Deep down, everyone has a dream. For most young musicians, it’s to record and release an album. That was Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis’ dream in the spring of 1977. They  had recently formed a new band, Aksak Maboul, and were determined to record and release an album. So Aksak Maboul entered the studio in April 1977 and began recording their debut album.

The resultant album was Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine, which was recently reissued on vinyl by Crammed Discs, the label Marc Hollander founded in 1981. Thirty-four years later, and Crammed Discs is still going strong, and releasing groundbreaking music, including Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine, which was recorded over two months in the spring of 1977.

By then, Aksak Maboul were a trio. The latest member of Aksak Maboul was percussionist and keyboardist Chris Joris. He was the son of Belgian opera singer Jan Joris. Chris would play keyboards and soprano saxophone. Marc Hollander a true multi-instrumentalist, played played keyboards, percussion, xylophone, mandolin, alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet and programmed the drum machine. Vincent Kenis was equally versatile musically. Seamlessly, he switched between accordion, bass, guitar, slide guitar, keyboards and percussion. Between the three members of Aksak Maboul, they had all bases covered when the recording began.

Aksak Maboul’s debut album was an ambitious project. It featured seventeen tracks. Marc Hollander wrote eleven of the tracks and cowrote another three. This included Vapona, Not Glue and Glympz with Vincent Kenis. Comme On A Dit was Marc’s collaboration with Chris Joris. Augmenting the the tracks penned by three members of Aksak Maboul, were a trio of cover versions. Paolo Radoni Milano Per Caso, Duke Ellington’s The Mooche and the traditional song Ciobane, which Marc arranged were an interesting and eclectic selection. This was typical of Aksak Maboul. They were determined to plough their own furrow.

Unlike most new groups about to record their debut album, Aksak Maboul decided to record without a producer. That was a brave move. For most young groups, a producer is vital, and is able to guide them through the maze that’s recording an album. Recording an album isn’t easy. It’s full of pitfalls. That didn’t bother the members of Aksak Maboul. Through April and May, they worked on their debut album. The studio, which was littered with musical instruments, was more like a laboratory, where a musical experiment took place.

Onlookers watched incredulously as the three members of Aksak Maboul fused disparate and unlikely musical genres. That proved to be the case. Everything from avant garde to African music was rubbing shoulders with Balkan, experimental and electronica on Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine. So were free jazz, rock and proto techno. That happily sat side-by-side with American minimalist, jazz and early twentieth century classical music. Aksak Maboul had cast their net far and wide for inspiration. 

It was as if the three young musicians were delving into the furthest corners of their respective record collections. The influence of minimalist composer and pianist Erik Satie could be heard. So could avant garde composers like Tony Conrad, Jon Gibson, Frans Geysen and Terry Riley. Brian Eno, who had pioneered and popularised ambient music, was another influence on Aksak Maboul. Another important influence were the free jazz musicians of the sixties. 

Sun Ra, Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman seem to have been a starting point for Aksak Maboul. These pioneers of what in the sixties was referred to as energy music, seemed to have inspired Aksak Maboul. They then embark on what’s akin to a journey without a map. This brave and adventurous approach worked for Aksak Maboul, as they continue to combine musical genres and influences.

Rock pioneers Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground both seem to have influenced  Aksak Maboul. These were just the latest influences the three musical magpies combined. They drew inspiration from countless sources, and then turned it into something totally different. Often, that wasn’t the end of this ambitious musical experiment.  This musical mosaic was then deconstructed, and incredibly, seamlessly became something totally different and innovative. Astonished onlookers watched as the three musical alchemists worked their magic on their debut album. It was finished in May 1977 and became Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine. Some onlookers wondered what the outcome of the last two months would be? 

By then, onlookers realised that Aksak Maboul were no ordinary band. It was obvious even to the casual observer that Aksak Maboul were musical pioneers. They dared to go where other bands feared to tread. Aksak Maboul it seemed, were determined to challenge musical norms and push boundaries to their limits. Onlookers speculated how this would turn out?

By then, there were two schools of thoughts on what the outcome would be. Either Aksak Maboul would either crash and burn or create a groundbreaking album. Someone was bound to be proved right.

Before Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine was released in the summer of 1977, critics had their say on Aksak Maboul’s debut album. The album was hailed as ambitious, imaginative and innovative. Some critics went even further, describing Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine as a masterpiece. With critical acclaim ringing in their ears, Aksak Maboul released their avant-pop classic, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine.

