BELGIUM : SERIOUS NEW MUSIC
review page 1 :
progressive & psychedelic music + some crossovers

Mindgames ('02)
Wallpaper Poets ('98,'03)
Zaam ('03,'03,'04) & Opium ('02)
V.A. (A Taste of Belgium) ('06)
Hypnos 69 ('10)
The Narcotic Daffodils ('10,'11)
Humble Grumble ('11)
more links (also to the 70s reviews)

crossovers :
Attica ('03)
Alughana ('03)
Funk Sinatra ('07,'08,'11)
Root ('11) (link)


grading : * ok ** g  ***vg ****perf *****no better example than this: must-have heard
with additional ° some tracks better  ; with ' possibly better for some (viewpoints)

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Musea Rec.                 Mindgames : International daylight (B,2002)*°'

I still remember the group Wallpaper Poets. I saw them once rehearsing in Antwerpen. They were real perfectionists and they had worked hard on their promising symphonic demo. Also guest female vocalist Carmen (from psych folk group April Sky) was thrilling. Then, by circumstances she was replaced by another female singer, who was still very suitable. I suggested that they to contact labels like Musea Records. I wondered if they ever did. Now about 5-6 years later a CD came out by 'Mindgames', -on Musea Records- a symphonic group with a somewhat related style. I was surprised to find some former members of Wallpaper Poets - I didn't meet all members then so I cannot recall all of them-. The group has clear influences in neo-symphonic music and some symphonic "hero- guitarists / keyboardists" style music groups, like Roine Stolt's group The Flower Kings, but also Marillion, Yes,.. It is a typical neo-symphonic release. Preferred tracks are "Factory of Illusions", "Beggars Breakfast" and the almost 18 minute long track "Selling the moon".

More info : http://www.mindgames.be/
And www.musearecords.com
Soundfile : http://192.168.181.250/mps/museamagasin/mp3/342630004490.mp3

Interview with band member Bart Schram, done in radioshow "Psyche van het Folk" here
Gerd Willekens from Wallpaper Poets  was interviewed as well.
His two recordings are reviewed next->
1. Private           Wallpaper Poets : The Other Side of Maybe (2003)*°

Interest in creating musical expressions can derive from different angles. I have no problem at all with music expressed from the heart with enough intelligence in the content / musical sounds. More mentally arranged music however needs much more perfectionism. Wallpaper poets became more and more a solo project from band leader Gerd Willekens. His roots lay in progressive rock, but clearly his goal is not just to sound or to fit within this one category. There's a tendency to sound more accessible. To reach a larger public the sound must have perfect technical qualities to fully succeed. I think Gerd's compositions might sound better with good studio musicians or with an actual band. Gerd's voice and accent, when singing song based compositions, at first hearing in headphones was not that appealing, and I thought the voice part, except as some contributive instrument, would be better when sung on song based tracks by somebody else. After having heard the tracks again on good equipment Gerd's voice did not disturb me so much any more. The melodic basic structure being used in the song tracks still is like mainstream pop. The instrumental parts are taken care off well, and the sax parts are good. The tracks however that are more worked out as a suite, and which are developed with other musicians work best. I prefer "Just a Thought", but especially the bigger track, "The other side of May Be Suite", with my favourite parts : part 1,"First View" (with Tony Decleer, Philippe Posson),and part 3, "When the city sleeps" (with Bart Schram, Ivo Tops, Jo Liegeois). The drum and bass additions and the studio production mixes on the bonus track version of the "The Blind God" song are fine too, with production that gives it an accessible modern pop rock sound. Here the voice has been "electrified". Like this it works as a contributing instrument.

2. Private   Wallpaper Poets  : The earlier demo sessions (1998)****

The early demo's of the group, recorded in 1998 I like much more, because here the symphonic rock sound is at its best. The recording quality might miss some technical dynamic quality of perfection but the top musical quality makes it up completely. Here the vocal lead is done by a female vocalist. It's perfectly made symphonic rock, and these recordings are very recommended. The extra pianopiece, Gerd did send me, a composition for his next production, "Pazuzu", inspired by a painting from Henk Vierveijzer, is a romantic closer.

info G.W. : 0032-(0)473 24 08 35
More info on both demo releases can be found in the information provide through the interview I did with Gerd Willens. Interview can be read here.

PS. The only club in Belgium really interested in symphonic & progressive rock so far is http://www.spiritof66.com
click to see a bit better
Private       Alughana : 3-track demo (B,2003)****

I find it always a good thing when the style of a group is strong and clear, but putting them in a category is not so easy. Most interesting music often falls between existing genres.

