In memoriam

  Petr Hapka (13 May 1944 - 26 November 2014) Bookmark and Share

The popular Czech composer and singer Petr Hapka has died at the age of 70 on November 26, 2014. This is only a few months after his birthday was celebrated by a string of artists in a special tribute show. A show where Hapka himself was not present. Since an operation on his hip two years earlier Hapka started suffering from severe Alzheimer. His condition deteriorated dramatically and he was convined to his home in Okoř for the last part of his life.

Petr Hapka was born in Prague into an artistic family and was playing piano by the age of three. He first made a name for himself as a composer in the field of chansons, and it was with one of the genre’s greatest local exponents, Hana Hegerová, that he shared the microphone on the popular song Levandulová. As well as pop songs, the elegant and bohemian Hapka wrote music for over a 100 movies, including Léto s kovbojem (Summer with a Cowboy) and the Tom Sawyer adaptation Páni kluci, as well as numerous TV shows and theatre plays. But it was later, when Hapka began a three-decade partnership with lyricist Michal Horáček, that he really hit his stride. Together the pair penned hits for Karel Gott, Lucie Bilá, Jana Kirschner and many, many others.

Horaceck recalls that many people who worked with Hapka adviced not to get his hopes to high in his wish to work with him: "I know people, mainly from the film, who swore to him that he will never cooperate. One day the door opened and there stood a young man such modest," he recounted his first meeting Hapka, They began working on the Hana Hegerová LP 'Potměšilý host' (1987).

Since then the duo delivered some of the most authentic, bohemian pop music in Europe starting with the first duo album 'V penziónu Svět'. Among the scores of musicians who performed songs written by Hapka and Horáček was Michael Kocáb. He said he had great respect for the breadth of the former’s compositional skills. “I admired him very much for that my whole life. His inventiveness and originality. Every song was a one-off and didn’t remind you of anything that had come before. He was also an immensely kind and goodhearted person. We spent a lot of time together, but never once did we have any conflict while recording.”

Next to a talented musician Hapka was also a womanizer. He was married twice, but the women in his life outnumber that. Seven children were born from five different mothers. His youngest son Kaspar will be 13 years this year, his eldest daughter Margaret is almost 38. With each of his, as he said, "official kids', but also their mothers he always maintained good relations.

Horaceck regrets he never went to visit his friend in his last months. "Whenever I went to Okoř, it was to meet with someone from a nearby Petrova and beyond," he said "He was in the end grateful for any light moment but I couldn’t see my friend as just a shadow of the former bon vivant.”

(Read more on Petr Hapka on their profile)


"Dear friends and correspondents. If you do not receive a reply that means I'm working in the studio. I’ll catch up in my free time. Meanwhile, I wish you a nice, hot Saturday and Sunday," - wrote Jackowski just a few minutes before his death on his Facebook profile. Marek Jackowski, founder and longtime leader of Polish Eighties iconic rockband Maanam passed away on May 18, 2013. At the age of 66 he died of a heart attack in his house in Naples. He leaves a wife and three daughters from his second marriage and of course Kora (his first wife and Manaam companion) with their son Mateusz.

