October 27, 2022

The Bullfight & Guests: Some Divine Gift

Rotterdam based folk noir band The Bullfight have raised the bar once again with their new album Some Divine Gift: nine spoken word pieces accompanied by intricate soundscapes, rock and jazzy excursions written by the band's resident versatile composer Thomas van Vliet. For their previous album Eggs & Marrowbone the band invited artists to illustrate the songs, an excellent idea that is once more part of the package, but they did not stop there.Barry Hay (of Golden Earring fame), Spinvis, David Boulter (Tindersticks), Alex Roeka, Daisy Cools, Henry Rollins, and Mark Ritsema all said yes when they got the call to lend their voices to a piece.

Spoken word and poetry are not necessarily easy on the ears. In most of popular music the words are an afterthought, preferably with a catchy refrain. On Some Divine Gift it is the other way round, with the music as a vessel for the thoughts and musings of the man or woman at the microphone. Hitting the ground running with Barry Hay solemnly working his way through Ozymandias, the fabled sonnet written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1818, it instantly becomes clear that this an album that deserved undivided attention. Dutch experimental lo-fi artist Spinvis is next with the sad De Ogen Van de Bruid - he will likely reconsider his own shoestring budget approach after recording with such a wealth of accomplished musicians.

Mark Ritsema, a veteran of the Dutch underground scene, is a perfect match with his deep throated delivery for the post-rock meets late night jazz of The Last Neanderthal. My Sister is the sole cover, well more of a deconstructed reinterpration of the Tinderstick's track, with that band's organist Dave Boulter adding a sense of an extra layer of gravitas to the tale of a rather full life cut short. Halfway throughout the album the band's own singer Nick Verhoeven enters the stage with The Incantation, using elements from Iggy Pop and Nick Cave to give some well-meant advice to get up after the shit has hit the fan. Nobody tells a guy like Henry Rollins what to do as a spoken word artist, so for I Know You the band latched themselves upon his words, to create the musical backing, even throwing in with some Morricone-inspired backing vocals. Daisy Cools selected Portuguese Florbela Espanca's poem Silêncio, carefully chiseling away to bring the anxiety of a lover to the fore.

Nick Verhoeven gets his second appearance in the spotlight in the penultimate track, The Walker, a dark tale about a father urging his son to kill him when the first signs of dementia turn up. Alex Roeka brings it home with Geluiden, making a plea for intense listening, whether it is to birdsong, the classical composers or fellow lyrical virtuosos like Leonard Cohen. It is a fitting ending for a collection of words and music as art and not just entertainment. Meanwhile, Thomas van Vliet is already busy working on the next one. The Bullfight will write the soundtrack of his novel De Interview, narrated by Alex Roeka, and illustrated by Hélène Bautista. The trailer can be watched here.

The Bullfight:
André van den Hoek: drums, percussion
Eddie Kuijpers: double bass
Nick Verhoeven: vocals
Tim Moerkerken: Fender Rhodes
Thomas van der Vliet: guitar, piano, Mellotron, Philicorda, samples
Esther Vroegindeweij: violin

Some Divine Gift will be released on November 11 via Brandy Alexander Recordings (vinyl, CD). Note: it will not be available on the usual streaming services. Do yourself a favour and buy the LP (transparent vinyl) that comes with all the lyrics and art reproductions on high grade paper, and a CD.

  1. Ozymandias (feat. Barry Hay)
  2. De Ogen Van de Bruid (feat. Spinvis)
  3. The Last Neanderthal (feat. Mark Ritsema)
  4. My Sister (feat. David Boulter)
  5. The Incantation
  6. I Know You (feat. Henry Rollins)
  7. Silêncio (feat. Daisy Cools)
  8. The Walker
  9. Geluiden (feat. Alex Roeka)

Live dates:
  • 10/29 Rotterdam @ Het Nieuwe Instituut (Woordnacht 2022)
  • 10/30 Egmond @ Hoeve Overslot
  • 11/03 Rotterdam @ Worm (late night)
  • 11/12 Rotterdam @ Studio de Bakkerij (album release show)
  • 11/17 Haarlem @ Patronaat
  • 11/18 Leiden @ Galerie De Leidse Lente
  • 11/20 Rotterdam @ Worm (Frontaal)
  • 11/26 Amsterdam @ De Nieuwe Anita
  • 11/27 Den Haag @ Paard (w/ Alex Roeka)
  • 12/02 Delft @ Rietveld Theater
  • 01/08 Gorinchem @ Het Zevende Huis

» thebullfight.nl

HCTF review of Eggs & Marrowbone.

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