Popular music told through the voices of those that many don’t often listen to.
Consisting of four musicians with mental disabilities and their mentor, the Belgian-based Wild Classical Music Ensemble try to match the challenges and exhilarations of existence through music. They thrive by taking convention into their own hands. Like punks, no-wavers and experimental musicians before them, they take liberties with volume, rhythm and tone. Songs expand and contract with the lack of restraint you might expect from a jam session, which they often resemble thanks to their lo-fi sensibilities.
The group’s latest LP, Tout Va Bien Se Passer (Everything Will Be Alright), falls somewhere in the middle ground between their bombastic self-titled debut and the more relaxed Tapping Is Clapping. Over the course of just seven tracks, the group takes you through various sides of rock ‘n’ roll, from mosh-pit tempos (“Bande De …”) to no-wave strangeness (“Oorlog”).
A track such as the opening “Train Station” incorporates vocals that sound as if they’re coming from an electrolarynx layered atop the drone of a train whistle, which only grows more powerful as the track continues on. Midway through, the beat bottoms out and a new singular voice chants in the emptiness. Slowly, the track rebuilds itself anew using the same elements as before but channels them into a sense of urgency.
The following six tracks all adhere to this same sense of uninhibited experimentation, letting many of them stretch far past the four-minute mark. Even a shorter track like “Bande De …” wriggles free of its 3:17 runtime to transform from a mosh pit number into a heavier, more metal sounding moment to eventually return to breakneck speed at the end. Meanwhile, the lumbering no-wave of “Family Houden” develops a bit of momentum with the help of a hi-hat. Along the way, the band sprinkles bits and pieces of reverberating electronic elements and the aforementioned train whistle from the opener. The finale of shiny, major key synths signifies the movement as a triumphant one.
As experimental as it gets, Tout Va Bien Se Passer never loses sight of the beat or danceable elements everyone wants to hear from a band. The rumbling guitar riffs of “Ik Ben Blij” pair nicely with Linh Pahm’s droning voice, which finds a helping hand in the form of Sébastien Faidherbe shouting “Je suis heureux!” (“I am happy!”). Though it starts off with a collection of vibrating synths and vocals, “Oorlog” renovates itself into a lovely, easygoing beach rock number perfect for the relaxing, late days of summer. Not ones to end on a downer, the group finish with the upbeat and resilient “Carapace,” featuring some of Faidherbe’s most melodic singing and, by its end, a wonderfully energetic kick drum.
Rather than ignoring or drowning out the negatives and obstacles of daily life, Tout Va Bien Se Passer chooses to fool around with it instead. In doing so, the band created a truly innovative album that still manages to stay relatively accessible. It’s popular music told through the voices of those that many don’t often listen to, allowing you to experience “pop” from a fresh perspective. Will everything be alright in the end? That remains to be seen, but at least acts like Wild Classical Music Ensemble have found a way to make things right in the heat of the moment.