Interview Pétur Ben en Pieter Theuns, Knack, januari 2018, door Jasper Van Loy.
Tutorial B.O.X & Efterklang
By Canvas Culture Club (Flemish public media channel). See original social media post here.
YOU US WE ALL
"I found You Us We All mesmerizing and almost unbearably moving, with its hard truths laid so gently down before us. Its inclusive view of humanity, its deft activation of abstraction, its wordplay, its mature use of computer imaging, its implacable insistence on bodily reality, its equalizing of the intellectual and the sensual, its great beauty of sound, and its pink balloons of love combined to make this experimental opera a catharsis, and a wonder and a delight."
Kate Dobbs Ariail, Arts Journal North Carolina
New York Times, Jan 10, 2016. By CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM
Review: Dez Mona’s ‘Sága,’ Acoustic Time Travel in a Song Cycle About Roots
For decades pop music has looked to global influences to enrich its sound. But a few years ago the Belgian band Dez Mona, which had previously been known for its theatrical jazz-tinged glam rock, sought inspiration from a largely uncharted continent: the distant past. On Saturday evening the group presented the fruits of that expedition, “Sága,” at National Sawdust in Williamsburg as part of this winter’s Prototype Festival. For this theatrical song cycle about roots and longing, Dez Mona teamed up with the Belgian ensemble Baroque Orchestration X, a group dedicated to performing new music on period instruments like the harpsichord, theorbo and viola da gamba. The result was an evening of unfailingly gorgeous music that felt exotic and familiar at once.
The band’s lead singer, Gregory Frateur, cuts an enigmatic figure. His chameleonic voice seems to span a full three octaves and is highly, sometimes uncomfortably, charged with emotion. But for all the self-flaying vulnerability of his performance, he maintains an aura of aloofness, with eyes closed except for brief moments of direct communication with his band members.
Mr. Frateur apparently based the English song texts on Icelandic myth, but they were hard to make out. The snippets that I caught — “These are the times of our lives,” “We’re breathing air that’s been here for a while” — resembled unremarkable pop lyrics. What was remarkable were the musical arrangements, which Mr. Frateur fashioned with the bassist Nicolas Rombouts, the accordionist Roel Van Camp and B.O.X.’s theorbist, Pieter Theuns.
From the opening number, the blend of new and old instruments was deliciously disorienting: An electric guitar nestled gently inside a delicate sound tapestry woven by a harp, theorbo and viola da gamba; a delicate accordion line joined in, appearing perfectly at home. Each song had its own texture: Some grew out of a drone, others out of gently undulating arpeggios; another was pushed along by crisp rhythmic ostinatos punched out on the harpsichord.
Tubular bells and a bass drum added a ritualistic dimension to a couple of the songs, but on the whole, pathos was in short supply. At the end of the day this was pop music, classy, sensual, exquisitely artful and unmistakably new.