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May 30 2011 2 30 /05 /May /2011 09:42


Geez – I haven’t written for ages...


Quickie then. This is the middle night of the 2011 Brussels Jazz Marathon, and the city is teaming. So much so that I managed to avoid anything remotely jazzy and had a proper rockin’ neet oot instead.



Sound XS

Live Music Café


Despite my rushing out, SoundXS are already half way through their set when I get there (Finish before the football…). This is the first time I’ve seen the new lineup, with Boods on guitar and Quentin on drums adding their skills to the established duo of Stéphane and Claire.


And it works. Despite the material being pretty much the same as the stuff they were playing when I last saw them when they were still just a duo, it really does come across better. The live drums (to a click) work well, and the guitar and bass work from Boods just lifts it beyond the tried and tested synthpop duo formula and gives it a new twist.


I still think Claire has at least another ½  an octave in her voice and should really use it to stick a bit more melody into the vocal lines. But given that she is starting to look rather pregnant, I can understand that the band will want to put their focus somewhere else for the next 6 months or so.


Hopefully, a comeback early next year and that long promised album release…



A fortuitous encounter with sitar player extraordinaire Simon Rigot suggests that I would next be heading to:



The Narcotic Daffodils

Churchills Pub


“Original and enchanting psychedelic rock”, they say about themselves. So what’s so original about yet another Brussels band who have their roots in the 60’s and have a gimmick like a sitar?


Well, they rock. They rock like its 1969. They rock like Punk never happened. They rock like Bowie, Pink Floyd or The Beatles of the end of the 60’s. They rock like I had shoulder length hair again, prancing round a field stoned out of my skull stripped of all worldly worries like clothes and such.


But this is Churchills, so the band is crammed into a corner barely big enough for a drumkit, and the vocal sound is not quite – how can I put it? - tip-top. But the performance is. They have a strict no-covers policy, and quite frankly, the material is good enough for a cover to be out of place and out of spirit. And the audience, despite being pretty much left over from the earlier footie match are absolutely lapping it up.


Originality? Well most bands who try to do this sort of stuff are nothing more than a poor pastiche of former glories. The Daffodils are anything but. They don’t need originality. And that in itself, combined with songs that are new to the world, is what is so refreshing about them.


They have no trouble getting decent gigs in and around Brussels, so rather than waffle on about the sitar, I’ll just say watch out for them and go & see them. They are nothing short of brilliant.












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November 29 2010 2 29 /11 /November /2010 10:23

The Bunker, Rue de Plantes, 1000 BXHell, 25th November 2010



The rain is turning to sleet, announcing the first big chill of the winter on this empty November night at the edge of Brussels’ red light district. The girls in the windows are all busy with their laptops, as the place is close to deserted. Unfortunately, the Bunker is also rather devoid of punters. I’d guess maybe around a dozen people have paid their measly 5 euros to get in to experience a decor that is one step down from a cleaned up building site.


Patrice at the bar (who is on his 4th ‘long metrage’) assures me that it is not a squat, that they are all volunteers, and that any profits go towards doing the place up. And that if anyone from the SABAM turns up for the threatened inspection (no background music), they can pay their way in like anyone else. (and can go and do a bit more than that, but this is not about a conversation in a bar).


My kind of place.





BB2.JPGSome former members of The Holy Kiss have moved over from ‘Frisco to NYC to become Bootblacks. Right from before the first note, you know these guys are going to put in a performance – frontman Panther’s dandy figure with his immaculately curled moustache has an immediate presence. Alli is sporting an extremely sexy black Jaguar, on loan bass player Pat has turned up with a nice Rickenbacker, and Alex on drums has turned up with one of those drummer grins that suggests he’s just about ready to beat the living daylights out of the drumkit.bb5


Sure enough, they present us with an offering of pounding bass and screaming guitars, somewhere between Siouxie and the Banshees and the Violent Femmes. Panther’s voice shows the influence of both David Byrne and Nick Cave, but leaves neither to be desired. One song thumps into the next like there’s a real sense of urgency.


Then out comes the trumpet for the drums and bass to launch into something reminiscent of Bauhaus at their most violent.


This is just class, brimming with dark punkishness and fierce attitude. Quite honestly one of the best bands I’ve seen this year.