This 8 piece group creates on the first track, "Unmachsocks" post crossover rock with heavy grunge rap vocals combined with heavenly Dead Can Dance vocals, a psych rock edge combined with gothic rock keyboard arrangements and clear folk/folkrock arrangements (violin, ..), with intelligently changing rhythms and moods. The second track "Instressentals" is another strongly produced track, again hard to describe in style. There are Celtic Fusion elements, but there's even a moody alternative tension, with a minimal colouring, with the heavenly female vocals on top. "Yan Rag" starts with didgeridoo & flute but then adds elements derived from gothic & metal rock (or how do they call these styles again ?), in a very interesting mix. There were people who called the style of this group Ghanese Aluminium Rock (-actually they sing in their own invented language, "Alughanese"-), or Ambient Folk Metal. Whatever it is, if you like folk, crossover, Dead Can Dance, new rock & metal rock this gives a fine blend of it all. A very promising group who deserves an international reputation.

Homepage : http://listen.to/alughana
Mail: Alughana@pandora.be
More soundfiles : http://stage.vitaminic.nl/alughana
Dutch introductions : http://www.mandala-prod.be/debuutrock/groepen.php?sub=alughana
http://www.belgianmusic.net/alughana.htm & http://provincies.poppunt.be/bands/band_info.php3?band_id=_104
Band pictures from debutrock festival : http://www.fuckhedz.com/item/1827
Gathering Dust Rec.    Zaam : Acid Folk (B/UK,2003)***° & This Is -cdr- (B,2003)***°

What a surprise ! to hear of the existence of a folk psych record from Belgium (-from near Antwerpen-), which is very good as well.
The group contacted me after having heard more often the radioshow, telling me it would fit perfectly with my interests, and it truly did. The music is slightly like the Swedish Roots of Echo, with more instrumental improvisations, here with male voice, acoustic and electric guitars, with (early Pink Floyd) piano, moody psych electric guitar improvisations...
The voice of the singer varies a bit in colours, from more tormented emotional (like on the terrific "Acid Folk", which is the second track on the CD of 15 minutes duration -some titles are written out of order) to a more moody psych.
"Spring and Sap" an incredible and beautiful 70's Pink Floyd like organ/guitars combination, has an almost shamanistic feel, with pagan ? words in Dutch. The keyboard/guitar arrangements are terrific, beautifully spacey / cosmic, but still earth bound psych like I prefer. No neo-stuff here. For fans of early 70's Pink Floyd this track is a must.
The tracks are between 7 and 14 minutes long and take their time for improvisational mood creations.
"Apathetic Bluesman" is a bit different. It is a psych folk blues-song-track with a rock'n roll guitar mixed with a bit echo more at the back, starting with blues and rock'n roll chords, but has much more psych guitar improvisations later on. Here the voice is closer in sound to that of the singer of Roots and echo.
"Beyond the beyond" is a long bluesy spacepsych jam.
"Ketchup met Fritten" has beautiful psych guitar jamming improvisation with keyboards and vocals. New here is a small part of electronic percussion. A beautiful track with terrific playing too. But for what I think of electronic drumming I believe that small part would still have been even better with real drumming instead. The Gong like effects with guitars near the end are terrific again. The organ with a whispers and hissing noises outro, "Way out" (probably the same as the intro "Way in" is a fine ending for a CD which in general is highly recommended. And I hope it will get an official release soon. It deserves it.

Audio : http://www.myspace.com/zzaamm
Another review : http://www.hairlessheartherald.co.uk/zaamacid.htm
& http://www.aural-innovations.com/2004/january/zaam01.html
& http://www.leedsmusicscene2.co.uk/article/2589/next album next->

Gathering Dusk Rec.          Zaam : This is -cdr- (B,2003)***

When Bert told me his group had an earlier release I was more than curious to hear it. It seems that the “acid folk” flavour must have worked through much more throughout the 4 (all 10 to 15 minutes long) tracks compared to the second “Acid Folk” release.
The first track “Up the Hill” sounds like a electric version of Witthüser & Westrupp with Dutch vocal narration –that was Bert's sister, he told me-, and with lots of wonderful organ/acoustic & electric guitars guitars improvisations. The vocal parts in the tracks, (especially the sister part in the first track is semi-naïve) asked a second listen from me.
I guess I preferred to listen to the cd in the wrong track direction. The instrumental stretched out psychedelic improvisations, on all tracks are really wonderful, with organ, acoustic & electric guitar mostly.
As far as I can tell I don’t know of any similar band in Belgium.  The last track, “Go Ape in the fog” is the most worked out crazed psych improvisation, with "stupidified/crazed" vocal touches, and what the hell are they all doing background situations, within control in the improvisation, but also a bit without control, in a positive way, in all that was happening at the same time.. Great !

