Helen Svoboda (contrabass/vocals) // Andrew Saragossi (saxophone)
/// MEATSHELL is the experimental-folk duo of Helen Svoboda (contrabass/voice) and Andrew Saragossi (tenor saxophone). The name encompasses the physicality, intensity and vulnerability of playing with two. With a shared curiosity for the subtle beauty of things, the pair combines traditional song forms and unconventional instrumental techniques, emphasising the power of story-telling through sound. Infused with elements of minimalism, improvisation and contemporary jazz, the music is raw and exposed, yet full-bodied and perpetual, propelled by the momentum of the human heartbeat. //
Meatshell’s debut album “Afar” was released in June 2019, through Australian independent label MADE NOW MUSIC. Recorded at Daltoon Studio in Eindhoven, NL, the music is a manifestation and embodiment of the duo’s personal experiences in leaving behind the comfort and familiarity of home, exploring themes of fear, uncertainty, risk and limitless possibility. *“Afar" isn’t your father’s jazz album, nor does it fit comfortably into subgenre molds... but it’s undeniably a fantastic album exploring the fringes of jazz, modern classical and post-minimalism, coming from some of the Australian scene’s exciting young talents. Jazz or not, it’s certainly worth your time and attention." - Scott Murphy (Heavy Blog is Heavy) 2019
Since relocating to the Netherlands from their hometown of Brisbane, Australia, Meatshell have been exploring and developing a unique and innovative approach which demands a higher level of musical independence and intricacy through the challenged roles of both instruments; Svoboda explores the soloistic and melodic areas of her bass playing, while Saragossi utilises both traditional and extended techniques to create density and harmonic richness amidst unusual saxophonic grooves. The pulsating rhythms, expansive dynamic contour and the pure quality of Svoboda’s vocals caress and immerse the audience into an intimate and honest experience, shaped by deeply personal expression and narrative.
Svoboda and Saragossi have always identified strongly with the tradition and characteristics of folk music. Having had extensive jazz/classical training, the duo appreciates the humbling simplistic beauty of the genre, drawing inspiration from artists such as Bon Iver and Tom Waits who utilise texture and dramaticism to enrich and add even greater depth and character to their personal stories. Meatshell aims to redefine and expand upon what folk music can be, challenging preconceptions of its traditional sonic identity by acknowledging their own unique backgrounds and incorporating a wide range of stylistic influences into their music; specifically, the exploratory and innovative approach of artists such as Colin Stetson and Barre Phillips, the raw expressiveness and freedom of the music of Ornette Coleman, Tigran Hamasyan’s rhythmic complexity/traditional melodies, and the motivic and cyclic motions of Phillip Glass and the minimalist art movement.
Meatshell has been steadily building a following and reputation for their "out-of-the-box" thinking and musical approach. They have excited audiences with performances at Make It! Jazz Festival (Tilburg), JazzBlazzt at OZO Land Festival (Hunsel), Unknown Orbits Festival (Maastricht), WE Festival (Maastricht), Paviljoen Ongehoorde Muziek (Eindhoven) to name a few.
2019-20 will be another busy year of creation and performance for Meatshell. They are currently writing, producing and directing a short experimental theatre work in collaboration with Sebastian Stert (actor) and Andre van der Heide (movement, percussion). Centred around three new original songs/compositions. The performance, entitled "Peaceful Co-existence" tells the familiar story of despair/loss and refuge and is inspired by the Treehouse, a new community space in Maastricht. They will also go back in the studio to record their second album which will delve into the concept of cubism in sound.
“Svoboda’s vocals float around the album’s compositions, while the duo fill the space with layers of sound, both collaboratively and through their own playing. The lush, viscous tone of Svoboda’s contrabass creates a consistent foundation, falling somewhere between elegant and foreboding. Meanwhile, Saragossi sprints through a marathon of ideas and techniques, ranging from deep, percussive notes to what sounds like circular breathing and continual playing.... The results are, again, stunning. Focusing on a specific track misses the point, given how much the album builds on its own themes. Instead, I urge anyone even vaguely interested in the album’s styles to press play and allow the duo’s interplay to consume you. There’s a certain fantastical quality to
this type of music, an the imaginative nature of the Afar bolsters this feeling throughout the album.”
- Scott Murphy (Heavy Blog is Heavy) 2019
Debut Album "Afar"
“Afar isn’t your father’s jazz album, nor does it fit the comfortably into subgenre molds... but it’s undeniably a fantastic album exploring the fringes of jazz, modern classical and post-minimalism, coming from some of the Australian scene’s exciting young talents. Jazz or not, it’s certainly worth your time and attention."
