Les Disques du Crépuscule \ Les Filles du Crépuscule [LTMCD 2556]
A compilation CD celebrating female artists who recorded for Les Disques du Crépuscule. Classic tracks by well-known names such as Antena, Anna Domino, Malaria!, Ludus and Thick Pigeon are joined by treasures from Virna Lindt, Snakefarm, Mikado, Cathy Claret, Zwischenfall and many others. Most of the tracks were recorded in the 1980s and 1990s, with several not previously available on CD.
The booklet features cover art by celebrated Crépuscule designer Benoît Hennebert, as well as archive images and detailed liner notes.
1. ANTENA the boy from ipanema
2. MIKADO romance
3. ISOLATION WARD lamina christus
4. VIRNA LINDT shiver
5. LUDUS nue au soleil
6. THICK PIGEON dog
7. ZWISCHENFALL flucht '84
8. MALARIA! you you
9. ANNA DOMINO take that
10. ISABELLE ANTENA be pop
11. FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS pick up the rhythm
12. CECILE BRUYNOGHE gymnopedie no 1
13. MARIE DELIER & DRITA KOTAJI ballade no 1: l'interrompu
14. SNAKEFARM banks of the ohio
15. JANE KELLY WILLIAMS boy, I'm just getting over you
16. MARIE AUDIGIER un voyage
17. DEVINE & STATTON under the weather
18. GABRIELLE LAZURE petit bateau
19. CATHY CLARET le lundi au soleil
20. POWAGA SISTERS j'aime regarder les filles
"An absolute joy. The 1981 cover version of The Boy From Ipanema by Parisian trio Antena is just one delight on this compilation of music from Brussels label Les Disques du Crépuscule" (Word, 08/2010)
"Les Filles mines a rich seam, and like all good compilations this will make you want to check out the full albums proper by the artists on display. The immaculate sleevenotes only add to the excitement" (Record Collector, 09/2010)
"Remarkable music, more pre-pop than post-punk. I'm hoping LTM put together "Les Garcons du Crépuscule" to balance out the gender-battle" (AllGigs, 06/2010)
"Ahead of the game, and with a sense of fun" (The Brooklyn Rail, 11/2010)
"An alluring array of female artists, cooly cooing arty chansons and sci-fi lullabies' (Uncut, 09/2010)
"A wonderful compilation of discreet, confused, lascivious, poppy, relaxed, demanding, lost in reverie female voices from the legendary Brussels label" (Westzeit, 09/2010)
"Cosmopolitan Belgian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule was the top of an elite tier along with Factory, Rough Trade and El" (The Big Takeover, 09/2010)
1. ANTENA The Boy From Ipanema 2.51
Chic trio Antena formed in Paris in 1981 with Isabelle Powaga joined by Sylvain Fasy and Pascale Moiroud. After scoring cult hits with wry single The Boy From Ipanema (produced by John Foxx) and classic mini-album Camino Del Sol (TWI 114) in 1982, the band left Crépuscule for major label releases on Island and Mercury. As Isabelle Antena, Isabelle returned to Crépuscule in 1986, releasing a string of solo albums spanning jazz, funk and latin, and achieving notable success in Japan and the Far East. In addition two further Antena albums have been issued, Toujours du Soleil (2006) and Bossa Super Nova (2010).
2. MIKADO Romance 4.31
Named after a Japanese game, Parisian synth pop duo Mikado comprised Pascale Borel and Grégori Czerkinsky, releasing debut single Par Hasard ('by chance') on Crépuscule in 1982 (TWI 104). Romance is the English language version of Par Hasard, released by Operation Twilight in the UK. Borel wrote the lyrics and sang, and Czerkinsky composed and arranged the music. The pair quickly acquired a fan base in Japan and undertook several tours there in the 1980s. Their first success in France was the single Un naufrage en hiver in 1986. Their retro-kitsch sleeves were designed by French artists Pierre et Gilles. Borel and Czerkinsky split up in 1991 to pursue solo careers.