One more Zaam release->
Gathering Dust Rec.       Zaam : Nature Beyond (B,2004)****

Zaam’s slow psychedelic minimalism builds up very moodilly, but also with what I call psychedelic chords pattern, with piano in a semi-Floydian mode, with improvisational electric guitar and acoustic strumming, and dual vocals.
Also on this release some literature is used. “Rejoicing Nature” recites a Robert Burnstext. Most tracks are around 10 minutes, with some relaxed improvisations.
“Pan on the moors” (18.48) starts with organ, and this time is the only track with member Mark Christopher Lee (from The Pocket Gods). This track has, like before, minimal piano, strumming and electric guitar improvisation, with a slow evolution from one chord to the next like in an improvisational mode. This particular track with Mark was used as a soundtrack for the film “The next high”*.
The shorter song, “Magic Brew” has some distorted backing vocals, and in some way sound much more like a more common song, but still has this psychedelic effect so typical of Zaam's improvisational moody and minimal psychedelic evolutions.
On the title track called “Nature beyond” Tom Vervoort plays didgeridoo, and a young child’s voice speaks and makes noises on the background fitting perfectly with the song which is in various languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese,..).
“High in the mountains I feel your love”. Also this track reflects itself like another psychedelic dream. Both the intro and outro track on piano are home-recorded improvisations. They finish this work perfecly.

Info :  dhoogebertm@hotmail.com ; audio : http://www.myspace.com/zzaamm
Bert : "It's a song dating back from The High Ones, Mark & Nigel's group where I joined in the end to play bass".

Mark Christopher Lee from Zaam made a solo album too. Review at next page ->
Previous Zaam project "Opium" see further down ->
demo  Opium (B,2001??)**'

“From Antwerp based gathering Dust Records that brought us Zaam (Acid Folk, Nature Beyond). Opium is about 8 years older than those recordings and the quality of sound a lot poorer (there’s quite some dust gathered on this record). For some reason, however, the noisy atmosphere blends well with the late-night-feel of Opium’s intriguing music. We’re not talking songs here but long psyched out jams. There’s 8 of them on this record and each track guarantees minutes of noisescapes, feverish guitars, pounding drums and some surprising violin parts.. all in the key of gloom. Opium creates a peculiar world on it’s own. Stubborn at times and for that reason a bit demanding. And like in most jam sessions, there are highs and lows. Still, you don’t come across music like this too often. It’s adventurous and haunting stuff played by excellent musicians on a dark, long ‘opiated’ trip.” Koen Birds

Info : http://www.myspace.com/zzaamm

Carbon 7  Attica : You are in danger (B,2003)**°

On the first track, “Wake Up”, the soft brooding voice of the singer, with a kind of jazzy post-rock style of the band, reminded me of the still too unknown Julia’s Mind Scene, only here there’s more post-of-rock drive. The production makes this sound very spacey. “Sweet Rain” very much sounds like one of Pink Floyd’s tracks around “Shine on you crazy diamond” or later (can’t remember which song now). It could have been a fine variation in Attica’s style, with a larger brass section (of 5 extra musicians), electric guitar, bass, drums. Also “Sober Blues” holds the middle between jazz and softly brooding new rock style. In the middle of the track it includes a contemporary compositional piece that for me could fit with the electric version of “Sacre Du Printemps”, the vocals bringing it back to the middle of song composition with jazzy rhythms : interesting and nice. Most songs are in a slightly jazzy kind of a post/newrock style, with a breathy soft rhythm, and now and then smaller, harder, more rocky parts, and all are vocal driven.
The hardest more pushing parts I personally like less, with "Black & White” being my least favourite. I still should mention “Riverman” (Nick Drake) which starts experimental, and has a good close-to-a-jazzy-interpretation.

The band has a strong, but perhaps still somewhat young sound, with good instrumental accompanying ideas. The vocal/song leads give the band one foot in the pop-rock territory. With the arrangements coming secondary. I think the band has potential to further development the importance of the band arrangements .

Attica consists of singer Amaurey, who plays also trumpet and flugelhorn, Cyrille De Haes who plays fender bass and double bass, Giles Mortiaux : electric guitar, analog synthesizer,and Max Gendebien, electric and acoustic guitar.

