VERONIQUE VINCENT AND ASKAK MABOUL-16 VISIONS OF EX-FUTUR.

VERONIQUE VINCENT AND ASKAK MABOUL-16 VISIONS OF EX-FUTUR. 

After Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis left Aksak Maboul, many within Belgian music thought that would mark the end of the band. It didn’t though. The Aksak Maboul story was far from over.

Instead, the remaining members of Aksak Maboul decided to continue, and record a new album. The recording sessions for what most people thought would be Aksak Maboul’s third album, were due to begin later in 1980. However, it wasn’t just an Aksak Maboul album. Far from it.

When recording began, it was proved to be a collaboration between the great and good of Belgian progressive music. Joining Aksak Maboul were vocalist Veronique Vincent and The Honeymoon Killers. They spent the best part of three years recording ten tracks. Then in 1983, the project ground to a halt. That looked like the end of this all-star collaboration.

For the next thirty-one years, Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul with The Honeymoon Killers’ Ex-Futur Album lay in Crammed Discs’ vaults. It was rediscovered in 2014, and released to widespread critical acclaim in October 2014. The Ex-Futur Album was hailed an avant-pop classic. Belatedly, the album found the audience it so richly deserved. This was a cause for celebration.

So is the release by Crammed Discs of the latest release from , Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul, 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. It features a variety of artists reimagining the Ex-Futur Album. This includes Jaakko Eino, Forever Pavot, Marc Collin, Laetitia Sadder, Lena Willikens, Bullion, Flavien Berg, Aquaserge, Capitol K, Hello Skinny and Burnt Friedman. Fittingly, Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul feature twice on 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. It’s a celebration of the music on the Ex-Futur Album which is reimagined and reinvented. However, if the Ex-Futur Album hadn’t been rediscovered, there would be no 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. What were the circumstances surrounding Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul with The Honeymoon Killers’ Ex-Futur Album? The story begins back in 1977. 

That was when Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis founded Belgian avant-garde rock band Aksak Maboul. Marc played keyboards, reeds and percussion, while Vincent played guitar, bass guitar and keyboards. Later, keyboardist Marc Moulin joined Aksak Maboul. Later, so did percussionist and keyboardist  Chris Joris. This was the lineup that recorded Aksak Maboul’s debut album Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine.

Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine.

Work on Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine began in May 1977.  Aksak Maboul worked quickly, and recording of Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine, finished in May 1977. Mostly, this genre-defying album was the work of Marc Hollander. As a result, Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine was credited to Marc Hollander and Aksak Maboul. It was released in 1977, on the Belgian label Kamikaze. 

Upon its release, Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine was well received by critics. It was a truly adventurous and groundbreaking albums. Genres literally melted into one.  This included avant-garde, classical music, electronic, free jazz, progressive rock, rock and world music. There was more than a nod to Frank Zappa, minimalism and Captain Beefheart, on an album that would eventually, become a cult classic.

Since the release of Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine, critics have reappraised the album. Back in 1977, it didn’t find the audience it deserves. In the intervening thirty-seven years, it has. As a result, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine it’s been hailed a cult classic. Everyone from cultural commentators to progressive rock fans have delved deep into Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine, discovering its eclectic delights. Little did Aksak Maboul realise the effect their debut album would eventually have. Back in 1977, all Aksak Maboul were interested in doing was recording their sophomore album, Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits.

Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits.

Towards the end of 1977, Aksak Maboul decided to start playing live. This marked the start of a new chapter in the Aksak Maboul story, when changes were afoot. 

This was the start of a period when Aksak Maboul’s lineup seemed to be constantly evolving. This began when Marc Moulin and Chris Joris departed the band. Their replacement was percussionist and keyboardist Frank Wuyts. Next to join was

cellist Denis van Hecke. Not long after this, Michel Berckmans, who played oboe and bassoon joined. He had just left Belgian progressive band Univers Zéro. However, this wasn’t the end of the changes in Aksak Maboul’s lineup.

At the start of 1979, Henry Cow had just split-up. So Chris Cutler and Fred Frith were asked to join Aksak Maboul. They agreed to do so, and Aksak Maboul started work on their sophomore album, Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits.

This involved a trip to Switzerland. Recording of Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits took place at Sunrise Studio, Kirchberg, St. Gallen. It was here that Aksak Maboul pushed musical boundaries even further than they had before. 

The music Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits took on a new intensity and complexity. It veered towards avant-garde and experimental music. Again, musical genres melted into one on Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits. Everything from ambient and chamber rock to punk, tangos and Turkish music.  It was a very different album from Aksak Maboul. That wasn’t the end of the differences.

