Belgian ivories operator opens a broad-view window into unbridled jazz-rock vista.
“Vegir” means “roads” in Icelandic, and Dominique Vantomme’s creative trajectory covers a nice cut of map, including playing Hammond for compatriots VAYA CON DIOS and piano for Ana Popovic and working in Kortrijk’s music conservatory when he’s at home. There are also a few ensembles the ever-busy artist is involved with, and this is a debut album from one of those – perhaps, the most important one, given Dominique’s own name and featuring glorious guests who stoke Vantomme’s vision with flammable licks. Not for nothing the retrofuturistic pop drive of “Sizzurp” is sizzling with interstellar desire and, once keyboards are let loose, delightful unpredictability, grinding to a halt only to begin a new kind of madful grind, and not for nothing the initially smoldering and eventually burning “Agent Orange” is quite anxious.
Still, “Equal Minds” may provide the best characteristic of this project, to be the album’s epitome, the elegiac epic’s unhurried, dimmed flow stricken with each instrumentalist’s solo splash and shot through with faux Morse code by a sci-fi-minded Mini Moog before the tune is dissolved into a chaotic drift of suspenseful notes and solidified again once heavy riffs emerge and rock it all. So if “Double Down” introduces the band with a Fender Rhodes’ shimmer, it doesn’t take long for the piece’s dynamic amplitude to expand and embrace a 3D-scope and then rattle the resulting soundscape with a spaced-out fusion, although Tony Levin’s fluid bass and Maxime Lenssens’ nomadic drums deliberately limit the melodic flight as Michel Delville’s guitar and the leader’s synthesizers seem to know no boundary in the process of possessing the listener’s soul.
Of course, humor feels inescapable in such surroundings, and while “The Self Licking Ice-Cream Cone” is keeping a straight face for a whopping 13 minutes to allow its many layers tangle, whip each other into a raving frenzy, and unravel, the Flinstones’ acquaintance feeding the funk of “Playing Chess With Barney Rubble” with much fervor as Vantomme’s runs zigzag through the band’s nervous rumble until piano ripples rip up the jazz-lined clouds and bring on an almost orchestral attack of group’s tight telepathy, whereas the route’s finale is a simple beat, taking it all back to the titular’s character’s cave. Yet “Plutocracy” rises from baroque cacophony to a transfixing tribal dance and rams home a rather serious point, and it’s not a politically myopic move as suggested in “Emmetropia” – this glimmering but menacing number which will cause vertigo if one’s ear isn’t immersed enough in the groove. Ultimately, Vantomme created a phantom experience that’s here to stay.