Dans Dwaas – Bas Kooman
Dans Dwaas is the brand new debut album by Bas Kooman a very talented musician and well good songwriter from the Netherlands. Though Bas is an unknown artist who I myself discovered on Soundcloud a good 5 years ago now he is without doubt a guy who can not only skilfully craft, and arrange truly great songs that will draw your attention immediately to them and have you instantly liking them, but his production skills are also quite outstanding. Quite frankly he is an artist who deserves a lot more recognition for his quality work because it really is stunning.
The album Dans Dwaas contains 11 well crafted tracks, all of which are fine songs and does not contain any instrumental tracks and has a very respectable playing time of 41 minutes and 39 seconds giving you as the listener sheer bliss and outstanding quality and entertainment for its price tag “more about that later”. The album’s title as far as I can make out translates to “Dance Fool” in English.
Over the years I have known Bas on Soundcloud there is no doubt I have always been a fan of his fine songs. To be perfectly honest when I listen to the 11 songs he has chosen to make this debut album of his, I could probably think of enough other quality songs I have heard of his on Soundcloud to make perhaps another 2 albums. In many ways Bas reminds me of Sting with the way he goes about writing and arranging his fine songs, though he no doubt has his own style and his own approach to them which is what makes him so unique.
Language Barriers Do They Really Matter?…
Though Bas does sing the occasional song on Soundcloud in English he prefers to sing in his own native language of Dutch. This is quite understandable to simply because he will be able to express the words with his voice far more greater. All 11 songs on the album Dans Dwaas he has sung in his own native language, and by doing so he’s perhaps not aiming at the international market for sales of his album. But for me personally that does not bother me one bit, and you certainly do not have understand the words to love this superb album he has made. The fact that he has used his own language as made it more the better for what it is, and the album is still instantly infectious and appealing to anyone’s ears no matter what country you are from I would of thought.
I myself have always put the music first before any lyrics of any song. I personally do not believe you need great words to make a great song, though no doubt it is good to have them. But the thing is for me personally having great lyrics does not make great songs unless you have the music to back it up in the first place. You simply cannot make a good song by having great lyrics and rubbish music to support it, but you can make a song with terrible lyrics and still make it sound great with great music to support it. For me words are only there for expressing them in the first place as a singer, and if you have a great voice such as Bas does in the first place, I can assure you no matter if the words are good or bad he could still make them sound great. Any decent singer could.
One thing that I will say about this particular album is that just by listening to it and the sheer quality of the instrumentation and his voice that’s on it. You can instantly tell that the lyrics must be well good as well, even if you cannot understand them because he is not singing in English or whatever country you come from.
What It Takes To Make A Great Album…
Bas has spared no expense in making his debut album Dans Dwaas to the very high standards, by bringing in truly remarkable musicians to achieve such a high quality production to which it certainly does have. Bas himself is mainly a guitarist and singer songwriter. He is also capable of doing all these songs by himself by programming the drums and other instruments and adding his voice and guitar to them, and they still sound pretty damn good too.
Most of his songs on Soundcloud are done in this fashion, but he does also do collaborations with other musicians, because first and foremost as an excellent musician he is himself, he very much sees the importance of other musicians playing the parts for him instead of having synthetic virtual ones, even if he can make those sound good too.
Bas Kooman: Acoustic & Electric Guitars. Bass Guitar & All Additional Instruments.
Dave McKeown: Saxophones & Clarinets on Tracks 2,3,6,8,11.
Matt Snowden: Drums on Tracks 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,10,11.
Maria Grigoryeva: Violin & Viola on Tracks 1,7,9.
Milana Zilnik: Piano on Track 9.
The Album Review…
The album swings superbly into action with it’s opening spiritedly up-tempo track Herinnering which translates in English to “Memories”. Basically the song is about thinking back to childhood days, dreams and heroes and growing up into a young man and learning about love and companionship.
As well as Mr. Kooman’s fine voice and well executed acoustic rhythm guitar, Maria Grigoryeva features heavily on this song and her violin & viola gives it more of a folk rock edge and flavour to it. The backline of the bass and Matt Snowden’s well impressive drums really give the song a lift, and give it perhaps a more popular vibe and feel about it. It really is a superb well written song and very much one of my highest contenders for my favourite track on this really superb album.
De Profeet en de Karavaan which translates to “The Prophet and the Caravan” tells the story of a man who travels the world trying to convince people that perhaps the grass is greener on the other side, rather than the greed that comes from the oil in the desert that evil people fight for to give them power. It’s very much aimed at politics showing how the world as never really changed with all it’s criminal regimes and a cry for peace.