“Thanks for coming to the cool people club” jipes Alli. Well, it’s a small club tonight, but yeah – it’s been mighty cool.





mz3Well, you can only follow that with 4 minutes solid of harmonics, deafening feedback and whacking the bass with a cludgel. And of course, heralding from that distant cultural universe that is Leipzig, Monozid proceed to launch into a punk-disco number in a style that most ‘post punk’ bands would have cringed at.


But this is what makes Monozid - these guys are very much Clash-like in the way they can do both punk rock and fuse it with other styles. Little bits of disco were to pop in throughout the set. The 4th track is a stunning tune with a guitar line that would not have been out of place on an early Chameleons EP. Then Ralf hands over the bass to singer Fritz and picks up an SG to reel off a(nother) fabulous anthem with elements of Krautpop, For Against and Kitchens of Distinction.mz2


Controlling the guitar feedback with a synth line is a really cool trick, but there are no gimmicks to Monozid. They manage to embody that unique cacophonic german-ness that can only come from a country collapsing and rebuilding itself, and they do it with a Teutonic tightness and precision.


All in all, I have seen 2 absolutely excellent bands here tonight. And an excellent crowd of people.


So good in fact, that I walked off with both a Monozid CD, and a really great tour souvenir in the form of a 7” EP.




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November 18 2010 5 18 /11 /November /2010 11:04

Thun, Rosa Parks Private Bus Seat

13th November 2010 – Den Hemel, Ziechem


Just to set the scene. Den Hemel is – err –in the bloody (or rather muddy) sticks. It’s pretty much the only thing open (let alone café) for like miles around and the ample parking is full. I realise that if you’re from Ziechem, you probably have been going there for years, but this bewildered brusseleer would have liked to see a sign with the name of the place on the frontage? So it’s a more than pleasant surprise to find that the top floor of a decent, if provincial looking pub is a proper club with a good capacity, a reasonable crowd, a proper stage and a pro engineer that make most of the small venues in Brussels look like right dives.





thun03.JPGOK. Right. So this is Post Rock or Post Punk or post what or just late-in-the-post?


A bit of a shaky start from Tom, Bart, Philippe & Stijn. They’re hard to fathom – good enough musicians, some really great riffs, not quite sure if they want to be Sonic Youth or something more conventionally indie. I can hearThun02-copy-1.JPG some Mogwai & Interpol in there as well, but the overall effect is rather wishy-washy. It gets better as the set goes on – in fits and starts, and I really quite liked the last 2 tracks (and snippets of some of the others)


thun06They’re missing a front – lead vocals or guitar to drag the whole thing kicking and screaming into a damned good live band. More confidence, more bravado, more projection of the music at the audience. They’re not bad by any means, but they really do need to decide where they’re going to be a bit more convincing.



Rosa Parks’ Private Bus Seat


Geez – This is one brilliant drummer. He’s on a completely different level from your average rock drummer – total mastery of the drumkit as an instrument within the band – not just keeping time, but creating atmosphere, tension and intimate, tender moments.


rp04.JPGErr – Back to business... I have a suspicion that getting detailed information about the band and doing proper journalistic research will cause quite some distraction, so let’s just stick with the spirit of the band and tell you that if you really want to go & read that crap, go & visit the website (it’s on their Myspace page BTW).


Introductions over, and I’m really starting to get into Roel’s soft voice over the heavily reverbed guitar. Then he cranks up an octave and goes into that trademark psycho hysteria that he’s probably picked up from former Confuse The Cat bandmate Geert Plessers.


The melodies are delicate and subtle. The noise verges on ove rwhelming. The bass is driving and uncompromising yet constitutes the core of the tune. The guitars are secondary to the action, but always in-yer-face and  omnipresent. Did I mention the drummer? He’s firmly in the John Lever league – the delivery is immaculate, the style is distinctive, and the sensitivity to the music is second to none – without a doubt one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen.

Best of all, there’s no pretention in the performance – the guys are up there just for the music. Being ‘alternative’ isn’t just in what you play – it’s in how you play it, and how you approach it.


If you have anything by The Sound or The Twilight Sad in your CD collection, make sure you catch them live. You will NOT be disapointed.







