Blind (Brainfeeder)


Released March 11, 2022

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2022




Jameszoo (Mitchel van Dinther) returns to Brainfeeder with a new album – “Blind” – embarking on further adventures on the fringes of jazz and electronica. Imbued with the same spirit of adventure and experimental outlook as his previous work on the label, the recordings were shaped by van Dinther’s studio sessions at Willem Twee Studios – the specialist analogue studio in Den Bosch (Netherlands) with an unrivalled collection of vintage synthesizers – amongst other locations.
“In music and other arts there is a heavy emphasis on the artist,” says Mitchel. “Which composer, which soloist, which performer and the shifting emphasis between them all colours what we hear. Is it possible to create something that bypasses this? A project that forces active objective listening?”
These were the questions that Mitchel was pondering as he embarked on making “Blind”. Was he successful in his endeavour? “I didn’t even come close to be completely honest,” he laughs. “But all these (sometimes silly) attempts became the backbone for this new album.”

Mitchel started by trying to bypass himself as the protagonist, beginning by remotely recording musicians and collaborators reshaping his initial ideas and concepts, step by step morphing the music as if repainting a portrait again and again. “I tried to stop force-feeding my own preconceived notions of what music should sound like. Instead I would politely impose new ideas to the compositions, crossing fingers it wouldn’t reject these ideas like a failed organ transplant. Then something special started to happen, where the music seemed to grow almost self aware. I really enjoyed this process of letting loose and actively listening!”
Fascinated by the idea of a non-existent soloist, Mitchel recorded all sorts of motorised instruments to attempt to embody this idea. For example, the Disklavier (motorised piano) which allowed for precision and the execution of passages unplayable by the human hand. “It really helped me aesthetically detach from the human aspect,” he says. “The Disklavier started to embody the music’s characteristics.”

“Blind” exists as an album and a short film directed by Sven Bresser and Mitchel van Dinther himself. The film stemmed from conversations that Mitchel had with the fantastic performer Saïd Gharbi who is blind and who was kind enough to share his experiences on translating his senses to something he can only partly experience himself. “We talked about his process of exploring and engaging with his other senses after losing his sight,” explains Mitchel. “Through these conversations we decided on making a short movie together to accompany the album, portraying Saïd’s and my own experience of this music and our senses.”
Finally, in an ultimate attempt to transform into music itself Mitchel asked the cult Chilean-French filmmaker and artist Alejandro Jodorowsky the question: ‘how do I shape-shift?’, with Alejandro answering the question via a recorded tarot reading. “He had no more than a few minor details about me and was guided by his cards to formulate his response, which was a dazzling 14 minute long answer where I felt like he could see me and my world without me physically being anywhere near him,” says Mitchel smiling.

Supported by a cast of exceptionally talented friends on “Blind” who share van Dinther’s passion for improvisation and invention, Mitchel once agains links with his long term writing partner and keyboard whizz Niels Broos, Swedish bassist Petter Eldh and drummers Richard Spaven and Julian Sartorius, all of whom contributed to van Dinther’s debut album “Fool” (2016). Violinist Diamanda La Berge Dramm, pianist/organist Kit Downes (ECM), visionary trumpeter Peter Evans, trailblazing British saxophonist Evan Parker (a pivotal figure in the European free jazz movement), drummer Christian Lillinger, Brainfeeder label mate Oliver Johnson (Dorian Concept), saxophonist John Dikeman and the acclaimed sound explorer Matthew Bourne also contribute.
Jameszoo released his debut album “Fool” in 2016. A curious, at times downright awkward, but thoroughly enjoyable blend of jazz and off kilter electronics, the record featured cameos from two outright legends: Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai and pianist Steve Kuhn; in addition to virtuoso bassist Thundercat. van Dinther was rewarded for his bold, adventurous attitude in the studio by Gilles Peterson who bestowed upon him the “John Peel Play More Jazz” Award at the Worldwide Awards 2017.
In 2017 Jameszoo opened Amsterdam Dance Event with a very special collaboration with Jules Buckley and the Grammy-Award winning Metropole Orkest at the iconic Melkweg concert hall. The magic and the chemistry in the room that evening was both exhilarating and heartwarming as Buckley – Chief Conductor of the Metropole Orkest since 2013 – led the 49-piece orchestra and the Jameszoo Quintet on a truly joyful journey, elevating compositions from van Dinther’s 2016 album “Fool” to transcendental realms. The recordings of this momentous collaboration were released via Brainfeeder on 17 May 2019.

