This album was recorded during a chaotic period in between COVID-19 lockdowns, when society rushed to act as if everything was back to normal, and hustle and bustle were at a maximum.
Everybody was running around frantically, shopping, flying, driving, having busier work schedules than ever, as if trying to catch up on what they felt they had missed out on in the past one and half years. People hoping for change – green transition, a less consumerist society, more time for contemplation – were disappointed. The neoliberals in power had proclaimed: ‘we are in this together!’, ignoring the fact that disadvantaged people and those suffering from ill health, young and elderly people, teachers, healthcare workers, hospitality businesses, and everyone working in the cultural sector were paying the highest price.
Spirituality was dearly lacking in our community.
An artist’s work is unavoidably a response to the character of the times.
The Gijs Levelt Spoken Quartet was established in the aftermath of the release of my solo debut album Spoken. It was born out of a lockdown recording session for the legendary 2 Meter Sessies, a long running Dutch TV program showcasing quality music in every genre.
Whereas Spoken was recorded over a one-and-a-half-year period and had a contemplative and introverted character, for Bustle we decided to record some of the same repertoire and some new pieces in just three days without any rehearsals, striving for the most spontaneous interaction. While sticking to the nocturnal themes of Spoken, this approach has resulted in music with more contrast, intersecting lines, unexpected events and musical bustle.
I am very grateful to my wonderful collaborators – Stefan, Mark and Joost – whose incredible skills, ear for music, experience, vision, taste and willingness to jump into this adventure enabled the creation of this album.