Rosa Parks’ Private Bus Seat:




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October 30 2010 7 30 /10 /October /2010 23:41

Jez just had to pop along to:

Texas Trauma & Graceland – DNA – 11th September 2010


Graceland is the solo project of Brussels resident Raphael Haubourdin. With nothing more than a laptop, a couple of controllers, it’s an insane cacophony of screaming synthesis and infectious beats, coupled with songs exhorting us to save the world by watching more porn movies. Think Suicide, Foetus, Ledernaken, and other moderately extreme nutters. Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but it’s daring, original, unique. And makes me want to dance. I love it.


Texas Trauma have had a lineup change since 2009’s excellent Topgun Patsy album. Now back with DavidXXX on guitar and vocals, CZ on lead guitar & bass, and newbie Guust van Oranje on drums. The tunes are a blend of goth rock, not unlike Bauhaus or Sisters of Mercy, and the darker side of electro-pop a la Depeche Mode. The backing synths and some drum parts are provided by an exceptionally well programmed Roland MC-909. Noiret’s laid back vocal work – although the accent is different, has a very Propaganda-ish charm to it. All in all, I was sufficiently well impressed to part with some hard earned cash for the Topgun Patsy CD, and I'm glad I did, because it's well pukka.


The “Postnewwave” tour offers another 10 dates to catch Texas Trauma and Graceland before the end of 2010. It covers Wallonia and a couple of French dates, most also featuring Silver Riot (whom I still have to check out).




Topgun Patsy is available from here:





P.S.: I’d been very impressed with the sound quality – not only that the band had gone to the trouble of getting the sound balance just right, without the guitars being turned up to 11, but Duflan Duflan had blown the PA a couple of weeks earlier, so the DNA is now sporting a spanking new and much improved sound system.


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September 27 2010 2 27 /09 /September /2010 22:49

Morpheus Secrets


Madame Moustache, 26th September 2010


I bumped into Samy Birnbach a couply of months ago in a bar in Brussels, and had a very engaging conversation with him about the state of the music industry. He gave me a brief runthrough of his Minimal Compact days, how he got a bit disillusioned with it and got into DJing as DJ Morpheus, and how he’d had a few other musical projects all with their own merits and fraught with their own problems and egos. It struck me that he was a very genuine guy, and absolutely passionate about music, whether he was creating it, or getting people to dance to it.


He also told me that he’d recently bumped into a couple of guys who’d convinced / coerced him that they should get a band together and ‘resurrect’ some of his old stuff into a live format. I can’t quite remember a lot of detail, but the long and short of it was that they set up Morpheus Secrets (the title of an old Minimal Compaq track) to play a set consisting of songs that spanned Samy’s career.


And that’s what got me here tonight – Samy’s excitement and enthusiasm just talking about the project.

The venue, just off Place St Catherine, has a strange sort of burlesque / turn of the century sleaze feel to it. It’s well attended, organisation courtesy of the Fantastique Nights team, and as notable for the familiar faces who are there as for those who have not made it with it being a school night. And while nobody seems quite sure what to expect, it is certainly a respectable turnout.


The lineup is Samy on vocals, rhythm, lead and bass guitars, and a drummer (names escaped me). Immediately, they set the standard with a fast paced number that sounded just immaculate (good sound was to be a feature of the evening). Following on with old Minimal Compact favourite, Babylonian Tower, it’s clear that the band have really done a lot to make the songs their own and rearrange them to suit their own sound, and yet still remain faithful to the original.

Samy is the genuine article. They’re his lyrics, his songs, and the passion that I was expecting is there just as I thought it would be. What I wasn’t expecting was the sheer brilliance and versatility of the 2 guitarists. More than a hint of various post-punk elements, particularly Gang of Four, with a good dose of Chic on one side, and Robert Fripp to Metalica on the other. The detail work of getting so much out of those 2 guitars was a real treat for the ears. In fact, if you have to imagine a sound, just take whatever Samy has done in the past, and strip out the electronic or world music elements, and feed it through a very good post-punk rock band.


I can tell by looking around that most of the people here realise that they’re experiencing something pretty special. “This is our first gig” quips Samy, and he seems just as pleased as we are that he turned up. We also got treated to cheery old Minimal Compaq songalongs Statik Dancin and Autumn Wheels, a few Penelope’s numbers, and last, but by no means least, a stunning rendition of Next One Is Real.

No encore, but no encore is needed. We’ve just seen one of the most sensational gigs of the year. And the next one, well – Next One Is Real.



P.S. I did hear rumous of an album, and I hope that is real too.




