Bateleur Can Make Your Day and Break Your Heart
Everything about Bateleur’s debut and final album is bittersweet.
When I plug in to Bateleur’s new album, I imagine that I’m sitting somewhere up Table Mountain and I can almost feel the breeze. I think about everything that was lost this year, everything that was found, everything that was left behind in some eternal sense of memory. There is no veneer on this offering, self-titled, Bateleur is personal, genre-defying and reflective as the band’s first and final full-length album.
The enigmatic Cape Town five-piece have been growing towards legendary status, particularly among other local artists. It’s easy to see why they’re so well respected; their melodic motifs, complex polyrhythms and reverb-drenched soundscapes can definitely be considered “musician’s music” and takes a keen ear to fully appreciate the beauty in that. The madness that inevitably follows music, however, seems to have caught up with them at the pinnacle of their trajectory.
Since hearing about its experiential release at The Nest on Table Mountain, I’ve been itching to get it into my ears. The album plays like a memory, with a sense of hindsight and departure, highlighted particularly in the 11 minute short film that accompanies the third track on the album, Mendota Sky. No spoilers if you haven’t seen it but the film deeply describes a sense of inspecting the past and questioning it, exploring whether an obsession can be deadly.
It’s no surprise then that the album was composed and recorded over a span of three years and culminates in this introspective relic. Phrases in the songs of album are taken and rippled through various instruments as they are reflected and translated. A haze over the album is created like smoke with meticulously orchestrated details that contribute to the overall aesthetic. It’s designed to feel like a journey, something other genre-fluid musicians like Foals, Explosions In The Sky and Thom Yorke have achieved.
Everything about this album is bittersweet, more like bees than the birds if you will. The supposed end of Bateleur in this final offering is a sad farewell and a harmonious legacy. Let Bateleur make your day and break your heart with this album available for purchase here and if you really can’t deal with the pain, have a look at guitarist Nicolaas Van Reenen’s latest project Fever Trails here.
If you enjoyed reading this, you can follow Leah on twitter @supleahjazz.