Monday, March 10, 2008

X-Legged Sally-Slow-up,1991+The Land Of The Giant Dwarfs,1995,CDs,Belgium

X-Legged Sally (XLS) is a Belgian avant-garde rock/jazz-band founded in 1988 by composer Peter Vermeersch, and disbanded in 1997. They were one of the first bands from Belgium to combine a set of very different musical styles (jazz, rock, improvisation and classical), becoming a starting point for the Belgian indie music scene that developed in the nineties.
Initially, X-Legged Sally was formed to compose and perform the music Peter Vermeersch wrote for dance productions, such as Immes das Selbe Gelogen (Always the Same Lies), released as a live cd in 1991. Vermeersch' composing style was becoming too demanding for the constraints of sheet music such as was used in his earlier band Maximalist!. From the beginning, improvisation played an important role in XLS' songs. The first X-Legged Sally concert took place in november 1988. Soon, XLS became a band in its own right, although there would be cooperations with dance ensembles throughout the existence of the group.
Based on the international success of Maximalist!, X-Legged Sally had the chance to perform in the New York avant-garde Jazz club Knitting Factory, and a live track was included in the recording Live at the Knitting Factory, vol. 4 (1990). The New York connection proved fruitful, as the two first XLS recordings, Slow-Up (1991) and Killed by Charity (1993) were both produced by Bill Laswell. This also meant international attention and distribution, a rare thing for Belgian bands in the early nineties.
The third full album, Eggs and Ashes (1994), contained music written earlier for three different dance productions of Wim Vandekeybus' company Ultima Vez: Immer das Selbe Gelogen (1991), Her body doesn't fit her soul (1993) and Mountains made of barking (1994). This cd is also notorious for featuring the young Mauro Pawlowski on vocals in the waltz Lulu.
The music of X-Legged Sally was now slowly evolving into a more 'mature' sound. Larger concepts, melodious tunes and more vocals appeared in the next album, The Land of the Giant Dwarfs (1995). But by now, the musicians were also evolving into different directions, and on april 20, 1996 the band performed their farewell concert at the Cactus Club in Bruges. This concert was recorded by Radio 1 and released as Fired. It was not, however, their last cd, as 1997 saw the release of Bereft of a Blissful Union, once again an accompaniment to a dance production by Wim Vandekeybus from 1996.
The members of X-Legged Sally spread out in various musical directions, although mutual cooperations still happen. Peter Vermeersch founded A Group (together with Pierre Vervloesem), and later the Flat Earth Society, Eric Sleichim started Bl!ndman, and Pierre Vervloesem featured in a lot of bands and has a productive solo career.
From Wikipedia
Land of The Giant Dwarfs
How to talk fittingly of the craziest album X-L S ever made? With their fourth album (fifth if you count the shared album of 91), X-L S reached their pinnacle (and IMHO, this is one of the top ten records to have come out of Belgium) and they will never find out how to top this album. Already, the bar was set rather high with the previous Eggs And Ashes, but here another level was easily reached. Can you imagine Miriodor and Interference Sardines with twice as many musos and allowed to sing whenever they wish (which is not often, but always dutifully chosen at appropriate moments) and constantly aim towards Zappa humour and songwriting? If yes, you must be completely insane and might just be ready for such a flabbergasting album.
Whether the concept of this album is a concept or not, you will be confronted by the main character’s, Yesbody, adventures and some rather hilarious sexual education bits (such as inciting women to take up ownership of their clitoris ;-)o) along with fabulous musical landscapes that pushes back Capt Beefheart to his crib and sees eye-to-eye Monsieur Zappa. From the very first burping sounds leading into some familiar national anthem, to the very last notes of the jazzy outro – which is actually the intro of Yesbody’s exploits-, we are facing an incredible journey that knows no bound in sanity or any other artistic/musical means. Can you think of someone crazy enough to write a track called Mono Dolby? X-L S does it!!! Although we are clearly in the rock domain and although you can feel these guys are jazz musos that have been classically trained, the whole album is clearly a GAS from start to finish.
Need I say more as a mean of closing remarks???
I think not!!!!!!!!!!!
This debut album was recorded in October 91 by Bill Laswell and the Knitting Factory in NY, but was only released for the opening of festivities of 93’s Antwerp, European Cultural Capital that lasted a whole year. Apparently the Flemish regional government funded the project. Being mostly Peter Vermeersch and Pierre Vervloesem’s group, the septet has an incredible sound, being mostly inspired by Zappa (and Beefheart), but clearly these guys listened to a wide array of music and the prog groups also. The inside group photo does show a girl named sally sitting cross-legged, you will never know if it was a spoof or not.
With its slow-beat but eccentric jazz opener the uninitiated proghead might just take the advice from the track title and push the FFWD, but this would be a serious mistake. Zippo Raid is a much more energetic track while the aptly-titled XLS – their eponymous track supposed to define them – raised the standards to such heights that Miriodor or Alamaailman Vasarat better be holding on to their seats, if they do not want to be taken by a storm. Among the other highlights are Blackhead BB with its sax orgies (were VDGG’s Jackson was obviously an influence) underlined by Vervloesem’s Zappa-esque guitars, Bacon & Eggs and Turkish Bath. In a much harder and funky way (in a Red Hot Chilly Peppers sense) Little hearts and Lacto B rock your heart out with a real virtuosity but staying away from the demonstration.
A stunning debut album (well the group members were no rookies, Plouvier hammering the keys since the early 80’s), and the first of series of impressive records. X-L S is one of the seminal bands of Belgium’s 90’s scenes, and a must-hear-to-believe-it.
Reviews by :Sean Trane (Hugues Chantraine)
From ProgArchives
One of the best bands came from Belgium along with Universe Zero!Crazed out RIO/Zeuhl compositions ,full of Zappa-esque weirdness and hints of Residents-like cartoontronica(thanks Eric for the term!) here and there.

***************NEW LINK POSTED SEPTEMBER 2012***************

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Kel said...

Awesome, Thanks! this stuff is the best!

Anonymous said...

AWesome, thanks!
XLS Rules!

Bruno said...

Much thanks!!

peskypesky said...

Really excellent music. Love it! Thank you.

Zer0_II said...

Thank you. This is truly amazing experimental funk, and my favorite music coming out of Belgium. Take care.


rocdoc said...

this is some of the most ridiculous music i've ever heard - equal parts zappa, estradasphere, panzerballett, insert other weird angular bands - this never fails to put a smile on my face.

I dl'd this a few months back, but never thanked you - thanks!

Anonymous said...

LINK, please !?