After eight years on the road an six cd's with X-Legged Sally,
Peter Vermeersch thought it was time for a change. After two succesful farewell
concerts in Brussels and Tokyo, he fired his musicians and came up right away
with a new project : A Group, with a radically different line-up than what is
expected from Vermeersch : Peter himself taded his horns for samplers, Pierre
Vervloesem his guitar for the bass. XLS-singer Thierry Mondelaers sings and plays
guitars, Anne Fontigny sings and plays keyboards, Didier Fontaine drums. After
some try-out concerts, the band went into the studio in November to record with
the help of Spence Chrislu, Frank Zappa's soundengineer since the last en years
of Franks's existence, a first cd entitled "A Group : Volume 1". Spence
recorded, mixed and produced the album and even lent his voice to two of the songs.
Apart from an hour long playlist of own compositions (early 80's inspired, technically
astonishing), A Group's concerts will always end with a party during which they
play covers from The Sparks, Shirley Bassey, The Beatles, de Bourville ... Anything
can happen !! Meanwhile, at the end of March, "This Town (ain't big enough
for the both of us)" - a Sparks cover - released as a promo-single only,
was included in Studio Brussel's playlist and received a lot of airplay on several
national radio stations.
Peter Vermeersch (compositions, samplers, clarinet, vocal)
Peter Vermeersch studied architecture, plays clarinet and tenor saxophone and
is nowadays fulltime composing music. In the past, Vermeersch worked with Thierry
De Mey on the music for 'Rosas danst Rosas' (choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker),
an experience which led to the creation of the group Maximalist! In 1988 he composed
the music for the Wim Vandekeybus performances 'What The Body Does Not Remember'
and 'The Weight Of A Hand' (both in collaboration with Thierry De Mey).
In 1991 he did his own thing for Vandekeybus' 'Immer Das Selbe Gelogen',
in '93 for 'Her Body Doesn't Fit Her Soul'. Vermeersch composional work has also
been an important factor in performances by Josse De Pauw, Radeis, Dito Dito,
Charlie Degotte, Willy Thomas, José Besprosvany and others. On a purily
musical scale he was a founding member of and one of the main composers of Maximalist!,
wrote pieces for the Arditti Quartet, Quadro Quartet, the Duke Quartet and Ensemble
Musique Nouvelle and played with Union, Fred Firth, Jazzwork From Berlin, The
Simpletones, Flat Earth Society. 'The Soluble Fish' (Walpurgis Records)
is the title of his first opera project (in collaboration with Ryszard Turbiasz)
that premiered in February '94. In April '95 he composed an orchestral suite for
a Frank Zappa memorial at de Singel, Antwerp. In september '97 he set-out on rearranging
20 of Belgian rocksinger Arno's songs for a memorable
concert with a brassband at Brussels' Botanique. He is now working on pieces for
his future big band, The Flat Earth Society, he has started with with 16 fellow
Pierre Vervloesem (guitar, vocals, compositions)
Self-made guitarist Vervloesem joined X-Legged Sally after Michel Delorie's departure
in 1989 and was a big influence to the band's sound. Some of the compositions
are from his hand. Early nineties he founds 'The Woodentrucks, who gave their
first concert exactly two hours before operation 'Desert Storm', release an album
on Island / Boucherie, and ... split. Coproduces with Vermeersch the debut albums
of dEUS, Mad Dog Loose, Nancy and the album of Vermeersch opera 'The Soluble Fish'.
Vervloesem is the proud creator of two soloalbums: 'Home-made' and 'Fiasco'
(carbon 7). His next project is his very personal - but orchestral - version of
John Barry tunes.
Thierry Mondelaers (vocals)
Thierry sings and plays guitar in the evenings, and takes care of the Horta museum
in Brussels during the day.
Didier Fontaine (drums)
Didier is one of Belgium's most popular studio drummers: He plays with The
Sands, Guy Chadwick and joined dEUS for a
four month European tour, replacing the band's ill-struck original drummer.
Anne Fontigny (keyboards, vocals)
Anne is a soundengineer. In her spare time composing beautiful french-sung ditties
In the press:
- Café des Arts (De Morgen),
December 1998: "The music may at first glance seem more poppier and accessible
than that of the late X-Legged Sally, but the way it's meandering in all kinds
of directions at once keeps astonishing. Everything seems possible and is permitted
in the universe of A Group : the most de manier waarop ze diverse richtingen tegelijk
uitwaaiert blijft verbluffend. Alles lijkt te mogen en te kunnen in het universum
van A Group : the most unlikely combinations, atmosphers & colours mix &
mingle & xollide. Humor is a key to the concept ... I take my hat off for
the hotshots at VIAkra, who have brought this masterly record into our reach".
- Teek (februari 1999) : "Magnifiying
everything in a theatrical manner, that's the path A Group has chosen to walk
on. Volume one sounds like a bombastic collection of curiosities by people with
too many influences ... An educational radio play for musicologists".
Did you see a good (or bad) review of the album ? Send
it to me !
Rarely have I heard a band that's so in tune with the "mission
statement" of the label that is releasing the album : "VIAKRA, is
VIA Records new born label for "not easy to place but fantastic to listen
to" music. Started in 1998 with the intention to bring out cd's of bands
or artists who create a different kind of music and make a Cross-over in the widest
sense possible". Fits exactly.
A witness to that is for example the closing song of the record "Woggy-Doggy",
in which I consecutively hear : a funfair-organ, Tuxedomoon, medieval folk, Zappa,
free-jazz, Led Zeppelin, German Kabaret, the organ of Eugène Flagey, Nurse
With Wound, Chic, Talking Heads, Hole, The Beatles and a dog kennel., You would
recognize without a doubt a dozen more musical "quotes".
Not that all the songs are that eclectic ("Hi Tom" only 50 sec. so is
an almost unidimensional campire song, the beatiful "Dumb
Lamb" a crossing of The Beautiful South with Mad Dog Loose, "This
Town (ain't big enough)" a reasonably faithful Sparks-cover on steroïds),
but in most songs of "A Group" there are enough ideas (and half-finished
melodies) to fill a little maxi-CD with.
There's some skilful music playing going on on this cd (as if that were a quality,
just imagine a group filled with 4 times Eric Melaerts and .. shiver), although
X-Legged Sally singer Thierry Mondelaers steps out of line from time to time.
In short, this is a pop-record much a like the favourite dish of a friend out
mine : toast with chocopasta ànd banana-slices. It looks awful, most people
will shy away from it, but if you have the guts to taste it you might give in.
And your opinion?
Did I get it all wrong, or was I spot-on ? Do you want to share your opinion about
this cd ? Send it in, and I'll put it up here !
More about this group :
- The band has a very nicely designed website, also covering the
activities of Vermeersch, Vervloesem, X-Legged Sally ... at http://www.reference.be/xls/
- X-Legged Sally also has a place in
my archive (although that page needs reworking)
- Contact band :
Management : SLOW-UP, Bart Van Langendonck
Kerstrozenstraat 16, 1170 Brussel, Belgum
tel : +32(0)188.8.131.52, fax : +184.108.40.206.02, mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to buy this CD ?
You can order this CD from a number of locations (prices researched
on Janyary 4th, 1999, but nothing guarantees they still are the same when you
The Lowest price is in yellow, the highest in red. This price
comparison doesn't take things into account like deduction of shipping expenses
when ordering more than 1 cd, bonus points, differences in guarantees ... Shipping
prices are those for customers in Belgium.
Have you seen this record elsewhere, do you own a CD-shop with
Belgian products in it, or if there's something wrong with my calculations : let