Forever determined to innovate, Aksak Maboul used sampling for the first time on Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits. However, there was a problem. Samplers were relatively new. They were still prohibitively expensive, and way outside the budget of most groups. That wouldn’t stop Aksak Maboul making use of sampling.

Far from it. Instead, Aksak Maboul had to improvise. This was all part of Aksak Maboul’s determination to forge their own way. They wanted to be trailblazers, rather than following in other group’s wakes. That proved to the case on Un Peu de l’Ame Des Bandits.

When Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits was released in 1980, it was on a different label, Crammed Discs. It had been founded by Marc Hollander. One of its first releases was Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits. It was released to favourable reviews. Again, Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits was an underground album. This meant it didn’t capture the attention of a wider audience until much later. Those who did hear Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits, marvelled at a complex, compelling, eclectic and innovative genre-melting album. 

With such a wide variety of musical genres, influences and ideas sitting side-by-side on Un Peu de l’Ame des Bandits, it was an album that  could just as easily not have worked. However, it did. With every listen some new subtlety or nuance shawn through. It was a compelling and beguiling album. Critics, cultural commentators and music lovers awaited Aksak Maboul’s next step. They were in for a surprise.

The Honeymoon Killers-Les Tueurs De La Lune De Miel.

“Nothing lasts forever.”The words of Bryan Ferry proved prophetic. In early 1980, Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis, the two original members of Aksak Maboul left the band. They decided to join forces with Yvon Vromman, J.F Jones Jacob, and Gérald Fenerberg of  Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel. They called their new band The Honeymoon Killers. The only thing missing was a lead singer. This was where Véronique Vincent came in. She was the final piece in musical jigsaw that was The Honeymoon Killers.

They headed out on tour in 1980 and 1981. This was important. With two bands and a vocalist becoming one, they had to hone their sound. The Honeymoon Killers were one of the pioneers of pre-recorded drum machine loops. They played drum loops on cassette. This was the starting point.  Layers of bass, drums, t guitar, bass, drums, percussion and tinny organ sounds were combined. Atop sat vocals. Given the experimental nature of The Honeymoon Killers, it’s no surprise that some of their songs lasted nearly twenty minutes. They were determined to do things their way.

This extended to The Honeymoon Killers’ setlist. They switched seamlessly between from free jazz and French chanson, to punk and rockabilly. Each musical genre was interpreted by he Honeymoon Killers in their own unique way. During these concerts, The Honeymoon Killers found their sound. Now the new lineup of The Honeymoon Killers were ready to release some new music.

Later in 1981, the new lineup of The Honeymoon Killers released cover of Charles Trenet Route Nationale 7 as a single. It was a hit in France and Belgium. So The Honeymoon Killers headed into the studio, to release what was their sophomore album, Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel.

Having recorded  Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel at various studios across Europe, the album was released on Crammed Records in 1982. Reviews ranged from positive to glowing and critically acclaimed. The Honeymoon Killers’ unique and quirky brand of genre hopping music, was winning friends and influencing people.

This proved to be the case. In Belgium, France, Germany and Britain,  Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel sold relatively well. It became something of a cult album. Considering this was the first album by the new lineup of The Honeymoon Killers, it looked like they were going places. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.

Never again, would The Honeymoon Killers release another album. Their only singles was 1982s Décollage. Three years later, The Honeymoon Killers. Their legacy was Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel, which is hailed as the best Belgian rock album ever. However, thirty-two years later, The Honeymoon Killers would return.

Ex-Futur Album.

Although Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis, the two original members of Aksak Maboul left the band, the Aksak Maboul story wasn’t over. No. Aksak Maboul had began working on their their third album in 1980. For the next three, years Aksak Mobil recorded ten tracks. This wasn’t just an Aksak Maboul album. No. It was a collaboration between the great and good of Belgian progressive music. 

Vocalist Veronique Vincent and The Honeymoon Killers joined Aksak Maboul. Right up until 1983, this all-star cast of Belgian musicians worked on what would eventually become the Ex-Futur Album. Sadly, it was never completed, and in 1983, the project ground to a halt. 

For thirty-three years, Ex-Futur Album lay unloved in the Crammed Discs vaults. That’s where it was discovered in 2014. 

After dusting down the Ex-Futur Album, it was discovered that Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul with The Honeymoon Killers had recorded ten tracks. Nine of them were penned by Marc Hollander and Veronique Vincent. The exception is a cover My Kind Of Doll. These songs were the long losr Ex-Futur Album, which, it quickly became apparent had the potential to become an avant-pop classic.

So in late October 2014, Crammed Discs released the Ex-Futur Album to widespread critical acclaim. Critics hailed the album a lost avant-pop classic. Belatedly, Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul with The Honeymoon Killers’ groundbreaking album was finding the audience it deserved. However, that wasn’t the end of the story.

