jameszoo Fool



1. Flake
2. Lose
3. Soup
4. Flu (ft. Arthur Verocai)
5. Wrong
6. Meat
7. The Zoo (ft. Steve Kuhn)
8. Crumble
9. Nail (skit)
10. Toots
11. Teeth

The word ‘naive’ comes from the Latin ‘nativus’, meaning native, or natural. Today, to be naive is

often seen as pejorative, a lack of experience or judgement, but in the art world the word retained

some of its original meaning: a quality acquired through birth, a childlike innocence and wonder that

produces spontaneous, unaffected art. For Mitchel Van Dinther, the Dutch producer known as

Jameszoo, it is this quality that lies at the heart of his debut album, Fool, which he calls “naive,

computer jazz.”

Van Dinther emerged from the small town of Den Bosch in the southern Netherlands in the late

2000s. First as a DJ——with wide-ranging crates of avant-garde jazz, prog and kraut rock, electronic

experiments, and beat oddities——and then as a producer capable of impressive sonic and rhythmic

incongruities. This spring, Van Dinther joins Brainfeeder with an album that fits right into the label’s

expanding take on the modern evolution of jazz music.

Fool began life as just a simple debut album, but soon grew into something more audacious. The

primary inspiration behind the album was human limitation and our struggles to achieve which,

while depressing on the surface, provided Van Dinther with the necessary burst of inspiration to

create work that is both personal and relatable. As he explains, “Fool is a product of coming to terms

with myself.” During the recording process Van Dinther became obsessed with classic albums by

Steve Kuhn (1971’s Steve Kuhn), Arthur Verocai (1972’s Arthur Verocai), and Robert Wyatt (1974’s

Rock Bottom). The melodies, compositions, and idiosyncrasies of these works made the young Dutch

producer reconsider his approach, moving him away from the colourful, electronic productions he

was known for. “Whereas before electronic music was the foundation of my composing, now it is

nothing more than an instrument within the range of many.”

Not only did Van Dinther take inspiration from these works, he eventually contacted the artists he’d

been studying and convinced Kuhn and Verocai to lend their inimitable touch to the recordings.

Tapping into jazz’s tradition of playing standards and covers, ‘The Zoo’ reimagines Kuhn’s playful

‘Pearlie’s Swine’ with Rhodes and vocals recorded which the man himself recorded with Van Dinther

in New York City. The session with Verocai took place in The Netherlands, an hour long jam between

the Brazilian composer, Van Dinther, and singer Carlos Dafé, who had come along for the ride, taking

turns on various instruments. After Van Dinther brought the musicians back to their hotel, he found

himself floored by a flu he’d been ignoring for a week which eventually gave its name to the track.

With Fool, Van Dinther has created an album that doesn’t follow any direct rules, an album composed

and arranged “on purpose” that still retains a wonderful naive quality. “It bothered me at first to not

have the same background as most of the musicians I speak highly of, but I realise now it has its own

value, it can be interesting.”

Across its 11 tracks, Fool plays out Van Dinther’s journey to find a musical voice he can be proud of

and which can also inspire others. Alongside Verocai, Dafé, and Kuhn, the album features a stellar

cast of classical and jazz musicians including pianist Niels Broos, drummers Julian Sartorius and

Richard Spaven, bass guitarists Raphael Vanoli and Stephen Bruner, and saxophonist John Dikeman.

All of these different contributions and approaches are weaved together into a whole by Van Dinther,

armed with electronics and naivety. At times coherent, at times seemingly haphazard, the album is

always joyful. “I tried to create something that is both tradition and me fooling around,” he explains.

“There is something to be said for both sides of the spectrum. If we always remain in tradition there

will be no evolution.”