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Wiga Waga

by An Pierlé Quartet

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Saturn 05:20
Slow Down 04:03
Fingerspitz 06:30
Unreal 02:26
Go On 06:14
Unreal 2 02:54
Lantern 04:23


Hot on the heels of solo concerts to commemorate the 20th birthday of her debut album Mud Stories, An Pierlé returns with a brand new Quartet album that proves that looking back was no retro exercise. Together with life/musical partner Koen Gisen and jazz youngsters Hendrik Lasure & Casper Van De Velde (schntzl, warm bad, Bombataz,...) she now presents Wiga Waga, an adventurous new album that juggles playfulness and experimentalism.

The songs sound familiar and bear the Pierlé mark, even though they uncover hereto unexplored territory. Inspired by a newly-found enthusiasm and inquisitive spirit, the musicians came up with a batch of songs that revisit familiar themes and atmospheres, but dress them up with an invigorating eclecticism. Working as a real ‘band’, the quartet sets out for a new, collective identity. It is not jazz in the classic sense, but it contains the imagination, freedom and constant renewal of the genre, and it works like a charm.

Some history

Pierlé made her entrance through the gates of the 1996 edition of Humo’s Rock Rally. Even though it would take a few years to come up with her debut album, the press and public immediately recognised the emergence of major new talent. Over the next two decades, Pierlé assembled a richly varied and consistently praised oeuvre that cements her status as one of our finest singer-songwriters.

A crucial turning point came in 2017, when Pierlé was granted a residency at the local museum for contemporary art (S.M.A.K.) to work with improvisation. And then serendipity struck: as she was exploring, Hendrik Lasure and Casper Van De Velde were recording their debut album in Koen Gisen’s studio. The past few years, these two musicians have become some of the key players of Belgium’s indomitable music scene, taking on a diversity of styles with a refreshing and adventurous approach. The four immediately bonded over meals and laughs and planned to work together someday.

That opportunity arrived unexpectedly soon, when the Quartet was asked to provide the music for Sylvia, a musical opera by the Théâtre National. Sylvia was a meditation on the life of poet and feminist Sylvia Plath and a multi-disciplinary enterprise merging theatre with film and music. Even within a strict format, it allowed the musicians to find common ground and work on a new language, captured on a limited LP.

Wiga Waga

Sylvia seeps over into Wiga Waga, but this album is an independent statement, disbanding the more theatrical sound for a cohesive story that feels like a balancing act between experimental pop music and genre-bending jazz. In the comfortable surroundings of Studio La Patrie, the musicians developed an album that contains all of Pierlé’s trademarks and places them into a new context. It’s also obvious there’s a real band at work, one that sculpts and refines by taking the songs to the stage, or starts from improvised ideas.

And if “Saturn” kicks off the album with ominous sounds bubbling up from the piano’s lowest register, Wiga Waga also allows some light to come in. It is to be found in the eccentric arrangements, the teasing/quirky contributions from Lasure, the free-form coloring of Van De Velde and the striking reed parts of Gisen, straddling the line between captivating repetition, near-delirious ecstasy and gentle dissonance.

The compositions sometimes threaten to derail, but they never do. Throbbing pulses, irresistibly catchy ideas (“Slippery Fish”!) and playful colors make sure this mirror palace of an album retains its dreamlike character. Sometimes it feels as if you’re in a parallel or underwater universe, where the ethereal “Slow Down”, the calm eye of the storm “Fingerspitz”, and the intense incantation of “Go On” are all connected to a larger whole.

The result is not so much a rebirth for Pierlé, as the emergence of a new band that makes its entrance with a fully-realised album and sound. Pierlé, Gisen, Lasure and Van De Velde have succeeded in creating something beautiful that is both challenging and tantalising, for the audience and for themselves. “Would you walk my way?”, Pierlé asks in “Unreal”. Who would want to miss this?

The LP version closes with the Quartet’s new take on “Imaginary Summer”. The CD version adds “Unreal 2” and “Lantern”.


released January 29, 2021

An Pierlé: piano, vocals, trombone & trumpet
Koen Gisen: sax, bass clarinet & vocals
Hendrik Lasure: synths, piano & vocals
Casper Van De Velde: drums

All lyrics written by An Pierlé
All tracks recorded live with only minimal overdubs, produced & mixed by Koen Gisen at La Patrie, Ghent, August 2020
Recording assistant: Bram Vanparys
Mastered by Gert Van Hoof at Cochlea Mastering

Excecutive Production by Benny Claeysier for W.E.R.F. records / KAAP
(c) + (p) 2021 Helicopter / W.E.R.F.


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An Pierlé Quartet Ghent, Belgium

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