Tag: Dan Lacksman

A Beginner’s Guide to DAN LACKSMAN

Born in 1950, German-born Belgian synth pioneer and producer Dan Lacksman began learning about music when he was 12.

Becoming proficient on piano and guitar, his first two loves were THE SHADOWS and THE BEATLES. Fascinated by the art of recording, he set-up the bones of his first home studio with a second hand tape recorder in his parents’ dining room and acquired more instruments along the way. After he left school, he went to study to become a professional recording engineer, but frustrated by the experience, he sought something more hands-on and found a job as a tape-op with Studio Madeleine in Brussels.

Established by Félix-Robert Faecq who was A&R at Decca Belgium, it saw Lacksman working with a number of the top hit making engineers and musicians in the Benelux region. Fascinated by the increasing use of electronics in music, Lacksman’s first synthesizer purchase was an EMS VCS 3 that still works today and in situ at his Synsound studios. But it was his investment in a Moog IIIP modular system that was to prove crucial as he made several albums under the name ELECTRONIC SYSTEM.

But Lacksman was to find fame when he formed the seminal electronic trio TELEX with noted jazz musician Marc Moulin and vocalist Michel Moers in 1978. Their aim was to make “something really European, different from rock, without guitar”. Their first single was a cover of ‘Twist à Saint Tropez’ which was made famous by LES CHATS SAUVAGES and developed around an electronic arrangement which Lacksman had blueprinted on ‘Rock Machine’, a track from his ‘Disco Machine’ album as ELECTRONIC SYSTEM.

The self-penned album opener ‘Moscow Diskow’ heralded a new phase in electronic dance music that had been seeded by the Giorgio Moroder produced ‘I Feel Love’ in 1977 and became a club favourite. But in 1979, TELEX unexpectedly found themselves on ‘Top Of The Pops’ when their deadpan funereal version of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ reached No34 in the UK singles charts. Meanwhile, Lacksman and Moulin found themselves at the top of the French charts when ‘Le Banana Split’, a track they produced for Belgian-based starlet Lio sold one million copies.

In 1980, Lacksman founded Synsound Studios in Brussels but TELEX were to get their 15 minutes of fame when they represented Belgium in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. Entering with a bouncy electropop tune entitled ‘Euro-Vision’, it had deliberately banal lyrics about the event highlighting that although the borders were open for one night with everyone well-dressed, after the contest, the borders would close and everyone would be back to square one. With Lacksman’s Moog modular behind them, TELEX’s amusing Situationist performance concluded with Moers stoically taking a photo of the bemused audience in The Hague.

While TELEX would release further albums and see SPARKS act as collaborators on their third long player ‘Sex’, Lacksman continued a parallel production and engineering career while also expanding his Synsound Studios into a second complex and having the likes of David Bowie, Harumi Hosono, Thomas Dolby, Youssou N’Dour, Etienne Daho and Florian Schneider use their facilities.

TELEX reunited in 2006 for the ‘How Do You Dance?’ album on Virgin Records and finding themselves welcomed back by the artists who had they had helped lay the electronic foundations for, the trio did remixes for DEPECHE MODE and PET SHOP BOYS. Sadly Marc Moulin passed away in 2008 and TELEX was retired. Fast forward to today and TELEX find themselves in a new partnership with Daniel Miller and Mute for the release of a new six disc box set containing the albums ‘Looking For Saint-Tropez’, ‘Neurovision’, ‘Sex’, ‘Wonderful World’, ‘Looney Tunes’ and ‘How Do You Dance?’.

With that in mind, it is fitting that Dan Lacksman should be more recognised for his trailblazing technical endeavours in the name of electronic music. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is proud to present a selection of 20 works which he had a hand in… listed in yearly and then alphabetical order, some of his many achievements will pleasantly surprise.


DAN LACKSMAN Happiness Is A Cold Beer (1973)

Releasing his first solo single ‘I Start A Dream To-Day’ in 1971, Dan Lackman’s eventual self-titled debut album was a eclectic mixture of banjo driven country rock, psychedelic folk, acoustic ballads and bluesy synth-flavoured rock ‘n’ roll. Possibly recorded while inebriated, ‘Happiness Is A Cold Beer’ was like an electronic Fats Domino using his Moog IIIP modular alongside Mellotron, piano and guitar. It was a sign of things to come.

Available on the DAN LACKSMAN album ‘Dan Lacksman’ via Real Gone Music

https://danlacksman.com/


ELECTRONIC SYSTEM Flight To Venus (1977) 

For more experimental but melodic instrumentals, Lacksman went out as THE ELECTRONIC SYSTEM with ‘Coconut’ being the first long playing release in 1973. As well as the jolly title track, it notably included covers of ‘La Bamba’ and Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Son Of My Father’. Taking the latter’s lead on the sixth album ‘Disco Machine’, ‘Flight To Venus’ was a magnificent slice of throbbing electronic disco which THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS later sampled for ‘Star Guitar’.

Available on the ELECTRONIC SYSTEM album ‘Disco Machine’ via Omega International

https://www.facebook.com/danlacksmanmusic


PLASTIC BERTRAND Tout Petit La Planète (1978)

Roger Jouret found fame in 1977 as Plastic Bertrand with ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ released by Belgian label RKM who TELEX also eventually signed to. Away from “plastique punk”, there was the smooth electronic disco of ‘Tout Petit La Planète’ on which Lackman’s performed synths and vocoder. In 2010, Jouret admitted he did not sing on any of the first four Plastic Bertrand albums and the vocals were by producer Lou Deprijck.

Available on the PLASTIC BERTRAND album ‘Greatest Hits’ via Choice Of Music

https://www.plasticbertrand.com/


TRANS VOLTA Disco Computer (1978)

TRANS VOLTA was Dan Lacksman’s one-off collaboration with American trumpeter Douglas Lucas who released several albums on RKM as well as founding the Afro-jazz ensemble MOMBASA, ‘Disco Computer’ was another brilliant homage to Giorgio Moroder. Imagining the mind of a machine making dance music, the robotised lead prophetically announced “I am the future” aided by arcade game bleeps and Cerrone-influenced drums.

Available on the compilation album ‘The Sound Of Belgium’ (V/A) via La Musique Fait La Force

https://www.discogs.com/artist/144074-Transvolta


PATRICK HERNANDEZ Born To Be Alive (1979)

Working with Belgian producer Jean Vanloo, French singer Patrick Hernandez had a worldwide hit with ‘Born to Be Alive’; it was infectious but thanks to its unique vocal intonation, potentially very annoying. Throwing in the kitchen sink, it also featured a synthbass sequence from a Roland System 100 programmed by Dan Lacksman. A young Madonna was part of Hernandez’s touring dance troupe.

