Under The Surface

The worst thing that can happen when sending a speculative mail is reading the word “no”, but fortunately for Dutch singer Sanne Rambags the answer was in the affirmative. Approaching seasoned jazz drummer Joost Lijbaart and experienced guitarist Bram Stadhouders to work with, the two musicians readily agreed.

Eight years ago, she was selected by the Beaux Jazz initiative to do an experimental concert with two musicians who are on a different path in their career,” explains Lijbaart of Under The Surface’s origins. “So we did a gig and I thought, this is a cool thing.”

Swiftly organising a recording session, Lijbaart knew that the trio had hit on something special. Fusing elements of folk, jazz and ambient music among other influences with Rambags’ ethereal vocals, their largely improvised music is characterised by a universality that easily crosses borders.

Says Stadhouders, “With a lot of non-western music traditions, music is not about playing cool solos; it’s about bringing yourself and other people to a different state of mind and this is what we do.”

Utilising Lijbaart’s extensive contacts, Under The Surface were soon playing shows in Mali, which in turn saw them accepting invitations to play festivals in Cuba, Mexico, India and China as well closer to home across Europe. Crucial to the development of the band’s sound is the generational spread of the three principals – Sanne Rambags is 29 years old, Stadhouders in 35 while Lijbaart is the oldest at 56.

If you play with people from a different generation, they grew up with different music, so they bring in different stuff,” says Lijbaart.

We each have a certain style and approach and that’s the core,” agrees Stadhouders. “From there, you can do different experiments and take on different influences.

Spread across three albums – //Under The Surface// (2017), //Trinity// and //Miin Triuwa// (2022) – Under The Surface’s music is suffused with both a shamanistic and spiritual quality.

When you improvise, you basically play what you don’t know,” says Lijbaart. “And the only way to do that in a in a good way is to get rid of your ego and be in a moment. A lot of people in spiritual connections try to be in the moment and we do that on the stage.”

— JM

From "Around The World - Under The Surface" Prog Reprinted with permission.

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