Audio file : "Funny Time"
Info : http://www.carbon-7.com/cd/066.htm &
http://www.intersection.be/bios/attica.htm
Review : http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=1592
& http://www.proGGnosis.com/MUSIC_DBCDInfo.asp?txtCDID=13375
Prognose/Prog-resiste V.A.: A taste of Belgium.. (B,2006)*°'

Introduction :

It is a very good idea that the Flemish (=Dutch speaking part of Belgium) prog association, Prog-nose, worked together with the Wallonian (=French speaking part of Belgium) magazine Prog-Resiste to release a compilation of unknown progressive groups in Belgium, to stimulate the existence of such a scene in Belgium. For the moment its is mostly only Club 66 in Verviers who regularly does progressive rock music shows. Both mentioned organisations take all the effort to make this grow beyond this little spot and readers of their newsletters. 

When Prog-Nose came to existence I was a bit sceptical on the whole newly defined "progressive scene", because the new scene of today has entirely different visions and intentions, than when the genre came to existence when there was no chasing a definition yet. Today the hard core of this “scene” consist of much more conservative music lovers than those who were looking for surprises in the ‘70’s, redefining the genre to a degree of melodic exploitation of the previous middle of the road heritage of the most known groups at each stage in time. Most of these so called music lovers and self-acclaimed specialists, grew up in a pop culture and now searched for something else, without caring much to develop their skills in judging first by exploring the collector’s classics outside any of the label’s new commercial purposes of promotion which takes the best advantage of this new born interest. I always insist many lovers check also the most important artefacts outside the UK. For me it is a must if you want to know what symphonic rock is about, to check the 70’s Italian scene who were a country which saved the genre for many years, and search for the generally accepted classics regarded by real collectors. For learning structured improvisation and experimentation I also suggest to explore at least 100 or so of the generally regarded classics of the German Krautrock scene. Further I always advise to check some of the best Latin American items and a few of the preserved Middle Eastern rock examples to prevent people from navel staring as if the cultivated world is English, to check out the best core of new Japan, the new and old Scandinavian progressive scene (especially Sweden and Norway), and a handful of a few other countries, to learn how a musical foundation that was the core of progressive music and how it developed itself with some different aspects in varying countries. And of course one should also not forget to check a few sub-genres like RIO and avant-prog, and a few mind-expanding artefacts in the new (classical and contemporary) music, experimental music, and in the borders of jazz and fusion. If one should forget a certain range in scope and curious challenge to get the wider idea and scope, when recreating and reviewing.

What was progressive in those days when looking back with developed skills to understand, is something completely different than what is regarded as being progressive now.
Most people involved in the new definition depend entirely on the neo-idea, expecting a fashion-like melodic-symphonic affair, even when it’s not even successful in any other way. It is obvious that outside the milieu some examples are not so much appreciated simply because they aren’t really so good or have not much to say or they don’t care to look around further if it’s not hip enough or surprising for them. Progressive music lovers I always suggest to members spend money or at least listen to all the collector classics. Especially writers and musicians should do so, because otherwise their ideas will fall back on a shadow of what progressive really can be. The real core of musically inventing classics won’t get much promotion, but more mediocre new examples will take anything they can get. I’ve noticed how much people that make themselves a fan within the boundaries of the new born progressive scene are often too conservative to pick out the right elements that go deeper beyond the occasional accidental form. I hammer on so much on the complete range of skills, because I easily get bored by the misinterpretation of falling back on melody only, as if one can make any composition interesting to build paper written melodies for any instrument, without thinking of sounds and deeper coexisting contents of expression outside song and melody. While many new groups are rather mediocre in this, and only have fast melodic paper-notes playing with little attention for sound invention in the composition, I consider some of them even like clowns of disguised pop music, overobviously playing their melodies and mediocre songs. Most progressive and psychedelic groups from the 70’s however experimented with all kinds of varieties in sounds, and also very much acoustic sounds. Many examples learned much from contemporary music and other genres.
So with all this scepticism I started to listen to this compilation.