Available on the PATRICK HERNANDEZ album ‘Born To Be Alive’ via Cherry Pop

https://www.facebook.com/patrick.hernandez3


LIO Le Banana Split (1979)

Named after a ‘Barbarella’ character, Portugese-born Lio worked with songwriters Jacques Duvall and Jay Alanski while Dan Lacksman and TELEX bandmate Marc Moulin were recruited as the main producers for her premier Lio album. ‘Le Banana Split’ recalled the delightful coquettish yé-yé girls such as France Gall and was No1 in France. Meanwhile, the song found new life in the recent “Hello Yellow” iPhone 14 advert.

Available on the LIO album ‘Lio’ via ZE Records

https://www.instagram.com/lio_la_vraie/


TELEX Ça Plane Pour Moi (1979)

While TELEX caused a stir by covering the old classic ‘Rock Around The Clock’ at a funereal pace, reinterpreting a comparatively new Euro-punk number in ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ in the same fashion was more surprising… or was it? “Well, it was to please our producer as it was the same record company” laughed Michel Moers. “But we thought it would be funny to do as it was a very fast track, to make it slower and add vocoder…” Lacksman added.

Available on the TELEX album ‘Looking For Saint-Tropez’ as part of the boxed set via Mute Artists

https://mutebank.co.uk/collections/telex


SŒUR SOURIRE Dominque – Version 1982 (1982)

Jeannine Deckers, known as Sœur Sourire in French or The Singing Nun in English-speaking territories, shot to fame in 1963 with ‘Dominique’ although after leaving the church, she lived in poverty. Attempting to revive her fortunes, she was teamed with Dan Lacksman and Marc Moulin to rework her biggest hit. “We did an electronic version with Soeur Sourire, it was a complete flop!” said Lacksman. Deckers sadly took her own life in 1985.

Originally released as a single on Scalp Records, currently unavailable

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singing_Nun


TELEX Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before? (1982)

‘Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?’ was a TELEX collaboration with SPARKS which came about by accident. Russell Mael had met Lio on a French TV show and proposed writing English lyrics for her next album. They arranged to work at Dan Lacksman’s studio in Brussels but Lio never arrived. TELEX played the Maels some tapes so SPARKS remained in the city to work on the ‘Sex’ album, commuting by tram to the studio, enjoying the attention from fans recognising them.

Available on the TELEX album ‘Sex’ as part of the boxed set via Mute Artists

https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsTelex


MIHARU KOSHI L’Amour Toujours (1983)

TELEX and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA had much in common and Japanese trio’s leader Haruomi Hosono came over to Brussels to record a cover of TELEX’s ‘L’Amour Toujours’ with chanteuse Miharu Koshi whose album he was producing. ”It was fantastic” remembered Lacksman of the sessions at his studio which also featured Marc Moulin on synth, “we were very close technically, those three days were really incredible…”

Available on the MIHARU KOSHI album ‘Tutu’ via Great Tracks

https://www.miharukoshi.info/


THOMAS DOLBY Hyperactive! (1983)

Having had his first solo material appear on the compilation ‘From Brussels With Love’, Thomas Dolby ventured over to the Belgian capital to record his second album ‘The Flat Earth’ with Dan Lacksman engineering. Despite being labelled a “synth boffin”, Dolby aimed to make a much more organic sounding record despite the use of a Fairlight. One of the big surprises was the speedy art-funk of ‘Hyperactive!’ which had been pitched to Michael Jackson.

Available on the THOMAS DOLBY album ‘The Flat Earth’ via EMI Music

https://www.thomasdolby.com/


SPARKS Music You Can Dance To (1986)

When SPARKS returned to Brussels to record with Dan Lacksman, the release of ‘Change’ in 1985 had not been received well. In what turned out to be a one-off single on London Records, one A&R muttered to the Maels: “why can’t you make music that you can dance to?” – but from criticism comes inspiration and this led to ‘Music That You Can Dance To’. Making use of a Fairlight, Roland Jupiter 8 and Yamaha DX7, the energetic similarities to ERASURE’s ‘Oh L’Amour’ did not go unnoticed.

Available on the album ‘Music You Can Dance To’ via Repertoire Records

https://allsparks.com/


DEEP FOREST Sweet Lullaby (1992)

A French duo comprising of Eric Mouquet and Michel Sanchez, DEEP FOREST were along with ENIGMA, pioneers of “Global Pop”, a type of ambient dance music combined with ethnic sound samples. Spening over a year to craft the record, the producer of their self-titled first album was Dan Lacksman and with ‘Sweet Lullaby’, he found himself part of yet another worldwide hit.

Available on the DEEP FOREST album ‘Deep Forest’ via Columbia Records

https://www.deep-forest.fr/


CAMOUFLAGE In Your Ivory Tower (1993)

Dan Lacksman had been the main producer of the second CAMOUFLAGE album ‘Methods Of Silence’.  He returned in 1993 to helm ‘Bodega Bohemia’ and the end result was the Germans’ best album since their 1988 debut ‘Voices & Images’. While the album’s hit single came with the ‘Violator’-lite of ‘Suspicious Love’, the closing 9 minute Sylvian-esque drama of ‘In Your Ivory Tower’ was its crowning glory.

Available on the CAMOUFLAGE album ‘Bodega Bohemia’ via Universal Music

https://www.camouflage-music.com/en/News


PANGEA Memories Of Pangea (1996)

Developing on the exotic new age of DEEP FOREST, Lacksman formed his own project PANGEA. Named after the ancient supercontinent that once comprised of Africa, India, South America, Antarctica and Australia, it told the story of “once upon a time at the beginning of earth”. ‘Memories Of Pangea’ was conceived with the idea of “one earth” and how technology was able to unite all like one continent.

Available on the PANGEA album ‘Pangea’ via EastWest

https://www.discogs.com/artist/71181-Pangea


SANDRINE COLLARD Cache-Cache Dans Le Noir (2002)

‘Cache-Cache Dans Le Noir’, the first single by Belgian singer Sandrine Collard recalled Lio. So it was no big surprise to learn that Dan Lacksman had produced it. Blippy electronic pop with wispy vocals, and translating as “hide and seek in the dark”, she saw her lyrics as parodies of her own life. A reluctant pop star, Collard had even suggested to Lacksman that his daughter Alice should record her songs; she was persuaded otherwise.

