Controlling the Swing @Holland Festival
by Bas Springer, July 2017
Controlling the Swing
One of the highlights of the jubilee edition was the world premiere of Controlling The Swing through the formation Boi Akih, as part of 'A Night in Indonesia' on June 16 in Paradiso. This new composition of guitarist Niels Brouwer was performed by the duo Boi Akih with Ryoko Imai (Marimba, Percussion), Tobias Klein (bass clarinet, contra bsas clarinet and guest musicians from Indonesia, including the Moluccan ( Ambon City) poet and peace activist Rudi Fofid
The relationship between love and hatred is central to Controlling The Swing. Impressively, traditional and contemporary music, acoustic and electronic, was melting together in the packed Small Hall of Paradiso, where the sweat was on the backs of the visitors, so hot it was. Rarely did I hear Monica Akihary singing so well – pitch perfect and full dedication. Her partner Niels Brouwer and the other accompanists brought out the best in each other. The thunderous applause at the end was therefore perfectly correct.
Lagu Lagu 2 Release
Lagu Lagu 2 Release
When Monica Akihary was a child she used to cycle around to family and friends in the village to bring them presents that her parents had brought back from their holidays. This is an old custom, rooted in the Moluccan boat voyage ritual, whereby knowledge gained and presents received by the traveller were shared with the villagers upon returning home. In this way a community continues to develop.
A present for guitarist Niels Brouwer and her was the encounter with the lap steel guitarist Bing Leiwakabessy, who travelled to Amsterdam in 2011. He told them about his music, the lap steel and its Moluccan tuning, and his beginnings as a musician in 1947. He also described what it’s like now, to be playing as a 94 year old with young musicians. Uncle Bing, as they call him, expressed his hope for the development of the lap steel in their music.
With this in mind, and while listening to field recordings made on the islands of Ambon, Saparua, Kai, Manawoka, Tanimbar, Selary and Babar in 1948-1949, the idea arose for Niels and Monica to record lagu lagu music with Ernst Glerum, Joost Buis and Onno Govaert. Their open and curious attitude and distinct musical characters inspired both to approach the pieces in a different way and to give this music a personal tint.
Monica Akihary: voice
Niels Brouwer: guitars
Joost Buis: trombone & lapsteel guitar
Ernst Glerum: double bass
Onno Govaert: drums percussion
Boi Akih will have a premiere at the 70th anniversary of Holland Festival. We will present “Controlling the Swing“ on June 16th at Paradiso Amsterdam. Especially for the Holland Festival poet and peace-activist Rudi Fofid from Ambon-City will write poems for the new compositions of Niels. The current quartet of Boi Akih with Ryoko Imai (marimba, percussion) and Tobias Klein (bass clarinet , contrabass clarinet) will play with two wonderful musicians from Indonesia. Gamelan player I Made Subandi (Gianyar, Bali), a real virtuoso on the Balinese gender. He joined Boi Akih ‘s Philosophy of Love in 2010, and Indra Menus of Jogja Noise Bombing (Jogyakarta, Jawa)
Controlling the Swing – a composition about love-hate and how they relate. Love and hate are ultimately two extremes of the same phenomenon so they can be transformed into each other. Hate can only be concurred by love.
Controlling the Swing begins as a confrontation between traditional and contemporary music, acoustic sounds and electronic noise, wood and metal, timeless wide horizons and nervous improvisations, but in the course of the composition the styles, sounds and moods that at first seemed incompatible, melt into one. In love and in hate energy is compressed and seeks an outlet. Controlling the Swing will reflect that energy with a lot of changes in dynamic, tempo and rhythm.
review by Bjarne Soeloft November 2016
The visit in Oslo of the Dutch duo Boi Akih during European Jazz Nights 2009, and their fifth excellent Yalelol (reviewed in Jazznytt #2-2008), arouse warm memories. The duo, consisting of the married couple Niels Brouwer on several acoustic guitars and the Indonesian vocalist Monica Akihary, constitutes the basis in varying constellations from disc to disc. On this new Liquid Songs they play together with the German Tobias Klein on his flexible bass clarinet and the dramatically outstanding contrabass clarinet, and also the Japanese Ryoko Imai with her poetic, percussive eruptives and atmospheric marimba playing, as the most organically attuned fellow musicians on the Boi Akih-records.
The lyrics are all written by Akihary, and mainly in the language of her family, haruku. Brouwer is both the composer and group leader with his distinct, comprehensive guitar playing. The music uniquely integrates elements from world music, contemporary music, jazz and improvisation. The introductory track, “Liquid Songs”, lasts for fifteen minutes and expresses much of the musical language of the group, ranging from quiet acoustically produced sound landscapes – crawling, floating, pulsating – over to Akihary’s textual homage to life, which certainly also is let loose in a unique collective improvisation. In addition comes the melodious, tender ballad sung in English, ”Little Girl”, as well as songs about both spiritual and erotic love, respectively ”Ale Mei Wa’ati” and ”Japala’a”. And lastly, in the wordless ”A Stranger Everywhere”, Akihary succeeds in creating – with her natural resonant contralto voice – a profound sense of existential gratitude.
Review Rui Eduardo Paes 4Jan 2017 ****
review by Mattie Poels 28 nov 2016 'Transparent fluidity in 'Liquid Songs’
Concerto.at #nr.6 ****
review by Thomas Hein january 2017
Liquid Songs Release
Liquid Songs Release
Liquid Songs, the newest and 7th album of Boi Akih, is inspired by a Moluccan tradition in which old stories that are adapted to the present day are called liquid stories. This process forms a guide for the musical as well as the narrative elements that converge in Liquid Songs.
The music has an open character, improvisation and composed material merging seamlessly. It’s music with an elastic pulse, where rhythm is implied rather than dictated, music that evolves its own entity during the performance. Brouwer composed liquid core melodies, Akihary wrote nine very personal texts, which serve as anchor points for the compositions. The four musicians of this totally original line-up bring a rich diversity of temperaments, colourings and personal experiences to bear in unfolding the music.