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Talibam!

[original in English and Dutch]

'Hello!' Matt wrote, 'This is matt from talibam! We have received interest in our performance as trio with saxaphonist alan wilkinson to perform in june... we are in geneve with cave 12 on the 7th and at netwerk in aalst on the 9th... we are looking for gigs on the 8th, 10th and 11th ...alan is one of the most bad ass sax dudes in the UK and rarely tours so this is a special opportunity to hear him, and for Talibam! to play serious free improv...'
I think it was that 'one of the most bad ass sax dudes' that did it, I suspect. I liked that formula so much that I immediately took contact with Matthew of Talibam! It didn't look promising at first. Bad ass sax dudes in a neighbourhood with countless sensitive young ears, nope, it didn't sound promising.

'Hi Matthew,' I wrote, the same evening, 'I listened to quite a few of the tracks on your myspace and I love it. But.
Talibam! may be a bit too noisy for Croxhapox. The
difference with Netwerk in Aalst is we have our place in a crowded
neigborhood with loads of people who hate it to be disturbed at night. Only one neighbor loves it. He never came to the concerts, prefers to listen to it from his bathtube. So noise may be the first item that makes a Talibam! at Crox difficult issue.
The second one could be money. Here's one more difference with Netwerk Aalst: we have a limited budget.
Apart from mentioned items - if the gig could be done not all too noisy
and maybe not all too long and if you accept a fee of e.g. 200 euros
(that ain't that much, we know) than 8, 10 or 11th of June is okay with
me.
Apart from that: it would be swell to buy some of your records. So I may come to the Netwerk concert anyway.' That we could only afford to pay a miserly 200 euros was another hurdle, shame on us, I thought. The music I heard on YouTube proved that we could have a top act with Talibam! I told so to Marc and Stefaan, got the answer I wanted and decided to forget all about it.  

Two weeks later I got another message from Matthew Mottel. He said the conditions were ok, as well as the 200 euros I mentioned, and suggested the 10th of June as a possible date. 'Hi. We would like to confirm a date with you. Possible now is june 5. 11
or 12... possibly 8 too... let me know what is best. Thank you!'
The data Matt proposed were a bit too close to the concert in Netwerk Aalst, I thought. In Aalst they would be able to do their thing, Netwerk simply has a first class concert space. In crox an act like Talibam! threatened to mean mayhem. Even though they were a lot cheaper than I excpected but their sound level was far too high to even consider them for our concert agenda. I had no choice but to let Matt know it was a no go. 

'Matthew, well,there's been some talking on the possibility of a crox concert,
indeed. And I acquired one of the records! People who are familiar with
your sound nevertheless stated that Talibam! would be far too noisy for
our hide-out. I mean if I say far too noisy, and you say yes but we
could easily do a less noisy set, then what you mean with less noisy is
still far too noisy. It always works like that. I have a band myself,
The Singing Painters. Without being heavy metal, it's rather
freejazzlike sound, we are still twice as noisy as Talibam! A year and a
bit ago we decided to do a crox concert. We would do it layback and
soft. It didn't work. We were far too noisy. Musicians don't think the
way us of crox think. We consider neighbors, we consider not to bother
them all too much, we consider that one noisy concert too many always
could be the last one. There's been quite some fascinating music places
here downtown Gent that had to close because of neighbor protest.
And then there's still one thing more. We've been discussing that
too. It's goodie good if musicians finally come to the point to
understand that our situation defines a special sort of concert program,
but, and it's a big but I guess: it's not us that have the public for
that sort of thing. We have a different public, people interested in
contemporary art stuff. If crox organizes the whole thing no people
come to the concert. Five or seven die hards that's no people. That's
not a hell of a reason to organize a concert. If guest organisations
such as KRAAK or Smeraldina-Rima organize the thing, the public thing is
far better. On top of that: on June 9 you have a concert in Netwerk
Aalst, so everyone that really wants to enjoy the band and its sound
will be there. To do one concert more, a day later or one day earlier,
in circumstances that aren't the best of cases, well, I don't know...' That's what I wrote. It was about all I had to say. There would be no concert, not because we didn't want to but because circumstances didn't allow.

