In 1910, the illustrator George Herriman created the Krazy Kat comic strip. Ignatz, a vicious mouse, was Krazy Kat’s arch enemy, and his favourite pastime was to throw bricks at Krazy Kat’s head (who misinterpreted the mouse’s actions as declarations of love). Belgian artist Bram Devens uses Ignatz as his alter-ego, and comes armed with his own pile of bricks; sparse, emotive songs born of the human condition, wrapped in effects, corroded by tape, driven forth by improvisation and spontaneity.
Ignatz’s songs stem from a familiar stripped folk framework, with Devens’ delivery recalling the louche primitivism of V.U. or Henry Flynt – but these songs sound inverted, cast adrift, their cool touch belying a stymied heat beneath the surface. Where Devens’ fretwork is adorned, it is executed with a refined coarseness. Autonomous loops entwine each other. Songs brush past percussion, bass notes, or a scant keyboard motif. A voice recedes from the heart of the song into a dislocated, cracked drawl.
Apart from working solo, Ignatz plays with his band “de stervende honden” since 2013, after a friend (being tired of Ignatz’s solo concerts) suggested playing with Erik Heestermans and Tommy Denys.
If you’re looking for hight-res picures, please send an email. When used, please mention the photographers.
Ignatz & De Stervende Honden – Saturday’s Den
Raven sings the blues
Ignatz & De Stervende Honden – Deadbeat Freedom
Interview in It’s psychedelic baby Magazine
Raven sings the blues
De ongeletterde wanhoop
Bandcamp review by Marc Masters
The Raven Sings the Blues
Skug Journal für Musik – by Holger Adam
Microphones in the trees
The Brooklyn rail – best track
Ignatz & Harris Newman Bring You Buzzard Meat
” (…) The pair have highly developed individual styles that are strengthened by their differences, and together they get to the heart of what can make blues music so moving. This has more to do with improvisation and its allied possibilities of transcendence and failure than running up and down 12-bar schemes at lightning speed. There is also confort in the generic nature of the music, where a slight warping of the formula can feel massively significant according to the familiarity of the form. On ‘Bring You Buzzard Meat’, both Devens [Ignatz] and Newman go back to the future to recalibrate a 21st century blues”
(Alex Neilson, The Wire #361)
<->Gorgeous double 10” set that unites American primitive string-thinker Harris Newman with the black Euro blues of Ignatz: a wide-ranging set that is “part science experiment and Geechie Wiley tribute”, Ignatz’s obsessive, cranky repeat riffing style opens out Newman’s acoustic conceptions into vectors of tactile, protesting eternal music, running riffs into tumbling waterfalls of drones and tones and re-thinking Ignatz material as the kind of dislocated long blank that the early Jandek records came out of; distant, forlorn, power-crying paeans to oblivion. Throw in the kind of jackhammer riffing of a Henry Flynt or a Tetuzi Akiyama and you got an amazing double header with an ancient>future appeal that feels just right across two heavy 10”s that would reconcile Blue Corpse, Don’t Forget To Boogie, Days Have Gone By and I Don’t Wanna. Originally released as a 2009 tour-only CD-R. Seriously, fantastic, highly recommended.
A découvrir absolument (FR)
Gonzo Circus (NL)
Can I Go Home Now
(…) “This album feels more fleshed out than its predecessors – less like a haunted house, more like a couple of animatronic polar bears playing the blues in a really good zoo.” (…) “an intriguing cloud-stew of sounds” (…) “There are also vibrational similarities to players such as Jack Rose, Brother JT, Ben Chasny and Matt Valentine [..] but there’s something very specific about the lo-fi approach. The crackedness of the surface here is not exactly like the crackedness of any other music I can name. This is a trick not many can manage these days, so next time you run into Ignatz give him a small whisky and a hot doughnut. He has earned it.”
Byron Coley, The Wire #352, juni 2013, p.51
Raven Sings the Blues
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Ignatz, aka alien-Appalachian troubadour Bram Devens of Belgium, who over the course of a handful of records between 2005 and 2008, created what was essentially an alternate universe of sound, one where blues and bluegrass and Appalachia somehow got all garbled, the notes warped and woozy, murky drones wreathing everything in creepy sonic patina, but something strange happened near the end of that stretch, the sound of Ignatz gradually got less and less alien, less noisy and murky, fewer effects, everything stripped away until the sound of Ignatz was essentially the sound of a man and his guitar, which is precisely what Ignatz is all these years later. Which is not to say that the sound of Ignatz isn’t still strange, and idiosyncratic, and outsidery, it most definitely is, it’s just that now, and even a little bit then, the strangeness comes not from adding noise and weird effects, it comes from these truly unique sounds, Devens crafting weird and wonderful sounds with just his voice, a guitar, and whatever piece of equipment he chooses to record on, which is definitely a part of Ignatz’s sound, as the varying levels of production, the hiss, the echo, the muted melodies or the brittle high end, the sound is as much a part of the sound as the songs, if that makes sense.
We proclaimed in our review of III, from 2008, that it was in fact Ignatz’s blues record, thinking at the time maybe it was an anomaly, but in fact, it marked what we can only imagine was a sonic shift. We missed a handful of releases between now and then, cd-r’s and limited lps, but it seems to these ears, that Can I Go Home Now? is not that far removed from III, Devens vocalizing in a Dylany drawl, unfurling gorgeous bits of finger picked Appalachian, softly strummed psychedelic folk, moody and minimal, lo-fi for sure, but in a way that makes the music more intimate, campfire style, as if this was all recorded with a mic and a boombox, beneath the stars, in the middle of nowhere. All of that said, there is plenty of weirdness still going in, whether it’s a sublte backdrop of swirling looped melody, or what sounds like a sped up tape recorder, looped and layered beneath some skeletal blues, or hazy, reverby music box melodies, sounding like a toy piano, or some woozy murky warble, that makes it sound like the tape is melting. All of these subtle little effects just add to the spare haunting songcraft, making these sound again, a little bit alien, just not so overtly abstract.
Equal parts Daniel Johnston, Jandek, Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, John Fahey via some mysterious Sublime Frequencies compilation, songs gathered from the front porches of old rickety houses in the sticks, in some alternate universe, dark, droney, dreamy, bluesy folkiness that’s hauntingly hypnotic and subtly psychedelic. We didn’t realize just how much we missed Ignatz…
Pitchfork The Out Door
Belgium’s Bram Devens, aka Ignatz, showed up in our Overlooked list in 2011 with his eerie, echoey I Hate This City. “Can I Go Home Now?” continues that album’s ghostly vibe, with a little Dylan-esque folk tossed in. But it also adds a layer of nervous intensity via the wiry sheen of Devens’ guitar, which can evoke the tremble of early Velvet Underground. What impresses most is the way Devens prioritizes mood over technique; even though there’s some pretty tricky playing going on here, it’s all in service of an overwhelming feeling– the kind of calm-but-creepy aura that only Ignatz can conjure.