DJ Morpheus

Minimal Compact

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July 19 2010 2 19 /07 /July /2010 13:59


Another Belgian Band

Benfest 2010



We are in the fortunate position of having friends who live out in the country with nothing but cows as next door neighbours. And we’re having the hottest, driest July for years. So Ben has organised a BBQ come mini-festival in his back garden. To cut a long story short, the heavens opened for the first time in 2 weeks and the sound engineer called the thing off on safety grounds.


abb2.JPGAnxious not to disappoint, Another Belgian Band took over the couch as an improvised stage and played anyway.


ABB are pretty much a fully acoustic band, so a living room is a perfect arena for them. Mainman Jérémie Fraboni on guitar (and a lot of the songwriting) shares the lead vocals with clarinetist Audrey Coeckelberghs. Renaud Versteegen & Thomas Hayez provide a very correct backing on percussion and bass respectively and Diego Leyder spins a web of captivating melodies on a variety of instruments.abb1.JPG



The songwriting and musicianship is immaculate. I should have expected that if I’d realized that some of ABB also feature in Ruacutane, a band I had the great pleasure of seeing in January. The formula of having 2 lead vocalists works particularly well, as at times it feels like you’re getting 2 versions of the same song in one go. I thought that was really quite unique. Particularly seeing as the chord progressions are not quite as obvious as they may at first seem – that makes for some very interesting melodies over the top. The lyrics are well worth listening to – there’s a good deal of humour and angst in there, and they have their own unique way of exploring familiar themes, both lyrically and melodically.


abb3.JPGDespite being all acoustic, this is not folk. It reminded me more of the soft indie-pop of Belle and Sebastian, or R.E.M. around the “Out of Time” album. I liked what I heard enough to buy a copy of the mini-LP they had with them. They have managed to capture that raw live in-your-living-room sound just perfectly. It really is a very faithful recording of how they sound, and does not suffer at all from over-production. Though I would have liked to see the lyrics printed in the booklet.


In this context – a sofa in a living room, they were just magical. I’d be curious to see how it pans out on a larger stage with the challenge of having to amplify the instruments. But given their experience with Ruacutane, I’d guess they’ll make a pretty good job of it.



I had seen Ruacutane at the Clos des Milliardaires in January – a more electrical formation with a really good stand-up bass player and a girl with the most delightful voice. Again, sort of soft indie-pop, but this time with a bit of electronica thrown in. And I see they have a couple of albums out on Carte Postale records, so I think I’d better get shopping.








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June 18 2010 6 18 /06 /June /2010 14:52


Ian Curtis and Annik Honoré: The thunderous (hi)story of Joy Division

Click here for the original article in French


First, a note from Jez - Frequently unasked questions.

A: I know what you google for - I see the stats.

A: No, I did not write this. I translated it.

A: Yes, I have met Annik personally.

A: She is still music mad and goes to a lot of gigs in and around Brussels. Some of which I have reviewed here in DontGetOutMuch

A: She is someone who radiates warmth, trust and empathy. She must be a wonderful friend to those who know her well.

A: Let's just say she has aged better than Barney, Hooky or Stephen.

A: No.



On the 18th of May 1980, Ian Curtis hung himself in his Macclesfield home, triggering the start of Joy Division’s mythical status. Thirty years later, Annik Honoré, his Belgian lover, has accepted for the first time to talk in detail about her history with Ian and of a time which was, in every way, extraordinary.

“I’m always expecting Natalie, Ian’s daughter, to ring the doorbell... I’d so much like to tell her my version of everything that happened.” Annik stops for an instant and freezes a smile which maker her face look charming and melancholic at the same time.

Since Deborah Curtis’ book ‘Touching from a distance’ came out in 1995 – which largely vilifies her – and even more so since Anton Corbijn’s biopic ‘Control’ in autumn 2007, Annik has come out of a strictly private sphere. Corbijn’s fiction triggered off a return to the unanswered questions about her part in the Ian Curtis tragedy, who committed suicide 2 months before his 24th birthday. Annik preferred the psychiatrist to journalists, refusing to confide to the press who, in Britain at least, paint her as the diabolical mistress who caused the fatal split between Ian and his wife Deborah. She did make an exception for the beautiful book by Lindsay Reade (1), Tony Wilson’s partner, who had taken her in after Curtis’ disappearance.