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16 Visions Of Ex-Futur.

Since then, Crammed Discs have been compiling a sixteen track compilation of reinterpretations, reworks, remixes and covers of the songs on the Ex-Futur Album. It’s entitled 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur, and features artists from Britain, America and Europe. This includes Jaakko Eino, Forever Pavot, Marc Collin, Laetitia Sadder, Lena Willikens, Bullion, Flavien Berg, Aquaserge, Capitol K, Hello Skinny and Burnt Friedman. Fittingly, Veronique Vincent and Aksak Mabou feature twice on 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur, which I’ll tell you about.

The two most important tracks on any album, are those that bookend the album. 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur is no different. Here, a truly memorable track opens the compilation. That’s a cover of Itken Aina (I’m Always Crying). It comes courtesy of the hugely talented Finnish singer, songwriter and musician Jaakko Eino Kalevi. He delivers a whispery vocal, while the arrangement is a fusion of pop, electronica and even a hint of jazz. This results in captivating that’s sure to whet the listener’s appetite for the rest of 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur.

Forever Pavot covers what was the only cover version on the Ex-Futur-Album, My Kind Of Doll. He reinvents the song, into a three minute genre-melting symphony. Elements of pop, electronica, funk, classical and even reggae are combined by sonic sculptor Forever Pavot. The result is an ethereal, dubby, bubbling epic which wouldn’t sound out of place on a modern day Pet Sounds. 

For three decades, Marc Collin has been making music. He’s a musician, producer and also, composes music for films. That’s apparent on his rework of The Aboriginal Variations. Marc Collin has put great thought into the track. What was once an eight minute epic, has been transformed into a much tighter, more minute track. It meanders along, gradually revealing not just its secrets and subtleties. Soon, though, it ebbs and flows revealing both its drama and beauty during what’s a carefully crafted and compelling, cinematic track

Lena Willikens is a name many people may not be familiar with. She’s based in Düsseldorf, Germany and is a DJ, musician and producer. For 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur, she chose to reimagine

I’m Always Crying. It’s totally reinvented and takes on a dreamy, lysergic and wistful sound that’s quite beautiful. This is  very different from the original, and is something of a musical masterstroke from Lena Willikens,

Using his Bullion alias, London based Nathan Jenkins takes 

Veronika Winken and sets about reinventing it. Most of the vocal is gone, with just a few parts remaining. They augment the  Afro-beat guitars, a drum machine and various synths. This includes a sci-fi and pulsating bass synth. Bullion sets about fusing Afro-beat, electronica and funk as synths strings sweep the arrangement along. His rework veers between joyous and cinematic to dark, dramatic and dance-floor friendly.

Flavien Berger, who is regarded as one of the rising stars of French electro chose to cover Je Pleure Tout Le Temps. He stays true to the original, with slow, spartan arrangement accompanying a tender, heartfelt vocal on this ballad. It’s a potent and beautiful combination, and one I would like hear more of. Maybe Flavien Berger should reinterpret the Ex-Futur album?

Aquaserge who are also signed to Crammed Discs, are an experimental pop band, whose music is both influential and innovative. They rework Endormons-Nous, which never featured on the original album. In their hands, it becomes a genre-melting track. Elements of electronica, jazz and pop combine with bursts of rocky guitars and stabs of blazing horns. It’s a case of expect the unexpected, as the tempo rises and and falls. Continually Aquaserge spring surprises on what’s the musical equivalent of a magical mystery tour.

While everyone else features just once on  16 Visions Of Ex-Futur, Véronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul feature twice. That’s fitting, as they played a huge part on the Ex-Futur Album. Their first contribution is Saure Gurke 2016, which never featured on the original album. It’s a keyboard driven instrumental with an eighties influence. This has been reworked and is best described as anthem-in-waiting that could fill a dance floor. 

Véronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul’s other contribution is Le Troisième Personnage/Paysage Volé. Just like the original, keyboards play a leading role. Sonically and stylistically they’re different. So is Véronique’s vocal. She eschews power for a much more tender vocal. Searing guitars are added to the arrangement, and join the banks of keyboards as this ten minute epic is given a moderne makeover for the 21st Century.

London based musician and producer Capitol K, decided to rework My Kind Of Doll, which becomes Kinda Doll. Gone is the original indie sound, to be replaced by synths, a drum machine and a vocoder. They play their part in what’s an almost futuristic and jaunty slice of slick electro.

