Saxophonist Robin Verheyen becomes a priestly presence dispensing musical absolution at every turn here in his weighty soliloquising. He is best known in these pages for his tenure in fiery Belgian band TaxiWars. But he is just as likely to knuckle down in other contexts to tackle the baroque.
Verheyen recorded solo soprano explorations Playing the Room in two situations: the first an empty church; the second in front of an audience in a concert hall. Both locations were in Bruges. The timbre and idiom you find on a Lol Coxhill recording say on a track such as 'One to Three' on 1972's Toverbal Sweet… Plus springs to mind. And certainly this all connects with a free improv kind of sound swirl and adventures in new language that emerged in a range of places dotted around Europe notably such as in the Little Theatre Club in the London of the late-1960s and early-70s. Verheyen does become a little over-flowery on 'Walburga' but mostly it's eminently listenable, fairly serene and not-at-all complacent or laboriously indulgent. Final word 'Freight Train' forgive the hyperbole is everywhere this year after Sachal led the way on last year's Still Life with the song's revival. And Verheyen comes up with a novel interpretation neither skiffle-invoking nor a shrine to the sanctuary of balladry. It is as valid and not at all obscurantist for the sake of it as any recently.
Robin Verheyen, press