The route that Zwerm has taken is often defined by the question “What if... ?” - like a dart thrown at a musical map, not quite blindly, but naive enough to lead to unexpected endings.
“What if we play Renaissance pieces written by John Dowland, but instead of playing lutes we play these tunes with a Telecaster – and then jam it through effect pedals and an amplifier?”
“What if we connect one hundred guitar pedals and just leave our guitars at home?” In 2020 our metaphorical dart landed on “What if we tried micro-tonality?”.
On the continents where Western musical theory is less stringently applied, micro-tonality is the rule, and has become the subject of many deep and thoughtfully written theories.
However for Zwerm, this phenomenon occurs in many, often surprisingly lighthearted forms. A dilapidated piano that has settled into a beautiful micro-tonal tuning of its own accord, enthusiastic choral
singing, a guitar whose three strings are tuned a quarter-tone higher, a saz (Turkish quarter-tone lute), a maddening guitar pedal, ...
“And... what if we work with a drummer?” Enter Karen Willems - dummer, extraordinaire, and ardent player in groups, projects and collaborations galore. One chance meeting and the deal was done. It was obvious before the start that Willems was the versatile and creative percussionist-in-a-toy-store necessary for this project. At the reins behind the scenes was producer Rudy Trouvé. Completing the team were Mark Dedecker (recording) and Joris Calluwaerts (mixing).
The results are in and it’s called ‘ Great Expectations’ – a title that, in several ways, fits perfectly with these strange 2021 times. ‘Great Expectations’ goes wide! Zwerm is at its best when it can run along the
borders between style and across traditions that otherwise would not necessarily intersect. The most straightforward rockers have a proggy tinge while the dreamy psychedelic songs lean more toward Richard Youngs. ‘Heavy Machinery’ sits neatly somewhere between Captain Beefheart and Richard Wagner, and ‘On My Way To Aguno’, set to an Iranian folk song chord progression, grew into a hyper personal lullaby. Zwerm used the saz and the sinter (Moroccan gnawa bass instrument) without falling into pastiche psychedelia, but you can still sense the orient.