While some artists stay true to the original version of a song, that’s not the case with Nite Jewel. It started off as the musical vehicle for California based Ramona Gonzalez. Nowadays, though, when Nite Jewel play live, she’s joined by Emily Jane Kuntz, Corey Lee Granet and collaborator Cole M.G.N. However, Nite Jewel’s version of Chez Les Aborigènes is best described as a conceptual revisitation. This is something Ramona Gonzalez specialises in. Here, Chez Les Aborigènes takes on a robotic and futuristic sound. Synths buzz, beep and squeak, while a drum machine cracks and effects have been added to the vocal. This results in an innovative conceptual revisitation, which breathes new life into the original track.

Hello Skinny is the alias of London based Tom Skinner, a veteran of many groups. He gets the opportunity to showcase his talents on 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. Straight away, it’s obvious something special is unfolding on Hello Skinny’s take on Oh Je Veux! Banks of synths, drums, percussion and a vocal are combined. Reverb is added to the arrangement, and adds the finishing touch. Hooks certainly haven’t been spared, on a track that’s dubby and dance-floor friendly. 

Germany has a rich musical heritage. That’s been the case from the days of Krautrock and the Berlin School. Nowadays, Bernt Friedman is regarded as one of the top German electronic artists. Using his Burnt Friedman moniker, he reimagines Je Pleure Tout Le Temps. Although he stays true to the original, Burnt Friedman eschews the understated arrangement favoured by Flavien Berger. Replacing the piano are synths, which fatten the arrangement as drums provide the heartbeat. Although the tempo is similar, the electronic arrangement is bigger and louder. This shows that there are many ways to reinvent a track.

Afflux Skoui is given a dance-floor friendly makeover by Easy and C.O.U. A pulsating bass synths is at the heart of the arrangement, as sci-fi sounds, drums and stabs of dramatic synths combine. Then a scatted vocal plays a brief walk on role. From there, Easy and C.O.U. sculpt a big, bold and dramatic dance-track that’s sure to appeal to DJs and dancers.

Fuir Les Aborigènes by Bérangère Maximin closes 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. It’s another innovative track, where invention is the order of the day. The melody meanders beneath a myriad of everyday sounds, as a sample is played backwards. Later, there’s a sense of urgency in this inventive and innovative track. By then, Bérangère Maximin has pushed musical boundaries to their limits. In doing so, the reinvention of Fuir Les Aborigènes is the perfect track to bookends 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. It ensures that the compilation ends on a musical high.

Two years ago, Crammed Discs decided to release Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul with The Honeymoon Killers’ Ex-Futur Album. It had lain in Crammed Discs’ vaults for thirty-three long years. When it was released, it was to widespread critical acclaim. The Ex-Futur Album was a lost avant-pop classic, and introduced Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul with The Honeymoon Killers’ music to a much wider audience. Now just two years later, and Crammed Disc are set to release the companion disc to the Ex-Futur Album, 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. It’s a fascinating concept.

Fourteen artists from Britain, America and Europe were asked to  reinterpret, remix or cover one of the songs on the Ex-Futur Album. Some stayed true to the original, including Flavien Berger’s cover of Je Pleure Tout Le Temps. Meanwhile, others artists reinvent a track. In doing so, the track is totally transformed and becomes a new song. That’s the case with Nite Jewel’s rework of Chez Les Aborigènes. Other artists take a different approach.

When Marc Collin reworks The Aboriginal Variations, he transforms it from an eight minute epic to a much shorter, tighter track. It ebbs and flows revealing both its drama and beauty during what’s a carefully crafted and compelling, cinematic track. It’s without doubt one of the highlights of 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur. So is Flavien Berger understated cover Je Pleure Tout Le Temps. This beautiful ballad pays homage to the original track. However, the DJs and producers take a different approach.

There were several DJs and producers of electronic music were involved in the 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur project. Unsurprisingly, they take their chosen track in the direction of the dance-floor.  That’s what they know. They’re comfortable with formula for dance music, and would be out of comfort zone trying to record a ballad or indie rock cover. It’s a case of horses for courses, with each artist and producer sticking to what they know best. This works, and works well throughout 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur.

It features sixteen captivating and innovative reworks, remixes and covers from the Ex-Futur Album. This includes two from two of the stars of the Ex-Futur Album, Veronique Vincent and Aksak Maboul. They feature twice, and this is a reminder if any was needed, of their avant-pop classic. The  Ex-Futur Album. It’s is a truly timeless album, and the 16 Visions Of Ex-Futur compilation, with its reworks, remixes and cover versions is the perfect companion to the Ex-Futur Album, which is a long-lost avant pop classic.

VERONIQUE VINCENT AND ASKAK MABOUL-16 VISIONS OF EX-FUTUR. 

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