Anemic Cinema (named after the eponymous short film by dadaist Marcel Duchamp), is an instrumental quartet led by Ghent-based guitarist/composer Artan Buleshkaj. The band features (besides Buleshkaj on baritone guitar) some of Belgium’s most adventurous young improvisers: Rob Banken (alto saxophone, clarinet), Steven Delannoye (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet) and Matthias de Waele (drums).
Combining jagged sonorities and riff-based passages from heavy metal (bands like Tyft, Zeus!, Meshuggah, … come to mind), metric structures and (freely) improvised sections inspired by (avant-)jazz, and harmonies reminiscent of modern classical composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Anton Webern, … the band creates an eerie atmosphere featuring intensely nervous and volatile passages that coexist with moments of disquieting reverie, combating monotony but also amplifying both ends of the musical spectrum.
The omission of a conventional bass instrument allows other instruments to assume this role (or not). This creates certain compositional/improvisational challenges which in turn bear new, exciting avenues of musical conception with ample room for freedom within clearly marked boundaries. This all results in a listening experience equal parts visceral, hard-hitting and unpredictable.
A self-titled EP (el NEGOCITO Records) released in 2021 already proved this was no fluke. Buleshkaj took a rather original approach, disbanding with the bass and incorporating two reed instruments and drums. This peculiar line-up not only breaks with traditional instrumentation, but also creates new opportunities to approach the music from different angles. Moreover, the color palette of the clarinets and saxophones not only enables the band to experiment with tone color, but also to incorporate ideas and sounds from chamber music, modern classical and other sources.
After that, it was time to release a first full album. In February 2023, “ICONOCLASTS” saw daylight on Ramble Records. This record was amply praised in both printed and online press.
“The crux is that these gentlemen have equally fine compositions in their fingers, seamlessly inserted between the violence. Listen to Iconoclasts Pt. 1, an elegant, Ellingtonian piece that carries the tension of its Money Jungle. After which you still get a kick in the crotch. Delightful.” – Bart Cornand (Knack)
“Anemic Cinema is an extraordinary band with an on- and extraordinarily sound wrapped in delicious conviction. Iconoclasts is an extraordinarily strong and convincing debut album from a band that dares to play nice and crosswise and, precisely because of that, completely impresses.” – Dick Hovenga (Written in Music)
“Churning energy, a sonic grammar of their own and pervasive jazz harmonies coupled with a rock drive were descriptions we used at the time for this quartet’s debut EP. On ‘Iconoclasts’, this is richly magnified in search of even more depth and variety.” – Georges Tonla Briquet (Jazz’halo)
“Varying rhythms, distorted, droning guitar and the saxophones firmly engaging in dialogue. Two voices in your head screaming for attention. Sometimes in sync then bickering again.” – Björn Comhaire (Luminous Dash)
Artan Buleshkaj (BE) – baritone guitar
Rob Banken (BE) – alto saxophone, clarinet
Steven Delannoye (BE) – tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Matthias De Waele (BE) – drums