Track Listing:

1. “Song” (Mitchel van Dinther) 2:00

2. Bugatti (Étude) (Mitchel van Dinther) 4:15

3. Alejandro (Niels Broos / Mitchel van Dinther) 1:16

4. Imps (Mitchel van Dinther) 1:48

5. Egg Modern (Niels Broos / Mitchel van Dinther) 5:57

6. Music for Bat Caves (Mitchel van Dinther / Petter Eldh) 5:01

7. How Do I Shape-Shift? (Niels Broos / Mitchel van Dinther) 1:25

8. Big Game (Mitchel van Dinther / Petter Eldh) 4:48

9. For Drummers (And Guitarists) (Mitchel van Dinther) 2:46

10. Philip (Niels Broos / Mitchel van Dinther) 4:22

11. Hommage À Qui (Niels Broos / Mitchel van Dinther) 4:09

12. My Kingdom for a Horse (Mitchel van Dinther) 8:37


Mitchel Van Dinther: Fender Rhodes (1, 3, 7), synthesizer (1, 2, 4-6, 8, 10-12), voice (5, 11), organ (11), effects (12)

Petter Eldh: bass guitar (1, 2, 6, 8-11)

Richard Spaven: drums (1)

Evan Parker: soprano saxophone (1, 6)

Niels Broos: synthesizer (1), Fender Rhodes (3, 7, 8), piano (10), organ (11), mellotron (12)

Diamanda Laberge Dramm: violin (1, 5, 6)

Christian Lillinger: drums (2, 5, 8, 9)

Oliver Johnson: soprano saxophone (2), synthesizer (6, 10)

Otis Sandsjö: tenor saxophone (2, 8)

Julian Sartorius: drums (5, 10)

Matthew Bourne: synthesizer (5, 12)

Kit Downes: organ (6), piano (6), synthesizer (6)

John Dikeman: tenor saxophone (6, 10)

Peter Evans: trumpet (6, 10, 12)

Marzio Scholten: guitar (9)

Recorded at Willem Twee Electronic Music Studios

Mixed by Joris Van Grunsven, Mitchel Van Dinther

Mastered by Matt Colton

Artwork: Philip Akkerman

Producer: Jameszoo


Jameszoo’s first studio album, 2016’s Fool, was a decidedly quirky set of avant-funk pieces that boldly embraced a naïve outlook, paying no attention to boundaries and going by impulse. After adapting his ideas for the stage and working with the Metropole Orkest and conductor Jules Buckley, producing the grand live album Melkweg, Jameszoo returned to the studio, recording motorized instruments, such as the Disklavier, in order to create parts that would be impossible for humans to play. He also worked remotely with several of the musicians who played on his debut, including keyboard player Niels Broos and bassist Petter Eldh, as well as several other notable jazz and experimental electronic artists, such as saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Kit Downes, trumpeter Peter Evans, and fellow Brainfeeder signee Dorian Concept.

Blind is, to say the least, the most challenging Jameszoo release thus far. Even more so than on Fool, he plays with silence, noise, meticulous sound design, and non-linearity. Sounds collide with each other out of near-stillness, and oftentimes the most conventional or melodic instrumentation will be the most distant, distorted, or abstracted elements of the song. “Bugatti (étude)” places busy piano chords and piercing, whirring synth tones up front, then erupts with furious, fractured drumming and squawking saxophone, ending up propulsive as well as chaotic. “Egg Modern” foregrounds fuzzy, vibrating synths, which eventually become gated trance arpeggios, and attacks them with spontaneous noise bursts. The jaw-dropping “For Drummers (and guitarists)” starts out with supremely mellow guitars, then clobbers them with explosive drumming that seemingly requires at least a dozen limbs to play in real time. The piece featuring Evan Parker, “music for bat caves,” is a stunning array of jittery sequences, scattered frequencies, and intimate melodies. “Philip” is maybe the album’s most sonically dense track, as well as the most joyous, particularly when it runs free toward the conclusion. “Hommage à qui” has a slow, abstract funk groove that one could easily imagine James Blake singing over, until it dissolves almost entirely, with an acid-scarred melody returning at the end. Fitting for a record that contains a spoken interlude by Alejandro Jodorowsky, the release of Blind was preceded by several short movies that owed more to experimental filmmaking than conventional music videos, and the album itself is fascinating in how far it pushes and deconstructs musical ideas while still retaining soul and spirit.

Paul Simpson (AllMusic)