Available on the SANDRINE COLLARD album ‘Je Communique’ via Need Records

https://www.discogs.com/release/4037388-Sandrine-Collard-Je-Communique


DEPECHE MODE A Pain That I Am Used To – TELEX remix (2006)

Capturing “pain and suffering in various tempos”, ‘Playing The Angel’ was a return to form of sorts for DEPECHE MODE after the painfully lacklustre ‘Exciter’. Already a brooding epic in its original form, TELEX made ‘A Pain That I Am Used To’ more electronic and more metronomic with a deep throb and bass resonance. It tied in perfectly with the trio’s return with new recordings after a lengthy hiatus and began an association with Mute that would see fruition 15 years later.

Available on the DEPECHE MODE boxed set ‘Playing The Angel – The 12” Singles’ via Sony Music

https://www.depechemode.com/


TELEX La Bamba (2006)

While ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was TELEX’s only UK hit, it set the tone for their later cover versions which often saw the trio slow rock n’ roll classics right down “so that old people can even dance to it” as Michel Moers joked – Lacksman had already recorded a faster version for ELECTRONIC SYSTEM in 1973 that used acoustic guitar as well as synths, but he had been itching to realise a purer electronic vision.

Available on the TELEX album ‘This Is Telex’ via Mute Artists

https://www.instagram.com/this_is_telex/


DAN & ALICE LACKSMAN Bonjour Monsieur Hulot (2013)

Dan Lacksman released his first solo LP in nearly four decades to express his ‘Electric Dreams’. The sequencer heavy ‘I Want My Space’ harked back to ELECTRONIC SYSTEM and while the album was instrumental melodies, an interesting curio was ‘Bonjour Monsieur Hulot’. A sweet electro chanson duet with his producer daughter Alice, the song recalled TELEX in spirit with its sense of humour.

Available on the DAN LACKSMAN album ‘Electric Dreams’ via 77 Recordings, listen at https://soundcloud.com/pickydan/sets/electric

https://www.facebook.com/danlacksmanmusic


FLORIAN SCHNEIDER & DAN LACKSMAN Stop Plastic Pollution (2015)

Having left KRAFTWERK in 2008, the late Florian Schneider was enjoying his retirement but while on holiday in Ghana, he observed the local fishermen were catching nothing but plastic rubbish in their nets. He teamed up with Dan Lacksman and environmental campaign group Parley For The Oceans, recording ‘Stop Plastic Pollution’ to raise awareness of the issue. The message was “Stop plastic pollution in the oceans… save the fish… keep your planet clean.”

Not officially released, listen at https://soundcloud.com/dazedandconfused/stop-plastic-pollution-florian-schneiderkraftwerk-co-founder-dan-lacksman-telex

https://www.parley.tv/updates/2016/1/6/stop-plastic-pollution-florian-schneider-for-the-oceans


Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd April 2023

TELEX Interview

Photo by Frank Uyttenhove

Belgian synth trio TELEX are to release a new box set of their studio albums on Mute this Spring.

Their 1979 debut album ‘Looking For Saint-Tropez’ featured three unusual and striking electronic reinterpretations of rock ‘n’ roll through the ages including ‘Rock Around The Clock’, ‘Twist À St. Tropez’ and ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’. Pre-dating SILICON TEENS, the fictional teen synth band devised by Daniel Miller, the new partnership with Mute is highly fitting with the one-time apprentice providing a new home for the sorcerer.

As well as ‘Looking For Saint-Tropez’, the ‘TELEX’ box set will also contain ‘Neurovision’ (1980), ‘Sex’ (1981), ‘Wonderful World’ (1984), ‘Looney Tunes’ (1988) and ‘How Do You Dance?’ (2006); all the albums have been remastered and newly mixed from the original tapes by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers.

The Brussels-based threesome of Michel Moers, Dan Lacksman and Marc Moulin were already experienced hands when they formed TELEX in 1978. But they trailblazed and subverted during their imperial phase, crossing paths with SPARKS and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA along the way. Representing Belgium at the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, their bouncy song ‘Eurovision’ with its deliberately banal lyrics sending up the whole charade featured a Situationist performance that puzzled most watching on TV but delighted many others.

Recognised as techno, house and synthpop pioneers thanks to seminal tracks such as ‘Moscow Diskow’ and ‘Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?’, TELEX were to later remix DEPECHE MODE and PET SHOP BOYS. But after Marc Moulin sadly passed away in 2008, TELEX were formally retired.

Blessed with another opportunity to present their impressive legacy to a new generation and established music fans who may have missed them first time round, Michel Moers and Dan Lacksman spent a joyful hour chatting to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their time as TELEX…

TELEX joining the Mute family is quite appropriate isn’t it, like it was meant to be?

Michel: It should have been earlier… *laughs*

We had a very long contract so when we could get out of it, the first thought was “Mute is the best”; so we tried and it was the right move, we didn’t ask anybody else. The next day, we received an email from Daniel Miller saying “yes OK, let’s talk”.

Dan: We couldn’t believe it because it was our dream. “What would be the best company to reissue the albums?” and of course it was Mute. It’s great.

Michel: We loved ‘Warm Leatherette’, it was like a punch! Then SILICON TEENS came after TELEX, but at the time I wasn’t aware it. KRAFTWERK were a big influence but as “The Belgian KRAFTWERK” (*laughs*) with Belgian humour and cartoons, it was more related to our environment and personalities. English humour is better known around the world.

Dan: Belgian humour quite is surreal, similar to Monty Python which was very popular here because it was completely absurd. Also there are two cultures in Belgium, the French one and the Dutch one. It’s a mixture of both. I am French speaking but my grandfather was Flemish so I can feel both sides in me and a lot of Belgian people, especially in Brussels, they are a mixture of cultures.

Michel: In Belgium, we are much closer to English humour than French humour.

There are new mixes of the albums but what do you mean by that, as that might ring alarm bells for some, like dance remixes etc? *laughs*

Dan: It’s not every title, it’s about 60%… when we first started to remaster, some of the mixes we were listening to and thinking “it’s a pity, there is too much reverb” or whatever. But then the idea came to try a new mix but sounding similar to the original. So we decided to try one and if we don’t like it, we don’t do it! But it worked very well, so well that finally we listened to every album and we decided which titles we thought were ok for mastering and which ones we should attempt a new mix. And so that’s what we did.

Michel: So it’s new mixes, NOT “remixes”, that is more related to dance… the main thing we did was to take tracks away…

Dan: …to simplify…

Michel: The first album was our main reference and we probably didn’t succeed after because there were so many new machines to try… so with these new mixes and less tracks, the six albums are more a whole, you can really feel more of a thread….

Dan: All the songs are original, we didn’t replace anything, the vocals are all the original ones and no cheating, well…

Michel: …sometimes calibrating my timing or my pitch! *laughs*

Dan: The bass was played manually in those days, no sequencer which is why it was grooving, Marc had an incredible groove but sometimes, there were parts we replaced but very few really…

How did ‘Moscow Diskow’ come together, the idea of going to a club behind The Iron Curtain?

