Very quickly the team transformed in accordance with the urges and moods of the compositions: Michel Massot, Eric Thielemans, Otti van der Werf, Jean-Yves Evrard and Guillaume Orti in turn joined the group, which would stabilise around four blowers – Blondiau, Massot, Orti and van Herzeele - and a drummer, João Lobo.
As these are musicians who essentially focus on the spectators, Mâäk do not wait for a traditional concert to express themselves, but instead seek out an audience, wherever they may be, on a daily basis. As a result, the project "Il n’y a pas de fraises en hiver" (‘There are no strawberries in winter’) - an initiative of guitarist Jean-Yves Evrard - was born as a sort of itinerant happening which to date has been staged some forty times in the most unlikely of places: a washhouse, a butcher's, a hairdresser's, a garage, a canteen, and Brussels National Airport, to name but a few, resulting in music that is always improvised, festive, and surprising.
Drawn by African rituals and trance music, Laurent Blondiau often travels between Morocco, Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso and South Africa to create new musical projects: Kojo fused Mâäk’s trademark sound with that of Vodun, the sacred music of Benin, whilst Stroke saw the group collaborate with South African spoken word artists. The 2004 album Al Majmaâ featured Gnawa Express de Tanger from Morocco, and most recently the band has worked with oud player Moufadhel Adhoum and singer Ghalia Benali from Tunisia on the 2017 release MwSOUL.
Mâäk describe their sound as intellectual music, but music which seeps into the bones, which grabs you by the arm and doesn’t let go. Their latest project is called MikMâäk, a large formation of seventeen musicians in which order and structure is kept to a minimum and the wind of freedom and instantaneous pleasure is allowed to blow freely.
Photo © Laurent Poiget