Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag Belgium - Full Moon 246 - 09/16/16

Various Artists
4 in 1 Vol. 4 (Bene Gesserit, M.A.L., Alice Just, Kosmose)
Insane Music

As might be expected, this is the fourth album in an ongoing series. They all include recordings by four, mainly Belgian, artists or groups, 15 minutes in the limelight each. The first two volumes were released way back in the early 1980s, the first on cassette and the second on LP. 30 years on and a third volume saw the light of day, released on CD by EE Tapes. The fourth volume revisits the cassette format, but if you wish, the cassette can be delivered with a free CD-R including the same contents.

This album starts in a really baroque way with a neat harpsichord and a vintage reverbed sax that sounds as if it stems from the same era. Elegant and beautiful. It doesn't last for long, though. When the drum machine kicks in after about 24 seconds the harpsichord is drowned to some extent, and with the arrival of Japanese-alike vocals further down the alley, the mood has changed completely. And it turns a lot worse with distorted howls and dissonant notes after that. I guess this is why I love this duo, BeNe GeSSeRiT, for it's none other than them again. They have enough pretty and catchy melodies inboard to have been hailed as heroes of the synth-pop movement of the 1980s, if they wanted to. Instead they're lead by playful - someone might say perverse - whims that firmly destroy the commercial tendencies, and place them as heroes of the counter-culture underground instead. This track "THe iNSaNe QueeN" is only one example. The remaining five offerings by BeNe GeSSeRiT have less "normal" catchy elements, they're more into moody or noisy terrain with the voice of BeNeDiCT G at the fore, interspersed with more and less merry electronic and electric accompaniment, with similarities to some of the eccentricities of their latest longplayer. "ReST iN PieCeS" is a favourite, slow with unusual rhythms, string-sounding keyboards and hymn-alike and almost solemn vocals both in front and the background, topped with vocals closer to spoken words. Spine-chilling! More spoken words, string keyboards, even a nasty guitar at the start and end and lots of whims in "éPiSoDe 8, éPiLoGue (MoRT De L'HeRoiNe)". I wish my French had been better so I could understand what caused the death of the heroine ... This is the third time BeNe GeSSeRiT is represented in the 4 in 1 format since the duo got started 35 years ago. Still eccentric after all these years!

M.A.L. is another previous Belgian acquaintance, though not as often as the duo above. This is the one-man-band of Daniel Malempré that has been around for at least as long as BeNe GeSSeRiT. He released his first cassette under the M.A.L. moniker in 1981 and last time we visited his solo music was on the Insane Music For Insane People Vol. 26 sampler two years ago. Earlier he has been involved in bands and projects along with Insane boss Alain Neffe, in Kosmose (see below), Sic, Subject and Human Flesh. He has also helped out on a few BeNe GeSSeRiT recordings in between. Now he gives us 'New songs from my home', two quite long guitar dominated instrumental pieces spanning from 'minimal electronic, cosmic experimental to melodic new wave', according to the accompanying information sheet I received. Which is as accurate as can be concerning the two tracks included here. "The Supreme Alchemist" starts in the interesting repetitive electronic new wave experimental way, takes a trip to outer space and returns to ground level eventually. "Kosmose Alone" suggests where he comes from and belongs in the (you already guessed it!) cosmic department, with a close to the gliding guitar sound of Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd towards the end. Sublime!

Alice Just is a new name to me, but still sounds familiar in these surroundings. She might be said to represent the lighter sides of BeNe GeSSeRiT, the sides that are almost absent on BG's own contributions here. She is helped out a little bit by her husband Flavien Gillié and Alain Neffe. The tracks are dominated by spoken words, in a relaxed and very normal voice, minimalistic and to some extent repetitive backing. In "La Pluie Tombe" there are light keyboards, laughter and even the sound of crackle from an old worn-out LP. "Il Marchait Dans Les Rues" with an ongoing string loop has less whispering voice than the rest. "Ma Robe De Mariée" (my wedding dress, isn't it?) and "Je Ne Dis Pas" are more dreamy. The latter with multiple voices sets me back to 1987 and some scenes from Wim Wender's formidable film Der Himmel Über Berlin (Wings Of Desire) and that can never be wrong.

Last but not least comes Kosmose. We presented the band in the review of last year's archive release Kosmic Music From The Black Country. The album included 11 long improvised tracks, namely "The Second Untitled Track" and onwards up to no. 12, with one exception. "The Ninth Untitled Track" was missing. Instead we got the ninetieth. I thought that was a spelling mistake, but no. Here's "No. 9". According to inside information there might be more than 90 recordings in the Kosmose vaults! "The Ninth" was recorded around 1976 and includes the guitar of the late Paul Kutzner. M.A.L.-man Daniel Malempré didn't arrive until a little later, I guess. Here are harsh and floating sequences, more and less weird electronics, more conventional guitars (or maybe some of the stark electronics sounds stem from the guitar?), echoed flute, some plastic sax honks and rolling drums at the fore. Though all in all I think the second M.A.L. track is more cosmic than this.

A great way to present four very different artists and bands in even more different musical directions. There's a vast distance from Alice Just's lightweight offerings to the noisy excursions of Kosmose, whereas the BeNe GeSSeRiT and M.A.L. take off on their own to the left and right. Still the mix works fine. Can be ordered from Insane boss Alain Neffe.

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