Knowing Annik since the glorious punk years, we’d approached her with a strong desire to get to know the other side of this saga. Reminding ourselves that at Futurama in Leeds in September 1979, after a shamanic and tetanising Joy Division performance, you’d come across Annik who never for a moment raises what she has always considered to be a “private affair”. Time has eventually done its work, and one evening in early June, we found her at home in a wooded house in Walloon Brabant (2) for a bowl of vegetarian pasta and a marathon 4 hours discussion.

Born on the 12th of October 1957 in a middle class family from Mons – Father is a police inspector, Mother works for the council, Annik is a rock chick. After the Stones at Forest (3), the first deep shock happened on the 16th of may 1976 at a gig featuring Patti Smith and The Stranglers at The Roundhouse in London. The Bournemouth language student is just as struck when she sees Bowie – still her hero today – at the Wembley Arena the same year. The ritual of the English fans, the British devotion, the “looks to kill”, all that leaves a lasting imprint on her DNA of a “decent girl, clean as clean can be, who has always worked hard at school”.

After a “shitty” job at the Pension tower in Brussels (...), Annik leaves for London in early summer 1979, where she lands a secretarial job at the Belgian embassy.

Annik Honoré: There, I start writing articles for En Attendant (4) and I go to gigs every night. Everything seems simple, accessible, inexpensive, the times are terribly exciting. In august, I’d seen Joy Division at the Nashville Rooms: I’d heard Unknown Pleasures that I’d thought was of an extreme violence and intensity. I am completely hooked: After the gig, my friend Isabelle and I approached the sound desk to ask for an interview. It was Rob Gretton, the manager, who said yes for next time. Which happened a short time after when I turned up with my Bert Bertrand (5) style questions along the lines of “what’s your favourite colour” (she smiles). The musicians in Joy Division earn a fiver per gig and sleep on a friend’s floor, right at th North end of London. They are very likeable, king, flattered that a foreign magazine should be interested in them. We listened to Bowie’s Low, and bit by bit, everyone dropped off, except for Ian and I... Corbijn’s file recounts the scene quite well.

You fall in love...

It’s my first love story. Until then, I’d only lived through music, I’d had the odd flirt, and then, I meet a rare being, exquisite, polite, everything I love. It’s silly to say, but Ian had beautiful eyes, a soft gaze, I feel a person who is suffering, fragile, immediately kind to me.

Joy Division is a musical earthquake at the time, a new sensation!

It’s often lousy from a sound point of view, but intense, beautiful... Its a suspended moment, anyway the gigs never last for long. The critics are eulogistic, I’m sure they’re going to be huge. As I’m also working as a booker for the Plan K in Brussels (6), I naturally asked them to come and play, twice, on the 16th of October 1979 and 17th of January 1980. At the time, the band gets £250 per gig.

So there are two Ian Curtises: One guy on stage, literally in a trance, and then the private person, introverted, troubled?

On stage, he comes out of himself as if he’s exorcising all his demons, he’s an erupting volcano. After the gig, he’s exhausted, mentally and physically. He goes back to being that excessively sweet and shy person, closed, full of questions about the band and his life. He has a huge potential, but the great honesty not to realise it. He has no cynicism, no pretence.

Why this deep distress?

He is overrun by his own talent. I liked the other Joy Division lads a lot with their exceptional energy, but Ian towered above them. The fact that Ian had been epileptic since his teens made him particularly fragile. When he had a fit, it made him surreal, terribly frightening: I’d seen him practically lift off the ground. But it’s almost something magical like a connection between the conscious and the unconscious. Suddenly, he goes into a world with no relation to reality. I understood that he needed a feminine presence when it’s band policy not to have any girls at the gigs. Somewhere, I broke that circle because Ian had a huge need to be comforted. That’s why it’s so hard to read, afterwards, about the horrors of the “deception”, that sort of thing...

But you were lovers weren’t you?

It was a totally pure and platonic relationship, very childish, very chaste... I didn’t have a sexual relationship with Ian, he was on medication that made any physical relationship impossible. I’m completely fed up that people doubt my word or his: you can say what you want, but I’m the only person to have any of his writings... One of his letters stated that the relationship with his wife Deborah was already over when we met.

What was your reaction to Anton Corbijn’s film, Control?

