Ruud Voesten's Ambrosia is an avant-garde European jazz album. It’s also probably one of the darkest projects I’ve reviewed. The whole album has this heavy anxiety-inducing dread that perpetuates the tracks in various forms. Even the brief moments of levity feel more like manic hallucinations rather than genuine joy.
The first track Within a Dark Forest has an uncanny dissonance in the piano part right from the outset. That aspect pairs with the complex and constantly evolving drum rhythm in a way that makes it hard for a listener to find their feet. This effect does make you feel lost in a forest. The next track, Enter Our Hero has one of these manically happy and bold segments, with double bass exploring the melody along with the piano. That is contrasted by the next track This Is Fine in which, spoilers, is not fine. We have this lamenting and slow sax performance which sounded to me like a distraught train of thought. It dashes the hope established in the previous track with an acceptance of a sad reality, shown through the slow trills and sparse double bass. After that, the album descends into Goesting, using discordance to make the listener uncomfortable and feel lost within the composition. Empty builds on this with a low hum that feels like the dull ache of emptiness the song is after. The Crypto Shuffle is a brief hallucination of joy, keeping the pacing high through solid and rhythmic drum work. The double bass works in line with the saxophone and this energetic effect seems to me to exemplify the rush of the greed of a crypto bull run, that mix of fear and hyper-confidence is explored brilliantly through the composition. The themes of internet culture and the fickle nature of crowds are further explored in Recreational Outrage, capturing the mob-like attitudes recreated in the 21st century through fast and chaotic runs on the piano, feeling like they’re always about to break out of control. Wood of Thorns brings back the low hum of emptiness shown on other tracks on the album, it doesn't let up, instead seeping into every other aspect of the composition. I think it's telling that despite the chaos and musical adeptness, even the songs themselves can't escape the low hum of emptiness.
I think this sums up the uncomfortable and seething nature of the album, tackling modern themes but twisting and morphing them into even darker ones, through great instrumentation, a cohesive style, and a commitment to their message throughout.