Michel: The original idea was to make lyrics, French words that English or American people were using, like “fantastique”. It was putting all these words together, some more personal ones like my girlfriend was called a “French Garçon” and things like that. It came together with the idea of a train…

Dan: So I thought, what about the hi-hat, it would be the train, a steam train which would be a completely surrealistic concept. So I started from there and added a kick drum and claps, there is no snare and I did the “woo-woo” sound with two oscillators and an envelope controlling the pitch. It was done very fast. We didn’t specify a 130 tempo, it was just a knob, like “what about this?”. We had to first record the drums on three tracks before we could do the keyboards as always, it was very spontaneous. It came like this, et viola!

Michel: At the time, the Moscow graphics were very well used, we liked to play with clichés… if we were writing the song now, we would choose another town…

‘Rock Around The Clock’ is TELEX’s only UK hit and the ‘Top Of The Pops’ performance is still great performance art… but it crossed over, even my mother liked it!

Michel: We also did a cover of ‘La Bamba’ and it is also slower than the original like ‘Rock Around The Clock’ so that old people can even dance to it *laughs*

The idea was to show who TELEX were, as people would know the original and hear the difference. It was an easier way to show who we are and that the audience may like an original song of ours. TELEX were like making a “History of Music”, so ‘Rock Around The Clock’ is rock, ‘La Bamba’ is South America, ‘Dance To The Music was black music…

Were you surprised to get the call to be on ‘Top Of The Pops’?

Michel: No, because maybe the reason we were asked was because they had a new Quantel machine to make new kinds of images and special effects. We were probably the only band around at that time with electronics where they could make these images that had not been made before. So it was more for them to play with their machine *laughs*

Dan: The rule on ‘Top Of The Pops’ at that time for international artists was that everything had to be live, but they wanted to experiment with this machine. So the day before, we went to the BBC and they filmed us to prepare some effects that they would insert the next day when we were performing, they were running the effects in sync and then they would put the live image and some effects, so when we did the “da-da-da” and the picture swirling, it was great, it true that it fits with the music.

Was it your idea to read the newspaper or the ‘Top Of The Pops’ director? *laughs*

Michel: It wasn’t the director, his reaction was “Are they bored? They don’t want to be there” *laughs*

No, we liked sometimes to use the anti-cliché of pop music you know… in pop music, everybody is smiling and moving, so the idea was to do the contrary. One of the main comedy characters we liked was Buster Keaton…

Dan: …he never smiled!

Michel: So we thought, “what would he do?”… you didn’t dance, just *does swaying arm movement*

Dan: NO! *laughs*

PET SHOP BOYS did the newspaper thing in 2009, I don’t know if they got the idea from you?

Michel: They also don’t dance… at the end of ‘Eurovision’, I take a picture of the audience but now, everybody has an iPhone and is taking the picture so it’s funny. The idea was reversing the process.

So ‘Rock Around The Clock’ saw you covering an old song, you also covered an quite new song at the time ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ and Dan, you have a connection because you did the synths for Plastic Bertrand on ‘Tout Petit La Planète’? Was this cover deliberate because of your connections?

Michel: Well, it was to please our producer as it was the same record company *laughs*

Dan: But we thought it would be funny to do as it was a very fast track, to make it slower and add vocoder…

Michel: It was part of that “History of Music” idea, add some punk plus it was the only way you could make people understand the words! *laughs*

As the box set shows, TELEX became notable for their cover versions, which were your favourites and which songs do you wish you had recorded?

Michel: There are two that have not been released sung by me but they are probably not TELEX enough… my idea would be to keep the backing and have someone who sings well! *laughs*

With people who sing well, what they sing is usually boring to me. Maybe it’s not the same in England but over here, it’s for radio but the singers sound like…

Dan: …that’s maybe because of the voice program that is everywhere and it’s just physical performance, it’s not singing anymore… like why? Maybe people are just accustomed to it, even if it is out of tune, it doesn’t matter but when you stick Autotune on, you have no more feeling.

When you did ‘On The Road Again’ in 2006, had you been aware of ROCKETS’ version which similarly used vocoder?

Dan: I was not aware…

Michel: I was aware after… the idea of ‘On The Road Again’ was simply because we were making a new record after so many years of silence. Now I know the ROCKETS version but it was a few weeks after our version came out, Italian TELEX fans were sending me pictures of these guys full of blue. Often the same things can be produced all around the world without realising, like the invention of the telephone, we didn’t know.

So ‘Eurovision’, did the song come first or was it TELEX entering Eurovision that inspired it?

Michel: The song was written for Eurovision, but the idea was to make a photo of what it is, people being well-dressed and at that time there were borders… well, there are borders now! *laughs*

But the idea was all these borders were open for one night and after that, they would close and anyway, the image would go through armoured cables so it was like war. At that time, Peter Gabriel had written about something similar on ‘Games Without Frontiers’ and also Robin Scott as M with ‘Pop Musik’; in fact, we met him at Cannes before the contest and asked him whether he would be interested in making lyrics for us, but he said “I’ve done that already with ‘Pop Musik’”, so I finally did it myself.

Was there a selection competition back home?

Michel: Yes, we had one, there were 10 contestants and we won the competition… but when we were asked by the record company, we thought they were crazy, it was not what we really wanted to do, it was not our music. We thought about it for 2 weeks and said “let’s go for it” as it would be like the epitome of pop music.

So the country was behind you?

Michel: Maybe not the country, but the people at radio and TV on the jury liked it. But all the other competitors were very normal… *laughs*

Dan: Boring, nothing special… we were completely different…

So they were more like The Singing Nun, Dana or Nicole type of entry?

Dan: EXACTLY!

Michel: But The Singing Nun would have had a chance! *laughs*

I am already imagining in my head the idea of TELEX covering The Singing Nun song ‘Dominique’! *laughs*

Michel: In fact, Dan and Marc did it!!

Dan: We did an electronic version with Soeur Sourire, it was a complete flop! *laughs*

So back to Eurovision, how were you choreographing your performance and moves?

Michel: The moves began before because there were normally three rehearsals and we couldn’t achieve one. There was a rule that everything you hear had to be seen, so all the instruments. So if you hear a drum, there should be a drummer. But everything we had was in three Moog modules so there was nothing to see, that was the first argument in the first rehearsal. Then the other argument was about electricity!

