1997 – 2002 (5 years)
Paris, Île-de-France, France
- Naïm Amor
- Thomas Belhom
From 1997 to 2002, AMOR BELHOM DUO was NAIM AMOR (vocals, guitars, violin and samplers) and THOMAS BELHOM (percussion, drums, accordion, vocals), both from Paris, France and living in Tucson, Arizona in the United States. MARIANNE DISSARD contributed most lyrics, in French and English.
Before forming their "avant-French pop" duo and regularly collaborating with Tucson-based Touch And Go artists Joey Burns and John Convertino from CALEXICO, Naim and Thomas belonged to bands ranging in style from early Parisian hardcore (WITCHES VALLEY) to experimental musical and theatrical political avant-garde (from 1992 to 1997, in GENERATION CHAOS, performing experimental music with contemporary music percussionist/composer Jean-Charles François - director of UCSD music school from 1972 to 1986- and stage director Marc O').
Naim and Thomas meet then-filmmaker Marianne Dissard (who directed the Giant Sand documentary "Drunken Bees") and compose the soundtrack to her French TV documentary "Low Y Cool". Naim visits Tucson, Arizona where Marianne resides and begins collaborating with her on some songs, which would form the basis of the first Amor Belhom Duo album.
Amor Belhom Duo is formed. Relocating to Tucson, Arizona, they start regular close collaborations with JOEY BURNS and JOHN CONVERTINO from that other fine Tucson duo, Calexico.
In May 98, AMOR BELHOM DUO records its first full-length album, WAVELAB PERFORMANCE, in Tucson at the Wavelab Studio (recording home to the likes of Giant Sand, Howe Gelb, Calexico, OP8…). With that album, the Duo attempts the challenge of translating their original style of live performance onto tape, through a four days recording session. The 11 tracks album features guest performers Joey Burns and John Convertino, whom Naïm and Thomas later back up on stage, in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall, in LA at the Troubador, in Austin at the South By Southwest Conference. WAVELAB PERFORMANCE is self-released on CD through the Duo's own label, NORMANDIE DREAM RECORDS.
In May 1999 , the Duo returns from its first very successful and critically acclaimed US west coast tour (opening for Sparklehorse in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall, playing Café du Nord in San Francisco, and clubs from Seattle to San Diego) to record its second album, the self-titled AMOR BELHOM DUO.
French label ICI D'AILLEURS (home of Yann Tiersen, Married Monks, Madrid, Bed…) releases the self-titled album in Europe and label SAIDERA RECORDS in Japan.
Also out is collaborative album TETE A TETE by ABBC, i.e. AMOR- BELHOM- BURNS-CONVERTINO on WABANA RECORDS in the US, Saidera Record/Japan, Vicious Circle/France
After performing at SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2000 as music festival sponsor Tucson Weekly's regional band of choice, Amor Belhom Duo tours Europe with David Grubbs, Quentin Rollet and Noël Akchoté (label Rectangle), appearing at festivals Printemps de Bourges and Transmusicales de Rennes.
A fall 2000 european tour includes dates with Giant Sand, Calexico, the release of tour-only CD, ANY TIME ANY WAY, and the music video for title "Pulling On A Cig", directed by Marianne, appearing on French music channels MCM and M6.
Invited back at SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2001, Amor Belhom Duo then heads back to Europe for a six countries tour, in support of the release by Ici d'Ailleurs of album WAVELAB (the reproduced, remixed, remastered version of the original 1998 Wavelab Performance, the Duo's first album). Later that spring, the release of albums Wavelab and Amor Belhom Duo by Chicago-based label CARROT TOP is followed by a US tour opening for labelmates Handsome Family.
Amor Belhom Duo collaborates with Valerie Leulliot from French band Autour de Lucie on a live album, recorded in Tucson at Solar Culture by Jim Waters. The album, LIVE IN TUCSON, is released by Ici D'Ailleurs in Europe.
Amor Belhom Duo opens for French pop star MIOSSEC in France and disbands after that tour. NAIM and THOMAS start solo careers, under their respective names and on their respective sides of the Atlantic, while, in 2005, MARIANNE begins singing under the helm of Joey Burns.
"Dark, tropical, tribal pop, Naim Amor and Thomas Belhom's Amor Belhom Duo is hauntingly beautiful, capable of capturing you with spooky, mystical singer-songwriter pop with a French twist one minute and stun you with jazzy, tropical tribal experimentation the next. This is a diverse album, one that is hard to get into at first. But as soon as you listen to it enough, you'll be so mesmerized, it will flow, eloquently, from style to style, track to track. And it is because of that this album will become a long lasting favorite in your collection. I'll give it an A-."(Alex Steininger)
"Dark singer-songwriter folk-pop with a French accent, Amor's ability to make you swoon over the weeping melodies, eerily crafted and beautifully composed, and Belhom's percussion spike, which uplifts the music beyond guitars and vocals, are both gifts that flourish on this album. A strong start to finish collection of glorious, oft-lush, somewhat minimal compositions, Amor and Belhom can get a sitting room standing and a standing room sitting with their European pop meets American rock-folk combination. I'll give it an A.
The music the duo plays now is both experimental and improvisational. Over the 10 years they have known each other Thomas Belhom (percussion's, drums, accordion and voice) and Naim Amor (guitar, voice, violin, sampler) have created a deep bond that can be felt in their music. After travelling all over the world they have settled down in Tucson (Arizona) but they haven't given up on crossing borders. Instead of crossing physical boundaries they are now crossing musical boundaries. Their creations, diving deep in their experiences, are based on a musical dialogue that evolves from improvisations to songs. Nothing seems to be fixed in their world, hence the difficulty to really define what they do. Is it country ? is it punk ? is it pop ? is it jazz ? It is a little bit of everything, it is Amor Belhom Duo.
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