3. ISOLATION WARD Lamina Christus 2.53
Formed in Brussels in 1979, Isolation Ward centered around musicians Stéphane Willocq and Jean-Pierre Everaerts. Following gigs at venues such as Plan K, the quintet recorded haunting classic Lamina Christus as their first single, produced by Peter Principle of Tuxedomoon, and released by Crépuscule (TWI 072) in April 1982. Following live dates with diverse artists including The Birthday Party, Antena and Siouxsie and the Banshees, the band released their second Crépuscule single Absent Heart a year later. Lamina Christus featured vocalist Nanou Kinna, though line-up changes always troubled the band, and Isolation Ward played their final gig in May 1983.
4. VIRNA LINDT Shiver 2.59
Swedish pop sophisticate Virna Lindt recorded two dazzling albums for the stylish Compact Organization label, Shiver (1983) and Play/Record (1985). Singles included Attention Stockholm, Young and Hip, Model Agent and I Experienced Love, while Virna also contributed a leftfield version of Windmills of Your Mind to Moving Soundtracks (TWI 112). 'I whisper,' she whispers, 'because I can't sing. I guess you could say that I'm more a voice-over artist. Most of the singers I like have poor voices. When it comes to bands it's New Order and the Kane Gang. I like the theme from Brookside, and the French and Luxembourg entries in the Eurovision Song Contest. I spend half my time staying in London with friends in Muswell Hill. My ideal person would be a cross between Matt Dillon and Ken Livingstone. I like the way Matt Dillon looks and the way Ken Livingstone speaks.'
5. LUDUS Nue au soleil 4.22
Essentially a duo comprising visual artist Linder Sterling and instrumentalist Ian Devine, Ludus released a string of challenging avant-jazz records on pioneering Manchester imprint New Hormones between 1979 and 1982, afterwards relocating to Brussels at the invitation of Crépuscule design guru Benoît Hennebert. 'Ludus was going to the Big Album for Crépuscule with Alan Rankine,' Linder told Simon Reynolds. 'But there's this particularly soporific atmosphere about Brussels. Crépuscule had this club called Interferences, this really beautiful bar right on the Grand Place, and Ian and I lived there for almost a year. But there was something about that level of comfort, and a real sense of disconnection. Everything seemed to slow right down, go into slow motion. We just couldn't create there. We really fell apart.' In the event, four track 12-inch EP Completement nue au soleil (TWI 102) appeared only in Italy through Base Records, the slinky title track originally a hit for Brigitte Bardot in 1970.
6. THICK PIGEON Dog 2.21
New York art duo Thick Pigeon comprised Stanton Miranda, a former ballet dancer with the Martha Graham company, and soundtrack composer Carter Burwell. Singles Subway (TWI 038) and Dog (TWI 108) were released on Crépuscule in 1982, followed by an album on Factory (Too Crazy Cowboys), after which the pair returned to Crépuscule for swansong album Miranda Dali (TWI 938) in 1991. Thick Pigeon was, apparently, 'a walk through the civilization of your soul'. And Miranda really is very fond of dogs. Miranda Dali image by Jean Paul Gaude.
7. ZWISCHENFALL Flucht '84 5.27
Belgian electronic group Zwischenfall ('incident') comprised Stephan Kraemer, Martin Urban and Michael Sass, with the original version of Flucht appearing on their debut EP Heute, co-produced by Daniel Bressanutti of Front 242 and released on his label Another Mask in 1983. Re-recorded the following year with Iben Larrsen on vocals, the seamless electro version on this CD was issued by Crépuscule on the 12-inch single Sandy Eyes (TWI 460).
8. MALARIA! You You 4.29
Striking Berlin avant-gardists Malaria! were formed in 1981 from the ashes of Mania D by Gudrun Gut and Bettina Koster, who were joined by Manon Pepita Duursma, Christine Hahn and Susanne Kuhnke. Crépuscule licensed two singles - How Do You Like My New Dog? (TWI 033) and White Water (TWI 067) - as well as an album, Emotion, released as TWI 077 in 1982. The group also played with New Order, The Birthday Party, Nina Hagen, John Cale and Einsturzende Neubauten, with highlights from US performances in 1983 released on a ROIR cassette. 'We did it because we thought it's nice to look alike,' Bettina told NME of their stylish androgyny. 'Because the whole world is uniformed somehow, in jeans or whatever. You can look at someone and see what group he's in. I think it's very obvious.' Gudrun Gut now runs well regarded Berlin label Monika Enterprise. You You is from a post-Crépuscule EP, Beat the Distance, issued in 1985.