Dan: Yes, they didn’t like us because everything was supposed to be live which was not correct, because they said we could come with a backing tape, but everything on tape must be on stage! Simple! So like with ABBA, it was a backing tape, they didn’t play for real but the voices were real. So for us, it was the same thing, we sent a tape but the “drums” I made with the Modular Moog, so you don’t see a drum, you just hear “drums”.

When we were starting rehearsals, the director says “STOP! I hear a drum, where is the drum?” So I had to explain the drum sound was made with this instrument. “OK, we don’t see anything” he said, but I asked if they gave us some electricity, we could push a button and see the sequencer going on… “OH NO! NOT POSSIBLE!” but the director asked if the singer could push a button and fake it. So Michel just pushed a button, nothing happens on the Moog, no wire, nothing so it was completely… and then the song went on and Michel couldn’t hear himself…

Michel: The real time, I couldn’t hear myself, I don’t know if they did it on purpose but I couldn’t hear the three backing singers so my voice is a bit stressed, that’s it! *laughs*

And then?

Michel: Just before our turn on stage, we met Johnny Logan…

Dan: He won by the way…

Michel: I said “I’m sure you are going to win” and he replied “If I win, it’s good for me but if you win, it will be good for music”, that was so nice.

So you wanted to win, or come last but how did you actually feel when Portugal gave you those points? *laughs*

Michel: It was very mixed in our mind… we were chosen to go and then our British and American record companies thought we would win! It was the 25th Anniversary of Eurovision and we heard they would like to change the rules… so they changed the rules to a public vote, so this was very difficult for us! At the same time, we could feel we couldn’t win and it took some years to recover some balance! *roars of laughter*

Dan: We didn’t take it especially seriously, but we were surprised that everybody else was so serious, it was almost a pity to see the two young girls Sophie & Magaly from Luxembourg completely destroyed and crying when they didn’t get points. We were sitting, we had nothing and understood “OK”, so we hoped we were last. And then suddenly Portugal gave us 10 points! WHY? And then Royaume-Uni give us one point (this is why the first box set is called ‘Belgium… One Point’) and Greece three points! We were not last and it was a poor group from Finland… everyone was very serious and we were a bit apart.

Michel: All the organisation was very strict, it was like being in an airport which I understand… we didn’t win but in the long run, people remember us and every year, we have 30 seconds of fame…

Dan: …because of the strange stuff that happened on Eurovision…

Yeah, I’m one of the guilty ones who keeps posting up the ‘Eurovision’ clip… *laughs*

Dan: You’re not the only one!

I don’t know if you are aware when ABBA won in 1974, the UK gave them nil point!

Michel: There’s a lot of politics now…

Dan: It’s more difficult than ever, you have the two semi-finals and then you have the final, it’s getting very completely crazy.

‘The Man With The Answer’ from ‘Sex’ seems to show an affinity with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA featuring the late Yukihiro Takahashi, did you feel a connection with any of the other electronic music acts?

Michel: At that time, no, we didn’t listen much to each other… it’s really funny but maybe we were a bit shy but we were on the same stage in Paris with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA on TV and we didn’t speak to each other which was stupid… but finally Harumi Hosono came to the studio to make a cover of our song ‘L’Amour Toujours’ with a Japanese singer Miharu Koshi.

Dan: Just an anecdote with Harumi Hosono, it was incredible because he could speak only Japanese, no English, no French; there was a French guy living in Tokyo to translate but he didn’t need him because for the work, we understood each other perfectly because it was the same equipment, the same way, it was fantastic, he would programme the sequencer and find the sounds, we were very close technically, those three days were really incredible.

Michel: It could be astonishing that we don’t really relate to your question because Belgium is so small and we were all working apart, we had other jobs, it’s not like having a success all around the world, we couldn’t live on just music. So we were not really part of an electronic scene like London where we would have to go out every night or even in Belgium because even if we were invited somewhere, we wouldn’t go. Also, we were a bit older than most people because we had done things before musically, so we didn’t have the same needs or same way to live. But Belgium is, well, was an island… *laughs*

But one act that you did connect up with was SPARKS. Was bringing them in to collaborate on lyrics on the ‘Sex’ album part of a conscious effort on TELEX’s part to be more international and accessible like on ‘Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?’ and ‘Long Holiday’?

Dan: It was a coincidence because I was working with a Belgian singer called Lio with Marc Moulin at the same time as TELEX, she was an incredible big success and she was doing TV everywhere in the world. Once in Paris, she was on the same programme as SPARKS. Then Russell Mael proposed that she make her next album in English and offered to write the lyrics. So they arranged to work at my studio in Brussels but Lio never came! We were recording the ‘Sex’ album at the same time so we met, they listened to the album and proposed some English lyrics…

Michel: I had made some French lyrics that I couldn’t make work in English so it was ok.

Dan: So Russell and Ron stayed in Brussels, coached Michel with the singing and they liked the city and came back to make their own albums. They would take the tram to the studio and people would recognise them, so they would sign autographs and it was great, they really liked it *laughs*

Michel: The SPARKS tram! *laughs*

I always thought ‘Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?’ should have been a hit single in the UK…

Michel: We didn’t write songs to be hits, it’s nice when it comes but we did things we wanted to hear.

In the UK, there was this strange thing of the ‘Sex’ album being released as ‘Birds & Bees’ with different tracks including a new single ‘L’ Amour Toujours’; you did two versions of ‘L’ Amour Toujours’ and I preferred the earlier one on ‘Birds & Bees’ over the reworked ‘Wonderful World’ version…

Michel: I think there are even more versions… *laughs*

At that time, we felt that song could be a hit and maybe we were searching for a way to make it more clear and that’s why there are different versions, maybe we didn’t make the right one. That’s the song Harumi Hosono made with Miharu Koshi. There are maybe 5 or 6 versions on the tapes… sometimes we lost our way because there were so many new machines… that was his fault! *laughs*

Dan: We experimented a lot…

Michel: So compared to KRAFTWERK, we didn’t make as many new songs and they made remixes… they also had a strong image, we didn’t really care about showing ourselves… someone once asked us after the 2006 album ‘How Do You Dance?’, “why do you make music like DAFT PUNK?”…

By ‘Wonderful World’, the digital technology had taken hold, how did you find working with it? ‘Raised By Snakes’ is good but it could be any variety of acts at the time?

Dan: It’s funny you mention ‘Raised By Snakes’ because it’s a pre-sampler track. I didn’t have the Fairlight yet there is this chord; I remember that we had the idea to put on this chord all the time so I put it manually into the multi-track. We put the chord on a quarter inch tape and I had a zero lock and a return button, so to record it, I played the multi-track, then I sent the chord “ding” and then I returned to zero ready for the next time. So it would have been more easier with a sampler but it was just before, it’s funny. Of course, the result is the same.

