It was bound to happen. Ever since their first collaboration in February 2004, it was clear that the two young musicians had a rare quality of interaction. They call it chemistry, when such a strong reaction occurs that something new comes into being. It could also be denominated as a rational form of wizardry: you know what you put into it, but you never know what will emerge. Let's call it jazz.
They delivered the first specimen of their collaboration on CD with the music for my audio book Shadow Child, for which Wolfert Brederode composed the original music that he, together with Joost Lijbaart, elaborated in the Wisseloord Studios. Therefore I've had the pleasure of a tight cooperation, both in the studio and subsequently on stage, and to experience the extent of their synergy - something that, in the case of drums and piano, is anything but an automatism.
The secret, I think, lies in the fact that the piano doesn't comply with the drums, but just quite the reverse, that the drummer follows and complements the pianist, as if - by means of the drums, including all those thingies that can be tapped and beaten - it is a part of the solo piano. Together they constitute, as it were, a new kind of instrument, a sort of a John-Cage-style prepared piano, with a difference.
Joost Lijbaart has the ability to play the drums as softly as possible, making the word percussion too rude a name for his subtle soundscapes. He's a master at not playing certain beats, just like Wolfert Brederode keeps his virtuosity under control and refrains from showcasing every possible note. When you see him sitting at the piano, bend forward, his fingers cautiously finding their way across the manual, it is as if the keys have turned into fragile glass. With his shrunken posture he seems to make himself as small and silent as possible, as if he's afraid to disturb the music that comes into being under his fingertips. And then proceeds to play as softly as Joost Lijbaart - it makes you, involuntary, sit on the edge of your seat.
These two musicians make the sort of music that allows intensive listening, they don't suffocate it with bite-sized chords, in chockablock arrangements. It isn't by coincidence that the CD opens with the piece 'Traces', in which - searching, fumbling - traces are being followed, as if the musicians are in unknown territory and have to find their way on their own.
Impressionistic, with a lot of atmosphere, expressive - that's what this music is all about. In 'Empty Rooms' my mind's eye saw the empty rooms as in a movie, compelled by this song to wander through a house whose inhabitants have disappeared a long time ago and where only memories still breathe, like lace curtains bulging in an open window.
Other numbers are also filled with this contemplative atmosphere. A track is being followed, it seems, in reverse. Of something that, itself, has disappeared. Something that, like the last piece, could be called 'Home'. So, something you can only long for.
Superb, bashful melodies, piece after piece, which are being sung into existence in crystal-clear tones. They seem to doubt their own existence, as if they would shyly retreat at the least disturbance.
This is music that takes your breath away. And to, breathlessly, disappear into.