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coverpic flag Belgium - Full Moon 216 - 04/15/14

BeNe GeSSeRiT
BeNeFiT
Insane Music Contact

We've visited the insane - and wonderful - musical universe of Belgian Insane Music Contact (IMC) on several earlier occasions in our menus earlier, not least in a voluminous interview with the man in charge Alain Neffe, aka. B. Ghola, some six years ago. Also we've run reviews of music released in recent years on other labels by originally in-house Insane groups and projects like BeNe GeSSeRiT, Human Flesh and Pseudo Code. IMC released lots of cassettes throughout the 1980s and the early 90s, some with the bands mentioned above, but mainly compilations that also included other artists from around the word, well at least half the globe. Now the Insane empire has run into serious financial troubles. Alain and his wife and partner in BeNe GeSSeRiT Nadine Bal, aka. Benedict G., have been struck by serious illnesses and lost daytime jobs. The social security fees in Belgium seem to be below existence level if you ask me. So, what do they do to find the necessary funds to be able to continue recording in their home studio? Of course they resurrect the Insane label and release a couple of cassettes!!! Well, they're not quite out of touch with the digital world, and the cassettes are accompanied by CD-Rs with the same musical contents.

We have earlier described the music of BeNe GeSSeRiT as electro-pop-experimental with some avant garde elements. The most unique asset of the duo being Benedict's voice, that includes most possible and quite a few impossible facets. Those familiar with the duo may be in for a small surprise here. I guess BeNeFiT is filled with more accessible music compared to your average album by the band. The musical backing is closer to conventional and Benedict sings and speaks more restrained than we're used to. A couple of songs include a few funky elements and you might even dance to some of these tracks if you're into that kind of activity. But it's done with the usual BeNe GeSSeRiT touch, without losing any integrity or characteristics. And it's not all peace and harmony. Here are some ripping sharp guitar breaks (by Daniel Malempré, I guess, see more of him below) and Benedict haven't forgotten the noble art of vocal shock treatment now and again.

coverpic The fascinating instrumental "HaPPy LiKe aN aFRiCaN iN BeLGiuM" is probably the one furthest away from what I associate with BeNe GeSSeRiT. The keyboard is very similar to the Fairlight sound of Laurie Anderson around Mr. Heartbreak, spiced with percussive delights. Some of the songs seem to be based on short sequences of rhythms or line of notes. For instance the sweet and playful "BoN, BoN" has a guitar and keyboards riff that is continuously repeated, whereas the chamber'ish "THe GNaSHiNG GNoMe" is based on a couple of strings licks, with Nadine's respectively effect-perverted and angelic voice on top. Also, the percussions have been updated, with a light and sometimes intricate touch that certainly sound a lot more elegant and incoprorated with the music than the cruder (and, by now, outdated) beat-boxes of the 1980s. I guess "iT'S FriDay" is the closest to the 80s sound with simpler rhythm and a familiar distorted voice effect. But then an almost sacral church sounding organ interfers now and again along with military drum at the end and changes the mood completely.

Otherwise we're treated with a couple Eastern tinged numbers. The light electro tap-dance "DeBoRaH, RoMiNa, MaRTHa, SaBRiNa, TaTiaNa, BaRBaRa" (phew!) is probably the funniest of the album, pseudo-Chinese with French finesse thrown in for good measure. Nadine's distorted vocals of "SiMBayo-SiN" sounds like a female caller from the minaret of some Middle-Eastern mosque over catchy beats. The title is repeated repeatedly in a hypnotic way. "aPRèS QueLQue TeMPS" is lead by a fascinating keyboard sounding close to a slackly tuned Asian string instrument in contrast to a really harsh voice followed by a cello sounding keyboard instrumental part that gives the impression of modern chamber music. The album is rounded off with the melancholic simple piano driven "LeS aLieNS" for afterthought, where Benedict's spoken words are relaxed, at least in the first half, and with a Vocoder effect close to Laurie Anderson's (her again!) in the early 1980s. Spine chilling stuff!

BeNeFiT sounds a little different from the BeNe GeSSeRiT recordings 20-30 years ago. It's the same band, no doubt about it, but given a successful facelift. The duo sounds more sophisticated now than ever, and still pretty intriguing. One of the most essential BeNe GeSSeRiT releases!

coverpic Various Artists
Insane Music For Insane People Vol. 26
Insane Music Contact

Alain released 25 volumes of the cassette compilations Insane Music For Insane People (well, one was an LP compilation), usually with a few offerings from his own bands, and the majority occupied by bands and artists, mostly from other countries. I guess the previous one, Vol. 25, was released in 1988. Here, finally, is its sucessor. In contrast to all previous volumes, Vol. 26 is occupied by Belgian artists, projects and bands only, all of them exept one with Alain Neffe in the line-up. Here are recordings from five decades, all of them previously unreleased, with two contributions each from BeNe GeSSeRiT and The Chopstick Sisters (which is BeNe GeSSeRiT augmented by American Anna Homler) and one each by M.A.L., Human Flesh, Pseudo Code, Cortex, Subject and Niala Effen. Most of them discussed in the aforementioned interview with Alain. The biggest surprise is certainly the 22 minutes and 17 seconds long "The First Untitled Track" by Kosmose, one of the first bands Alain was involved in, recorded as early as around 1975. It seems to have been improvised live in the studio, at first pretty disorganised, after around five minutes it turns more cohesive, eventually evolving into some Can inspired organic beast. Alain and drummer Guy Marc Hinant from Kosmose later formed Pseudo Code, represented here with "Baby Burn-out (4th Version)" from 1980. A bit dodgy recorded this one, with a simple rhythm box, bass, organ, vocals and baby sounds. Also at least partly improvised, I guess; ugly post-punk stuff. Cortex was another of Alain's earlier projects and "Cortex AA" from 1983 is a gloomy sparsely arranged French spoken word number. Subject's "Intifada" and M.A.L.'s "All By Myself", both involving Daniel Malempré, the latter on his own live with multi-layered (delayed?) guitar are the remaining 1980s recordings. Fascinating minimalist-experimental instrumentals with cruder sound than later on.

coverpic Daniel Malempré is back in 1993 with exquisite acoustic guitar playing on Human Flesh's "Beautiful Friend", another spoken word number with elegant piano and harp by Alain and guest vocals by American Deborah Jaffe. A lighweight highlight. Chopstick Sister's "Incidental Cow" and 13 seconds of "Yaaaa" from 2000 is mainly a vocal experimental exercise by the two ladies, with discreet backing by Alain. Niala Effen with "Teiuq Tub Deirrow" from 2006 sounds pretty cryptic until you study the words closer. A solo sitar recording, played backwards, I suspect. This leaves us with the two offerings by BeNe GeSSeRiT recorded between 2010 and 2013. "Tither And Tither" is more experimental at first than anything on BeNeFiT, yet pretty pritty. It starts with funny noises in loops (?) before a relaxing piano and pretty tasteful long drawn singing by Benedict smoothen things out. "Vieux Crapaud Lubrique" is a harder challenge; occasional growling voice and partly glowing ominous, partly looping minimalistic backing.

I guess the two tapes/albums represent the extremities of the Insane universe; BeNeFiT being professionally recorded throughout in recent times, cohesive and quite stringent. Whereas Insane Music For Insane People Vol. 26 is an archieval compilation pointing in many directions, more experimental and certainly an aquired taste in between. Try them and buy them both because of rewarding musical contents and as a good deed! Contact alainneffe@yahoo.fr for further instructions.

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