Marek Jackowski was born December 11, 1946, in the Polish town of Olsztyn. During his studies in English Philology he began playing in Lodz with blues-rock band Vox Generis. After moving Jackowski partnered Cracow collective Piwnicą pod Baranami and joined in with bands like Anawa and Osjan. In 1975 the cooperation with Milo Kurits made them start a band. They played with the band name starting with Marek I Milo, which sounded like a bad folkduo. They were trying to shorten came M and M, reduced to MaM, but did not like that either. Eventually  they began to insert into the different letters, someone advised to increase their "a", and finally created a word Maanam. Milo split after that to continue with Osjan. Jackowski kept toying with the now solo act untill 1979 when he met singer Kora. Initially they recorde the single Hamlet/Oprócz under the name Dżamble but in summer of 1979, they appeared on stage as Maanam in a new form – an "electrified" quintet. The group (along with Kora and Marek) were guitarist Richard Olesiński, his brother Christopher Olesiński as bass player and drummer Richard Kupidura. At the beginning of 1980 Maanam, recording a second single, " Boskie Buenos/Żądza pieniądza ". At the festival in Opole their performance of the sing called nationwide shock due to its punk attitude. This recalcitrant attitude became Maanam’s  signature attitude during the 80s. And they were able to get away with it due to their fast growing popularity. In January 1982, during martial law, they recorded  their second full-length album, "Oh and held its first international tour, playing in a Paris club, "Bain Douches" and then Berlin "Quartier Latin". Later Germany and the Netherlands followed making Manaam also from abroad a name to follow. For the local officials this made it more difficult to impose their rules on the band. But in 1984 they went too far refursing to perform at a show dedicated to the friendship with the Soviet Union. The band is placed on the blacklist, it disappears from the Polish radio airwaves, television screens and the press. In 1985 Maanam recorded for German RCA album "Wet Cat" and its Polish version of "Mental Cut". The band held a promotional tour of Germany. It comes in many German television channels. Despite the enormous success of Maanam decided to suspend its activities. They would perform once more in 1986 at a charity concert for the blind in the "Congress Hall" in Warsaw.

Kora records a solo album and Marek also starts working on one that would not appear until 1993. By that time Maanam already started a second incarnation. They kept recording and confirming their status as leading rockband until their anniversary in 2005. In 2008 Marek has an accident on stage, which makes Manaam suspend their operations all together. Jackowski himself forms a new band but no album would ever be released. In the years 2011-2013 Marek Jackowski made a guest appearance with the band Plateau to promote their fourth album dedicated to Grechuta . With Plateau he played live what would turn ou to be his last concert (Wroclaw, March 17 2013).

He returned to his house  in San Marco di Castellabate, in the province of Salerno Italy , near Naples to work on a next solo album. Busy in his studio he suffered a heart attack dying in the harness, maybe with guitar in hand. And so depriving Poland from one of its leading pop artists from the 80’s. His wife Eve, three daughters: Bianka, Paloma and Sonia, and Mateusz attended the funeral that was held May 19 at the cemetery in San Marco. Kora was sadly unable to attend..

(Read more on Marek and Manaam at their profile)

  Daniel Darc (20 may 1959 - 28 february 2013) Bookmark and Share

Daniel Darc died on 28 february 2013 in his Paris apartment. A man that lived up to his chosen last name, a life haunted by depression and drug problems. In 2008 he sang “When I die, I will go to heaven / hell it is I've spent my life in". At the age of 53 a drug overdose mixed with alcohol finally enabled him to spent the last drop of his life on this world. For foreigners Daniel is probably a sidefigure on the stage of French pop. A fully tattooed bohemian with a dark sinister voice that appears as a guest on projects from Berry, Cali, Buzy or Jane Birkin. In fact Darc himself did not even record that many albums mostly due to his habits with psychostimulants and narcotics.

At the start if the Eighties Darc and his buddy Mirwais (yes, indeed the same one that produced Madonna one time) were among the new hot bands that sprung up in the slipstream of punk and new wave. Taxi Girl, formed in 1977, (with Lawrence Sinclair , Stéphane Erard and Pierre Wolfsohn as other band members) broke in 1980 with the single Cherchez le garçon. On the single Daniel Darc evokes a misty sexuality with help of drugs : "Wake succeeds tragic / A dreamless sleep / The shape of her body / Do not want nothing to say to me " The band would soon turn controversial when Darc slashes his wrists “for fun” during a pre-show for the Talking Heads. A destructive characteristic in his nature that would return throughout the rest his life. Darc explained in an interview in 2004 "At the beginning of Taxi Girl, I got some speed , A guy came into the dressing room I propose a shot of heroin. then I found the trick to overcome my shyness, a doctor called my social phobia. " His fifteen years of addiction brought him several times to borders of death until he got imprisonment.

