The duo BELEM was created by Didier Laloy and Kathy Adam, two peerless musicians that have played together many times over the years. They toured Europe together as part of Panta Rhei, but also other Laloy projects such as Didier Didier Laloy Invite…s, [Pô-Z]s, Noir’s and Nonsens. It took 23 years for their musical complicity to finally be showcased. They had been wanting to flirt with chamber music for some years. Without compromising the expressive side that brought them together, they offer us a suite of compositions from where their experience meets. Music that is simple and strong, subtle and surprising, where their breathing and silences elegantly cross the craziest of rhythms. Images flow, bounce and then caress each other before bringing us to this singular world they have built over this musical journey. One can feel the pleasure they take in playing together. So their mastery of the instruments and the joy that comes from their music just carries us away. A duo that is gentle and bold, a long-awaited encounter between two generous artists.


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In Didier Laloy’s words: “At the beginning of my career, I was lucky enough to share the stage with many talented artists from different backgrounds. Then in the late 90s, with everything I had learnt from working with my peers and master musicians, actors, dancers and singers, I began to create my own projects… My priority over these years was always to favour human relations. Whether my partner was a guitarist, acrobat or dancer: the human side made the creation possible and urgent. It took more than 20 years for the BELEM duo with Kathy Adam to come about. It happened without either of us really expecting it. I now think that this human and artistic encounter is the most powerful I have created, music that is at the same time intimate, intense and red-hot. Over the past two years, concert promoters and the audience have supported us superbly at more than 200 shows. In general, I like to change direction at every new creation. Yet here, not continuing this adventure with Kathy seemed impossible. So we had to find a project that would surprise me while keeping the Belem duo at the heart of the creation. “Over days and nights spent wondering about my artistic future, dozens of ideas crossed, bounced off and completed each other. One image kept coming back: a mechanical orchestra to accompany BELEM! “So I investigated in this direction, looking for organs, mechanical pianos, music boxes… When I got back in touch with Jacques Pirard, an old musician friend, my desire began to look possible. Jacques composes music for a magnificent little music box by punching little holes in cards. “So, I had found my first partner! The rest seemed much more complicated – or even impossible – to put into place until the day I met Walter Hus. My visit to his organic philharmonic lab was unbelievable. My dream mechanical orchestra was not only before my eyes, but was more real, bigger, crazier and more beautiful than I imagined! “But this was not all. The indispensable shared desire to create something had to be there, which was the case. Walter and I share the same creative madness, which had the effect of a whirlpool making any doubt impossible. This crazy, over-the-top project just had to happen. I say ‘crazy, over-the-top’ as the technical management of this folly goes far beyond those of my usual creations. “The instrument imagined and built by Walter Hus and Decap is genuinely incredible and outlandish, but also brilliant. Built with tubes, cables, metallic and wooden blades and other things, it is able to reproduce the sounds of an orchestra on its own. Decap and Walter worked for years to bring the breath of the flautist, the flexibility of the drummer and the virtuosity of the most virtuoso of Chinese musicians to mechanized instruments. “The result is breath-taking. Walter and I composed and arranged music that is unusual, a blend of pop, contemporary and soundtrack… music with the flavour of Fellini!”


In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the automated dance organs (made by Limonaire, Decap or Mortier) were immensely popular in cafes and dance halls in Belgium, Holland and the North of France. Just like the pianola, these imposing theatrical organs were controlled by punch cards. They played the hits of the moment while the beer was flowing. Upon the arrival of the jukebox, many of these instruments were scrapped or, for the more fortunate, put in museums. Today, these organs are making a comeback, although in a high-tech form. In Belem & The MeKanics, the Decap instrumentation looks like an orchestral collection of acoustic organ pipes, accordions and percussion instruments that play on their own, run by a computer and music software. The organ’s valves, chromatic accordion keys, each little hammer and percussion stick reacts within a millisecond to the pulses sent by the composer from the computer. Even the wind pressure in the individual organ pipes can be controlled in detail. It looks like a giant wooden synthesizer that enables a powerful modulation of the sound but without being generated electronically, creating sound that is acoustic and organic. Decap instrumentation is the work of a company of the same name based in Herentals, Belgium. Continuing a century-old family tradition in the manufacture of automated dance organs, Tony and Frank Decap combine the craftsmanship of their ancestors with today’s advanced technology. They created a whole new instrumental environment, ready to be explored by today’s musicians.

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