Who is Quat? It is a European free jazz ensemble that includes Els Vandeweyer on vibes, Fred Van Hove on piano and accordion, and the two percussion-drum team of Paul Lovens and Martin Blume. They are in excellent form here, running the gamut between the new music end of free music and the more expressionist improvisation side, jazz if you will, and everywhere in between.
Ms. Vandeweyer, not someone I have been exposed to much, has a post-Hampelian all-overness that works very well with Van Hove's comprehensive keyboard scatter and cluster approach. The Lovens-Blume pairing works very well with the two-person melodic frontline, laying back a tad and laying down dense but often quiet washes of exotic and virtuoso-istic sound colors.
There is a very effective balance between the four that gets maintained throughout. All four voices meld in continuously permeating, endlessly varying abstractions of sound.
I found the subtlety of the music to take several listening sittings to embrace. Once the foundational listens were done with I started hearing the whole as a creative and sequential inevitability.
This is high-ambition freedom music. They do not veer into multi-stylistic referential moments (save for a brief moment when Van Hove's accordion has an almost folksy but still free-new connotation) but stay pretty firmly within a special zone that advances the abstract sound world that perhaps more typifies the European improv school than is the case with their American counterparts. They do it so well, though, that you fall into the music more than wonder what else there could be. What is, is in the best sort of way.
MJQ it isn't. It's Quat. Beautiful sounds. Recommended.