Finally ‘Seppuku’ the only true album by the band saw the light of day thanks to Jean Jacques Burnell of the Stanglers. It would take four more years before the band separated and Darc was left to persue a solocareer. Despite the help of friends - Sous influence divine (1987), produced and co-written by Jacno; Parce que (1988), an album with duets with Bill Pritchard ; La Ville (1988) a single produced by Etienne Daho, Nijinsky (1994), made with help of Georges Betzounis  - his path and career is troubled by his addictions . By the turn of the century all he got left was a lot of criticism and some scrapes of literary essays songs (Energie dramatique de la rue, Ombremort, A Love suprême,, dedicated to his idol John Coltrane ). That’s how a young admirer, musician Frédéric Lo, finds him and helps him back in the saddle. "Nobody trusted it would work , an artistic director even asked me: "You do social rehabilitation now?" The fact is that for Daniel it was very difficult to write alone. Everything was done in my living room. I offered the music he wrote on the spot. We quickly realized that something was happening. "

The path of this redemption is not easy. "We also had a difficult time” , Frédéric Lo added. Daniel was frail, completely messed up by past excesses. During the year and a half this adventure lasted, he almost died three times. " Miraculous Crève cœur saw the light of day in 2004. It received tremendous critical acclaim and unexpected commercial success.  It was rewarded with a Victoire de la Musique for the revelation of the year and opened the door for numerous collaborations (Cali, Buzy, Marc Lavoine , Asyl , Jane Birkin ...). In 2008, Lo and Darc publish the second installment of their collaboration, Amours suprêmes, which sees the singer in duet with two of his idols, Alain Bashung and Englishman Robert Wyatt. In 2011, Daniel Darc joins with composer, producer and arranger Laurent Marimbert for an album more soulful then his previous work. Darc was on a roll and just a two days before his death he told Stéphane Davet of Le Monde he was working on a new album influenced by African music. It was not to be. In the morning of the 28th of February 2013 he was found dead by his producer in his apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris . A final and lethal mixture of alcohol and drugs was probably the cause of his death.

(Thanks to Stéphane for his In Memoriam in Le Monde and the interview snippets)

  Conrad Schnitzler (1937 - 4 August 2011) Bookmark and Share

The news that Conrad Schnitzler passed away this August will raise the question 'Who?' with 95% of the population. Still Schnitzler was one of the electronic entrepeneurs in Europe from the beginning of the sixties. He was there when Stockhausen en Pierre Henry bleeped away, he stood at the basis of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin. Some say that without him no Tangerine Dream, no Kraftwerk, no Kluster maybe not even an Aphex Twin or Autechre. Maybe that's a bit to much credit but fact is that his electronic sound experiments reached far inside the avant garde and underground of Europopmusic. Reluctant of any limelight he will look back in wonder how his 1981 electro track 'Auf dem Schwarzen Kanal' has become a culthit in the new age.

Not long before his death Conrad Schnitzler finished the piece "00/830". Before he head off to work he walked the dogs and then descended into the spaceship-like basement studio of his small family house on the outskirts of Berlin. There he rummaged in his studio called Klangbrei and turned the knobs and controls the synthesizer, creating abstract sounds, noises, discordant noise and history of this material over each other until he was satisfied and had to back upstairs in order to cook a vegetarian meal, because one hast o eat on time. Thus passed the last years of Schnitzler's life, he had found a refuge in the public he was long gone. Even when he was honored in 2008 the Club Transmediale, he let his colleague Wolfgang Seidel list the tape concerts. Reminiscent of an action at Ars Electronica in de 70-ies, when he ran around with  body-mounted cassette recorders and an organ from a Megaphonhelmet creating a so called Cloud of Sound. Conventions have never interested him.

Born 1937 in Düsseldorf, he heard as a child in protective bunkers the thunder of the bombs, then jazz as a teenager, he met a mechanic and went to the Merchant Marine. On the radio he discovered the end of the 50's the avant-garde of new music, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage and Pierre Henry, and closed it shortly with the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock. "That was the liberation of my inner self for the arts," he recalled. Schnitzler threw the job in the factory and enrolled in 1961 at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, where he found a new professor, who still had no students. Thus, Conrad Schnitzler, the first and only student of Joseph Beuys at the beginning, "with whom I've only chatted a semester." He made sculptures from industrial scrap, waited tables and took in the late 60-ren to West Berlin.

