One of the interesting new folkbands that sprouted in Flanders
at the end of the nineties. However, for this band folk music is not the goal,
but merely a point of departure.
"de vier weverkens"
1 min 14 sec. - 146 Kb.
song : trad. arr. Ambrozijn
Produced : Gabriel Yacoub
Year : 1998
Record co. : Alea/Wild Boar
56 sec. - 110 Kb.
song : Tom Theuns
Produced : Ambrozijn & Jo Francken
Year : 2000
Record co. : Virgin
Ambrozijn (a band named after the divine drink in ancient Greece)
is one of the projects of Wouter Van Den Abeele, a versatile violinist who is
also the man behind projects such as Olla Vogola and Trio Viool, and has played
or composed with Think Of One, De Vieze
Gasten, Jaune Toujours, Horn, Ashbury Faith ....
Together with Tom Theunis, he founded Ambrozijn in 1996 : "I met Tom in
the student bar "De hemel", where there are often jamsessions. He introduced
me to the Antwerp music-scene, which was having a creative peak at the time. It
was like a powder barrel with constant cross-pollination. Some of those went on
an electrical path such as dEUS and Die
Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung. Others chose a more acoustic direction,
such as us"
The lineup changed a few times initially (eventually it would
become guitar, diatonic accordion / bagpipe, violin and harmonic singing), but
the four musicians at the time of the debut-CD on Wild Boar (the label of Philippe
Libbrecht van Kadril) were highly skilled and trained
musicians. Produced by Gabriel Yacoub (from Malicorne) they tried to give a contemporary
and adventurous angle on traditionals and songs (e.g. the Flemish traditional
"de vier weverkens") and to bring about a meeting between folk, jazz
Strange for the folk-world is that Ambrozijn sings both in French
and in Dutch, and allows definite "multicultural" influences in the
music. "Our music is international. A wonderful folk-workshop in Neufchateau
brings North and South together. With the old folkies of the Flemish and Walloon
"scenes" this is very different, but the young generation are getting
more and more together".
The press-reactions to the debut-album were very positive. Thus,
Peter Van Dyck wrote in Weekend Knack : "We can be very proud of the new
blood that is being pumped in the old and wrinkled body of folk music these days.
The guys from Ambrozijn have the same starting point, rooted in tradition, as
the girls of Laïs, but go way further in their urge
for renewal. They experiment with rhythms and strum on everything that produces
nice sounds : from Moroccan percussion to toy planes." But where the
girly folk-band Laïs turned their debut into a surprising bestseller, Ambrozijn
didn't go beyond an honorable mention.
Together with other new folk bands such as Laïs
and Fluxus (more "dance"oriented) and the sons of Koen de Cauter (flamenco)
they produced a number of concerts and a CD as "Bouquet Garni". Most
or the members of Ambrozijn are also active in other bands, and all play in the
"folk big band" Olla Vogola.
Wouter Vandenabeele doesn't want to stick to the folk-label though : "that
so-called folkrevival has to put into perspective. In Flanders there is relatively
little left of the traditional folk music. You only have to compare it to Ireland
or France, where traditional music is really alive. Over here, bands such as ‘t
Kliekske have some merit, but is still a sort of museum-music that doesn't really
appeal to the youth. I also went searching for my "Roots", but I didn't
get a lot from that. The band that appealed the most was Rum,
but that was something from the Seventies. With Ambrozijn, we sometimes get compared
to Rum. For me, folk music is a very large concept, and I want to explore the
fringes of it" (quote from De Morgen).
In 1999, the band signed a deal with major Virgin, and went into
the studio in November, to go and record a second CD.
A first release after their step towards major Virgin is Ambozijn's
"Naradie". The record firm
markets it as "acoustic music" instead of folk, but the
cd still contains a number of reworked traditionals and self-written songs with
lyrics from medieval songs. The band could well become what El
Fish is to the blues-scene, by giving the scene new life and fresh ideas,
while not accepting its traditions as the same time. As Wim Claeys said to "De
Standaard" : "Our first album could be situated as Flemish Folk.
But this one can't. We all have found our places within the group : Wouter's jazz
and Irish music, my Scandinavian and Flemish roots, Tom's love for music from
Britany, and Ludo's music from the Mediterranean. Ambrozijn, that is Flanders
on a trip trough Northern & Southern Europe".
Band members :
- Wouter Vandenabeele: violin and fiddle
- Tom Theunis: acoustic guitar, sitar, banjo ... banjo
- Wim Claeys: diatonic accordion and bagpipes
- Ludo Van Deau: vocals
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