With the Fairlight from 1983 plus the Synclavier, these were the first digital synthesizers and it was impossible not to have one… on top of TELEX, I had my studio SYNSOUND and people came to me to put electronic sounds on their records so I had to have the whole palette. That’s why I kept buying these novelties at the desespoir of my wife *laughs*

Which were your favourite synths?

Dan: Well, I would say it’s the Oberheim OB6, it’s quite new but it’s the one I use the most because every time, the sound is so inspiring, it’s completely analogue and so it’s great. It’s polyphonic also so you can do almost anything. But of course if you want a real good bass, there is nothing like the Minimoog and if you want some more sophisticated analogue sounds, there is nothing like the Moog Modular, they are all complementary.

Michel: Don’t ask me! *laughs*

I made demos but I don’t go into the final thing, I must confess, I just use Logic now… I’m more interested in composing, but of course it is important to use the right sound.

Dan: I use plug-ins too.

And what was the synth or piece of equipment that was most disappointing, the one didn’t meet expectations?

Dan: It’s easy, the Simmons drums because I could do better sounds with the Moog Modular. It’s not good enough, you only had one envelope and with this envelope, you can control the pitch and the length of the sound. But you would need two envelopes to make it good, one for the pitch and the other for the filter for example which you can even do on a Minimoog! I bought a module and five pads because it was quite popular at the time. The pads are in the attic, they are beautiful by the way, but I almost never used it.

What are your own TELEX career highlights?

Michel: To me, it’s really the first album ‘Looking For Saint Tropez’ because we made music that was really fitting with what was on the market, the idea was so simple, not many things were polyphonic. So for me it was the best period, discovering things and after, it was trying to find the same enthusiasm with new things. But our first album and single ‘Twist A Saint Tropez’…

Dan: … it was very spontaneous… Marc asked me one day “what about making an electronic group together?” and it was great idea. And then we needed a singer, and Marc reminded me of this singer Michel Moers who we worked together with. So we had a rendez-vous in my studio to try something, what can we do? And then Marc and Michel said “Maybe let’s take a French song and make it completely electronic? Oh what about ‘Twist A Saint Tropez’ by LES CHATS SAUVAGES?”; so we switched on everything and then in one day, we finished the track. I did a quick rough mix and put it on a cassette because Marc was seeing a friend who was working for RKM Records. It was played to the boss Roland Kluger and the next day we had a contract! It was so quick!

Michel: The nice thing about all this is that although we made a cover, we prevented ourselves from listening to the original, it was a cover made from our memory. That’s why it’s so different. This is why it’s important for me, it was an exciting period.

What are the highlights of your career Dan?

Dan: What career? *laughs*

It was always great to work… in the beginning, we were discovering, then we were experimenting so some days were a bit, I would say, disappointing but the next, we would listen back and think “that’s great” because sometimes you would be thinking too much or whatever. Before TELEX, I did some records on my own but I never liked it frankly, I am not extrovert so I prefer to be in the studio. TELEX was perfect as it was something we did together, but it was something made in the studio so that we don’t have to make concerts. Later, I had a lot of work with other artists at my studio, synthesizers were really popular so I was working every day.


Dedicated to the memory of Marc Moulin 1942-2008

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Michel Moers and Dan Lacksman

Special thanks to Zoe Miller at Zopf PR

The ‘EP3’ playlist featuring ‘We Are All Getting Old’, ‘Spike Jones’ and more can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n6rRiB3JzRz_QRBSuil91EYmczVfjGiMA

The ‘TELEX’ box set is released by Mute as a 6 piece set in coloured vinyl LP and CD variants on 14th April 2023, pre-order from https://mute.ffm.to/telex_boxset

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
3rd February 2023

Euro-Vision: The Legacy Of TELEX

On paper it shouldn’t have worked; a funereal paced reworking of the song that heralded the birth of rock ‘n’ roll smothered in vocoder. But TELEX always had an eccentric sense of irony about them.

Their cover of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ caused much head scratching when it entered the UK Top 40 singles chart in the summer of 1979, although one person listening was undoubtedly Daniel Miller who borrowed the concept for SILICON TEENS and their only album ‘Music For Parties’. So it is no big surprise that the Belgian trio are to have their back catalogue reissued by Mute Records, beginning with a compilation ‘This Is TELEX’ which bizarrely omits their biggest UK hit!

TELEX began their account in 1978 with another rock ‘n’ roll cover in ‘Twist à Saint Tropez’ made famous by LES CHATS SAUVAGES fronted by French singer Dick Rivers; their manifesto stated their intent of “making something really European, different from rock, without guitar”. With their embracement of synths and a tongue-in-cheek championing of pop and disco, TELEX enjoyed baiting the ideologically-rigid rock press, especially with their cover versions.

This continued on their debut album ‘Looking For Saint Tropez’ released on Vogue Records. It included a KRAFTWERK styled reinterpretation of ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ by Belgian faux punk Plastic Bertrand who Lacksman had provided all the synth instrumentation for on his electro-disco favourite ‘Tout Petit La Planète’. Other highlights on ‘Looking for Saint Tropez’ included the hypnotic ‘Pakmowäst’ with its treated robotic vocals and ‘Something To Say’ which didn’t sound unlike one of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s vocal tracks.

Like YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, TELEX were already experienced hands by the time of their formation; Marc Moulin was a jazz musician with two albums to his name and the boss of the Belgian FM radio station Radio Cité, while vocalist Michel Moers had been a member of prog folkies NUIT CALINE A LA VILLA MON REVE.

The most electronic inclined of the trio, Dan Lacksman was a noted studio engineer who had recorded three solo long players using his Moog IIIP modular system and provided the Roland System 100 sequence programming to the huge worldwide disco hit ‘Born To Be Alive’ by Patrick Hernandez, with whom a young Madonna was once a backing vocalist for.

But TELEX’s wider breakthrough came via The Blitz Club and its resident DJ Rusty Egan who played the self-penned ‘Looking For Saint Tropez’ opener ‘Moscow Diskow’ alongside KRAFTWERK, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA and SPARKS to signal a new phase in electronic dance music that had been seeded by the Giorgio Moroder produced ‘I Feel Love’ in 1977.

Taking the Trans-Siberian Express to Moscow and adding a funkier groove compared with KRAFTWERK’s ‘Trans Europe Express’ excursion, the track became a cult international club favourite and proved that TELEX were more than just a novelty covers act.