Block in the gallery he built from old portable radios, violins and contact microphones a sound installation that could be played by the visitors. The production of sounds moved ever more into the foreground. Theories and concepts to him were not read music or speak properly any more than an instrument, but as a champion of spontaneity and chance anyway, he loved the experiment. The path from art to music was short, the boundaries blurred in that time anyway. Schnitzler played an important part in the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, the free art club in Berlin founded in 1968. (see also our article on the history of electronic music in Europe). There, met artists, anarchists, and free jazz and smoking hash out of this environment, recruited his band. With Achim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius in 1969 he formed clusters, which later worked without him, under the name Kluster. He also got one of Tangerine Dream and can be heard on their debut album "Electronic Meditation". Being an often stubborn-headed individualist the band-life wasn’t exactly for him. He would stay a loner for most of his career.

In 1972 he bought the "Synth A", the first affordable synthesizer of musical history, from then on he was free and alone, especially in Klangbrei burrow, just as he wanted it and he has until the end and done with utmost consistency. Small labels sporadically published his photographs, he had fans worldwide. He re-emerged in 1978 with the album Con, recorded at Peter Baumann’s Paragon Studios, and with the support of the French label Egg Records. The beginning of the Eighties saw an upswing in activity for Conrad Schnitzler, and he released seven albums in total during 1980-81 alone. The styles ranged from the harsh sequencer trance of Consequenz to the surprisingly pop-oriented project Con 3 (both were recorded with drum machines and vocals by Wolfgang Seidel, formerly of Ton Steine Scherben). With Seidel he also released the Neue Deutsche Welle 12”-single ‘Auf dem Schwarzen Kanal’ in 1980. The haunting dark beat-driven track has become a highly collectable item in the new age with dozens of collectors trying to track it down. At the time it did virtually nothing. During the rest of the 1980s, Schnitzler recorded often, but released his work on increasingly obscure labels. After another fallow period during the early ’90s, he began recording with Plate Lunch Records, which issued new releases such as 1998’s 00/44 as well as archival reissues like 1971’s Rot. Conrad Schnitzler died last august 4, 2011 due to stomach cancer at the age of 74.

  Jacno (3 July 1957 - 9 November 2009)

After a short punk flick with the Stinky Toys it was Jacno that brought electropop to France at the start of the eighties. Together with Elli Medeiros as a recording artists he was also the brain behind the initial success of Etiene Daho, Daniel Darc and the Modern Mathematics. Although his influence on French pop was great his efforts to get a solo career going remained futile. On the 9th of November 2009 the French dandy of new wave died of cancer at the age of 52.

Born as Denis Quilliard on 3 july 1957 (Paris) he was still in high school when he take up the pseudonym ‘Jacno’ after the designer of the helmet with wings on the blue package of Gauloises. In 1975, he met at a student demonstration a beautiful Uruguayan girl named Elli Medeiros. Together, they create the band Stinky Toys, inspired by the energy of the birth of punkmusic. They cross over to London and appear at the first punk festival ever at the 100 Club in 1976. Elli even made the front of Melody Maker. Oddly their self-titled debut album maybe sold reasonably in the UK but the homeland didn’t pick up on the punk vibe yet. The lack of commercial success made the band split up in 1979.

Jacno buys synthesizers and locks himself in his apartment exploring the possibilities the machines offer. A first output is released soon on two instrumental albums breathing influences from Kraftwerk and Musique Concrete. Together with Elli he records a third album and the first under the name Elli & Jacno. ‘Tout va sauter’ (1980) creates a sound which is a curious combination of coldness and eroticism. Titles like ‘Main dans la main’ and ‘Oh là la’ tempted the French airwaves. Listening back the rudimentary albums sound like demo’s from erotic science fiction movie but at the time the impact on the French music scene was huge. The sound was followed by artists like Lio, Etienne Daho(‘Mythomane’), Daniel Darc, Jacques Higelin (‘Tombe de ciel’) and many more. Often with Janco as producer behind the mixing desk. The electropop sound that Jacno introduced even found it’s way to commercialism in the form of a Nesquick commercial.

