Track By Track Guide: Azmari – Maelström

Our ‘Track By Track’ guide sheds light on the stories behind some of our favourite artists’ music.

Belgian outfit Azmari melds intricate jazz textures with intoxicating oriental influences, otherworldly ethio grooves, enigmatic dark funk, and the pulsating beats of dub music. The five-piece band recently unveiled their second album, Maelström, via Sdban Ultra.

Joining forces with the illustrious sound engineer and producer Frederik Segers Dream Machine is a feast to the ears — especially those sharp, crunchy guitars.

Azmari consists of Arthur Ancion (drums), Basile Bourtembourg (keyboards), Jojo Demeijer (percussion), Niels D’haegeleer (bass), Mattéo Badet and Yohan Dumas (saxophones).

Head below to learn about Azmari’s new album with their track-by-track guide. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the album’s creation as each song’s intricate details are revealed.

Sheep Party:
Sheeps also have the right to do parties. Driven by a hypnotic keyboard, they’re looking for it for a while, when suddenly, they discovered by chance what they were looking for: a dark and astounding cave where an epic porcupines horn section were doing a moon ceremony.

Khamsin is a hot, burning wind from Egypt. Throughout the song, you can feel it coming and going. Sometimes, it’s far away; sometimes, it hits us hard. It’s illustrated here with the Baglama Saz and the Turkish kaval, two instruments that some of the band members brought back from a tour in Istanbul.

Abyssal Wandering:
As many of our friends and fans know by now, Azmari loves dub. This track is definitely a little ode to the genre. The main melody came to existence after a late night jam in a castle and has been derived from an improvisation. Again we would like to thank our producer Frederik Segers for processing this track into a real pool of witty dub.

The first part of this one has been composed a while back, with a focus on groove, one static bass line and the freedom that this gives for a melody to go anywhere. Here, we have Matteo using that same freedom to let himself go all the way in a baritone saxophone solo, which leads us to a powerful outro.

Crab Squad:
This track was inspired by an oriental approach of the diminished scale. Originally recorded with lots of saxophones on top of each other, the tune demanded a certain heaviness. On the record, we have the great Nathan Daems joining us on ney. We proposed him the track as a feature, and he managed to create a story while keeping the initial vibe in its place.

Octopus Perspective:
Probably the most difficult song to compose on this album. As a matter of fact, we went through a lot of different ideas, too much without a doubt. But with the suggestions and advice of our precious producer and sound engineer Frederik Segers, we found its own way to grail. Starting with this crazy Snoopy-Doggy keyboard, we end up in a balcanic storm of soprano sax solo and percussion.

Azmari don’t use to play early in the morning, but sometimes they do. During a residency, they got into the habit of everyday slowly waking up with a sweet and calm jam session. This track is the result of this morning creation. For them, playing this track is a bit like putting cream on your face.

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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