The song has a reggae swing and vibe about it with some lovely acoustic guitar lead lines placed in parts throughout it from Bas and he utilises it very well with the bass and electric guitars. Matt no doubt is also doing his superb job on the drums with the backbeat and this is the first track on the album that features Dave McKeown who plays a really superb solo on his Saxophone.
I must admit I have never been into reggae myself and often considered it’s form of music very minimalist with how it’s widely done with the use of mainly bass and drums. I always even considered it as perhaps the most boring job on the planet for any guitar player with it’s so called chop playing the same thing repeatedly throughout. It’s a form of music that really annoys me 90% of the time.
But the form of reggae in this great song has a lot more going for it in the instrumentation department, and is something more to my taste than your more covenantal and traditional reggae music that bores me to death and annoys me so much. It’s very much more rocked up just like what Sting would do with his band The Police all those years ago, and that’s a band I did like very much and enough to go out and buy all their albums.
Next up we have the albums self tiled track Dans Dwaas or “Dance Fool” in English. Lyrically it’s perhaps a continuation from the previous track with the prophet and his striving for a greener peaceful planet. The dance in this case being of the fool in power who lets greed overpower wisdom.
The track opens up really well with powerful strings playing quite a striking melody line that even gives you the impression of the greedy fool dancing in the desert around his oil. Though the melody line from the strings is perhaps the core of the songs structure, it has some great chord changes and other splendid instrumentation with the bass and piano coming into play and just as well as the strings make a super contribution to the song by strengthening it up, there are some really super quite Arabic melody lines coming from Dave’s clarinet. he also plays sax on the track and it really is a cracking song this one.
Geesten van Vroeger is a beautiful acoustic ballad of a song played and sung by Bas entirely on his own. It really is a beauty of a job he has done here and in English the songs title translates to “Spirits of the Past“. Basically the lyrics portray the demons or evil spirits that steal your dreams and put fear into you and take away your hope. Much like many of those in power dominating the world by how it runs never knowing what harm they will do next.
The 5th track on the album Geef me Liefde is my personal favourite track on the album. The songs title means “Give me Love” to which most of the songs on this album are pertaining too and striving for and a better world to live in. The words to the songs chorus in English “Dearest (give me love) Make a new beginning (love) Until the tenderness wins the distance” shows that this is not just a normal love song perhaps written for his wife but as you can plainly see by the last sentence here it’s striving for love to conquer all and finally put a stop to all the evil that’s within it.
There is no doubt that Bas has put his heart and his soul into this brilliant song. He sings it with pure conviction and the instrumentation is quite frankly staggering with a blend of beautiful acoustic and electric guitars and has a superb lead solo. Just to even think that one man and a drummer can produce such an amazing song as this is quite remarkable.
Vinex-Herder Blues or “Suburban Shepherd Blues” it roughly translates to English. It’s a very interesting approach to the blues that also fuses and combines jazz into its musical style. Some really marvellous work on the acoustic and slide guitar from Bas on this one and Dave’s clarinet is quite outstanding to hear with its counter melody lines he has played around it, adding a great jazz style to the blues here.
Lyrically the words are not your normal standard that pertain to the blues, with it’s more repetitive format of repeating certain lines twice in the verses, and they are more story based. Basically the story is about a dog who perhaps does have the blues from his master the shepherd and working on the farm. There is certainly a sense of humour about them and they are quite funny too. I would also say that Bas expresses them superbly and there is quite a mouthful of them to put across as well. Far from an easy thing to do. It’s another top song on the album and contender for the favourite spot.
Next up is the longest track on the album at just over 5 minutes entitled Eschers Trap which translates to “Escher’s Staircase” in English. The songs words are based around the Dutch graphic artist designer better known as M.C. Escher and his famous surreal drawing he done of a famous stairwell back in 1953 he called Relativity. Depicting the laws of gravity, has seen in the picture below.
Relativity By M.C. Escher
It really is a wonderful joyous folk song filled with dreams of visions of people running up and down and even dancing on Escher’s creation. Once again it features Maria who does another grand job on violin & viola. It’s also got an excellent bass line from Bas accompanying Matt’s solid job on the drums making the whole backline stand out just as well as all the other instruments and Bas’s acoustic guitar is very well utilised and executed superbly throughout the great song.
