The Belgian music duo Auster Loo, consisting of Lydie Thonnard and Simon Leleux, was formed during a musical journey to Morocco in 2014. This already goes to show that the two musicians often draw their inspiration from more or less faraway places, yet their first album, Rhythm & Breath, is full of very personal compositions. The music is mainly a dialogue between the flute and the darbuka (goblet drum), between airy melodies and down-to-earth percussion, between the desire to return to the sources and the wish to write for the present day. In any case, the album’s thirteen titles are meant to build bridges towards new discoveries.
From a relatively sober instrumentation springs a richness in the compositions, which are determined by a passion for rhythm and interpreted with a lot of precision, sometimes even demonstrating a certain virtuosity (“Naqif”). With Rhythm & Breath, Auster Loo give the impression of continuously reinventing themselves, of creating a certain atmosphere just to contradict it the very next moment, for example when the lively rhythms of “Hilarziose” give way to the dreamlike sweetness and meditation of “Nokht”. With some of the tracks featuring Michel Massot on the trombone and Aurore Leloup on electric guitar, the duo does not hesitate to leave traditional instrumentation behind at times, in order to create wild and stormy passages (“Auster Loo”), but also melodic excursions in which the different timbres mingle (“Entre la chaise de l’autre”).
A stand-out track on the album is without a doubt “Samai Gele”, a traditional Bengali song, which has been recorded together with BrahmaKhyapa, a Kolkata-based duo consisting of Malabika Brahma (voice) and Sanjay Bhattacherjee (guitar, dotara). The song is the fruit of an encounter in India in the course of last year, and with the successor album to Rhythm & Breath already recorded, this very promising collaboration will see another release as soon as March 2017. (Joachim debleder)