Thijsenterprise offers a deeply grooving, sax-heavy take on James Chance’s “Contort Yourself”

Jeff Terich
Thijsenterprise Contort Yourself

On November 27, Dutch artist Thijsenterprise will release new album Lahringen via Rucksack Records, which follows the recent Snits EP. Today, saxophonist and beatmaker Reiner Thijs shares a new track from the album, a cover of James Chance and the Contortions’ “Contort Yourself.” Thijs’ take on the track maintains the off-kilter no-wave jitter and dance-punk groove, with more than enough skronky saxophone squeal to go around. It does the original track justice while adding more space and disco bounce to Chance’s signature song.

Thijs has released a statement about the track: “‘Contort Yourself’ is a song written by James Chance and featured on his debut album ‘Buy’. Mid-2010s, after seeing Thijsenterprise in concert, several friends recommended him to check James Chance, reminiscing his wild and free-playing performances, where anything seems off limits. Thijsenterprise loved it and started to play around with the idea to make his own distinct take on this classic avant-funk track.

“The track is strongly driven by a new-wave backbeat, light percussion and a pulsing bass. Whereas Thijsenterprise plays the guitar riff before almost blowing himself off the track into a frenzy free jazz mode. There is no coincidence that this ends up in quoting the song ‘Brozziman’ by the late Dutch pianist and composer Misha Mengelberg. It’s a small, yet fitting tribute from the sax player to the anarchy and absurdism of Mengelberg, who was at the forefront of breaking all the traditional jazz rules in the late 60s, together with drummer Han Bennink.

Mengelberg & Bennink are mostly known for their work with their ICP Orchestra, which serve as an endless source of inspiration for Thijsenterprise. Their attitude, improvisation, swing and composition had a big impact on Thijsenterprise.”

Hear Thijsenterprise’s “Contort Yourself” stream below.

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