Already in 1982 the duo Elli & Jacno split up although they keep working together and make a final surprise appearance at the 1985 at a night at the Olympia appearing in outrageous costumes made by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. From here on the (solo) career of Jacno is one that is very marginal. Looking back to his musical career the feeling presents itself that Jacno maybe even didn’t want to be in the spotlights changing record companies at almost every new album he releases. He continues to write and produce for others like songs for Les Valentins (‘J'ai triste’) and Paul Personne (‘Le Bourdon’). He duets with Romane Bohringer (D'une rive à l'autre, 1994) and Helena Noguerra (Désamour, 2002) and joins in with Stupeflip on a 2002 tribute to Boby Lapointe. In the new millennium he also picks up on a acting career playing roles in movies like ‘L'auberge espagnole’ (2002), ‘Les lionceaux’ (2003) and ‘Code 68’ (2005) usually playing the father-role.

In 2006 he suddenly turned very creative with a new solo album ‘Tant de temps’, a reuniting with Elli Medeiros for her album ‘E M’ and two duets with ex miss France Mareva Galanter (‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Ne Dis Rien’) for her album ‘Ukuyéyé’. A last sign of life was in 2007 in the small independent movie ‘Fille unique’, where he played the part of Monsieur Chalamov, and a contribution to the soundtrack of the movie ‘Sous les toits de Paris’. Being a heavy smoker Jacno died of cancer on the 9th of November 2009. 

  Mari Trini (12 July 1947- 7 April 2009)

On April 7 the Spanish singer-songwriter Mari Trini died in her native city of Murcia. Although the years of great success for already some years behind her, she was was still very popular in Spain. That her death came unexpectedly was revealed by the fact that there was a farewell concert scheduled later this year. Trini died at the age of 61, allegedly to the effect of lung cancer.

Singer María Trinidad Perez de Mira Vetement Mille was already sickly in her childhood which she spent in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz. This became all the more after the family moved to the main Madrid. Between her seventh and fourteenth year, she was regularly ill at home which fed her love for music translated into guitar playing and composing songs. At her sixteenth she started with performances in the cafes in the city. She was noted by director Nicolas Ray who had become known with the movie "Rebel without a cause." He promised her a role in his new film as they would go to London. The film was never made but Mari Trini stayed in London, did workshops with Peter Ustinov and contributed to various radio shows.

Inspired by the music of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and seized by the French chanson she moved to Paris in 1964. She would eventually reside in the city for 5 years and experience the legendary student protests firsthand. The rebelry of the youth inspired her probably to protest against the regime of Franco in Spain. But in contrast to other artists like Serrat, Sabina and Peret her texts were much subtler and of a feminine nature. At the end of sixties she releases her first Spanish-language album ‘Il principio’, without much success. The record, however, brings her to the attention of the label Hispavox who release the successor 'Amores' in 1970. This album marks the breakthrough to the general public. The Spanish folkmusic in conjunction with the Italian arrangements of Rafael Trabucchelli represented a change in the Spanish popular music. Even in the time of Franco's her texts were also subtle enough to resist censorship. Trini also attracted some international attention, especially with her third album 'Escúchame' (1971). The album with the famous mysterious green door on the cover took away the intelligentsia of northern Europe. It was also the first record she herself had written. Integer songs like 'Yo no soy esa' and 'Yo confieso' confirmed her status in her homeland as a singer / songwriter.

Mari Trini's sexuality was always a source of speculation. Although she never publicly confirmed her alleged lesbian orientation she lived together since mid-seventies with her 'roommate' Claudette. The song 'Una estralla en mi jardin’(from the eponymous LP from 1982) was seen by critics as her big coming-out song, but the singer has always denied this. The political transition after the death of Franco and the rise of the 'Musica Movida' did, in the eighties, the success of Trini no good. One more time she came back as the true diva of the Spanish song. At the invitation of the television in 1985 she gave a concert at the Teatro Salamanca in Madrid. The registration ‘En vivo' let Trini peak for the last time. After this it was downhill.

