Ge Vindt Wel Een Taal (‘You Will Find A Language’) is the debut album from Netherlands balfolk trio, BmB. With its emphasis on danceable tunes (the dominant aspect of Netherlands balfolk, specifically), it’s nevertheless still rich with narrative songs. Here is music old and new, sometimes like an ancient echo from a mediaeval fair, at other times flirting charmingly with jazz.
BmB – it’s not an abbreviation, that’s the full name – comprise Luc Plompen (aka mediaeval troubadour Lucas Florent) on vocals/guitar, the accordion of Niek van Uden-Luteijn, and Wouter Kuyper on bagpipes/recorder/chalumeau. All three are very well-known in mainland Europe folk/balfolk and, on this showing, are absolutely deserving of much wider recognition.
‘De Nachtegael/Nachtegaelgavottes’ (‘The Nightingale’) warms up proceedings, the gavotte’s usual stateliness given a lively twist, leading into Plompen’s cheeky-sounding vocal in ‘Is Dit Wel Niet Een Vreemde Gril’ (‘Isn’t This A Strange Whim’), above the sinuous tones of the chalumeau.
The nobility of wine is lauded in both the perky ‘Les Vignerons/Le Menage A Trois’ and ‘De Edele Vijn’ with its bold chorus harmonies, also much in evidence in the French jig ‘Prince De L’Orange’. This last is further enhanced by the presence of a militaristic snare drum, showing BmB happily exploring outside of their own tradition, percussion being more in the French balfolk style than that of the Netherlands.
‘Kievit/Kraai’ (‘Lapwing/Crow’) feels quite modern with its uptempo, jazzy accordion breaking into staccato bursts or the almost siren blast call-and-response of the instruments at the transition to the polka tune. The lazily stretching jazz tones of ‘Ze Kwamen Van Het Zuiden’ (‘They Came From The South’) leading into traditional mazurka ‘Laat In De Thiemeloods’ have a dramatic, somewhat musical theatre atmosphere.
The rolling accordion waltz of ‘Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe’ is punctuated by a brisk piped melody, whereas the ‘BmB Wals’ is altogether softer, the recorder taking the lead over a hypnotically swinging accordion.
‘Yorkshire Gypsy’, the only English language track (featuring Niki van der Schuren’s sparky vocal pairing with Plompen), comes stamped with the distinctive BmB sound, lending it a unique flavour.
BmB touch down delightfully on many points along a timeline from early music to contemporary. Arrangements are smartly devised and playing exceptional. Having come to it with no preconceptions, it’s been a real joy to discover this twinkling little diamond of optimism.
Artist website: www.bmbfolk.nl