B.O.X.= white chalk/amnesiac is the complete reworking of indierock masterpieces ‘White Chalk’ by PJ Harvey and ‘Amnesiac’ by Radiohead, for two rock singers and a baroque bigband of 12 instrumentalists including theorbo, baroque harp, two cornetti, sackbut, viola da gamba, harpsichord and positive organ.
PJ Harvey and Radiohead hardly need an introduction. Originally coming from the indie rock scene, they have stood out for many years and keep finding appeal with a worldwide audience, from rock to even classical music lovers.
‘White Chalk’ (2007) is a PJ Harvey album with the piano in a central position, which was never PJ’s main instrument (she even called herself a beginner at the time). Her previous albums were constructed around a basic guitar-bass-drum configuration. As a result, the general atmosphere of the album is minimalistic, quiet, constructed around the moody, dark and haunting sound of basic piano riffs. However, through the lyrics and themes of the songs it remains a typical PJ album, with the focus on a deep, personal and extremely compelling expression.
‘Amnesiac’ (2001) is a Radiohead album that was recorded in the same sessions as the more popular album ‘Kid A’, and is sometimes considered a kind of “B-side” album, even more experimental and avant-garde than ‘Kid A’.
Thematically, there are references to Greek and Egyptian mythology, musically there are influences from electronic music, jazz, krautrock and classical music. Most importantly, it is very much a studio album, with lots of special effects, drum computers, loops, strange instruments like the Ondes Marthenot, synthesizers etc.
But like any other Radiohead album, ‘Amnesiac constitutes a beautiful unity, it is highly original and continues to be very influential.
The goal with ‘White Chalk’ was to look for an arrangement in which the delicate and minimalist atmosphere is not only respected, but even further enhanced through contrast and special sounds; the musical equivalent of clair-obscur. The basic piano sound was replaced by the combination baroque harp-theorbo, whereas the full palet of the baroque bigband is used to produce layers around these central riffs.
The singer Liesa Vander Aa, who is currently developing a very active solo career, has a very personal relationship with the music of PJ Harvey. Having done many reworkings of her own, using her voice, her violin and a loopstation), she has always managed to give a new identity to the music, almost making it her own.
The goal with ‘Amnesiac’ was to find solutions for all the special effects, electronics, drum beats, loops and sound layers of the original studio album. This way, the arrangement became an open invitation for the musicians to push the boundaries of their instruments and to look for new sounds and playing techniques. The beautiful and flexible voice of Arne Leurentop fits extremely well to the original. Like Liesa, Arne manages to find a way of making the music his own while respecting the original.
In a more general way, the goal of this project for B.O.X. was to put their instruments and playing techniques to the test in a rock setting. But along the way an even more important goal became clear: the effect on our audience.
White chalk/amnesiac was the debute project of B.O.X. It was premiered in october 2010 in Deurne (BE) and has since played in numerous venues, mainly in Belgium. In june 2012, it was live broadcast from Flagey (Brussels) on the Belgian- French speaking national radio station Musique 3, during the festival Musiq’3. It is normally played as a 75 minute concert, without break. Both records are presented as a whole, with a baroque instrumental piece as intro, and with a bis where both singers perform together (as did PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke for the original).
ADAM WOOLF – trombone, vocals
JON BIRDSONG – cornetto, trumpet
LAMBERT COLSON – cornetto
PIETER VANDEVEIRE – viola da gamba
AURÉlLIE DORZÉE – violin, viola, vocals
SAM FAES – Cello
NICOLAS ROMBOUTS – double bass
MATTIJS VANDERLEEN – percussion, drums
MARIO SARRECHIA – positive organ, harpsichord
JUTTA TROCH – baroque harp
LIESA VAN DER AA – vocals (White Chalk), violin
ARNE LEURENTOP – vocals (Amnesiac), violin
PIETER THEUNS – theorbo, artistic supervision