The radio never played her songs anymore, the following albums, "Quién me vendera 'and' Espejismos, showed a desperate search for a new sound and shadowy legal issues with EMI, which had acquired Hispavox, gave problems releasing her back catalogue on CD. The latter was slightly offset in later years but her individual albums are still very difficult to get on CD and highly collectable. She unexpected came with a new album in 2001. An album that was created in cooperation with the trio "Los Panchos". The CD has 23 new songs which 12 of Trini's hand. The album, released on the small Ventura label, let many Spaniards rediscover Trini. Health problems prevented her from a lot of publicitory action. In 2005, she received a multi-diamond award for the sale of more than 10 million records. And on March 8, 2008 she received the award "Lucha por la Igualdad" (fight for equality) of the Comunidad Autónoma de Murcia for her work for the emancipation of women.

On April 7, 2009 Mari Trini died in silence in the Morales Meseguer Hospital, Murcia surrounded by her mother, her three brothers, her secretary and Claudette. She was 61 years old.

See also Mari Trini's page for full biography, weblinks, discography and reviews

  Alain Bashung (1 December 1947 - 14 March 2009)

"The last musical giant" headlined the French Music Magazine Les Inrock recently in an interview with the ever shrouded in black singer Alain Bashung. The title was well earned but long overdue. His raspy disturbing humming voice and his musical choices were not always the taste of the public. Only with the advent of the New Wave, early eighties, he became popular but his artistic innovation continued until last album. The ever-smoking Bashung passed away on March 14 of this year. Lung cancer eventually ate the big body from the inside.

The birth of small Bashung was a false start. Born from the brief romance between his Breton mother and an unknown Algerian father was Alain Baschung (with a 'c', which he would later drop) brought up by the step-parents of his mother in Strasbourg. Eventually, the music of Buddy Holly and his great hero Serge Gainsbourg would help him through his lonely youth. In the sixties he founded his first band Royan. Here he shows a feel for songwriting and in 1968 he presents the first single 'Les romantiques. This flopped ruthlessly, as a second single that he makes under the pseudonym Hendrick Darmen. After a brief adventure in the theatre world he tries again. This time with an album ‘Roman Photos’ in which the recordcompany he is trying to market him as the new Claude François. Again faced with general lack of success Bashung rigorously chanced his course. For the album "Pizza" he wrote about all his frustrations about his childhood and failed career. The album fits just right in the emerging new wave generation. "Gaby Oh Gaby" and "Vertige de l'Amour" became great hits.

But this success is heavy on Bashung. He falls into a severe depression and is only freed by his idol Gain Bourg with whom he 'Play blessures' record. This album full of new wave and electro influences and highly provocative texts is his definitive style. Dressed in black leather, cigarette in mouth and a dark voice. To place his own musical style somewhere between Leo Ferre and the Sex Pistols. He was also politically engaged. In 1985 he spoke strongly against the emerging right-wing extremism in his country with the single "Touche pas à mon pote" (Hands off my mate) of the LP 'Passe le rio grande. Internationally it would still take a long time before the public would learn something from Bashung. And it is his only achievement with poppy hit "Osez Josephine" that in 1992 he gets some recognition outside the French speaking world. In France, however, he becomes enormously popular with "Madame rêve", ""Fantaisies militaires " and “Chatterton”. In 2005, he retroactively even gets three Victoires for the album "Fantaisies militaires " where the jury described it as" best album of the last 20 years and the work of a genius. "

