Linus is the project of guitarist Ruben Machtelinckx and saxophonist Thomas Jillings. Their debut album Onland (2014) introduced the world to the intimate sound of Machtelinckx’s acoustic baritone guitar and Jillings’s tenor saxophone and alto clarinet. Inspired by folk, pop and classical music, their music focused on understated melodies, inspired harmonies and the improvisation of two musicians who seem to share one mind. It was described in the press as “combining the qualities of the best of the ECM-catalogue, the poetry of Nick Drake and the graceful suppleness of old Jimmy Guiffre recordings.”
Since then the duo has often collaborated with guest musicians, the result of which can be heard on the albums Linus + Skarbø/Leroux (2015) and Felt Like Old Folk (2016). In the company of Norwegian drummer Øyvind Skarbø and guitarist Frederik Leroux, they expanded their sonic palette with banjos, electric guitars, synthesizers and drums. This quartet displays a more eclectic and edgy style, though the simplicity of Machtelinckx’s and Jillings’s compositions remains intact. In contrast, their quartet with Hardanger fiddle specialist Nils Økland and euphonium player Niels Van Heertum is decidedly intimate, and focus is shifted away from compositions in favour of long stretches of free improvisation.
Meanwhile, Linus has continued to play and evolve as a duo, and elements of their collaborations have been absorbed into their duo sets. The result is something quite unique.
Linus, Onland, Onland, , 0N001 (2014)
Linus + Skarbø/Leroux, Linus + Skarbø/Leroux, El Negocito Records, eNR034 (2015)
Linus + Økland/Van Heertum, Felt Like Old Folk, Smeraldina-Rima,Smeraldina-Rima 29 (2016)