Live Review: De Beren Gieren. The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. Monday 18 July 2022

Last Monday evening at Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar, lovers of the musically mildly outré had a bit of a treat. Belgian electro-acoustic piano trio De Beren Gieren presented a stimulating and witty two sets, notwithstanding the drummer Simon Segers arriving three quarters of the way through, reportedly due to passport and cymbals issues.
In the absence of a trio member, the first half of the gig was understandably occasionally a bit of a struggle, although pianist Fulco Ottervanger and bassist Lieven Van Pée battled on, and Segers’ arrival about 20 minutes from the end signalled an immediate leap in the richness and energy of the music.
Ottervanger generally took the lead, the gusto of his pianism speaking of a relish for the music. This was enhanced by his using extended technique, together with light use of electronic sounds and loops, fortuitously filling some of the gaps from the drummer’s absence.
Meanwhile Van Pée set up simple, hypnotic grooves which were a perfect anchor for the pianist’s dramas. When Seger was finally able to join in, his brief solo of some attractively complicated rhythms let us know what we’d been missing.
Lots of references seemed evident, from certain of the atonal classical composers, to Steve Reich, to club (doof doof) music. Sometimes to this listener’s ears, Ottervanger’s pianism even felt a little Wagnerian, such was the exaggerated, theatrical quality.
The band clearly have a lot of fun and not just when they’re improvising, and the final tune was a proper comedy turn. From a galumphing beat, the coda veered towards chaos, whereupon it was as if the notes were slowly but surely being rubbed out of the charts, before the density built again and the never-ending coda continued on, and on…
De Beren Gieren have a mildly eccentric and always entertaining sound that doesn’t sound like any other band around just now and is altogether great fun. Another invitation and ideally a tour of Scotland is needed, soon.

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