Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Daniel Schell & Karo - 1988 - If Windows They Have

Daniel Schell & Karo 
If Windows They Have

01. Un Celte
02. Remi face au lacis dore
03. Vienna Carmen
04. 3 Moustiquaires
05. If Windows the have
06. Bijna Zomer en ik loop
07. Listen to short waves: je suios dans ce chant
08. Tapi La Nuit
09. Buches/Logs/Holz

- Dirk Descheemaeker / clarinet
- Claudine Steenackers / cello
- Jean-Luc Plouvier / keyboards
- Pierre Narcise / tabla drums
- Daniel Schell / Chapman stick

After the demise of Belgian fusion/Canterbury group Cos, its leader Daniel Schell took a couple years to reform a new group but he changed direction wanted a more acoustic and third world sound. From his love of the early 80's KING CRIMSON 5this was quite obvious in the later Cos album such as Pasiones) he had learned to play the Chapman stick (which bassist Tony Levin was the first one to play to a wider audience). He had recorded a duo album with Brussels-based Dutch singer (but French-singing Dick Annegarn), but was determined to do something quite different than previously.

In 86, his album If Window They Have moved somewhere between JULVERNE's classical "prog" music and UNIVERS ZERO's more acoustic music and OREGON's unique folk-jazz fusion - although one can still detect a few Fripp-Levin influence, the music has nothing to do with KING CRIMSON anymore.

By 90 his second album The Secret Of Blwch, had been recorded - including a more permanent line-up (including buddy of mine Pierre Narcisse on tabla drums UNIVERS Zero's Dirk Descheemaeker on winds and ex-Magma Manderlier on keys) - and is one of the best example of the Belgian chamber prog scene. The third Gira Girasole is still in the same mode, but the mood is even more jumpy/happy but the synths are more present. Since the mid-90's no new recording from this line-up , but the first two albums are certainly the best kept musical secret from Belgium.

This debut album really sets the tone for the rest of the albums to come. Somehow picking up on the mode of music Oregon and Julverne, this amazing record was quite unique back then (even if by today's standards they sound somehow a bit common) and they were at the forefront of Continental Europe's experimental music (all acoustic except for Manderlier's synths) - listen to the weird Bijna Zomer En Ik Loop mixing continuous loop with classical music (layered by Chapman stick arpeggios) or the succeeding Listen To The Short Waves where didgeridoos accompany cellos and the clarinet. But to me, on this album, nothing surpasses 3 Moustiquaires (a pun on the Three Musqueteers) with Narcisse's superb percussions leading the way to repetitititititive heaven. The "Clou Du Spectacle" is definitely the 14 min+ Tapi La Nuit which take its time to develop and meander through your ears filling them with haunting melodies. The whole thing being ended with the superb final number Logs with some astounding cellos - synth drones underlined by some out of this world wooden blocks percussions, grandiose.

All the tracks being composed by leader Daniel Schell (except one co-written by Cos vocalist Pascale Son), this album is a thousand miles away from any Cos album, but somehow it is very much exactly what you would expect from him. Much more than a curiosity, this album is simply a delightful discovery of what Belgian prog chamber can bring you.




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