9. ANNA DOMINO Take That 4.15
Born in Tokyo (though not Japanese), Anna Taylor had divided her childhood years between Michigan, Florence and Ottawa, finally settling in New York in 1977. This itinerant past went a long way towards explaining Taylor's cosmopolitan musical style, which reached the ears of Michel Duval via Stanton Miranda and Michael Shamberg, and resulted in minimalist mini-album East & West. The Domino identity was borrowed from a popular sugar brand, after which debut album Anna Domino (TWI 600/LTMCD 2397) was recorded in Brussels with Telex mainman Marc Moulin and former Associate Alan Rankine. On release, the album was an immediate and deserved success, mixing cool vocals and intelligent lyrics with smooth dance-pop stylings exemplified by the singles Rhythm, Take That and Summer. Reviewing the album in 1986, NME heard 'various musics - jazz, pop, whatever - minced by microchip. It is the sound of dusk, seasons, sublime elegance, matchless attentiveness and supernatural light.' Three more solo albums followed: This Time, Mysteries of America and Dreamback, the latter a Best Of collection. In the Nineties Anna returned to America, forming Snakefarm with partner Michel Delory.
10. ISABELLE ANTENA Be Pop 3.58
Going solo after the original Antena trio parted company, Isabelle Antena returned to Crépuscule, and since 1986 has released twelve albums, her writing spanning jazz, funk and latin, and achieving notable success in Japan and the Far East. The most recent Isabelle Antena album, Easy Does It, appeared in 2005. Be Pop first appeared as an infectious disco single (TWI 183) in 1983, but sadly was not a hit when licenced through a major label. 'We are listening to different types of music now,' said Isabelle in 1984. 'It seems that everybody else has discovered Getz and Gilberto, and we've moved back to stuff like Chic and Sister Sledge. We could only do stuff like Camino Del Sol for so long. Brussels is very quiet and it suited that kind of rhythm, but when we moved back to Paris, where the pace is so much quicker, the music had to change. But I think you can still see bits of jazz in there. When we first wrote Be Pop it was a jazz tune.'
11. THE FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS Pick Up the Rhythm 2.04
The French Impressionists were the brainchild of Glaswegian pianist Malcolm Fisher, informed by influences such as George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael and Oscar Peterson. Adrian Thrills wrote of Fisher in NME: 'With his dry humour and rustic dress sense - tidy thrift shop threads topped off by a pale paisley cravat - this lean Glaswegian pianist and songsmith could be the son of some bygone Bohemian age. Just as August Darnell could have been time-warped into the modern world from the Manhattan of the 1940s, so Malcolm sometimes seems as if he belongs to a forgotten era of puritan elegance. He sees himself - not too seriously - as a man of leisure seeking an education in the arts, a man with time and talent on his hands.' Several vocalists passed through the group, notably novelist Beatrice Colin, followed by Louise Ness, who features on this recording from their 1982 EP A Selection of Songs (TWI 070). The Frimps also released Santa Baby as a Christmas single through Operation Twilight.
12. CECILE BRUYNOGHE Gymnopedie No 1 3.14
Brussels-born pianist Cécile Bruynoghe came to the attention of Crépuscule via her sister Sophie, then married to label founder Michel Duval. Still a student at the Conservatoire de Bruxelles in 1981, Cécile recorded several pieces by Erik Satie and Claude Debussy for inclusion on compilations such as The Fruit of the Original Sin, Hommage ‡ Duras and A Day In October, as well as accompanying poetry readings by Richard Jobson. Since then, she has performed in different chamber music settings, notably with the French cellist Sylvie Bougoin. Currently Cécile teaches piano in Brussels.
13. MARIE DELIER & DRITA KOTAJI Ballade no 1: l'interrompu 2.25
Belgian born Marie Delier (1955-2009) composed music as well working as as video and visual artist, issuing a 12-inch EP Songs For Little Room in 1987. This track, Ballad 1: Interrupted features words and vocals by her friend Drita Kotaji, who also sang in Berntholer (cf My Suitor) and Ink.
