NEW ALBUM | Ão - Ao Mar
No-one sounds quite like Ão, the Belgian fourpiece that in just a matter of months went from well kept secret to sparkling jewel in the crown of Belgian music. Frontwoman Brenda Corijn, Siebe Chau, Jolan Decaestecker and Bert Peyffers masterfully blend saudade, indie, electronica, global and folk into a unique sound that not only appeals to an ever-growing fanbase, but also receives widespread praise and extensive airplay on radio and streaming services. Their debut album ‘Ao Mar’ (‘To the sea’) is out now.
Recorded partly in Belgium and partly in Portugal, ‘Ao Mar’ follows the undercurrent of the sea with its vast, timeless, and rugged character, yet also its reassuringly calming presence and immense healing power. Themes include how it feels to be a woman, the longing for both distance and closeness, and of course saudade, the Portuguese/Brazilian feeling of melancholy, nostalgia and longing. ‘And just like the sea, sometimes I’m ebb, and sometimes I’m flow’, Corijn explains.
Musically, comparisons inevitably point to Madredeus and Lhasa De Sela, or more recently FKA Twigs, Arooj Aftab and James Blake. But Ão is very much a band with its own sound, making ingenious, multifaceted tracks and captivating acoustic songs. Corijn entwines her warm voice with Chau’s southern guitar, Decaestecker’s ambient sounds and Peyffers’ eclectic percussion, drawing on her Mozambican-Portuguese roots for her lyrics. Other sources of inspiration include tales of her mother, a trip to Morocco, Elena Ferrante’s acclaimed novel My Brilliant Friend and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.
The fresh summer vibes of single ‘Meninas’ kick off the album, followed by the chilling synth theme of outright classic ‘Mulher’. ‘Avó’ is heart-warming and clever electronica, ‘Crowd’ and ‘Guardar’ show that the band can be intimate as well, and songs like ‘Vazio’ and ‘More’ exhibit the very essence of Ão: intoxicating lyrics bathing in an overwhelming blend of saudade, electronica and indie. ‘Ao Mar’ is a breathtaking debut album, taking you on a marvellous trip along Ão’s vast soundscape.
If the album is already impressive, live Ão is something else, a mind-blowing and immersive experience, as showcased on various summer festival stages. Now they’re getting ready for the tour supporting the release of ‘Ao Mar’, playing amazing venues in Belgium later this year, and hitting the rest of the European roads in 2024.