Ghent jazz band The Milk Factory is quite exceptional. In 2018 we heard them live, at the renowned Ham Sessions in Ghent (they just released their first, eponymous EP), and we were sold immediately. Now they present us with Aula, their debut album, and it’s very impressive.
The Milk Factory follows in the footsteps of many young Belgian bands that operate from jazz to find new pathways in mostly subdued compositions. Their apparent musical restraint may have something to do with the fact that founding members Edmund Lauret (guitar) and Thijs Troch (piano) play the roof off when performing with their other bands (Nordmann and Hypochristmutreefuzz respectively).
For the subdued, dreamy and adventurous music they make with The Milk Factory, they brought in Jan Daelman (flute), Viktor Perdieus (sax), Benjamin Elegheert (drums), and Kobe Boon (bass) who also reaches modesty heights with his Steiger trio.
Since their EP they’ve clearly progressed masterfully, and Aula is proof. What a beautiful album. It offers us eleven wonderful compositions in total, carefully arranged and instrumentated. The horns combine wonderfully with the piano and electric guitar, while bass and drums flow fluently underneath.
The melancholy of the warm-blooded melody lines melts perfectly with more defiant parts (Tref), ever so adventurous and sparkling. Aula’s compositions move within a field that excites, challenges, embraces, and moves all at the same time. They were shaped from the freedom of jazz and just as easily lean towards folk through the use of the flute and acoustic guitar.
These compositions cleverly lay out The Milk Factory style (Verrevan, Groef), impress immediately (Whistle Island, the title track), meander through the musical landscape (Gitaar 2), slightly go against the grain (Schroom), glow (Bunny), and are downright stunning (Houtdokken). In fact, everything on Aula is equally wonderful and timeless. Its compositions settle in your soul, after just one listen.
Early 2020 it seems we were right about the three Flemish jazz-oriented albums in our last year’s top 10. When it comes to challenging jazz, Flanders is indeed the richest place for discovery. The Milk Factory once again presents us with wonderful evidence.