Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido “Traantjes”

Astral Editions continues spreading its wings in bizarre, wonderful directions. Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido, the sprawling, large-scale project from Jeroen Kimman, fuses countless styles and ideas into a sound that is unrecognizable in many ways, but familiar at its core. Elements of free jazz and improvisation certainly creep in, but the abundant influence of ‘60s exotica looms supreme. Add in a dash of video game soundtracks, folk, and bizarre electronica and it might give a hint to the scope and originality of Traantjes

A lackadaisical space country pomp and romp greets listeners on the opener, “Feels.” It’s a lazy stroll down a psychedelic avenue lined with orange trees and talking cats, a scene straight from last night’s lucid dreams. Horns and woodwinds dance circle eight patterns on a bright green lawn, accompanied by saloon-style piano and simple, effective drumming. Everything is covered in a kaleidoscopic haze, just enough to elicit smiles from everyone who passes by. “Feels” is a lovely, strange world that sets the stage for Traantjes as a whole.

Kimman’s skill as a composer and producer is undeniable. Twenty-one musicians contribute to Traantjes. It’s a mountain of moving parts, but he keeps everything orderly (or properly disorderly, as the case may be) and on track. “Bubble” combines similar elements as “Feels,” but veers off in a different direction in a bit of a Sliding Doors moment. Imbued with a sense of freedom and adventure, guitar and lapsteel pop along the solid surface the unexpected combination of tuba and double bass providing quite a foundation. Quiet moments look space-bound, synths shining like brand new rocketships propelled by lightspeed xylophone runs. Kimman’s music is so engaging, drawing the listener completely into his wonderfully strange world.

Alien exotica comes in full force on the angular, dusty “Dos o Tres Cervezas” and the slow flow of “Bye Bye Things.” Harp cascades add contrasting effervescent to the funereal vibe of the latter while John Dikeman’s sax calling all the spirits back to their cosmic home. There’s an underlying sadness buoyed by relief that the charade can finally end. Closer “Da Marco” drives through vaudevillian detours and cosmic country shortcuts, a quick overview of the scorched landscape we hope to leave behind. Bouncing rhythms bring the horizon closer, guitars, horns, and bass clarinet chugging along in unison beneath the hood. 

Traantjes is a whimsical and disjointing sonic ride full of bold ideas and enchanting experimentation. It’s almost as if one of the many great free jazz ensembles from the main Astral Spirits catalog made a record on Orange Milk. It’s hard to imagine such a thing, but Jeroen Kimman’s Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido is up for anything, whether it seems possible or not. As the album disintegrates into a woozy ghost, it seems like it was all a brilliant dream. This isn’t real, is it?

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