However, his absolute tour de force was still to come with the pitch black "L'Imprudence” of 2002 by which he can compete with other idiosyncratic artists like Scott Walker. With his writing partner Jean Faque he creates a post-apocalyptic vision of the world and sings about all the evils of modern society. Xenophobia, loneliness and misunderstanding are the central themes. The album received positive reviews and extensive touring brought him to all corners of the French-speaking world. No one could imagine that within Bashung already was affected with lung cancer. After the tour he disappeared from the scene, as it turned out because of an extensive chemotherapy. In 2006, there was a first sign of life with a duet with Francoise Hardy for her album 'parentheses ... .. ' followed later by contributions to the albums of Arno and Daniel Darc. With the support of that other gloomy French hermit Gérard Manset he began in 2007 to work on "Bleu Pétrole". The folk and country influenced album would eventually appear in 2008. On February 28 of this year he was honoured during the ceremony of the Victoires and he got a standing ovation when he stepped on stage visibly weakened. Two weeks later he was urgently submitted in the St. Joseph Hospital where he died on March 14. The French world reacted shocked. President Sarkozy even released an official statement: "A Prince has moved away from us tonight, a great poet and a singer who stood for what he believed. We are saying goodbye to an artist who left his mark on music history. We salute the man that everyone loved. " After an extensive ceremony in the church of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, he was buried on March 20 in the cemetery Père-Lachaise in Paris.

See also Alain Bashung's page for full biography, weblinks, discography and reviews

  Hector Zazou (11 July 1948 - 8 September 2008)

The French-Algerian composer and arranger Hector Zazou was a bridge builder between music genres that apparently had little to do with each other. He combined classical music, minimal, poetry, world music and pop creating a complete new but still natural sound. He preferred creating projects, for which he chose a certain theme and invited a variety of guest to contribute. Country of origin or music style was of no importance to him. For his latest project 'In the house of mirrors', he brought together Tibetan Yungchen Lhamo, Uzbek Sevara Nazarxon, Swiss Laurence Revey, the Gaelic flutist Carlos Núñez and the Italian group PJC. The album, recorded in India, was released in October of 2008, but unfortunately Zazou already left us by that time. On September 8 he died, sixty years old.

Zazou was born on July 11, 1948 in Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria, and studied at the conservatory in Paris. In the early seventies, he became interested in the minimal music movement and began to collaborate with Joseph Racaille under the name ZNR. Their debut album 'Barricades 3' (1976) was described by critics as "... music influenced by Satie, stripped of any unnecessary detail and stripped to the minimum essentials". In Brussels, Zazou got introduced to Marc Hollander, who was famous for pushing the bounderies of the avant garde and pop music together with Aksak Maboul. His new label, Crammed, offered Zazou the opportunity to experience working as a studio producer. Meanwhile, with ZNR Zazou recorded two more albums ('Traité the popular mécanique' in 1978 and 'La perversita' in 1979) before the duo decided to split.

During his studio work he met Congolese singer Bony Bikaye and he became interested in non-western music. This resulted in a recording session in June 1983 in the Daylight Studios in Brussels. Besides Bikaye, Zazou had invited two French synthesizer pioneers, Claude Guillaume and Loizillon Micheli. Bikaye was placed between the tall analog synthesizers and the recording started. Zazou stacked layer on layer to a hypnotic musical experience. The album 'Noir et blanc' could be considered a logical continuation of the Byrne - Eno project 'My life in the bush of ghosts', but never received such recognition. (Not that this affected Zazou in any way...) Under the wings of experiment minded Hollander and the Crammed lable he could recorded 'Reivax au Bongo' (1986), 'Guilty' (1988, again with Bikaye) and 'Geologies' (1989). On these three classic albums Zazou tried to bring string orchestras and world music together.

In the nineties, Zazou already built up sufficient credit as a gifted composer and arranger in order to proceed with a much larger project to tackle. On the album 'Les nouvelles polyphonic corses' he combined the vocal tradition of Corsica with the contributions of famous musicians like Ryuichi Sakamoto (Japan), Manu Dibango (Cameroon) and John Cale (Wales). In 1992 he went a step further. Jacques Pasquier brought up the idea of doing something with the 100th anniversary of poet Arthur Rimbaud. Zazou went to work but decided that he did not wanted to do the standard 'poetry to music' thing. He wanted to create a cross-genre experience. He brought together a variety of artists such as Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Dalcan, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), Tim Simenon, John Cale and David Sylvian and let them read passages or musical support. He even integrated an Ethiopian poem on the album. 'Saharan blue' has become both a very unique and timeless album. Electronics, poetry, world music and pop go hand in hand.

