Bert Dockx - Ghosts
Two years after the crash, Bert Dockx presents his new Bert Dockx Band and Ghosts, an album of rebirth and transgression, one of many firsts. Dockx never dedicated this much time to meticulously crafting each song. For the first time, he entrusts a finished record to a complete outsider. Never before has he reached out so far into the outside world.
The relaxed and positive atmosphere during the recordings is magnified in what Dockx calls 'my best guitar playing ever', and the deep, powerful use of his voice in its natural range. 'I had fun making this album,' says Dockx, 'and I really hope it shows'.
‘There’s no escape now/ I’m inside of the storm’, Bert Dockx sings on his new album, the first with the Bert Dockx Band. ‘I smile, I cry/ I die, I’m born/ I’m in love’. Ghosts is the culmination of a two-year odyssey, from hitting rock bottom to flourishing into new heights. An album of rebirth and transgression, a record of milestones and many firsts. Never before has Dockx turned so deep inside in order to reach out to a world beyond himself. And it all started with a crash.
October, 2021. Bert Dockx is onstage at the Antwerp venue De Roma with Flying Horseman. He’s biting through the pain, caused by a crippling back injury earlier that day. Moments after finishing a heroic performance -‘one of our best shows ever’ – he collapses backstage. During the aftermath of this physical and mental crash, Dockx contemplates never performing again, even quitting music altogether.
January, 2022. For the first time in months, Dockx cradles his guitar. One boost of morale and a burst of inspiration later, he manages to finish Blankets, a song that had been alluding to him for some time. Relief. ‘Everything will turn out fine’.
June, 2022. While touring Safe, his second solo album recorded in 2021 and released in March, Dockx enjoys how the songs transform and grow when playing them with his comrades. The particular live set-up with the quintet proves to be inspiring. The unreleased (and unrecorded) Blankets finds its way onto the set list, and new ideas take shape over the course of summer.
December, 2022. After 12 years of living and working in the same place, Dockx moves to a new apartment in Antwerp, together with his girlfriend. A new love, a new home. By the time the new year emerges, there’s also a batch of new songs completed. Studio rehearsals with the live quintet are planned, and the Bert Dockx Band officially sees the light of day.
April, 2023. With recordings wrapped up, the tapes are trusted with US producer Philip Weinrobe for the finishing touches. Weinrobe previously worked with Arianne Lenker, Indigo Sparke, and Kings of Convenience, and is praised by Dockx for his ‘infallible intuition and great inventiveness’. This occasion marks the first time he hands over a finished record, permitting an outsider’s perspective during the final mix.
October, 2023. Ghosts is released. Two years after the crash, it’s an album of rebirth and transgression. Never before has Dockx spent more time detailing his songs Never before has Dockx turned so deep inside in order to reach out to a world beyond himself, has he searched to connect with ‘the other’.
‘In a way, it reminds me of a wild garden’, says Dockx about the album. ‘A place of many shapes and color where there is mystery and danger lurking, but also an open and inviting environment’. The relaxed and positive atmosphere during the recordings is amplified in what Dockx calls ‘my best guitar playing ever’, and the confident use of his voice, allowing it to resonate in its most natural register. ‘I had a good time making this record’, he says. ‘And I really hope it reflects that’.
For more than a decade, Bert Dockx has been one of the most prolific and versatile musicians in Belgium. A masterful guitarist, gifted songwriter, and innovative composer, crossing boundaries between avant-garde rock, customized blues, and instrumental jazz, with bands such as Flying Horseman, Dans Dans, and Ottla, singing in his native Dutch as Strand, or solo under his birth name, and now as the Bert Dockx Band. Ghosts is his fifteenth (!) album on the Ghent-based label Unday Records.