Some partnerships are as unexpected as they are interesting. Like the singer-songwriter Hartog Eysman and the violinist Jasper Le Clercq. I got to know Eysman as a gifted songsmith, who has already released four albums under his first name Hartog. He crosses genres such as jazz, pop, soul, soft rock and more. In all that, conveying emotions is more important than traditional song structures, which also makes his music distinctive. I know Le Clercq through Zapp4, Zapp String Quartet, Vogelkwartet & Jaap Blonk and New Niks, but he does a lot more. Improvised and experimental music, but also playing for La Pat, Herman van Veen, Nits and Alex Roeka. Too many to mention. I think his heart lies, just like Hartog's, in coloring outside the lines.
They now do that together in Cloudfish, and have just released their debut album But Is It Art?. Hartog on vocals, spoken word and voice improvisation, while Le Clercq takes care of the violin, effects and loops. Asking the question is giving the answer. Frank Zappa once came up with the question (also album) "Does Humor Belong In Music?", to which a clear affirmative musical answer followed. Humor and love for music is certainly something you can taste in this collaboration. They set course for unknown waters, taking you through avant-garde, classical, Nordic folk, jazz, ambient, improvisation, spoken word, poetry, pop, electronic and other experiments; or crisscross. Sometimes clear-cut and often wonderfully out of control. They know how to continuously surprise you, both in the fathomable and the complex deep. But whatever they play in their 14 tracks of a good 57 minutes, it's all fascinating. At times simply beautiful and at other times beautifully complex. Although no comparison can be made, keep in mind an ever-changing cross-fertilization of Tuxedomoon, Fink, Jaap Blonk, Zappa, Peter Hammill, Nils Økland, Iva Bittová, Palinckx and the theater productions of Einstürzende Neubauten. In the title track Hartog barely gets the word "art" out of his mouth. This is probably because art is a subjective concept and an irrelevant question when artists are creating something for others. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science probably does not share this opinion, given their subsidy policy. Is it art? For me yes and actually fine art! They provide the answer to the question in a convincing way, although it is not important to me given the boundless listening pleasure these two deliver here. World class record that has something to offer for a wide audience!