Flat Earth Society & David Bovee – Boggamasta (2017)

Flat Earth Society & David Bovee - Boggamasta (2017)
Artist: Flat Earth Society & David Bovee
Album: Boggamasta
Genre: Fusion, Jazz-Rock
Origin: Belgium
Released: 2017
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
The Rule of the Mule. 4:03
From Darkness to Light. 5:36
Sing Hallelujah. 7:10
Confiscated Song. 8:51
Slave. 5:26
The Prince of All. 6:30
Boggamasta. 9:14
Da Beava. 5:52
Coisi Miniti. 4:39
Continued Progress and Development. 12:41

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It is always a pleasure to catch jazz in Belgium where every gig I have attended in recent years has attracted a large, diverse and enthusiastic audience. On this visit I was the guest of the Flat Earth Society who are premiering and recording their new project Boggamasta this month. I caught the third performance of the new piece in Antwerp.

Boggamasta has been developed by Peter Vermeersch, the main composer for the Flat Earth Society band and David Bovee, guitarist with the band in its early years, but now based in Sao Paulo Brazil. The main inspiration came from a visit to the Gambia last year following an earlier project with four Gambian musicians, but the music also incorporates elements of Brazilian music, particularly the highly rhythmic music of Brazil’s North East.

The music is played straight through without breaks or announcements and its full-on nature works well with a standing audience. The focus is on a frenetic blend of African, Brazilian music, mixed in with jazz, electronica and rock energy. The two composers were inspired by the language and visuals of the recent Gambian presidential election, and have converted these impressions into a series of rapidly delivered songs. These are heavily synthesised in the delivery such that it is, by design, impossible to follow the words, but they add to the overall sound of the ensemble.

The written music generates a series of attractive melodic and rhythmic lines driven by two percussionists but allowing space for soloists. Both the writing and the solos occasionally fall into the trap of emphasising excitement at the expense of subtlety, but overall the music works well and creates a powerful overall effect that clearly resonated with the audience.

Having witnessed Neil Cowley Trio’s new project Spacebound Apes the night before travelling to Antwerp to hear Boggamasta, I was struck by certain similarities in approach between the two projects, similarities in musical philosophy rather than in the actual music. Neil Cowley Trio draws very successfully on several genres, particularly minimalism, and adds to it a rock energy to produce a music that belongs in the jazz territory, but perhaps lacks the intricacy of the best of contemporary jazz. In a very different way, Flat Earth Society create a very effective blend of genres that for me definitely belongs in the jazz territory in that the focus is on instrumental music, includes improvised solos from key members of the band and has an eclectic approach to drawing on other styles of music. But it certainly is not music that should be judged with jazz criteria.