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In a world where we’re constantly overloaded with new music, it’s easy to forget the albums from the past that formed us the most. This month we’ve reached out to Razen’s Brecht Ameel with the plain but not to be underestimated request to delve into his musical archive and tell us all about the masterpiece that once touched his heart but was forgotten over time. Brecht blessed us with a double selection, so plug in your headphones and settle in for a twofold exploring session.
Which albums would you like us to discover?
First: Electronic Sound Constructions by Crescent. Crescent (from Bristol, UK – I believe they are still active) is a band, but this album was created at home on 8-track by only one of the band’s members, using a variety of instruments, some off-kilter vocal samples and heavy on the reverb. Your great-uncle’s dictaphone confessions backed by the BBC radiophonic workshop in dub, that’s more or less what it sounds like.
My second choice is Frantz Casseus’ Haitian Dances. Frantz Casseus was a Haitian expatriate living in New York from the end of the 1940s until his death in 1993. His guitar compositions sound quite classical-European but Haitian rhythms add a sort of anomalous twist. Casseus recorded three albums for Smithsonian Folkways and this is one of them.
I discovered that experimental, abrasive music could have a universal appeal
When did you first listen to them?
I first listened to the Crescent album sometime toward the end of secondary school, when my taste was shifting from guitar music to electronic music; from Bitch Magnet & aMiniature to Warp and Tresor 12inches. As for Frantz Casseus: I don’t remember. A long time ago I had the version of some of Casseus’ tunes by Marc Ribot – who had been a student of Frantz Casseus. Later I found a vinyl repress with performances by Casseus himself.
Why do you want to recover these albums?
Around the time I discovered Electronic Sound Constructions, I did a summer job in a wine bar during Ostend’s infamous Paulusfeesten, enjoying long nights and weird encounters with locals. I shared a flat there with a group of exchange students from Ukraine. They were quite naive. One afternoon I found them in the flat, collectively listening to my Crescent album, eyes closed, entranced, totally out there. They thought it was the most beautiful music ever. So I discovered that experimental, abrasive music could have a universal appeal. I selected Frantz Casseus because it’s downright gorgeous guitar music.
For fans of estranged, private-sounding & dubby home-recorded music
For fans of?
Crescent is for fans of estranged, private-sounding & dubby home-recorded music with nifty keyboard work. Think John Bender or Maan. Frantz Casseus will do it for fans of timeless, dreamy music in the vein of Eden Ahbez or Moondog.
What are your favourite songs?
The final track on Electronic Sound Constructions, ‘Philicorda Loops’ – heartbreaking tune. Also the favourite tune of my Ukrainian friends I mentioned above. I don’t have a favourite track on Haitian Dances, you have to hear them all.
Razen plays, together with The Transcendence Orchestra, at the Friedenskirche in Eupen on the 9th of September. The show is free for Subbacultcha members. Join us here.