Thursday 8 September 2022

'Antares Flare' by Antares Flare

Antares Flare unveil their brilliantly versatile debut self-titled release for Wicked Wax.

It doesn't seem that long ago that we were last touting the treasures of the Amsterdam-based label, specifically, through the release of the 'Fledge' EP by bassist and producer kotokid/Freek Mulder.  Even in that very article, we mentioned eagerly anticipating the release of the Antares Flare full-length after being wowed by the project's lead singles, 'What's Gonna Kill Me First?' and 'Sandstones'.

Displaying such a dynamic take on contemporary jazz, The Netherlands-based sextet describe their musical outlook on their Bandcamp page as offering "a musical journey through the Congo rainforest, South-American magic realism and the psychedelic European realm of the 60's".  It's a fantastic description of a thrilling and unhindered perception of your music that seems to thrive in showcasing music that challenges the listener but also challenges the artist in its creation as well.  

Having said that, herein lies the contradiction of Antares Flare in that while the compositions seemingly feature a litany of intricate complexities rooted within its bold approach, the end-result is presented as something created so effortlessly which is where its brilliance is found.  

Formed by Italian band leader and guitarist Piero Conte, Antares Flare is made up of saxophonists Paul van de Calseijde and Andrea Leone, trumpeter Paolo Petrecca, bassist Dean Montanaro and drummer Domen Cizej.  With the album produced by Anton de Bruin (Dragonfruit, Peter Somuah Sextet) and recorded in Rome, the musicians seem to celebrate the luxury of the playground afforded to them across these expansive musical soundscapes...  

The delicious slow build and electronica-tinged 'Mirror People' marks a distinct album highlight as does the unbridled energy of the aforementioned singles 'What's Gonna Kill Me First?' and 'Sandstones'.  'Sketch of a Daydream' and 'Photosynthesis' boast these lush and somewhat expansive sonic landscapes that take the album down new avenues once again rounding out the versatility of such a fantastic project.

The album also features a series of spoken word passages that help to drive the project's overall narrative.  'Gifts', for example, comes together - in music and message - as something of a tip of the hat towards the revered cosmic and otherworldly teachings of the prolific pianist, composer and band leader, Sun Ra, as the voice declares: "I want to give thanks to the divine, labyrinth of causes and effects, for the diversity of beings that form a singular universe."

Antares Flare is a genuinely sensational record and adventure all of its own that invites you along for its joyous explorations into untapped sounds, genres and its boundless blurring of musical borders.  

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