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A BELGIAN MOR-GEN-ING

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By Nicolás Isasi

A prelude that makes us breathe through the pipes of brass and wood is the beginning of the first studio album of the Belgian band Tiswatis, which has just been released. The melody of a melancholic saxophone introduces us to Morgen (in English, Tomorrow), recorded at North Garden Studios in Kortrijk (Belgium) between October and December 2019.

The band was formed in Ghent and brings together the following musicians: Tis (voice and guitar), Victor Camerlynck (voice, guitar, bass and trumpet), Filip Vanderoost (voice, piano and keyboard), Maarten Avet (sax and clarinet), and Nicolás Machado (drums and percussion). The beginnings of the band go back to the time when Tis, played in some cafes and bars in the city of Louvain, where he studied medicine with his colleagues Maarten and Filip. They set out to form a band. A few years later, at an exhibition, they met Nicolás Machado (the only Argentinian, with whom I played for several years in another band, coincidentally also formed by doctors). After the drums, they clearly needed a bassist, and so Victor came in. Since then, Tiswatis meets every Friday in Ghent to rehearse and create new compositions. Their musical style has its origins in Flanders folk. Tis is the composer and singer of most of the songs, some of which were created many years ago and others a few months ago. The year 2019 was entirely dedicated to shaping their first album, Morgen, now available on different digital platforms, vinyl, and CD.

That little leitmotif played by a saxophone appears as the only survivor in the middle of these pipes, giving life to the 10 following songs, and emerges as a bridge in the first song of the album called Zeelandbrug. It is a kind of French coffee ballad, with a jazzy air on the piano, a catchy melody and the winds that accompany and help to create an atmosphere that is strange and pleasant at the same time. Morgen is the title track. If we think of a live performance, this would be the song that the fans applaud from the beginning and then chant that very rhythmic chorus that repeats “morgen, morgen, morgen” because it has a rock-pop quality with a particular participation of the sax and strings. Fleur D’o is an eye-catching song because of the phrasing in delay of the text all the time. It seems to be a playful game by Yann Tiersen with reggae airs. Among the aspects to highlight, there is a beautiful female chorus and at the end of the song, the best saxophone solo of the whole album that starts by joining the chorus but then wins its improvisation giving it an aspect that could make the song last much longer. De Nacht marks the beginning of the longest song on the album, which features a beautiful clarinet solo. The last song on the album, Slaapliedje, is mysterious, slow but subtle with the soft use of the piano and the guitar. Another big difference between this album and others is that its songs are in Flanders, while many of the Belgian bands sing in French or English.

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The official presentation of the album took place on October 10 at the Tinnenpot Theatre in Ghent for the audience present and also by streaming due to the pandemic. The band played Morgen live in its corresponding order and with all the following guest musicians that appear on the recording: Maud Delbeke (voice), Ruben Schelstraete (accordion), Mustafa Avsar (baglama), Sigi Tooten (cello), Katrien Peeters (violin), Wilfried Peeters (viola) and Filip Tanghe (mix, electric guitar and percussion). They also had the mastering of Frederik Dejongh (Jerboa Mastering) and photography by Alex Vanhee. Even the gorgeous album cover designed by Simon Tousseyn features a faceless couple like the colorful works of Polish artist Paweł Wróbel.

Morgen brings us the best of their repertoire, and although some songs were left out of the album because they didn’t fit into the length of the vinyl (which has a maximum duration of approximately 22 minutes per side), they can be heard on digital platforms in single format under the name Morgen (Extra). In the meantime, let’s let things sing… and let’s delight in their sounds.