WÖR: Back To The 1780s

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Back To The 1780s
Appel Rekords

WÖR are a young Flemish quintet playing music from late 18th-century European manuscripts from around the area of Brussels, Antwerp, Diest, and Gent. What is particularly fabulous about “Back to the 1780s” is that WÖR shine an inventive spotlight on a catalog of tunes that has received very little modern exposure. There is a sheer exuberance to the selection of dance tunes and marches that WÖR have compiled for this wonderful set. In the mix are saxophones, violin, bagpipes, accordion, and guitar, which, while WÖR are 'drummer-less,' storm, swing, and stomp like a classical quintet adding a dash of folk-rock to a bewigged cotillion.


A tune like “Imperiael” sounds like a blend of early Malicorne careening through a Danish forest. The delightful “March” romps along, underscored by saxophone and accordion bleats; while there is a military cadence to the tune, WÖR add an airy, graceful touch that all but obscures it. The band's delightful vocal whoops further serve to lighten the tone. “Het Schipperken & Air,” a dance tune in 6/8, skirts in on an ambient, bell-like opening before the swirling pipes take over. WÖR show terrific restraint, allowing the violin space on its own to sketch the tune before marrying itself to the pipes once again in a powerful ending. Another beautiful example of the group's experimentation is “La Lavandiere & La Capricieuse,” whose dance pulse is marked by a distant, percussive beat of foot stamps and handclaps.

"DG 178"

Many of the arrangements have a delightful reediness which recalls the blossoming of the late baroque era, and the band carefully layers their textures. I'm reminded of Kathryn Tickell and the Side's, as well as Methera's, chamber-folk approach; further, if one enjoys the 'continental' timbre of mighty stalwarts Blowzabella, I cannot fathom how such a listener would not be similarly intrigued by WÖR's music. The drones, whether from the accordion or bagpipes, allow the airy tones of the saxophones to soar, and the entire band exuberantly locks into these rarely-heard rhythms with their earthy pulse. “Festa Dies Toto Venerabilis (We Are WÖR),” comprised of tunes from Petrus Josephus Van Belle, shows why WÖR attached their name to this particular set, as the track shows WÖR's strengths. WÖR motors along, Naomi Vercauteren's violin at full force over the saxophone section; it's an effortless sound that belies the groups' hard research and skillful scoring. WÖR are not only a band to watch, but with their unusual repertoire, they have produced one of the best and most robust albums of the year. - Lee Blackstone

Visit the artists online: www.wearewor.com

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