14. SNAKEFARM Banks of the Ohio 4.26
Released in 1998, the debut album by Snakefarm (Songs From My Funeral) consisted of downtempo and trip-hoppy updates on traditional folk repertoire, and was a notable critical success for Anna Domino and Michel Delory. Says Domino: 'Years of research have led me to the obvious. When I was twelve I took guitar lessons above a shop called The Blue Note from an old looking man who sat and smoked and had me listen to the classics. Scratchy old blues and folk records; songs of drunk wives and trains and murder and trains and jail and heroes. These songs have been around. Some go back to British street ballads, others came down from the Appalachian hills. They have dozens of verses and different melodies and everyone who sings them changes them a little, makes them theirs. What do I hope to invest? Now! These songs remain relevant, moving and scary. To keep them from becoming relics they get reinterpreted every few decades. Mostly the songs adapted themselves, some got a little bent, but not irreparably.'
15. JANE KELLY WILLIAMS Boy, I'm Just Getting Over You 3.53
Originally from Newnan, Georgia, Jane started piano early, then began writing songs and playing guitar at 12 years old. As a college student, Jane migrated to NYC's, Manhattan School of Music. Soon after, she made two albums on Crépuscule, followed by signing with Mercury Records where she has had several songs on AC radio, a song featured in a major motion picture starring Jennifer Aniston, and several others in independent films and on HBO. Boy, I'm Just Getting Over You is taken from her 1989 album Unexpected Weather (TWI 893).
16. MARIE AUDIGIER Un voyage 2.49
One of Marie's best known songs, Un voyage is a 7-inch single (TWI 945) taken from her first eponymous Crépuscule mini album, released as TWI 911 in 1990, which Marie followed three years later with Ces …tés (TWI 926). Marie preferred working in the studio to appearing onstage, after working as a label manager for Crépuscule France for five years now manages artists including Jean-Louis Murat and Cascadeur.
17. DEVINE & STATTON Under the Weather 4.10
In 1989 former Ludus instrumentalist Ian Devine began a collaboration with ex-Weekend and Young Marble Giants vocalist Alison Statton, resulting in two albums for Crépuscule: The Prince of Wales (TWI 873/LTMCD 2433) and Cardiffians (TWI 906/LTMCD 2435). 'Ian did most of the writing,' Alison explained of these albums, of which the first is a satisfying melange of lengthy acoustic riffs and lyrical wit. The US college radio hit was a folky cover of Bizarre Love Triangle, with Under the Weather running a close second, along with a catchy plea for Welsh cultural autonomy, Turn the Aerials Away From England.
18. GABRIELLE LAZURE Petit Bateau 3.44
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Montreal, as a psychology student Gabrielle Lazure elected to move to Paris in 1978, where she then trained as an actress. Her career was launched with Alain Robbe-Grillet's film La Belle Captive. Since then Gabrielle has appeared in more than thirty movies, including Enigma and Noyade Interdite. She starred in the recently released Québécois feature film directed by Patrice Sauvé, Grande Ourse, and will appear in The Last Kiddie Ride directed by Harold Guskin and starring James Gandolfini, to be soon released. In Disguise will be Gabrielle's directorial debut. After contributing a version of A Children's Tale from Night of the Hunter to Crépuscule movie covers compilation Moving Soundtracks (TWI 112), Gabrielle released mini album Out of the Blue (TWI 881) on the label in 1989.
19. CATHY CLARET Le lundi au soleil 3.38
Cathy comes from southern France. She has lived with a gypsy family since she was a teenager. A little French, a little Spanish, a little gypsy. Instrumentalist and self-taught composer, her music is a blend of different sounds: pop, bossa nova, flamenco guitars, blues, even toy instruments. Cathy also sings in four different languages (English, French, Spanish and caló - a gypsy language), combining diverse musical influences which have developed into her own singular, minimalist style with her smooth, whispering voice as a personal trademark. Le lundi au soleil ('Monday in the Sun') is taken from her first eponymous Crépuscule album, released as TWI 892 in 1989.
20. POWAGA SISTERS J'aime regarder les filles 3.31
A slyly ironic cover of the 1981 superhit from Patrick Coutin ('I like to watch the girls, who walk along the beach...'), by Isabelle Antena's occasional side project Powaga Sisters, here also featuring cousins Roger Wanted and Bea Kumba. Parent album Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys was their third long player, issued in 2004, the track also appearing as a single.