It’s not Annik Honoré in the film, it’s Ian’s girlfriend, it’s fiction. If I am a witness today, it’s to keep biographical authenticity, I have no other interest in doing so other than talking about the Plan K and the Disques du Crépuscule, which I did with Michel Duval. Having said that, Anton is a very respectable person who came to talk to me on more than one occasion, but Annik does not exist, it’s Deborah Curtis who exists... (7) I’ve only ever seen her once, from far at a gig in Manchester. I had been very uncomfortable because enev back then, she hated me deeply. I was Ian’s “girlfriend”, his lover, not his mistress or “an affair”, a hideous and abject word.

You found yourself sucked into a tale that overtook you and grew with the incredible posthumous success of the band!

I still think that his death was a pure moment of aberration. I had spoken to him that same evening and everyone knew he was happy to be going to the States (the day after his death, for a tour). He was taking 20 pills a day and as he’d mixed that with alcohol... On Saturday 17th of May, I was at the James White gig at the Plan K and Ian called me to say he wanted to see me at Heathrow before he left for the USA. When I got to London on Sunday morning, I felt that something had happened... As I didn’t see him at the rendezvous, I called his parents house – he’d been living there for a few weeks – and Ian’s dad said “Ian is dead” and hung up. I couldn’t go to the funeral because Deborah Curtis, as she wrote in her book, “was afraid I’d make a scene” – which makes me laugh – but she accepted that I should go and see Ian’ body at the chapel in Macclesfield... I was a wreck. Tony Wilson (The boss of Factory Records) and his wife put me up for a week, then Tony bought me a plan ticket to Brussels in the name of Annik Curtis... I spent 3 months with my grand-parents in the country, and the Belgian embassy, where I had not gone back to work, prosecuted me for “treason of the Belgian state”...

For years, you stayed with this heavy tale. You told m your parents and brother hadn’t known about this involvement with Ian Curtis: Why keep it like that?

My parents and I, we don’t share our stories (...), they didn’t know, nor did my brother, who Joy Division or Ian Curtis were. I had a great guilt inside me, a married man, a suicide, I’d quit a super job at the embassy, so I kept a low profile. I’m grateful that my parents respected that. At the time, I lived the story to the full, and I would have liked it to stay in a little secret box: it made me fragile, afraid of doing wrong, of falling in love. It was only in 1995 – 15 years after Ian’ death – that people started talking about me because if Deborah Curtis’ book. Contrary to what she said, I never called her at night “for months”, on the other hand, she phoned me to threaten to “kill” me because I was seeing her husband... And to the emails and solicitations that came after that, I answered that it was a private matter and that Joy Division were records.

Night fell quite some time ago. Annik takes me to the attic where the Plan K posters are stocked with a bit of new-wave memorabilia. She shows me ten or so letters of Ian’s, one of which contains a T. S. Elliot poem. This evening, she’s opened the flood-gates on a decisive story that lasted less than a year some 3 decades ago. Despite the impression of this encounter, Annik has not become a black widow. She restarted her live, had 2 children, both now adults, and has been working for the same international institution since 1985. She’s never stopped lapping up gigs and is enthusiastic about the coming visit of Benjamin Biolay. She like people to be interested in her more for the “precursory” work at the Plan K between 1979 and 1984, or in the Disques du Crépuscule, a creative if a bit snobbish label, created in Brussels in 1980. The next day, Annik sends an SMS requesting that we don’t publish any “too personal details” on all that. But where should the intimate limits be set on a story like this?

Original text by Philippe Cornet, available here:


Translated by Jeremy Thomas







Deborah Curtis co-produced Corbijn’s film, based on her book

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March 16 2010 3 16 /03 /March /2010 22:44

Cecilia::eyes - Here dead we lie


Last Post Rock


2007’s Mountain Tops are Sometimes Closer to the Moon was always going to be one hell of a tough record to follow. 3 years on, and Cecilia::Eyes have been on a trip through the battlefields and conflict zones of the world in search of inspiration for Here Dead we Lie. They’ve picked up a new member on the way, but the most striking difference is better drum & cymbal sounds and a good deal of piano work. Oh! And it starts with vocal samples.


If the stormingCE-CD.jpg 2 opening tracks weren’t enough, a reading of Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth” clearly sets the anti-war theme for the album. “Fifty years under the tent”, a reference to the plight of Palestinian refugees, is simply stunning.


