Atlantic Waves 30nov10: Belgium

Griff Trio was formed by Rémi Decker and uses the skills of three virtuoso bagpipe players (either playing solo or in polyphony), arranged in a modern, though not superficial way. Their repertoire is a balance between new composition and traditional music, using different types of bagpipes, as well as whistles and singing. Griff Trio already blew away the dust of old myths concerning bagpipes; “Pipes but no kilt” is their motto… They play tunes in their particular own style using an army of windbags, tubes and pipes of each format plus the icy warm voice of Raphaël the Cock. With musical traditions as an inspirational source their playing regards harmony and virtuosity in both early and more contemporary music.

The next time you hear a Euro-sceptic politician question just what the EU has ever done for us, point them in the direction of Mec Yek. For the European Community’s value isn’t merely economic; the free and frank exchange of culture has been much welcome too. Twenty years ago, Mec Yek simply wouldn’t have existed – their personnel, spanning the continent’s western and eastern reaches, would have been unlikely to have crossed each others’ paths. Fronted by a pair of spirited Roma sisters, Mec Yek is the brainchild of Piet Maris, frontman with past WOMAD faves Jaune Toujours. His fascination with Eastern European gypsy culture has culminated in forming this tradition-savvy yet musically adventurous combo, one powered along by accordion, clarinet, double bass and drums. Along the way they’ve picked up an ever-increasing gaggle of admirers, including fRoots who praised the combination of “earthy traditionalism and hot jazz”. Exactly the kind of mongrel sound that the isolationist politicos would hate. (Nige Tassell, Womad 09)

La Panika is a Tzigano-coppered brass band. Brass band but not just that, La Panika is the fruit of one thousand meetings, one thousand tumults, one thousand madnesses, one thousand events. Panika became an inescapable brass band of the gypsy musics of the Balkans, strongly influenced by the roms musics of the Black Sea.

Since 1996, Dirk Swartenbroekx is making funky records under the name of Buscemi, one of his favorite actors. His style is deep. Difficult to categorise: nu bossa, nu lounge, house music, brazilian grooves, afrobeat, drum ‘n bass… Dancemusic with a latin feel is maybe the best description of the sound of Buscemi.

La Fanfare du Belgistan: The Belgistan, a small autonomous (and purely fictional) region of Eastern Belgium, proudly presents its Fanfare: an ensemble of five horns and two percussionists bringing the unique sounds of Belgistani music to the world audience… Its hellish dances, wild and mysterious rhythms, and hypnotic melodies will appeal to both lovers of Arab and Gypsy music and fans of jazz. The Fanfare’s extensive collection of classic and exotic musical instruments (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, trumpet, sousaphone, derbouka, tapan, karkabas, guembri and many more) produces the most eccentric sounds and eclectic experiences: from traditional Gypsy songs to original and modern compositions, as well as some Asian-inspired groove music and contemporary improvisation. The mood is happy, even dizzying. Trance and dance come together for an unforgettable experience.

Jaune Toujours: no linguistic or other borders (singing in French, English and Dutch), catchy songs, punky attitude, drum&brass, Balkan madness, accordion dub and Belgian ska.

Klezmic Zirkus finds its identity between tradition and modernity, structure and improvisation. Its unbridled rythms apeal to the body, its soulfull melodies to the heart, its sometimes elaborated structures to the mind.