dinsdag 2 februari 2016

Thin Walls. Balthazar

Balthazar is one of those bands who's name was humming around in my periphery for the past years, but somehow one of its records never made into my player. With Thin Walls that changed and to my great satisfaction I can add.

Balthazar is a band from Belgium, from Kortrijk and Ghent to be more precise. It consists of Maarten Devoldere, Jinte Deprez, Patricia Vanneste, Simon Casier en Michiel Balcaen. The band started in 2004 and is big in Belgium since 2010. In my country the interest grows by the album and the band is no stranger to Europe's high and byways.

Thin Walls is band's third album after 'Applause' and 'Rats' and at this point in time close to a year old. As I've only discovered it recently and liked what I'm hearing a review follows any way. Reading up a bit on the band I found for example that 'Rats' is seen as one of the best Belgian albums ever. And I haven't heard it once!?

Thin Walls is an album that always has a break on. Balthazar keeps things in mid-tempo and subdued. It excels in the details and the melodies. Singers Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez, who both take turns in singing lead, are not the most exuberant of singers. In that I'm reminded of Gerrit Van Dyck of The LVE. Balthazar's music has the same sort of melancholy around it. From there the music can go from an 80s influenced indie song, to a schmalzy ballad, a mild rocker or a song with an Air influenced, plopping bass. All together it grows into an intriguing album called Thin Walls.

It is an album that does not excite me. It doesn't make me jump up and down the stairs, not even when I'm sitting in my chair. What it does do, is make me want to listen to what is going on and follow the free flowing melodies and the little musical surprises that are on offer in almost every song. That layer of discoveries that come with each next listening session. That what can make listening to music so much fun.

Balthazar is a band that is not afraid of silences. Less is more is the adagio in some of the songs. Right in the opening of the album, 'Decency', the slow strings grab a lot of attention, but it's the fingersnaps that make the song spicy, and the dropping away of instruments that come back or not, that make it special.

'Then What', the first single of the album, is much more straightforward, but adorned with some bells, that provide the lead notes. Within seconds the song is a lot less straightforward as I expected from the first listening session. Look for these little things and you'll find them all over the record. With a song like 'Bunker' there is some real magic entering Thin Walls and where The LVE gets closest. At that point in time the indie gem 'Last Call' still has to come.

There is an odd song out though. The rock and roll intro of 'I Looked For You' is treated to a Tom Waits twist half way into the intro. The rhythm keeps this atmosphere up. 'I Looked For You' is a mix of the Balthazar sound and the outer worldly rhythms of Mr. Waits. An interesting mix it is.

Having found out about Balthazar in an active way, it's time to delve in the past. Is 'Rats' really that good? Time to find out. For now I'm totally happy with Thin Walls.


You can listen to 'Then What' here:


or buy on Bol.Com

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