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Carl Cleves

Carl Cleves - Singer, Songwriter

Flemish-born, Carl Cleves, troubadour/poet, musicologist and world traveller, is the author of ‘Tarab: Travels with My Guitar’, an epic tale of high adventure and the search for musical ecstasy (TransitLounge.com.au) as a relief worker in India, antelope trapper in Uganda, recording star in Brazil and single parent.

His 6 solo albums and 6 with The Hottentots, co-founded with Parissa Bouas, have won international praise and numerous awards, including Music OZ, NCEIA and ASA: ‘Songs both intimate and powerful’; ‘a vision whimsical and wise’; a guitar style ‘utterly captivating, pregnant with unexpected nuance’.

’Carl Cleves reminds his readers that true travel is about sinking deeply into cultures and allowing unique experiences to change your life’. Bruce Elder (Sydney Morning Herald)


Before twilight turns to night

Carl Cleves, singer-songwriter, author, traveller and ethnomusicologist takes a different turn with his first solo album in 5 years: ‘Before Twilight turns to Night’.

While past albums have ventured into African, Latin, Celtic, Arabic, folk and jazz styles this time around the songs shimmer in the zing of strings, adding a distinct flavour of country and alternative folk: acoustic guitars, violin, cello, mandolin, banjo, double bass, drums, and Carl’s new love for the mouthorgan. As with much of Carl’s work there are moving melodies, thrilling musicianship, plenty of passion and poetry and constant surprise. Almost one hour long the album features nine brand new originals, two by contemporary songwriters, Julien Baker and Laura Marling, and a century-old cowboy song.

‘What an absolute treat it is. So rich with poetry, wisdom and beauty. A timeless and classic piece of art - very refined - complexity made effortless - in the same league and world as Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Serge Gainsbourg but like all of them- truly unique. This is the real cool - the stuff the rest of us strive for - honest, sincere, laugh out loud funny, touching, heartfelt, true, wise, poetic and beautiful. - ’Andy Jans-Brown – film maker and recording artist

please contact Carl Cleves Music

CDs are $25 plus $5 postage = $30 Aud for Australian orders

International orders please add $10 AUD Postage=$35 AUD




Before twilight turns to night (2018)

The house is empty (2012)

Tarab (2008)

All alone (2007)

Love is a Phantom (1987) vinyl LP

With Parissa Bouas on audiofile label

Stockfisch Records:

Halos round the moon (2014)

Out of Australia (2010)

With The Hottentots see www.carlandparissa.com





Find Carl at




Dancing with the bones

An enthralling exploration of roots, ancestry and the search for belonging, this memoir in triptych form is an original weave of memories, dream sequences, travel and touring diaries, interspersed with the author’s wry observations whilst looking in the rear view mirror from the bucolic pastures of his home on the Pacific rim of Australia.

‘Triptychs paintings and stained glass windows have hung for centuries in all the catholic churches of my youth in Belgium. The stories they told appealed to me, and I have adopted the format in this book.’

Three panels, three stages of a life in a search for roots and belonging, mixing memories, dream sequences, photos, travel and touring diaries.

Panel 1 chronicles Carl’s early life in Flanders, the conflict with his father and his departure, leading to years of travel. Panel 2 narrates his attempts at growing roots as a hippy pioneer farmer on the east coast of Australia and as a music star in Brazil, while panel 3 tells of the discovery of love and the mending of old wounds in Greece, Spain and Belgium, culminating in a cathartic ancestral reburial ceremony on the island of Madagascar.

‘Dancing with the Bones’ is, in turn, philosophical, funny, adventurous, lyrical and insightful.


Tarab Travels with my guitar Carl Cleves

NEW revised and expanded edition 2014

‘By any measure, Cleves deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Thesiger, Burton and Newby. He is an astute observer, a passionate participant … ’ Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

‘An extraordinary tour of wild times and wilder places. I have laughed, gasped and loved every startling page. ’ Jeni Caffin

From the Sudan to Northern New South Wales, Tarab is an epic, mesmerising tale of high adventure and the search for meaning. Carl Cleves escapes national service in Belgium to live in South Africa at the height of the apartheid era. So begin the adventures and quests, wanderings and narrow escapes, mishaps and illuminations of a guitar-toting troubadour in his roles as young beat poet, law student, single father, relief worker in India and recording star in Brazil. Cleves’s page turning memoir is no simple music biography, but rather the travel story of an artist’s quest for tarab: a place where music and poetry bestow true bliss upon the lucky one. It’s by turns philosophical, funny, adventurous and insightful.

Fully revised and expanded, this new edition of Tarab is a must read for all lovers of travel literature. The new edition features two extra chapters and the book has increased to 400 pages It includes Cleves’ time in Sydney working at the late Petersons’ Music Shop and his early years living in Northern New South Wales at the height of the back to the land movement.

Available in all good bookshops or online in print or digital format

Transit Lounge Publishing
95 Stephen St, Yarraville, Australia 3013
tel: 03 9332 7847 Fax: 03 9689 8100
email: info@transitlounge.com.au

Read Carl's Roadstories


Haloes Round the Moon

New CD with Parissa Bouas


The follow-up CD after ‘Out of Australia’ on Stockfisch Records

To listen, please click here

"Brillante Produktion mit wunderschönen Melodien!" ***** Matthias Pack

Read the full Review here






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