|X-LEGGED SALLY / A GROUP / FLAT EARTH SOCIETY|
and many, many more
killed by charity (1993)
eggs and ashes (1994)
the land of the giant dwarfs (1995)
bereft of a blissful union (1996)
feel free to vomit
volume 1 (1998)
volume 3 (2000)
flat earth society
live at the beursschouwburg (1999)
|If one should describe the music X-Legged Sally made, the words ‘confusing’ and ‘exhausting’ spring to mind. Founded somewhere in the early nineties by the dynamic duo Peter Vermeersch and Pierre Vervloessem, they debuted with their Bill Laswell produced album
Slow-up. It seemed along with the embryonic sounds A Beatband and dEUS were producing back then, we also had a promising Belgian take on Zappa to be proud of. They got noticed by the Knitting Factory, a New York jazz/experimental music
label/organisation, and released one album after the other. All of them got critical praise, but because of the ‘complicated’ nature of the music, they never really reached a wide audience. The music of X-Legged Sally was stuffed with obscure and less obscure references to other music, cramming them together in their compositions. The word ‘composition’ isn’t out of place; Peter Vermeersch has a background of making more classical pieces, and music for dance and theatre plays. While more ‘classic’ bands rarely work with genuine compositions, relying more on jamming sessions and ‘playing around’ with the instruments, XLS hardly had a choice, as they were another big band in Belgium, with a line-up of seven to ten musicians. Guitar, bass and drums are present, but also trumpets, saxophones, clarinet, and keyboards.
‘Relaxing’ are the XLS sally cds never; if one doesn’t pay serious attention to the music, chances are it will get seriously on one’s nerves. Wallpapermusic this clearly is not.
They released half a dozen cds in total, of which one live album and one collaboration with the Smith Quartet. In 1998, the band decided to call it even, as problems arose concerning organisation, and some got fed up with the band after 7 years, and wanted to do something completely new. In the meantime Peter Vermeersch and Pierre Vervloessem set up a new band, ‘A Group’.
A Group is half of X-legged Sally, together with a few other musicians. Although A Group resembles in several ways to X-Legged Sally, the goals of both bands are very different. A Group approaches things in a poppier way, with more accessible melodies, poppier structures and more traditional vocals and lyrics in the songs. They debuted in ’98 with their EP Dumb Lamb, which had a terrific remake of the slumbering classic This Town ain’t big enough for both of us. A full album followed later that year, with even more poppy tracks. Although pretty unsuccessful in sales, the band rightfully kept on making music, and a second cd, Volume 3 (they have a ‘strange’ sence of humour :)) followed in Spring 2000, consisting of nothing but remakes of long-forgotten classics.
A more resembling follow-up to X-Legged Sally is Flat Earth Society, again with Vermeersch & Vervloessem, and lots and lots of other musicians. (for instance; David Bovée, Benjamin Boutreur, Roel Poireau, Bart Maris, Wim Wallaert, Michel Mast, Anja Kowalski,…sixteen in total)
They play modern remakes of old jazz music, Jacques Brel, as well as own compositions and ‘covers’ of X-Legged Sally. One cd has been released; Live at Beursschouwburg.
Then there are the solo-adventures of both Pierre Vervloessem and Peter Vermeersch. Both have released several cds, all somehow resembling to their work in XLS and FES.
It’s hard to recommend all of their
cds because a) there are so many of them, and b) most are very inaccessible and will probably only appeal to a small audience. If you’re not scared of difficult music and love a nineties version of Zappa-esque eclectism, go for the XLS or FES