Fabian Beghin & Didier Laloy - Cryptonique
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Fabian Beghin & Didier Laloy
Homerecords (www.homerecords.be)

I've been trying to teach myself to play accordion lately, and trust me, it's every bit as difficult as it looks. The thing is roughly the size and weight of an anvil, controlling the bellows is a hit and miss proposition, and what the hell do all those mysterious buttons on the left do? This is why I marvel at people who can do fun, lyrical, adventurous, danceable things with this object that, in the wrong hands, can sound like what they're listening to in hell.

Belgian duo Beghin and Laloy take the accordion to new places on this excellent release. Beghin plays chromatic (piano) accordion and Laloy diatonic (button) accordion. The music here hints at Balkan or Celtic or jazz, but never lingers anywhere for long. Using restless, shifting rhythms and tonalities, they create something completely new out of old building blocks. "Ambroise's Forest Party" starts with a Doppler effect volume pulse and throws in a couple of breaths of the air button for emphasis. The aptly titled "Freaks, Out!" is a rock juggernaut full of what the pair describes as "polyrhythmies monstueuses." The contrapuntal "Half Round" is a quietly complex piece in which melodies weave in and around each other. There's a short, unexpected percussion break in "November's March," a piece with a stately rhythm and a bourdon pedal point.

The really delightful thing about this release is the fact that these inventive musicians never do the same thing twice. They have the skill and imagination to bring a new tonal and stylistic language to the instrument. - Peggy Latkovich

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