Later in the summer of 1977, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine, which translates to Eleven Dances For Fighting Migraines, was released on the Belgian independent label Kamikaze Records. However, Aksak Maboul’s debut wasn’t solely credited to the band. Instead, the album was credited to Marc Hollander/Aksak Maboul. There was a reason for this. 

Much of the music on Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine was the work of Marc Hollander. So it seemed fair that he received much of the credit for what is now regarded as a seminal album, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine.

When Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine was released, it wasn’t a huge success. That wasn’t surprising. Kamikaze Records was only a small independent label. It neither had the budget to promote the album, nor get Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine into the major record shops. However, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migrain became a cult album, and set the bar high for future avant-pop albums. They were always compared to Marc Hollander/Aksak Maboul’s genre classic.

So was Aksak Maboul’s sophomore album Un Peu de l’Âme des Bandits. It was released in January 1980, nearly three years after Aksak Maboul’s debut album. Since then, much had changed, including Aksak Maboul’s lineup.

Both Vincent Kenis and Chris Joris had left the band. The only original member of the band was Marc Hollander. They had been replaced by an expanded lineup of Aksak Maboul. However, they were determined to  continue their mission to innovate. 

When Critics heard Un Peu de l’Âme des Bandits, they were won over by another album of ambitious, eclectic and innovative music. Aksak Maboul’s lineup may have changed, but they were still pushing musical boundaries. It was exciting times for Aksak Maboul. 

They had just signed to a new label, Crammed Discs. It had been formed in 1980 by Marc Hollander. Un Peu de l’Âme des Bandits was one of Crammed Discs’ first releases. Since then, Crammed Discs have released over 250 albums. This includes a reissue of Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine.

By 1981, Marc Hollander and the rest of Aksak Maboul decided to reissue the band’s debut album Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine. This made sense commercially. Aksak Maboul’s star was in the ascendancy, and their music had found an audience across Europe. Partly,  that was because of the role that Aksak Maboul played in the Rock In Opposition movement. 

Rock In Opposition was a musical collective that promoted and represented its members. Many worked outside of the traditional, and mainstream music industry. To some extent, this described Aksak Maboul. They were one of the movement’s leading lights, and toured Europe with other members of the Rock In Opposition movement. This meant Aksak Maboul’s music was heard by a much wider audience. So it made sense to release Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine. There was definitely demand for the album.

After four years, it looked as if Aksak Maboul were about to make a breakthrough. Everything seemed to be going their way. 

The reissue of allowed a new audience to discover the delights of their genre classic, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine. it was released on Crammed Discs, and Aksak Maboul began work on their third album.

Between 1981 and 1983, Aksak Maboul recorded what was meant to be their third album. However, the project stalled in 1983. Things weren’t going well for Aksak Maboul. By the mid-eighties, Aksak Maboul were no longer active. This ambitious and groundbreaking group were no more. That looked like being the end of the Aksak Maboul story.

It wasn’t. In 2010, Aksak Maboul reformed. Then in 2014, Aksak Maboul resumed work on their unfinished album. When it was released the Ex-Futur Album was credited to Véronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul. Thirty-one years after the project was put on hold, Aksak Maboul released their long-awaited third album. It received the same critical acclaim as their first two albums. Belatedly, Aksak Maboul were back, and were still creating innovative music. However, the album that began the Aksak Maboul story in 1977 hadn’t been heard by a generation. 

So Crammed Discs set about rectifying this. They recently reissued Aksak Maboul’s debut album Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine on vinyl. This is no ordinary reissue. Instead, it’s a luxurious and loving curated release. The reissue of Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine contains three bonus tracks, and comes complete with the original artwork and a double insert. There’s also a digital download code. This will allow vinyl lovers to legally download a copy of this genre classic. It’s the perfect starting place to newcomers to Aksak Maboul’s music.

This long lost avant-pop classic was Aksak Maboul’s finest hour. Although they released two further albums, Aksak Maboul never surpassed Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine. It’s an avant-pop classic, that set the bar high for those that followed in their footsteps. Very few came even close. No wonder. Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine was Aksak Maboul’s finest hour, and is best described as an avant-pop equivalent of a perfect storm.




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