The second TELEX album ‘Neurovision’ in 1980 continued with the deadpan electronic covers and a gloriously metronomic take on ‘Dance To The Music’ showcased the trio’s irreverent humour and penchant for mischievous subversion. But this mischief came to its head with their lampooning number ‘Euro-Vision’, which they actually entered for 1980 Eurovision Song Contest!

A bouncy electropop tune, ‘Euro-Vision’ had deliberately banal lyrics about the whole charade itself. With Lacksman’s Moog modular behind them, the trio had even choreographed swaying and clap movements while Moulin cheekily mimed his MicroMoog polyphonically. The Situationist performance concluded with Moers stoically taking a photo of the bemused audience in The Hague.

With the sole intention of coming last, TELEX were sitting in that very position with just four juries to vote. But Portugal awarded “dix points” and TELEX ended up 17th out of 19 entries ahead of Morocco and Finland!

Featuring a song called ‘Tour De France’ three years before KRAFTWERK and a pulsing jazz tinged Schaffel in ‘En Route Vers De Nouvelles Aventures’, ‘Neurovision’ saw TELEX’s profile raised although they declined to perform live. However, their sophisticated electronic sound would have been very difficult to replicate at the time, a situation which also saw SPARKS unable to perform their Giorgio Moroder produced albums ‘No1 In Heaven’ and ‘Terminal Jive’ in a concert setting.

With many things in common, for TELEX’s third album ‘Sex’ released on Ariola in 1981, the Mael brothers were invited to contribute lyrics to all of its nine tracks and begin a fruitful friendship.

Experiments in swing on ‘Sigmund Freud’s Party’ displayed a sophisticated vintage musicality and the brilliant ‘Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?’ was the hit single that never was.

Meanwhile, like KRAFTWERK meeting YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, ‘Brainwash’ was quite obviously the blueprint for LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’s ‘Get Innocuous!’ and ‘Drama, Drama’ reinterpreted the latent funk of Bowie’s ‘Fame’ in synthesizer form.

However, the tracklisting was considerably revamped for the UK release in 1982 as ‘Birds & Bees’ with new material; one of these numbers ‘L’ Amour Toujours’ was a wonderful exploration of latter day ROXY MUSIC if Bryan Ferry had opted to venture into electronic pop. However, ‘Holiday Holiday’ amusingly sounded like a synthy Chris De Burgh on holiday in the French Riviera!

But ‘Birds & Bees’ confused the TELEX story and a reworked ‘L’ Amour Toujours’ ended up also opening the fourth TELEX album ‘Wonderful World’ which only came out in Germany and France despite a new deal with Warners.

Although it possessed a vibrant title song, the album sank without trace but TELEX were still in demand and signed by Atlantic Records for the 1988 album ‘Looney Tunes’. From it, ‘Beautiful Li(f)e’ was an oddball sampling experiment akin to YELLO that showed Moulin, Moers and Lacksman were still willing to explore the possibilities of new digital technology, despite electronic pop being out of vogue and the public seemingly preferring house and techno.

With TELEX going into hiatus, Michel Moers released a solo album ‘Fishing Le Kiss’ in 1990 before becoming a video director and photographer. However, Marc Moulin and Dan Lacksman had maintained parallel production careers during TELEX. Working together in the studio, the pair had scored several domestic hits including ‘Amoureux Solitaires’ and ‘Le Banana Split’ with the sexy Belgian starlet Lio.

SPARKS continued their association with TELEX and wrote English lyrics for the Canadian edition of Lio’s ‘Suite Sixtine’ album and in return, Moulin and Lacksman did a 12 inch remix of ‘Music That You Can Dance To’.

Meanwhile, Lacksman engineered SPARKS’ ‘In Outer Space’ LP which spawned the Jane Wiedlin duet ‘Cool Places’ that became the Mael brothers’ biggest US hit and Thomas Dolby’s second album ‘The Flat Earth’.

Although Moulin produced several tracks on the self-titled debut of Anna Domino released on the Belgian boutique label Les Disques Du Crépuscule, it was Lacksman who was to have the most lucrative post-TELEX career as a producer, notably working with CAMOUFLAGE on their ‘Methods Of Silence’ and ‘Bodega Bohemia’ albums, as well as producing French ethnic electronica project DEEP FOREST who had a worldwide smash hit with ‘Sweet Lullaby’.

TELEX reunited in 2006 for the ‘How Do You Dance?’ album on Virgin Records; it featured five cover versions including a downtempo take on the Mexican folk standard ‘La Bamba’, a vocodered ‘On The Road Again’ which appeared to replicate ROCKETS’ 1978 version and in tribute to their old mates SPARKS, a superb deadpan interpretation of ‘No1 Song In Heaven’. Welcomed back by the artists who had they had helped lay the electronic foundations for, TELEX did remixes for DEPECHE MODE and PET SHOP BOYS.

Sadly Marc Moulin passed away in 2008 and TELEX was retired. Since then, Michel Moers returned to music in 2013 to provide his Gallic nonchalance on ‘Will I Get to Your Heart?’ for Danish musician NATTEFROST and has been recording solo material. In 2015, Dan Lacksman collaborated with the late Florian Schneider on ‘Stop Plastic Pollution’ to highlight the issue of ocean environment conservation as part of the campaign Parley For The Oceans and continues his studio career.

TELEX have certainly left an impressive legacy linking them with some of the biggest names in electronic music. Their time to be discovered by a new generation and established music fans who may have missed them first time round comes via this new partnership with Mute.

While ‘This Is TELEX’ does not include ‘Rock Around The Clock’ or ‘Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?’, it does feature a good selection of their career highlights. Long-standing TELEX enthusiasts will be tempted by the new mixes from Lacksman and Moers, although as the former explained “We simplify, we take away, to create something more efficient, more TELEX.” while Moers added “We’re so glad to have signed with Mute. We couldn’t have done better.”

“Beaux messieurs, belles dames: musique au programme…”


In memory of Marc Moulin 1942- 2008

‘This Is TELEX’ is released by Mute Artists on 30th April 2021 in CD, double shrimp pink or fern green coloured vinyl LP, cassette and digital formats

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
25th January 2021

CAMOUFLAGE The Box 1983-2013

Photo by Heike Hilgendorff

German synthpop veterans CAMOUFLAGE are to release a 10CD boxed set containing all seven of their albums plus archive and rare material tracing their output from 1983 to the present day.

When ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first heard one of their best known songs ‘The Great Commandment’ in a Hong Kong night club during the summer of 1989, it was mistaken for being a DEPECHE MODE B-side.

After a period of frantically buying DM singles to find this mystery track without any success, it was only several years later while visiting Braunschweig in Germany that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK learnt that it was actually by this talented trio from Bietigheim-Bissingen. Heiko Maile, Marcus Meyn and Oliver Kreyssig met through a shared interest in KRAFTWERK, ULTRAVOX, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA and DEPECHE MODE; it was natural they would start making electronic music together.

