Zimmerman
 be

'Oh baby, I've been around, but not around enough.
But what more can I do, than ask you for my love?'

A bass player is by reputation "the quiet guy" in the band. Until that special moment when he sheds his shell, for "still waters run deep", to use another commonplace. In the case of 29-year-old Simon Casier both clichés appear to hold true.

His goal in life is making music, his favourite occupation is being on stage. Well, near-favourite, because there is also this thing called love in his life. When at secondary school, Simon played in bands for which he also contributed compositions, but this past decade he has played his bass exclusively in groups that already included excellent songwriters, like Balthazar, Douglas Firs and Senne Guns' band. Throughout this period Simon has never stopped writing and recording songs, though, on guitar and piano. He could have released a debut album at least five times, but it was not until now that he thought the time was right. "The Afterglow is not a hotchpotch of everything that preceded its creation. I have written these songs within a period of just a few months, after my previous relationship ended and the present one started. Sometimes the lyrics should be taken literally, sometimes metaphorically. Its theme is universal and identifiable. One could easily do away with the largest part of pop-music if themes like the lack of love or being turned down were to be banned."

The album deals with doubts and militancy, but also with the relief experienced by both parties realising that they are better off this way. "The lyrics and melodies are melancholic, and often contrast starkly, but consciously, with their musical settings and arrangements. Rhythms are often nervous and I really create some guitar fireworks. Because of these contrasts the message hits even harder." Contrary to his previous, unreleased material, the lyrics are much more significant. "This is my first real solo singer-songwriter album, only it doesn't sound like that at all. On the demos I played all the instruments. I deliberately chose not to play the bass myself, because things had to be done differently. Applying a bass-synthesizer made everything in the arrangements fall into place, which created space for me to create different sounds. For these recordings Simon (vocals/guitar) then recruited Laurens Billiet (drums) and Senne Guns (synths). Which is the Zimmerman line-up on stage.

Simon also produced the album. "I really wanted to be in charge and I had this exact picture in my head beforehand of what I wanted the album to sound like. Using an outsider for production would inevitably have led to a lot of controversy between us. The recordings are nearly all first-takes. Second-takes are for doubters. We only re-recorded when a serious mistake was made. We accepted the occasional slip, as people should. In many years' time I will probably be even happier with its imperfection. That's what I like in Beatles recordings. Bless them!" The album should by no means be too clean. The vocals to nine of the ten tracks were recorded through the guitar amp. "That is why my voice doesn't sound the way it does acoustically. I think that is beautiful and fitting. Why are guitar sounds distorted all the time, and vocals hardly ever?"

'I don't believe in Elvis / I don't believe in Zimmerman / I don't believe in Beatles'. This is a fragment of the lyrics to John Lennon's God, from 1970. That very song made Simon aware that Zimmerman was Bob Dylan's real name. "It is such a pity that he never used that name himself. I do that now on his behalf. I don't consider myself a super-fan, nor does my music even come close to his." Unconsciously the composer in Simon Casier absorbed everything he enjoyed listening to, varying from Bob Dylan, The Strokes, Radiohead and Eels to John Frusciante, or bands he was part of himself. His debut album is laden with pure pop-songs with unparalleled melodies and gems that grow with time, revealing new secrets every time they are played. Without crazy solos or innumerable layers, but directed firmly by their 'vibe".

In the case of the final track What Will We Do? And When? the unmixed demo was handed in for mastering, in You Won My Heart his present beloved Noémie Wolfs takes female lead vocals and the showpiece Hard To Pretend was lengthened with an outro melody that could well go on forever, but that clocks at 8 minutes. Which should not be too difficult to extend when played live......

Forget about Bob, Zimmerman is a truly adventurous rock trio with a dazzling debut album.

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