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Read this article by Peter Thelen on Exposé Online


Beat Love Oracle — Turning the Table
(Bandcamp aMarxe, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

Hardscore was an eclectic eight-piece chamber-jazz-rock band from Belgium with a curious sound involving a strong reliance on mallet percussion, keyboards, and vocals; they released four albums beginning in 1998 and seem to have evaporated after around 2005, following their final release Monkey Trial.

The leader and primary composer in Hardscore was Frank Nuyts, who continued writing music in the years following the disbandonment of Hardscore, and a few years ago put together a new group called Beat Love Oracle, a quartet, something of a leaner, meaner, mostly instrumental band exploring similar musical territories. Several of Hardscore’s final recordings accompanied BLO’s second album Don’t Count on Us. Nuyts, in addition to composing most of the material, is here playing marimba and synthesizers. Frank Debruyne, who was also a member of Hardscore, is here on saxes and synthesizers (and composed one track, “Tadadada”). The group is rounded out by the intense rhythm section of drummer Ronald Dhaene and bassist Stijn Deldaele, the latter who also contributes vocals — through a vocoder — to the opening track “There Are No Downbeats.”

Their music is strictly composed and arranged, yet still has an improvised feel at times, a bit of jazz by virtue of the saxplay, a bit of Zappa due to the everpresent tuned mallet percussion, built on a foundational chamber style that informs the compositions throughout. Dhaene’s skill as a drummer is to provide each piece with exactly what it needs, support-wise, and riff as much as possible whenever it’s appropriate. The synths typically come into play as support for soloists, for example on “Don’t Bump Your Head Against the Cloud.” Reminders of Zappa and The Mothers are everywhere due to the mallets, while aggressive numbers like “Tadadada” with a powerful sax presence and incessant groove will recall bands like The Muffins, yet when all is put together, Beat Love Oracle has a sound that is their own. Those who go for the vinyl version will only get six tracks, while downloaders and CD purchasers will get eight, and those two extra tracks are as essential as any other in this outstanding set.

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