"...I urge anyone even vaguely interested in the album’s styles to press play and allow the duo’s interplay to consume you. There’s a certain fantastical quality to this type of music, and the imaginative nature of the Afar bolsters this feeling throughout the album.”
- Scott Murphy (Heavy Blog is Heavy) 2019
10 NOV 2019 // Inaugrual AIM Winners!
Meatshell are proud to announce that they have been awarded the inaugural Award for Innovation in Music through Conservatorium Maastricht for their debut immersive theatre production "Peaceful Co-Existence", inspired by Maastricht's newest community space the Treehouse. Joined by Sebastian Stert (actor/movement) & Andre van der Heide (actor/movement/percussion), the experimental performance focussed around 3 new songs dealing with themes of loss and refuge.
Meatshell were awarded a grant of €5000 which they will put toward the recording and production of their second album "Since Subito". They will also donate a portion of the grant to the Treehouse to fund and further develop deep listening nights at the venue. The rest will be used to recoup costs of the performance, pay the performers.
Meatshell would like to thank Conservatorium Maastricht for the opportunity, the initiators/donors of the prize Rene Rousseau & Cecile Maas, the Bonnefantenmuseum as well as all who came out in support of the event.
Stay tuned for video & photos from the performance!
6 NOV 2019 // Meatshell named Semi-Finalists for Maastricht Jazz Awards
Meatshell are thrilled to be named amongst the 6 semi-finalists in the 2019/20 Maastricht Jazz Awards. They will now perform in front of a jury at the MJA semi-finals which will take place at the Conservatorium Maastricht Jazz Night on Saturday 23 November 2019 at the Muziekgieterij in Maastricht. 3 bands will then be selected to go on to the finals taking place on 8 February 2020 where the winner will be awarded a €1500 grant as well as some guaranteed performance opportunities.
19 OCT 2019 // AIM Finalists!
MEATSHELL has been selected as 1 of 5 finalists in the Award for Innovation in Music through Conservatorium Maastricht. The applicants had to propose a performance project based on the theme of "New Cultures in Maastricht". Meatshell's proposal entitled "Peaceful Co-existence" focusses on the "The Treehouse", a new community space in Maastricht devoted to meaningful interactions, emotional integrity and authenticity. Bringing in Sebastian Stert (actor/movement) & Andre van der Heide (actor, movement, percussion), the duo have developed a short experimental and immersive theatre experience which revolves around 3 new songs dealing with themes of loss/despair and finding refuge. The 5 finalists will realise their performance proposals on November 8th 2019 at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. Tickets are available now via this link.
|23/11/2019||Maastricht Jazz Awards Semi-Finals @ The Muziekgieterij||Maastricht, NL||7:30pm||Event Link|
|26/01/2020||ABS Restaurant & Club||Köln, DE||7:30pm||Event Link|
|02/02/2020||Cafe & Bar Zuhause||Aachen, DE||12:00pm||Event Link|
|08/11/2019||Award for Innovation in Music Final @ Bonnefantenmuseum||Maastricht, NL||7:00pm||Tickets|
|12/10/2019||The Treehouse - Deep Listening Sessions||Maastricht, NL||8:00pm||Event Link|
|11/10/2019||Paviljoen Ongehoorde Muziek||Eindhoven, NL||8:00pm||Event Link|
|20/09/2019||SRM Live Sessions @ The Haunted House (ft. Branimir)||Maastricht, NL||9:00pm||Event Link|
|19/09/2019||Make It! Jazz Festival - Peerke Gebruikte Meubelen||Tillburg, NL||9:00pm||Event Link|
|14/09/2019||Jazzblazzt @ Ozo Land Festival||Hunsel, NL||2:00pm||Event Link|
|28/07/2019||Jazz on a Sunday Vibe @ The Junk Bar (ft. George Cauldron)||Brisbane, AUS||6:00pm||Tickets|
|22/06/2019||"Afar" Album Launch @ The Sideshow (ft. Downend)||Brisbane, AUS||7:00pm||Tickets|
|13/05/2019||The WE Festival @ The Treehouse||Maastricht, NL||3:00pm||Event Page|
|27/04/2019||Unknown Orbits Festival @ The Mandril||Maastricht, NL||8:00pm||Event Page|
|20/01/2019||Cafe & Bar Zuhause (w/Heat Obscures Light)||Aachen, DE||12:00pm||Event Page|
|24/11/2019||Conservatorium Maastricht Jazz Night @ Bonbonniere||Maastricht, NL||8:00pm||Event Page|
|31/10/2019||AINSI (supporting/ Jef Neve & Teus Nobel)||Maastricht, NL||8:00pm||Event Page|