Dans Dans is back (already!) with their most unfiltered, most spontaneous, most 'punk' album to date. Three musicians, two days in the studio, one burst of energy.
April 23th, 2021. Breaking a five year silence, purveyors in ambiguous jazz-rock hybrids Dans Dans drop a new, fifth album. Throughout the media, Zink is hailed as another triumph for the Antwerp based trio. ‘A bold and thrilling noise trip’, according to Humo. ‘The best live band of the Western hemisphere is back’, celebrated OOR, while De Morgen hailed the ‘organic but cleverly constructed jams’. The following summer, the band made the best of a temporary easing of local Covid restrictions, and played some rapturous shows, such as during Jazz Middelheim in their hometown and an Unday Records label night during the Boomtown festival in Ghent. A string of dates in Eastern Europe followed, but, alas, the remainder of a national and international tour in autumn was cancelled. Third wave, fourth wave, who was still counting?
At the tail end of 2021, Bert Dockx, Frederic Lyenn Jacques, and Steven Cassiers, the unholy trinity that make up Dans Dans since 2012 – yep, that’s a ten year anniversary! – decided to turn setbacks into sound blasts, grief into grooves. Rehearsals were planned. New music was made. And before you know, a studio was booked. This is how an instrumental corona-album happened. Not one of contemplation through isolation or new found domestic bliss, not your usual, subdued track record of socially distant, monotonous times. ‘6’ might be a reaction to all of that, but it’s definitely more than that. What exactly? Frederic, Steven, and Bert each give their own, individual take on their latest offering.
FREDEDERIC: ‘I believe I was the first to mutter the idea out loud – although that doesn’t really matter, cause ideas flow freely between us three: why not make and record some new music? Watching the calendar fill up with those cancelled shows, the constant trailing of time, time slipping away, waiting that turned into more waiting… it all seemed so absurd. Better to continue creating. An EP, that was the idea. It has become an album, recorded in two days sharp.
I like working like that: brief, to the point. Capturing the first spark of an idea, the first spark of inspiration, and then run with it. I’m always the guy in the band who doesn’t like too much rehearsals, who prefers the stage as an arena to create music. And essentially, Dans Dans is a live band, the records are mere moments captured in time. So I was not surprised, that we came up with this amount of material, in just a couple of weeks’ time. When you know each other so well as we do, when you as intuitively play together as we do, you learn to make music in the conditions you are dealt with’.
STEVEN: ‘We had to work hard to cut to the chase. Very efficient, very intense. Also, we were at a new studio for the first time, Studio Ledeberg in Ghent. Before noon the sound was engineered, after lunch we started recording, at the end of the next day it was a wrap. In a way, this could be our punk album. Back to basics, no overthinking. It’s also more organic than Zink, which was tighter as a record, with certain agreements a lot stricter beforehand. Now, there was not time to fix things.
For me, the last song, Schaduw, is a track that is emblematic for the album. Especially the improvised drum groove in the second part, a drum solo essentially, creating an arch of energy over the melody.
When rehearsals started, I brought one snare drum, one bass drum, one synth and a box of percussion. That minimal setup was used to lay the groundwork, a way to find alternatives, new solutions. After all, this is our sixth album, there’s no harm in trying things differently’.
BERT: ‘I needed the most convincing, to be honest. I came out of an uneasy, difficult period, and was having doubts if Dans Dans was the smartest way to spend the extra, free time. But the spirit, the eagerness was there very quickly. The album has become very old school, very compact, there’s urgency in every note. This must be Dans Dans recorded in its most direct, spontaneous way, very close to what we’re doing live.
I like taking the time to experiment, to figure things out and try different approaches. This album is the opposite of that. But whenever we arrive at a good result, I’m happy. We have our sound, there’s no escaping that. It might not be the most innovative thing, but I guess no one does it the way we are doing it. A band evolving with every record, for me – as a listener – is not that important. Neil Young always sounds the same. But I do like the albums that sound a little broken, a little hampered. As long as it’s playful and fresh. And this album is like that. No filter, just us three in a room, playing around with the very small amount of time offered to us. It was fun, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to become a fan favourite’.