The Brooklyn Rail review by Kate Silver (November 2010):It's appropriate that the song to open a collection of female-featured bands should be "The Boy from Ipanema," a gender-subversion of the casually leering bossa nova chestnut. Isabelle Powaga, vocalist for the Parisian group Antena, sing-chants the lyrics so blithely-save for a big, teasing ay-ay-ay-that it's clear "the boy who goes walking" is far from the most interesting thing on the beach: being with a gaggle of girlfriends is much more fun. Antena released the kooky cover in 1982 on Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule. Various selections from the label, dormant since 2004, have recently been reissued by LTM Recordings, including its latest all-femme offering, Les Filles du Crépuscule.
Something of a partner to Manchester's Factory Records, Les Disques du Crépuscule, which was founded in 1980, released records by A Certain Ratio, Josef K, and Michael Nyman, among others. The two labels' similarities go beyond era-defining music: both had nightclubs-cum-playgrounds (Interferences was, perhaps, the Haçienda of Brussels) and in-house sleeve designers who helped develop their identities. Think of Crépuscule's output as a slinkier, more Francophilic take on Factory: synths are sharp, vocals braying, and chants succinct. But it also has a sense of fun. Twee torchbearers the French Impressionists (actually Glaswegian) borrow tuneful licks from George Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael for the standout track "Pick Up the Rhythm"; Marie Audigier croons playfully like a Café de Flore cherie-albeit one with pictures of Kate Bush in her shoulder bag. Next to the chirpy Antena-whose Powaga dabbled in jazz and Latin styles on various Crépuscule releases-several artists sell chanson wholesale. Cathy Claret and Gabrielle Lazure echo rainy days and cafes, while Ludus's "Nue au Soleil," originally a hit for Brigitte Bardot in 1970, features more breathy backing vocals than Jane Birkin can stuff between "Je t'aime" and "moi non plus."
Still, it's all those Factory-made artists that give the collection its smoky edge, from authentic jeunes filles to gender-benders. The Belgian Zwischenfall enters the fray with the balearic dance single "Flucht '84," while Malaria!'s "You You" nips at New Order's "Blue Monday" with eyeliner-smearing squeals. The dreamy keyboards in "Flucht '84" can be traced to nostalgic pop hits by Aeroplane and Lindstr¯m (maybe the DJs-Belgian and Norwegian, respectively-scored original copies). Thick Pigeon's rickety "Dog," an unsettling ode to a severed animal, flits seamlessly between '80s new wave and the Slits' slice-and-dice punk.
To Les Filles's detriment, the compilation's near-chronological sequencing means there are a few flimsy add-ons. Just as Crépuscule thrived in the early '80s, the label's inventive early cuts feel the most vital in retrospect. (Jane Kelly Williams's "Boy, I'm Just Getting Over You" (1989) is an early snapshot of the Wilson Phillips era.) Among those capturing the zeitgeist is Anna Taylor, who spent her formative years in New York at the tail end of the punk era, where she took the name Anna Domino-Domino, from the formerly Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based sugar company. Her self-titled debut (1986) may've been recorded in Belgium with members of the Associates and Telex, but it certainly saw Madonna break through. Domino's dance-pop single "Take That" is enjoyable late-night fluff that stomps at the chorus with amped-up keyboards and drum pads. "Take it from me / What life doesn't offer we steal from each other," she sings. Domino has more recently focused on the bluesy Snakefarm, who show up later on the Filles compilation. She's one of many repeat performers on the collection-including Antena offshoots Isabelle Antena and the Powaga Sisters-keeping the sorority active.
They were ahead of the game, but where have the cool girls gone? Just like back in the day, they're hard to spot; they haven't shed the mystique, but flit from one project to the next. More than anything else, they make it look and sound so easy. Moving beyond Ipanema in 1984, Isabelle Antena's "Be Pop" showed disco sparkle. "We are listening to different types of music now," Powaga said at the time. "It seems that everybody else has discovered Getz and Gilberto, and we've moved back to stuff like Chic and Sister Sledge." And moving beyond music, several artists have since taken to film production and artist management, ensuring their place as cool moms to a new generation of artists. To wit: Powaga Sisters close out the collection with "J'aime Regarder les Filles" ("I Like Watching Girls"), a winking cover of the Patrick Coutin hit. A woman knows.