Naming themselves after a YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA song and taking their template from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Some Great Reward’, CAMOUFLAGE developed on the industrial flavoured synthpop of ‘Master & Servant’ and ‘People Are People’ which the Basildon boys had all but abandoned from ‘Black Celebration’ onwards.

In today’s world, DEPECHE MODE influenced acts are common place but in 1987, this was highly unusual. But despite first impressions, CAMOUFLAGE had their own style, taking in more traditional melodies in the vein of KRAFTWERK which in turn were rooted to European folk and classical music. Vocally, Marcus Meyn was more like an accented Martin Gore. Preferring to sing in English, their naïve second language charm, both phonetically and lyrically, gave them a cautiously optimistic demeanour compared to the pessimistic realism of DEPECHE MODE.

CAMOUFLAGE’s debut album ‘Voices & Images’ on Metronome Records was an impressive first salvo. As well as ‘The Great Commandment’ (probably the best single DM never recorded), there was the rousingly anthemic ‘Strangers Thoughts’, the epically building ‘That Smiling Face’ and the beautifully fragile ‘Where Has The Childhood Gone’.

One aspect of CAMOUFLAGE that made them quite distinct from DEPECHE MODE was their use of detuned pentatonics as heard on ‘Winner Takes Nothing’. An obvious throwback from their love of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, this was to manifest itself into CAMOUFLAGE’s later first phase work as they became less Modal.

With ‘The Great Commandment’ being a hit in Europe and the US (although not in the UK which by now had grown out of synthpop and was in the throws of the acid house revolution), the pressure was on for a follow-up hit. This came in the shape of the more Eurocentric ‘Love Is A Shield’. An even bigger hit in Europe than ‘The Great Commandment’, this co-write with Peter Godwin sounded more BRONSKI BEAT than DEPECHE MODE and further established CAMOUFLAGE’s reputation.

Employing Dan Lacksman of Belgian synth pioneers TELEX as primary producer, the parent long player ‘Methods Of Silence’ included an expanded instrumental palette featuring strings, woodwinds and more real instruments, but was less satisfying overall than ‘Voices & Images’. It also probably suffered from eventual comparison at the time with ‘Violator’, still regarded as one of DEPECHE MODE’s most accomplished albums.

Although the album yielded a further European hit with the oriental sounding ‘One Fine Day’ and the band completed a sold-out tour of Europe, their success proved to be too much for Oliver Kreyssig who left the band for personal reasons.

The void left the remaining duo of Meyn and Maile to ponder their future direction. Working with DURAN DURAN and HUMAN LEAGUE producer Colin Thurston, they recorded the more conventional ‘Meanwhile’. Featuring live percussion and more guitars, the album was not embraced by CAMOUFLAGE’s fans.

The pair refound their synth roots with the 1992 AREU AREU covers side-project featuring versions of songs by FAD GADGET, HEAVEN 17, DEPECHE MODE and THE CURE. The busman’s holiday led to the return to form of ‘Bodega Bohemia’ in 1993. More focussed and electronic than its predecessor, this was CAMOUFLAGE’s strongest work since ‘Voices & Images’. As well as the marvellously trancey opener ‘Pedestrian’s Adventures’, there was the ‘Violator’-lite of ‘Suspicious Love’ and the epic 9 minute Sylvian-esque drama of ‘In Your Ivory Tower’.

Despite this artistic success, there were tensions with Metronome Records who had concentrated their resources on ACE OF BASE and failed to licence releases for ‘Bodega Bohemia’ outside of Germany.

As a result, the duo signed to BMG via its RCA imprint but 1995’s ‘Spice Crackers’ was unable to revive fortunes due to its esoteric nature, having been sourced from two shelved art based projects. However, the track ‘Kraft’ was one of its more memorable experiments while from the same period, the frantic electro rock ‘n’ roll cover of Moon Martin’s ‘Bad News’ was another highlight.

The duo took a hiatus but in 1999, CAMOUFLAGE announced their comeback with Oliver Kreyssig returning to the fold; they released a new single ‘Thief’. The resultant album ‘Sensor’ was held back until 2003 by assorted delays at parent label Polydor but was well worth the wait.

The lead single ‘Me & You’ with its blistering sub-Numan synth line sounded like what post-‘Violator’ DEPECHE MODE might have sounded like had the band stayed in Berlin and not ventured off to find The Blues! Meanwhile, the catchy ‘Perfect’ was looser but still electronic while ‘I Can’t Feel You’ could only have been a homage to Da Mode and was effectively an uptempo makeover of ‘The Things You Said’ from ‘Music For The Masses’.

Their seventh album ‘Relocated’ was released on SPV Records in 2006 and contained a number of great tracks including ‘We Are Lovers’, ‘Dreaming’ and ‘The Pleasure Remains’ to prove that CAMOUFLAGE were back for good. Since then, CAMOUFLAGE have been touring regularly and the forthcoming ‘Greyscale’ album is soon to be released.

Photo by Klaus Mellenthin

‘The Box 1983-2013’ is a fitting way to draw attention to the back catalogue of CAMOUFLAGE which over 30 years has seen some of the best electronic pop produced from Germany outside of KRAFTWERK. Indeed, their B-side ‘Kling Klang’ and live cover of ‘Computerliebe’ are fine indicators of that lineage.

Within in the box set, there is also the inclusion of the AREU AREU EP plus a version of TALK TALK’s ‘Today’ recorded in 1989 on the ‘Archive#2 Live Recordings’ disc. This wealth of rare archive and concert material will satisfy their loyal following the world over.

Photo by Mathias Bothor

Recommended listening to those new to CAMOUFLAGE:

The Great Commandment
That Smiling Face
Neighbours
Winner Takes Nothing
Strangers Thoughts
Where Has The Childhood Gone
Music For Ballerinas
Love Is A Shield
Kling Klang
Pedestrian’s Adventures
Suspicious Love
In Your Ivory Tower
Bad News
Kraft
Me & You
Perfect
I Can’t Feel You
We Are Lovers
The Pleasure Remains
Dreaming


‘The Box 1983-2013’ is released by Bureau B and Tapete Records on 8th February 2014, limited to 1000 signed and numbered copies

CAMOUFLAGE’s albums such as ‘Voices & Images’, ‘Methods Of Silence’, ‘Bodega Bohemia’, ‘Sensor’ and ‘Relocated’ are available separately via the usual online outlets

For the more cautious purchaser, there is the compilation ‘Rewind :The Best of 95-87’

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th December 2013