uplifting piece of music I have embedded below. Enjoy.
Tadadada, not that uncommon a word, believe it, or not. It is the shortest track here. Throughout, you imagine a master of ceremonies shouting out Tadadada to the assembled listeners in what is a bright sax-led piece with some more impressive bass grooves combining with drums and percussion. As it moves along, it becomes something akin to a James Bond or similar soundtrack, or perhaps a bit of a loving pastiche to The Pink Panther. Anyway, a fun track with a great parping denouement.
Your Feet Make Me Sob. My mother used to say this to me. As did my wife when she first met me. As I still say to my wonderful son. Yep, sweaty feet, the curse of man throughout the ages, especially sporting man in the summer, and, indeed, the mournful sax and drums evoke the moment the socks are removed pretty well, a distinctly sinister moment in any household with young male inhabitants but performed here with the right level of playfulness in a track I have come to enjoy very much because it brings back some nice memories. It is embedded below. I just love that final bass note at the end.