Wish You Were Here
On Jan. 23, 2019, Simon Casier's life changed. That day, his older brother Wannes died after a fatal fall. He fell into a coma and hovered between life and death for weeks, but it soon became clear that Wannes would not make it. He was barely 34. The brothers were two hands on deck. In their teenage years, they sat together almost every day after school making music. Fiddling and toying until something resembling a song emerged. However, Simon dreamed of becoming a cyclist. But Wannes looked so damn cool with a guitar in his hands. The bike had to make way for a bass. The same bass that would later become crucial to the sound of Balthazar, by now one of Belgium's most successful rock bands.
"His death was terrible and came totally unexpected," Simon says. "I looked up to him tremendously. He is the reason I started making music. We were in the same scene together and shared a passion for the same records. We understood each other, musically as well." The coping process results four years later in ‘Wish You Were Here’, a song - no, a composition - that is impossible to remain indifferent to. The music hits from the first second. Simon himself calls it a difficult but necessary record. Something he had to do. He thought writing an ordinary song was a bit silly, but he didn't have a concrete idea of what it should be. So, he started at the beginning, without a preconceived plan. Composing as part of a coping process that eventually took almost four years. The music blossoms open like a journey in which each passage reveals new surprises. There is jazz in it, but equally prog rock and electronica. At still other moments you have the impression of listening to the soundtrack of a French sixties film. The stunning string arrangements by Wietse Meys can compete with the best of Burt Bacharach. Again and again, new elements creep into the composition, the music takes a different turn only to return later to familiar territory. Can you be repetitive without being repetitive? Yes, you can. What is certain is that Casier brings an almost impossible task to a successful conclusion: keeping the arc of tension tight for more than three quarters of an hour.