The actual review :

I must admit that the compilation is well done within the intentions and scopes of the makers, the tracks are well produced and the groups practiced well to make their performances as perfect as possible. This can be said especially from the first two groups, Panopticum and Madelgaire, who fit so well with one another, it could have been two tracks from the same group. They both play with a certain power, and with certain fast passages and good variety.
Panopticum uses parts of exactly similar vocal harmonies as Yes, but they learned something from the new Scandinavian scene too, just like Madelgaire, who also used mellotron. Even when I can still hear the groups does not develop their music full time, they managed well to make a fine presentation of hard work to revive a Belgian scene.
Quantum Fantay is a slow move to a slightly different style and is instrumental symphonic prog with a metal touch and some softer moody melodic electronic passages with flute and straight drumming and rhythms.
The next groups move one step further to neo-territories.
Beyond The Labyrinth is neo-progressive hard rock with a metal touch. Their music is for me basically in fact pop music with harder rock instruments and some melodic interventions, the kind of neo-prog I find inferior to the old definition of progressive, even when the band tends towards moodier moments.
Ghiribizzi is even more neo-styled hardrock pop with a simple metal touch. The texts and song content is laughable (quote : “in an orgasmic rhythm”) and the vocals completely emotionless. Personally I think the progmetal genre which they present is far from progressive at all. Most darker metal is much more interesting than this, but I noticed that the scenes that call themselves “progressive” always adapted this as ‘a right genre’.
AmAndA for considering it ‘progressive’ could also be very disappointing. But considering it for what it is, as operatic house-disco with a harder neo-prog influence, in an 80’s sence, it has something attractive.
Also Karma Depth leans to the progmetal genre, as graded up pop music into a different milieu. It has jazzy moody guitar playing here and there.
Last track, by Globalys, I find much more rewarding. I feel the group has a live experience of playing, and therefore has an extra element of moody attractive spontaneity, more rhythmic changes (with a good rhythmic section) and a more rewarding vocalist. The group has a professional sound, with keyboard passages at the right moments, and varied musical theme evolutions also in the melodic fundament, with a fine spontaneous development.

The release which in content is more or less what I expected has made really the best of what they could, but for making a revival of progressive music in Belgium for me it is not the real new thing yet. Many bands, even when the result is somewhat effective, are still too predictable as a weekend-developped skill to compete enough with the other existing contemporary scenes. Panopticum, Madelgaire and Globalys I found most rewarding.

Audio : Panopticum : "Say No More" (from "Reflection", 2004), Madelgaire : "Regrets" (for next release,2007), Quantum Fantay : "Niek Shlut"(track for upcomming CD "Ugisiunsi"), Beyond The Labyrinth "Icons" (remixfrom "Signs",2005), Ghiribizzi : "Don't Fear The Unknown" (from "Pan'ta Rhei",2005), AmAndA : "Demain" (from "Qui est Amanda?", 2002), Karma Depth : "Second Chance", Globalys : "Eagle, Eggs & Bacon"

Info : http://www.atasteofbelgium.com
& http://www.progresiste.com/uk/taste.html
Home Rec.  Funk Sinatra : Saisons 3 & 4 (B,2007)***/**'

While seasoning in an area in between entertainment and serious rock, I was especially impressed by the "rock" side and the good musicianship of the participants, coming from jazz, pop, contemporary and improvised music milieus.

This is an ambitious project, with a concept that still remains vague to me, but is possibly just an excuse for building something up to this degree. This could be “progressive” in the old sense, but it remains a strange mix between non-intuitive entertaining and more serious or well developed musical ideas, balancing on a thin line between classical composition, jazz, and rock, like theatre project into music. For the seriousness of it, it comes close to some French groups on the edge of Rock In Opposition, like Etron Fou Leloublan, but not so avant-garde at all as they are, and musically, like the Swedish Samlas Mammas Manna, but also much more like a mainstream rock product.

Homepage : http://www.myspace.com/amazingfunksinatra
Label info (with audio) : http://homerecords.be/anglais/en_funk/en_saisons_3_4.php
Photos : http://www.mih.be/hosted/funk/who.html


Home Rec.  Funk Sinatra : Season 5 : Chic et Poli (B,2008)***'

