Formed in 2008 and based in Niš (Serbia), Eyot is a jazz band comprised of Dejan Ilijic (piano), Sladan Milenovic (guitar), Milos Vojvodic (drums) and Marko Stojiljkovic (bass). As a quartet, Eyot’s novel sound lies at the confluence of the acoustic jazz trio tradition and electric jazz-rock. Influenced of course by the many jazz fusion formations that have gone before them, the band also draws inspiration from their Eastern European and Balkan cultural roots.
With their unique sound and enthralling live sets, Eyot appeal to a much wider audience than straight jazz bands and have performed extensively at countless jazz and rock festivals around the world over the last eight years. Recorded in Chicago and released on New-York city-based indie label Ninety and Nine Records on 20th February 2017 last, Innate is Eyot’s fourth album.
With all tracks captured live in the studio by prolific sound engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Pixies or Mogwai among many others), Innate has a strong alt-rock sound signature with its high-octane rhythm section and occasional saturated guitar. But at all times, there is a perfect balance between the thumping basslines, the complex drum beats, the grand piano and the electric guitar.
Eyot tend to construct their compositions by setting a distinct atmosphere first and developing it as a linear journey with internal ups and downs, moments of calm and reflection sometimes followed by an emotional crescendo. Drum and bass establish the ambience while piano and electric guitar gradually add impressionistic touches ranging from minimalist motifs to trance-like improvisations. Always underpinned by an energetic flow or a mounting tension, the musical quest is both physical and emotional.
Mostly transpiring through the odd time signatures (five of the seven compositions on Innate use traditional Balkan music metres), the Eastern European background to the music also emerges through subtle references to traditional melodies here and there. The solo piano theme of “Ramonda Serbica” quotes fragments from “Tamo daleko”, a traditional First World War Serbian song. Most song titles also allude to old Serbian words and historical sites or to the Slavic mythology of ancient gods.
Under the expert musical direction of pianist, composer and arranger for the band Dejan Ilijic, Eyot is an impressively cohesive ensemble. A fascinating and seamless East-West fusion.