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La Crapaude
Gote d'we
Review by Cliff Furnald

Listen "Maleurs D'one Feume Marieye"

First, please join me in learning a little about the Wallonia and Walloon, a place and a culture in southern Belgium that shares borders with Flanders (Belgium), France, and Germany. Wallonia is the poorer cousin of Flanders and Brussels, economically and politically, but covers a bit more than half of the country's territory. Its residents speak their own distinct Romance language, Walloon, as well as French. Perhaps most descriptive is that the name itself is rooted a Germanic word meaning "the strangers"?

Listen "Su L'voye Di Mwin-Ni"

Gote dwe opens with what seems to be an electronic wind but it quickly becomes clear it is human breath. This breathing is overlaid first by a single female voice, then a full chorus, creating a rhythm and a polyphonic melody as they sing Su L'voye Di Mwin-Ni.

On the crests of the Mesnil road
The wind howls like a fury
On the crests of the Mesnil road
The black wind chills you

La Crapaude (the girlfriend, in dialect) are joined by rough, simple percussion instruments. Suddenly, you are immersed in the wonders of the Walloon tradition, sung not as traditionalist re-creation, but as living contemporary vocal music. Charlotte Haag, Sabine Lambot, Pascale Sepulchre and Marie Vander Elst, accompanied by percussionist Max Charue, delve into the folk tales of Wallonia and present them in rich harmonies, punctured by hands clapping, sticks clacking.

Listen "Harbouya"

A standout among this excellent set of tracks is the aggressive and slightly chaotic Harbouya, with voices ricocheting about the main melody. The percussion is more to the forefront, adding a little extra tension to a song about poor Harbouya, who is ill and will die.

Listen "Il-Est Tans D'dormi"

That is followed by a lullaby, Il-Èst Tans D'dormi. Like so many goodnight songs around the world, it tells a tale much more dire than it's soothing sounds would imply.

It is time to sleep
Or the ants they will come here
They will go all over your head

And they are dirty beasts.
Quickly, close your eyes
And go to sleep, my son.

It ends with the voices slowly giving way to bleating sheep and giggles.

Throughout Gote dwe (A Drop of Water), there are surprises and delights, songs that owe as much to 20th Century art music in their structure as they do 18th Century Walloon folk song in their energy. - Cliff Furnald


Gote d'we is RootsWorld's Music of the Month selection for November, 2020
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