Matt's answer didn't wait. It fell in my mailbox two days later: 'hey laura...ok! i understand your situation.... my perspective is we can be as quiet as necessary...but maybe that's not exciting then....although our band sometimes strive on adversity... --we are trying to get this tour booked...and some days are more
difficult so any additional gigs for us are helpful.... sunday june 4 or 2nd... maybe is better...? that way we can wet the
appetite for folks that can see us big and loud at netwerk? matt' 'That's an idea,' I answered, 'would it be possible then to make it two completely different concerts? Something
like a you never would have expected Talibam! to be this too. Something
like that may work. Any artist can stick to basics. A gig at crox, if
we have to organize it, as I said, won't attract too many people. We had
concerts with 70 and more but that was during KRAAK events at crox. I like the idea of an intimate concert at crox and the loud thing at Netwerk. I first discuss this with managment.'

They would arrive in Europe in the beginning of June. The crox-concert was planned for 2 June 2011, the start of the European tour. Afterwards, they would rail to Rotterdam and Den Haag, after Den Haag concerts in Brussel, Parijs, Genève and Besançon and on June 9th the concert in Aalst, where it all began, after all. 

2 june 2011 Thursday morning. Nice, no cloud in the sky. Mail from Matthew. The previous day we had been waiting for them all morning. They had planned to arrive at Zaventem on the first of June, Kevin at about 8 and Matthew a bit later. I had no intention of picking them up at the airport, even if I normally do so when we have guests from abroad. I had understood they would travel lightly and anyway they wanted to do the whole tour by train. 
Early morning Thursday 2nd of June. Matthew writes he is waiting for a plane at JFK. The plane would have a delay of at least one hour. He texted that hours ago - by the time I read it he is hanging somewhere over the Atlantic. Another mail comes in from Kevin, with whom I had no previous contact. Van Ryssen took care of Kevin, knowing he would arrive at Gent Sint Pieters by half past nine. Why they would be on separate flights puzzles us. We tried to figure it out, Van Ryssen said he didn't understand and neither did I. Kevin, I read, is on the train to Ghent. Strange, Matthew Mottel is in New York, waiting for a plane and Kevin is on a train to Ghent. Hope this works out. Van Ryssen arrives at Crox. Kevin has texted that he had left the train at Gent Dampoort. 

Two hours later I am waiting  for Matthew in glaring sun, conveniently shortskirted, in a good mood, laid back, happy as a bunny, no one to spoil my day. Matthew crossed the ocean, is in the process of arriving, arrives at Zaventem and looks for a train, he is on the rails, probably arrives even within eternal time at Gent St-Pieters where he has to change to the train to Antwerp. I look for his number and make another call, curious. Someone says 'Hi, Matt'. Never heard his voice before. He's in Gent Sint-Pieters. 
Some time, ever, there will be a train going by and than he will be on the road and everything will be ok.

I immediately recognise him. Crossing the asphalted square, a sequel to Big Lebowski is approaching. His left hand is in a thick bandage. We put his stuff in the car, he certainly looks eager and already knows what to do with his left hand, which he can't use. Yeah, I'm on keyboards, he says, jokingly. It happened on Monday. I drive around the roundabout-basin.

We drive to the alley. He wanted to open a tin of fruit. It went wrong. At the first attempt he cut his right hand thumb, which he didn't like too much. He pulled at the half opened lid. It cut nastily into his thumb. 
In the evening, at the concert, they are in full swing. Matthew 'Mister Snitch' Mottel and Kevin choose the Thomsenroom where Svend had prepared for the performance of Stuart Lynch, which shall not happen in the Thomsen room but in the room with the maps for the Kunstcrematorium. The concert in Crox is something entirely differnt from what they will be doing during the tour. It's a novelty, something they only recently started with. Atlantis, a cabaret-like act they only recently showed at a spot in Wall Street. Croxhapox has the second view. They are touring with the usual thing, after Europe they will plunge into Atlantis.

19 May 2013. Third Talibam! at croxhapox performance. A joyfull sunday evening event. Talibam& performed 20th century graphical scores and modern composition. A composition of John Cage is listed, I can't remember which one though.

TALIBAM! (NY) in concert & beyt al tapes (BE) (6)
Kevin performs a. A what. No one knew. Part of the Cage composition. Photo: Neema Ba.