Ben Bertrand review by Frans de Waardt

Les Ateliers Claus in Brussels is a fine space to see exciting concerts; sometimes even of bands and people discussed in these pages. They also have a label, which is new information for me, but this album by Ben Bertrand is already their eleventh release. Bertrand is from Belgium and plays the 
bass clarinet along with effects and loop pedals and is influenced by early minimal music of Steve Reich and Terry Riley. However don’t take this inspired by thing too literal in this case, as Bertrand’s 
music is not as loopy or bouncy as the early works of the American pioneers. In the five pieces on this album Bertrand is more interested in playing a mellow tune, more ambient and the comparisons made by the label to Jon Hassell and Gavin Bryars make in that respect quite some sense. The bass clarinet is not always easy to recognize here; most clearly it sings in ‘V380 Orionis’, with some nice melody played over a repeating phrase. In ‘Sanctus Hubble’ the bass clarinet is introspective and the loops is kept simple. In the three other pieces the clarinet sound is much obscured by these effects and it becomes a bit blurred but in a very pleasant way. This is some truly fine minimal ambient music. 
I understand that the album is also available on LP, which makes that it is not very long, but even at thirty-two minutes still is rather short. I for one would not have minded this to be a bit longer, both as an album, I guess, as well as individual pieces to be longer in duration. Hopefully there will be a follow-up album soon then! (FdW)
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