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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 and world-music.

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

Buy CD's of this band at proxis

Albums :
- Ambrozijn (Alea/Wild Boar Music, 1998)
- Naradie (Virgin, 2000)

Websites :
- Official site of the band
- Ambrozijn on the "New Folk"-site (dutch)
- A review of the cd in Rootsworld
- My review of "Naradie"

Forum :
- Read the messages/questions about Ambrozijn
- Add your message, question, cd- or concertreview ... about Ambrozijn




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