The Xvoto Reels provides additional proof (if necessary) that Razen is an audacious group. If the Belgian band led by the duo Brecht Ameel and Kim Delcour has explored different musical worlds with changing formations, the involuntary irruption of a sixth “member” has upset the content of this new album. Through these brutal and unpredictable interventions, it made an ambitious album - recording live improvisations in a church with an organ and a tabla - unique.
“When we listened to the tape reels months after the recording sessions at the St Martin’s Church, we were forced into noticing that a presence had placed itself on all of the recordings. A presence playing tricks with the dynamics and the church acoustics, leaving inexplainable sound prints and cuts on the reels, turning our music into stray phantoms, as if what was left on the tapes was only a vague recollection of the sessions, reducing the slowed down ragas we had had in mind into a version so different and frayed yet at the same time so layered and eternal, that at first we had a hard time recognizing our original ideas,
let alone deciding whether this was not too personal, intimate and obscure at all to let it out into the world, because what we had in our hands now, was the sound of a deeply private dream, a message from the subconscious, rather than a collection of tracks by five improvising musicians.
It did not take us long before we observed that what was lost in terms of our original expectations of these recordings (the precision of our tunings and interplay, proper endings and beginnings, clearer definition of sound) we had suddenly gained on other and far more worthier levels; the levels of randomness, unexpectedness and irrationality, precisely the sort of qualities our improvised music had always embraced, which were now put to the fore in a manner we had not yet encountered.
So here it is. More than the sum of tabla + hurdy gurdy + recorders + double bass + church organ. More than the sum of 5 musicians + tape engineer + church acoustics.
The Xvoto Reels – a prayer in the halflight, a comforting sermon out of St Martin’s Church - is a version of Razen where the music played itself, and chance dictated what essence of this was allowed to be captured. We look back on those days in August as a moment in time where in fact, we ourselves and all those involved had become the instruments, in a way such as described by Inayat Khan: “I played the vina until my heart had changed into the same instrument. Ever since I have become His instrument, and whenever He wishes, He plays me with His music”.