• John Van de Mergel

Sounds | Paulette Verlée, Reprieve


Telkens ik naar de muziek van Veerle Pollet luister, daalt er een zaligmakende rust over me heen. Haar 'neoklassieke pianomuziek gekruid met electronica' ligt dan misschien wel ver van wat ik gewoonlijk luister, maar op één of andere manier wordt ik telkens weer geraakt. Hoe eenvoud onbeschrijflijk mooi kan zijn.


choses vues à droite et à gauche (sans lunettes) verschijnt op 11 februari 2022 via V2 Records. Luister ook naar: For December

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Reprieve means delay, postponement but also mercy and relief. You know you’ve done something wrong, confrontation is yet to happen and everything in between is just a stay of execution.


At the tender age of five, she found herself irresistibly attracted to the upright piano in the family home. Hence she started fondling the black and white keys way before she could read or write. As a matter of course Paulette Verlée (the artistic alter ego of Veerle Pollet) went on to study piano at the renowned Lemmens Institute in Leuven. At one point, Verlée was involved with a jazz trio called One Trick Po. She even ventured into chamber music.


Verlée’s compositions are usually meditative and drenched in melancholy, although at times they manifest some frivolous traits as well. ‘I hate things to be far-fetched, so it’s a conscious decision to keep my work concise and accessible’. Paulette Verlée prefers creating an atmosphere, evoking familiar emotions, creating images in the listener’s mind. Neoclassical music with a pop structure? Well, yes. The artist’s fully instrumental first album suggests that after a number of detours, she has finally made it home. Even though she writes repetitive piano pieces, Verlée does not shy away from computer beats or distorted sounds. At times she even beckons to electronic dance music, a genre she is curious to explore a little further as she is getting along.


The figure of Eric Satie was an inspiration for this project from the get-go. The entire universe of this “enfant terrible”, filled with irony and a second degree sense of humour greatly appealed to her. Both like to colour outside the lines. And so she named her album after one of Satie’s chamber music works, “Choses vues à droite et à gauche (sans lunettes)”. Today Paulette can relate to the works of Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. Closer to home she feels connected to the work of Wouter Dewit and Noah Vanden Abeele, who, like her, teaches piano at the music academy of St. Agatha Berchem.


On her debut album Paulette Verlée is assisted by guitar player Jan Viggria (a member of rock band The Guru Guru), who adds some abstract soundscapes, and the fragile baroque cello by Michel Boulanger. On stage, where Verlée combines her music with old animated movies and other visuals, the latter has since been replaced by Maaike Organe.


As a composer, Verlée is a Jack of all trades. For instance, she wrote the soundtrack to an audio book about Gnome Korsakov (Het Geluidshuis), an advertising campaign by the supermarket chain Delhaize (‘Max and the magic veggies’) and ‘The Rainbow is Black’, a British feature film by Marie Delanote, about a woman who is plagued by psychoses and other mental issues. Yet through all these different projects runs a common thread: Paulette Verlée holds on to her individuality and wants to explore as many musical worlds as possible.


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