It is as if everything which is touched by Emmanuel Louis is turned into a new or more modern form of music hall. He collects the best musicians, and they play their teeth out to express the nervous collecting all that surrounds them. It is like a mouse in the kitchen trying to escape, only Emmanuel wants to grab all what surrounds him expressed by these musicians.
“Mexico” has a portion of the “Clownesque” inflicted like spicy tacomusic mixed with cabaret-jazz, rock and composed music ; -what a strange filled up space full urban lights as if all surroundings became a casino of lights. But also funky, boogie-woogie jazz, whirly organ, brass’n rock are all in the same cinema, heavy like new music hall music, with fast playing, nervous and melodic, heavily arranged, or like nervously speeded up old time music. A pause gives a break of a sudden slower track with female vocals.
The world has an overload of situations where so much is happening, which we attempt to capture with the senses, to a degree, in the end, a person only moves fast in between it, just like the mouse already trying to escape. An extra contra-melodic layer would have made this music completely crazy, and even more serious ; the composer and singer to a degree becomes fluid to hang above reality, so that even when he becomes serious in a song, (like in “you don’t have any heart”) he still is inflicted by the area of projections, a music hall atmosphere, like someone sensitive to the critics while giving all he's got but missing a certain ground to remain focused enough and comfortable to be able to work or to be able to "double the meaning of space": so that space is not just a place to move in, but also to seek comfort and find with that more deeper meanings, while he can only break free only to move to the next spot. So also in the last track, when rock’n roll becomes freaked out with jazz and R.IO. skills a small non-seriousness keeps hanging above it like a remaining false, and projected reality ; the band remains a commissioned band who give all in the moment but will leave empty space, a vibrant nervousness of yesterday gone, leaving a listener behind, after he has been impressed by skills and lots of tickling senses of images, full of electricity. But with the lights out and when the performance is over no one can be sure what was really expressed ; I guess it is/was a reflection of our times, and about how we are pushed forward in it by our own ambitions and even by our own insecurity not wanting to miss anything.

Funk Sinatra is Emmanuel Louis (Mr Diagonal, Garrett List,..): voice, guitar, compositions and lyrics ; Anne Gennen (recorded with Garrett List,..): alto/baritone sax, voice, backing vocals ; Martin Lauwers (recorded with Univers zero, The Gardening Group, Garrett List) : violin, keyboards, backing vocals ; Emmanuel Godinot (recorded with The Gardening Group,..) : flute, bass clarinet, backing vocals ; Jean-François Debry : bass, backing vocals ; Didier Fontaine ( has recorded with Adamo, Deus, Philippe Tasquin, David Byrne, Pierre Vervloesem, Peter Vermeersch, ...) : drums.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Emmanuel told me afterwards that each project is dedicated to some season, with this one in in particular, called "Smart and Polite", being the season of futility or lightness : “My hidden idea with this Season was to drive Futility into a corner. To make it so intense that an unexpected urgency will born.” This fits with my idea of the mouse standing for the wish to grasp all with your senses, who is trying to escape. This situation leaves us with little to grasp for a real grounding).

“What will come next are season 6 "Du sel sur les plaies" (it happens in the center of the earth) and Season 7 "Conversation with God". The basic idea from Funk Sinatra is to try to observe things on each season from a different point of view.”

Videos : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s3NqOWakHg
Label info : http://www.homerecords.be/francais/funk/season_5.php
Dutch review : http://www.moorsmagazine.com/muziek3/funksinatra.html
French description on http://www.foyer-culturel-sprimont.be/...2011 album next ->
Paracommandart   Funk Sinatra : Season 6 : "Life in the sky" (B,2011)****

This is season 6 already of Funk Sinatra's chamber/rock cabaret, and compared to the 2 previous albums I have heard it is his most accessible album to date. The theme is connected with the element of air, so it is a collection of aerial short stories, like going up in a the air, in the mind and literally, in a balloon, projecting its imagination, then falling down, and finding its reality in a bar, trying to see a purpos in all these thoughts. There is no spiritual significance, no God, but still the singer plays the game of life as if nothing is real, just an aereal image from which he is the victim even though he wants to play along with it. Only the quest itself makes the ethereal aspects of this more real. On this album, the singing isn't overdoing anything, and the surrealism isn't overthrown by its nonsense. There is realisation because the actor is 'becoming' by 'doing'. The arrangements hang well together, in harmony with the progressions in the story : electric strummed guitar, piano, clarinet and violin and occasionally a second female voice. The theatre is looming, and the music vibrant. This is well composed. While the lead voice takes form of different characters and the voice changes with it so does the different scenes. This is a 'stage music' project.

Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/amazingfunksinatra
Musician info : http://www.last.fm/music/FUnk+Sinatra
Info : http://www.lesateliersclaus.com/events/2010/12/30/funk-sinatra.html
Other reviews : -

Elektroharsch Rec.  Hypnos 69 : Legacy (B,2010)***°

Definitely a well prepared and rehearsed progressive album with a professional result. Especially the first three tracks, with a long three part on the first track has something impressive. It uses the classical riffs and progressive rock arrangements, having learned from Yes, Marillion and King Crimson perhaps, there's also use of wild sax and great emotional guitars and interesting changes which overcomes the parts that are more recognisable. But even there interesting additions of new layers give it something extra. Just one later song was less convincing and the album for its over 72 minutes becomes a bit demanding for a certain style approach too. As a Belgium new progressive band they're surely the best I have heard in years.

Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/hypnos69
Band info : http://www.progressiverockbr.com/monthnovemberhypnos2006.htm
Homepage : http://www.hypnos69.com/
Other reviews : http://www.stonerrock.com/forums2/allposts.asp?Forum=ap809241559&ID=50541&StartAt=0
& http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/2010/09/07/hypnos69review/
& http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=296913
& http://www.roadburn.com/2010/08/album-of-the-day-hypnos-69-legacy/
German review on http://www.psychedelic-music.de/
Interview : http://www.prog-sphere.com/2010/09/04/legacy-of-hypnos-69/
private  The Narcotic Daffodils -demo cdr- (B,2010)***°

The Brussels based Narcotic Daffodils were invited by one of the 60s psych radio shows to play on one of the events from Radio Centraal in Antwerp. I have seen a video recording fragment of this concert on a laptop just after the event. When I said to sitar/Hammond player Simon it sounded  similar to a Brazil sitar player, he knew who I was talking about (Alberto Marsicano). There's not much sitar on this album except for some intros on some of the tracks. There's an electric bass player and drummer in the band. Simon talks about the advantages of having members from a different age and backgrounds, making the sound more interesting. He's the oldest of the band with roots in the psychedelic sixties. The singer, a few decades younger still fits with that area. She has a slightly smoked at times, rock voice. On the second track there were arranged some vocal harmonies, directing towards Shocking Blues/Earth & Fire, but not elsewhere. The songs can be indie rockers with stretched improvisation for the instrumental parts, often with psychedelic jams on electric guitar or organ (the radio show producer Philippe Golbert mentioned Brian Ager Hammond), with some bass repetitions for electric guitar solos. A few tracks recall earlier, 60s rock. The earliest tracks are the most ambitious and also have a Bach theme on organ incorporated. This is a private CDR only release.

Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/thenarcoticdaffodils
Homepage : http://www.thenarcoticdaffodils.be/ ; official cd next->
Facto Rec.  The Narcotic Daffodils (B,2011)****/***°

The group’s demo made it to an official release and that’s really good because they developed well to a distinctive vision. The free music magazine RifRaf wrote that the band is tapping inspiration from too many genres and therefore didn’t have a recognisable sound. I totally disagree with the mentality and expectations behinds these conclusions (besides I am almost sure the writers of this magazine hardly heard any of the essential music from before the 80s and compare mostly to the Hip to guage their expectations). While the new groups that are appreciated by them have 10 variations of one song, a song that was already heard before, almost any group that is musically really interesting in general actually always combines many influences and not just one, and shows vision throughout its variety, more than focusing on being able to repeat a certain formula. Simon (sitar & hammond orgel) told me it was just the band’s strength to have different visions and generations united into one band. I very much love the first track of the Narcotic Daffodils CD, "Back from Calcutta with... Mister Jacky", just because it has so many elements, a Bach Baroque theme on keyboards, a sitar introduction, which was rhythmically building up the track, then a good attractive rock song grooving along with the rhythmic theme formed on the Baroque layer and a great organ improvisation coming forward from it : very much a combination of late 60s progressive/psychedelic music and something lighter and modern. The second track, "Happens all the time", continues the possibilities of post 70s guitar/organ groups and the young power voice of the singer, which in the past was compared to Earth & Fire and such, which is understandable in this track thanks to some harmony vocal arrangements accents being added. The track after this, "Heels", is more relaxed, still has the blues-rock from inside. This flows fluently to a heavier rockier edge in the next track, "Go fuck Yourself with your cat on the roof" while keeping quiet instrumental improvisations open, led by organ. Groovy.  (The track is in fact a tribute to Rick Wright from Pink Floyd and the strange titles they had in the early days). And then again a relaxed track, “Happens all the time”, always with a certain (psychedelic) bluesrock groove no matter the lighter voice and pop abilities from there. “Riding the Drag” fits with the post rock’n roll hops and Batman surf themes, a rhythmic live song pleasure. Last track, "The Crazy dwarf",  is a psychedelic space jam led on sitar and echoing electric guitar, with some cosmic keyboard and guitar explorations, before a rock song conclusion.

What I sometimes miss on the new psychedelic bands, a certain lightness and alternation in groove, here this band provides all that on their release.

Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/thenarcoticdaffodils
Homepage : http://www.thenarcoticdaffodils.be/
Video : www.youtube.com/thenarcoticdaffodils
Distro info : http://fakto.be/2011/04/13/the-narcotic-daffodils-distribution/
Altrock         Humble Grumble : Flanders Fields (B/HU/FI/CHI,2011)****

Humble Grumble since 2000 started at first as a improvisational “flip-folk” group (as they called it themselves) with members of Dearest Companion (before DC became more tempered as Ambrozijn), closely cooperating with the composer from the Hungarian folk/indie folk band Kolinda. I don't know well how they sounded like in the beginning and I haven't heard their previous releases yet, but on this later release I cannot notice much more of folk. More clearly are some roots in jazz, and fastly played rock until it becomes an intellectual genre. Besides, there are Chamber Music Rock references, some Latin and a few other world folk rhythms subtly interfering. On the first track this is vivid music with a lot of change in rhythm, colour and shape, with brass and an electric band with a vibraphone and the addition of some orchestral effects, this is entertaining with life. But then when the singing starts this quickly turns into a strange kind of jazz/rock/chamber cabaret. The well composed complexity remains, and more and more vocal harmonies are added too, becoming a group project more than a lead singer with a strange and skilful band. Thanks to the professionalism in the arrangements, the band still distinguishes itself amongst the many other theatrical bands on the international scene. (Somehow all of these bands should be brought together on one stage in some event some time or another). This surely is one of the best contemporary Belgium examples.

Videos on http://www.dailymotion.com/humblegrumble#videoId=x4zxo2
Band intro : http://www.mbus.com/bands/genadm/Humble.Grumble.htm
& http://www.iedereenheefteentalent-blikvangers.be/humble-grumble/
& http://www.myspaceprofiles.org/profiles/66292290.html
& http://www.united-mutations.com/h/humblegrumble.htm
& http://www.banddirectory.co.uk/band.asp?b=humble-grumble&t=gent&p=me139rr
Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/humblegrumble
& http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=105532
& http://www.reverbnation.com/humblegrumble
Homepage : http://www.humblegrumble.be/
Label info : http://production.altrock.it/prod2.asp?lang=eng_&id=140&id2=144
Other reviews : -
German reviews : http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_11371.html
(& http://www.justforkicks.de...)
Some useful links :

http://www.belgianmusic.net/bmpframe.htm
http://www.muziekcentrum.be/home/home.asp?clr=1
Belgian bands list : http://www.astro.ulg.ac.be/~royer/links/let/belbands.htm
http://houbi.com/belpop/
Belgian music : http://www.astro.ulg.ac.be/~royer/links/belmusic.htm
with reviews http://houbi.com/belpop/albums/index.htm
organisations, festivals,.. : http://www.agenda-to.com/agenda/List_Fest_01.asp?target=2
Info on fairs, second-hand shops etc. : http://www.kdx.be/nl/collectors.php
(PS. folk listed on http://www.folkroddels.be/home.html)
PS. The only club in Belgium really interested in symphonic & progressive rock : http://www.spiritof66.com
Shop/distributor who releases Belgian prog now andthen : http://www.music-emporium.net/ .

Help for advanced Belgium artists : http://www.kraak.net/nl/about.html

On line booking service : http://www.tsjok.com/

See also more links at the Holland prog review page->

More Belgian groups (except on the chamber rock pages):

70's groups:
Isopoda is reviewed at the Genesis related groups review page
Arkham is reviewed at the Canterbury style review page
Dragon is reviewed on next 60S/70S psych/prog review page
Plus reissue is reviewed here
Solis Lacus is reviewed here
Raphael is reviewed here

links :
Irish Coffee, Mad Curry, Pazop, Aksak Maboul, Cos

see also review of Daniel Schell-Dick Annegarn with Cos,Pazop,...members
on
next review page

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recent groups :
Elton Dean (UK) with The Wrong Object on next page
Tantra & Et Encore are reviewed at the folkrock review page
Nada is reviewed at the Indo-World Fusion review page
Udhav Shinde Trio at the Indo-jazz review page
Kiss The Anus Of The Black Cat at the psych-folk pages
SoySoy is reviewed here and here

Half Asleep is reviewed in the singer-songwriters section on next page
Ann Christy singer-sonwriter/chansonnier is reviewed here
Soeur Sourire singer-songwriter/chansonier is reviewed here
Patrick Conrad.pp psych-folk s/sw item reviewed on next page
Sepia Hours,V.O., Soy Un Cabello folkpop items are reviewed here
and I might have forgotten a few more...
Go to review page 2->
(Chamber-Music Rock / R.I.O.)
or go back to psych / prog music index
or go back to general music index