The 8th track on the album is an absolute classic entitled Je Mist Meer dan je Meemaakt which roughly translates but not accurate to either “You Miss More Than You Experience” or “You Can’t Have It All” Basically the song is about a broken relationship between two people and have now been separated for a long time and many years later looking back at what they had together and missed back in the days they were together.
The song as a very old fashioned feel about it with it’s musical jazzy ballad style and approach. In some ways it also has a certain feel about it that reminds me a bit like Rod Stewart’s “Your In My Heart” I guess that’s down to the beautiful acoustic guitar played by Bas. His voice is also excellent too putting over this well written classic of a song. Dave does a purely fantastic job on the Sax too and for me personally it’s very much another contender for the favourite spot on the album.
Zij Heeft Het Hart is another lovely ballad of a love song and is about a woman who has the heart and courage. The title in English translates to “She Has The Heart” and features the wonderful talented pianist Milana Zilnik who does a superb job here on the keys. Maria’s violin & viola also does a super job and no doubt all the musicians Bas has chosen are purely excellent.
Next up we have the shortest track on the album entitled Het Kind or “Small Child” in English. Not only does the song contain some superb acoustic guitar playing from Bas but Matt’s job on the percussion works wonders in the fine song. Lage Horizon or “Low Horizon” it easily translates to picks up the pace just as the album started, and puts an end to one really terrific album. This track once again features the talents of Dave McKeown doing another bang on job on the Saxophone, and along with Bas himself and Matt on the drums playing their superb parts in it really is a cracking song to put the album to bed, though not before you’ve stuck it all back on again because this album really is infectious.
I have to say the brand new debut album by Bas Kooman “Dans Dwaas” is by far the best album I have brought so far in 2017 and that includes all the albums I have brought of mainstream artists too. The production is as good as anything your gonna buy in a record shop and simply stunning. So too are all the musicians on it. It’s one of most infectious albums I have heard in ages, and will have you coming back repeatedly for further listens. To put it in a nutshell It’s pure class.
Getting back to the point I mentioned at the beginning in the introduction about the price. There is one thing I will tell you truthfully, and that is the fact that the album is only right now offered on Bandcamp in a digital download format and the price of 10 Euro put me right off at first. Simply because for that price tag I would want a physical CD in my hands. I can get any mainstream artists latest CD over here for £10 and the fact that you also have to now pay tax as well on Bandcamp means that this particular digital download cost me £10.59.
It’s OK saying you can download the album in wave format and put it on a disc yourself and print out the artwork too. But unless you have all the necessary tools to do such a thing it’s gonna add even more expense. Most people have printers but how many of them have them with ink in. The biggest majority like myself do not, and in some cases it’s cheaper to buy a new printer than buy the ink. This is why personally I do not believe that any digital album should be sold for no more than £3 to £5 at the most.
Even if I was looking at mainstream artists latest albums on places such as Amazon. There is no way I would buy it as a digital download even though it’s cheaper to do so. I would buy the CD every time.
There is no doubt that everything about the album “Dans Dwaas” by Bas Kooman is sheer class top notch 100% quality, so to is the written material upon it and how it’s presented to you by the class musicians upon it. The fact that the material upon it is so infectious left me with no alternative but to pay the price for it. It was just like a drug and kept me coming back for more. I played it several times over the weekend on Bandcamp because I never had the money in my bank to buy it, and on Monday I purchased it and have not stopped playing it since.
If you like the artist Sting there is no doubt you will love this and it will appeal to you very much like it appeals to me. But this is not a guy who has copied Sting at all, and has simply done it all in his own unique way, and just like another good friend of mine Dirk Radloff quoted in his review of the album. He really is perhaps the Sting of the Netherlands.
Comes with an 100% recommendation this one. it’s worth its weight in Gold.
01. Herinnering. 3:40.
02. De Profeet en de Karavaan. 3:52.
03. Dans Dwaas. 4:09.
04. Geesten van Vroeger. 2:42.
05. Geef me Liefde. 4:43.
06. Vinex-Herder Blues. 2:46.
07. Eschers Trap. 5:08.
08. Je Mist Meer dan je Meemaakt. 3:53.
09. Zij Heeft Het Hart. 4:07.
10. Het Kind. 2:19.
11. Lage Horizon. 4:20.
Lee’s overall score rating 10/10.
You can listen to this fine album on Bandcamp for free. But be warned you may very well get hooked and end up buying it just as I did. https://baskooman.bandcamp.com/album/dans-dwaas