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WATCH: Belgian Family’s 1980 Malta Holiday Serves As Backdrop For Experimental Duo’s Ethereal Improv

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They say it really is a small world, but when two Maltese musicians based in Brussels visited a flea market 2,000 kilometres away from home, the last thing they were expecting to find was a box of slides simply marked “Verstraeten, Malta, 1980”.

“When we got them home, we discovered they were the diapositive snaps of a Belgian family holidaying in what must have felt like a very different Malta,” said Kurt Buttigieg, one half of experimental Maltese music duo Ayn Il Widen.

Formed late last year but truly kicking things off (as other musicians have) during this lockdown, the duo – composed of Kurt and fellow  Brussels-based Carla Said – have already graced the local alternative scene with some rich, ethereal soundscapes. But this latest random discovery (which was perfectly timed right before the world went on lockdown) felt like it deserved something special.

“We ‘remixed’ the snaps visually and improvised to the visuals,” Kurt told Lovin Malta. “Several of the spots are still very recognizable, others were a bit more difficult to figure out.”

He’s not kidding – from iconic harbours and streets to immortal temples and beaches, the finalised project (spanning nearly half an hour) has it all, serving as an eerie window into a family’s 40-year-old trip to the islands.

Kurt is no stranger to the scene; he’s an occasional writer for Italian platform The New Noise and had just this February written an article on avant-garde bible The Wire mapping out Malta’s underground scene… complete with an exquisite playlist.

“The counterculture stays low to the ground in Malta, where political tensions and the struggle for national identity surface in rap, protect music and ad hoc happenings,” Kurt had poignantly written of the island’s underground music scene.

Meanwhile, Carla’s addition helped finalise what Acquarius Records affectionately called “nervous, pulsing ambient” and “gorgeous otherworldly musique concrète”.

For this latest improvisation, for example, absolutely no computers, ovedubs or editing were involved, with Carla and Kurt instead opting for “amplified objects, pitch-shifted vinyl, voice… and other stuff”. Because true magicians never reveal all their secrets.

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