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coverpic flag Belgium - Full Moon 242 - 05/21/16

BeNe GeSSeRiT
eccentric ????
EE Tapes

A brand new offer of brand new songs from 'this charming couple from Wallonia', Belgium. Unlike some of the earlier BeNe GeSSeRiT albums we've had on our menu, this one consists of recordings from the most recent years. EE Tapes' boss Eriek van Havere received around 80 new recordings from the duo with 'no songtitles nor infos at all!' He picked 12 of them for the CD, among the most catchy and easy ones of the sample. Tunesmith, instrument player and occasional lyric writer B. GHoLa, aka. Alain Neffe, added a few short, less sweet ones, in order to maintain BeNe GeSSeRiT's status as an experimental band.

In addition to the quotations above, the EE Tapes' home page informs us that BeNe GeSSeRiT started 'in 1981 and never stopped making music ever since. Obviously new studio recording equipment was needed over the years, which remodelled their style but never their true spirit: this is supercool insane music!' True, while many musicians tend to narrow their expressions when they've been in the game for a couple of decades or more, BeNeDiCT G, aka. Nadine Bal (vocals and lyrics) and B. GHoLa seek out new sights and sounds all the time. While they often have been labelled as a synth-pop duo, here there are more guitars around than ever. Occasional collaborator of Alain since Kosmose days in the 1970s, Daniel Malempré, has added guitar to two of the songs, but there are more around, which apparently means multi-instrumentalist, but mainly keyboardist, Neffe/Ghola has expanded his range of instruments. When we confronted the man with this he solemnly answered: 'Most of it is sampled guitar or notes played on keyboard with guitar sound, all of this transformed with guitar effects pedals, virtual or not... You know, my dream was to be a guitar hero, but guitars have too many strings...'.

The ball starts with "LoBoToMiZeD ?", dominated by heavy rock'n'roll rhythm guitar from monsieur Malempré and to some extent eccentric vocal whims by the front lady. "FoLie CaDeNCée (Le PLuS oBSCuR De NoS DéSiRS)" follow suit to some extent with noisy guitar, more profiled keyboards along the way and more ordinary singing vocals, you know. whereas "CHaToN" includes a distorted guitar solo by Daniel M. at the end. The rest of the latter song, though, is closer to BeNe GeSSeRiT as we know them from previous encounters: spoken word in a girlish way, discreet stringed backing and distant singing and keyboards. A great moody ditty! "aLoRS RéVoLuTioN ?" is another heavy guitar dominated track, with heavy keyboards and heavily distorted vocoder vocals to match. The vocals can also be discerned without the vocoder effect along with some wordless vocal harmonies and dis-harmonies in the background, to bizarre effect. "The FRiGHTeNiNG ZoNe" starts as playful synth-pop with uplifting but restrained vocals. Halfway through a guitar joins in before a mighty church sounding organ eventually takes control and changes the atmosphere completely.

When I first met the duo back in the late 1980s, BeNeDiCT G. told me some of the bands on the 4AD label like Dead Can Dance were among her favourites. It seems this has rubbed off on "The HouSe oF THe RiSiNG SoNG", that certainly includes DCD-alike vocals and feel. It do sound different from any BeNe GesseRiT song I've heard earlier, and a bit different from Dead Can Dance, too. The obvious synth-pop gem is "PeRDuS" the prettiest of the lot, a slow melancholic ballad, sort of, about something lost, as only BG can do it. Fascinating percussion effects, a bit of sore saxophone and beautiful melody. It's even possible to understand were the melody line is going next along the way, first time you hear it; the only track of that category here. A much longer version of the song is included as a bonus track. "KiLL THe MoNSTeRS (aND BuRN THeiR BooK)" seems to be a common denominator of the above, a bit DCD-vocals, church-organ, synth-pop and quite a bit of guitar that push the song into a different blend. The short numbers added to the album by Alain are mainly spoken French word only, one accompanied by noises involving bottles, other with effects, speed manipulation and acapella singing. The shortest one, "Les MuRS oNT DeS oRTeiLS", only lasts five seconds, as long as it takes to say the title. Apart from that, the eccentric tendencies are particularly represented by "You CaN Be youR oWN SHRiNK" with pretty piano playing and a dominating rhythm box. The vocals, though, are hoarse, insane growls and other oral noises. "Le CyGNe De ZoRRo" also includes a heavy rhythm box, in addition to partly unconventional vocals and, eventually, a seasick steel guitar sounding keyboard. At least it leaves me a little dizzy.

There is a second bonus track at the very end of the album, called C'eST Loué !!", but it doesn't seem to be meant to be heard by us, only the EE Tapes boss. At least it says 'Only For Eriek Van Havere' in brackets on the back side of the cover. I've taken the liberty to listen to it anyway and can reveal it's the neatest of the tracks of the entire collection; mellow string-sounding keyboards, angelic harmony vocals and the title whispered, spoken, shouted etc. over and over.

Time to summarise, then. Well, here's a lot both for the initiated and the uninitiated. Eccentric ???? is probably the most accessible BeNe GeSSeRiT album to date and the one closest to guitar-infected rock'n'roll. But of course there are a lot to indulge in off the well-trodden paths. It's probably the best starting point for those who want to find out what the duo is up to without going bananas. At the same time there are enough both new and well-known elements to keep the old supporters satisfied. One question remains: Is it eccentric???? Of course it is! But there are more eccentric albums to be found it you dig into the BeNe GeSSeRiT back catalogue.

Copyright © 2016 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our BeNe GeSSeRiT articles/reviews: A High, Happy, Perverse And Cynical Cry Of Joy, BeNeFiT, First Time In Aachen, Les Vleurs Du Bal, Still Insane After All These Years, THe SeCoND BeNeFiT, The Record Store Day EP.

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