Clic Music Daniel schell - Dick Annegarn : Egmont and the FF Boom (B/F,1976-78+'00)****'
Daniel Schell was inspired at first by what we know of the Spanish trail that formed flamenco, while Dutch music or beter : music from the Lowlands does not show it’s own traces that easily (in Spain he had a confrontation pointing him on this fact after he had played Spanish music for them). It is hardly remembered what happened back then, because other types of mentalities survived as the voice and as the rulers of certain areas (like in Belgium) to keep different sorts of records reserved for history. Daniel Schell looked for these roots of music around the period when Belgium and Holland were united as the Netherlands, discovering its own specific polyphonic music.
During the brutal Spanish conquests in the North (rape, plundering, murder..the usual) -in Spain nowadays certain ignorant citizens, put Spanish pride as a quality above all and at all times, especially now in this period, after having re-established their country with success thanks to European Community money, still dare to say, with their incredibly dark history behind them, how in that period “they brought Culture to the North” !!. While being proud on their “flamenco” tradition, this was not even part of Spanish citizens, but belonged or to the gypsies (if so).
Several investigations confirmed that there should be a Moorish and Gypsy trail influence that would have formed the style. In reality there was also one more trail left untouched most of the time. During the Spanish conquest, there was established a sort of cultural contra-offensive of musicians and composers trying to prove our own powers of expressions in music. Daniel Schell mentioned the composers Ockegem, Obrecht, Dufay, Willaert, Josquin, Lassus and Monte whose polyphonic skills showed something unknown in Spain. The Flemish people with little restrictions in behaviour and creativity were both named Flamenco (Flemish), like the weirdo’s and unwanted free spirits, not meaning absolutely that they influenced each other. However, if you see Breughel pictures you can see there people singing in polyphony accompanied by oud/lute, with unrestricted rules about who sang which part (ie. normal citizens sang with religious people in public). With no doubt these composers were culturally sensitive and rich.
Daniel Schell had developped together with Frenchmen Dick Annegarn a contemporary vision based upon a further investigation and experiment with its polyphony, in a more spontanuous manner, and of oud and guitar playing and interpretation for guitar. Daniel (like Pascale Son, one of the voices who had some past in progressive rock from the band Cos), played therefore a unique 11-string polyphonic guitar, made by the luthier Cormon-Azzato (with eight strings, the three first doubled, with a scalloped neck in order to facilitate the tirando), and a tap-guitar.
As a metaphor and conceptual story line he took the legend of Duke Egmont who was killed by King Philips II with the support of the Catholic Church (who else?) who established their “culture” of new restrictions, censorship and powers. The Flemish identity was in danger, and because the King supported the Catholic Powers with Spain, all the intellectuals (and Protestants) fled north to Holland and could form there a renewed centre of cultural independence and development. People like Count Egmont tried to withstand the pressure of change but, together with 15000 other Flemish people were captured and slaughtered, as an attempt to destroy this cultural roots, a story which later was romanticised later by writers associated with certain revolutions or freedoms (like Voltaire and Goethe). Compositions from around those days were reinterpreted with much more spontaneity compared to usual dry classical performances, giving a unique inspired flavour. Together with the awareness of history, of an inspiring context and story and investigations of instrumental interpretations, the total result is rather unique, much more contemporary than classical, with songwriters contexts (mostly in French, but with occasional Flemish/Dutch), and independent vision on old music, has flavours of an avant-garde background, helping with the openness of the vision, keeps troubadour flavours, but reinvents then with newer visions, is inspired by older themes and compositions. As Daniel puts it : with a question asked if there exists any Belgian music Dick and he made this journey to the Franco-Flemish Polyphony (The FF Boom), they put ourselves as those travellers of the Renaissance who travelled to Italy and Spain going through France. “I gathered those old melodies from Flanders, and arranged them. I went to Flamenco, Indian Music to understand the structures of traditional. I also visited the depths of the motets of Clemens non Papa, to see how he was handling those traditions and recycling them in his classical works. -there is a lot of recycling in there. For instance recycling texts traditionals like the “Geuzenlied”, recycling modern texts in the motets of Clemens who was himself doing that, recycling Antonio de Cabezon's organ arrangement of Clemens's motets for the tiptar. The whole CD is just a meta-recycling.” By doing so they gave our past a new form, so that this album became part of a new beginning of developing a voice of a unique Belgian (or better said voice of the North of Western Europe) repertoire. One of the best discoveries from Belgium for a very long time.
PS. Daniel Schell later had a fusion band called Karo, did more contemporary music, opera, tap guitar and Indian music. Dick Annegarn was a known songwriter with albums since 1973. In 1975 he had made an album with Albert Marcoeur, "Anticyclone", but then took a distance from the popular song milieu. One of the other participating voices was Dirk Bogart (Pazop). Michel Berckmans on oboe around this time became part of Univers Zero, had also been part of Aksak Maboul later.