The guitars owe more to Dreampop or Shoegaze than to more established “instrumental” music. The composition more Harold Budd or Enrico Morricone than to the improvised ramblings of Godspeed You Black Emperor, but I really must conform to the journalistic ritual of irritating the hell out of the band and pigeonholing them into a Post-Rock genre. Nothing else quite seems to fit.


It takes time to listen to this album. At an average song length just under 7 (yes, seven) minutes, it's not something you're going to hear on the radio and get a sudden crush on. It's something you have to take home and savor. Like good chocolate, bite it and it's wasted. It needs time to melt on the tong - for that long lingering sensation, that private moment of pleasure. And the repetition is hypnotic - you can listen to the themes time and time again, just like a Buddhist mantra.



This is an album of soundscapes, of space for reflection, of soaring guitars, of despair and emotion, of passionate drumming. A worthy follow-up from this band that deserves recognition way beyond the frontiers of our small country.


And if you're quick, you'll get the limited edition box thing with lots of nice postcard inlays in it.

Some previews here:




Buy it here:


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March 11 2010 5 11 /03 /March /2010 20:51

Set The Tone

Boutik Rock - Feb 2010


STT-Bass.JPGNow, I don't really do Metal, but Boutik Rock is a showcase, Set The Tone had made an effort, not only to turn up, but also to bring some merchandizing, talk about what they do, and generally be just as passionate about music as I am. I reckon I ought to give them a chance to put their money where their mouth is, so beer in hand, I treck along to the Rotonde.

The Rotonde is only about ½ full when the guys come on. As the background music won’t stop, they just grunt, click in & drown it out. A quick look round the room at the reaction to the first few bars, and EVERYONE is sporting a HUGE grin. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here to ROCK!

STT-Gtr-2.JPGSomething that comes across straight away is the personalities on stage: the ogre with the microphone storming around the stage like he owns it; the grizzly bear next to him making his bass look like a poxy cut down broomstick, the panther & wolf guitarists, one faithfully thrashing out chords on his SG, the other stalking the audience with his iron stare and gleaming skull, spanking out licks from a remarkably unremarkable Les Paul. I really didn't notice the drummer, other than they'd nailed him to a stool at the back so he didn't fly off on a collision course with the rest of the band.

STT GtrThere’s a huge variety in the music they play. Yes, it’s all metal, but the variation in the keys, tempos, chord progressions is phenomenal. Despite the ‘scream’ style, there’s a lot of clarity and technique to the vocals - this is not belching into a microphone - this is seriously impressive.  “This is the first time we’ve played this song live” they announce, and launch into a number that is so wonderfully complex in its structure and progression that it would be worthy of early Genesis. But it would have taken Genesis an extra 10 minutes to play that many notes.  This is very, very good musicianship and composition work. We also were treated to a few bars of the lead guitarist’s stunningly good voice, which had more than just a hint of David Coverdale about it.

I would highly recommend a Set The Tone gig to any rock fan, regardless of the type of music you “usually” listen to. It's a real pleasure to listen to songs that are so varied, so well executed, such a tight band, and a real passion for what they do that is totally infectious.



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Published by Jez - in Live reviews
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March 1 2010 2 01 /03 /March /2010 15:08

Lots of stuff to write about...


Boutik Rock at the Botanique on 10, 11, 12 & 13 February


I was impressed by the psychedelic country folk rock from Too Much & the White Nots – excellent tunes and a very original orchestration. Full on in-yer-face metal from Liege band Set The Tone – a real rock’n’roll treat. A great stand-up comedy & solo set from Sharko frontman David Bartholomé. The charming 60’s influenced folk tunes from rising star Faustine Hollander. And a raucous performance with a few delightful twists from band of the moment Vismets.


Various Soirées Cerises events


Fabulous uncategorisable stuff with drums and strings from Illinois band Pillars & Tongues. Delicate hippy folksy ballads from Erinn. French cowboy-folk stars My Name is Nobody. Delightful pop with some wonderful musicianship from Ruacutane. And incomprehensible drivel with dull string arrangements and atrociously unimaginative songwriting from Hano-ah


MusicBrussels.com launch night 27 Febrary


An acoustic performance from My TV is Dead showcasing some of the tunes on their excellent new album. Garner on fire for their new album launch. The Diplomat showing us what rock is all about. And The Vogues with a storming performance straight out of 60’s London. And Nige Bray – the best pub singer in Brussels.



All on the way...


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