Having become excited about his latest project, he immediately began to prepare himself for his next project, in which he wanted combine pop and rock with the original music of the Ainu, Nanai, Inuit and Yaku-culture. Since all these cultures were formed around the northern oceans, he named the project 'Chansons des mères froides' ('Songs from the cold seas'). Again, he invited many guest artists including Björk, Suzanne Vega, Värttina, Siouxsie Sioux, Mark Isham and the Balanescu Quartet. Since the costs of this project got pretty out of hand, Sony Music were asked to participate financially in the project. The recordings were made in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Japan, Scandinavia and Siberia and were filmed for a documentary, which unfortunately was never released. The mysterious album is exciting as Zazou's best work. The song 'The long voyage' was released as a single, with remixes by Zazou himself and reggae producer Mad Professor.

Zazou never again met the artistic and creative level of 'Chansons des mères froides'. His album 'Lights in the dark' (1989) with Celtic music from Ireland was not nearly as exciting. His album '12 (Las Vegas is Cursed)' (2000) with Sandy Dillon was even less successful, both artistically and commercially. Zazou himself did not understand why the critics and the public ignored his rather melancholy project. He considered his composition 'Sombre' as the most precious thing he had ever made.

Due to this flop it took him three years to conclude his next project, 'Strong currents'. With the assistance of Jane Birkin, Caroline Lavelle. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Archaea Strings, Zazou returned to the old successes. However, time had caught up and Zazou's musical experiments were not appreciated by the general public. Zazou began to concentrate on electronic music that he himself could spread through the internet. Thus, he was involved in projects such as 'Slow Music' and 'Music Operator'. It is unclear whether his illness caused him to retrief into the studio. In 2007 he started working again, this time on an album with Katie Jane Garside, Bill Rieflin, Lone Kent and trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. In January 2008 'Electrical Corps' was finished. Zazou almost immediately went to India for the shooting of 'The house of mirrors', almost as if he subconsciously knew he had little time left to finalise this project. Back in Brussels he completed the mixes and finished the album. Just in time you might say. By the end of April 2008 he learned he had lymphoma, just 4 months before he died on September 8, leaving behind a unique oeuvre. (thanks to Lidwine for some additional info)

  Marc Moulin (1942 - 26 September 2008)  

A lot of people will remember Belgian keyboardist Marc Moulin from the hit singles 'Amoureux solitaire' and 'Banana split' that launched singer Lio's career at the beginning of the eighties. The sound of these jumping, almost popcorn-like songs was mainly due to Marc Moulin. It was his vision to combine deceptively simple pop melodies with synthesizers and other electronics. This resulted in the first Lio-albums, but is also recognisable in the material of his own group Telex. Their singles 'Twist à San Tropez','Moskow Diskow' and 'Rock around the Clock' from 1979 already were small local hits.

Little people knew that in 1980, Moulin already had an entire career in jazz music. At the end of the sixties he started a band with jazz guitarist Philip Catherine, won several prizes and started his own group 'Placebo' at the beginning of the seventies. The group encountered international success with the albums 'Ball of eyes', '1973' and 'Placebo'. In 1976 the group split after giving a last concert.

In 1977, Moulin was approached by avant-garde musician Marc Hollander to join his project 'Aksak Maboul', with members of Univers Zero, Henry Cow and Slapp Happy. The album would serve as the basis for Hollander's new muzieklabel 'Crammed'. The first album 'Onze danses pour la combattre migraine' was a playful mix of musical forms, cultures and genres. With its primitive drum machines and repetitive organ lines, the music could be placed somewhere between improvised jazz, folk, electronic music and classical music. Moulin did not want to release a sequal because for him the music was far too experimental.

The decission to create more electronic pop music with his band Telex brought Moulin his biggest successes. Not only with the band, but also as a producer for artists like Lio, Jacques Duvall ('Comme la romaine', 'Je deçois'), Alec Mansion, Anna Domino, Kid Montana, Viktor Lazlo and Alain Chamfort. In 1980 Telex represented Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song 'Eurovision', played on synthesizer and sung through a vocoder. The jury found the Eurovision song incomprehensible and Belgium finished last with 14 points. Nevertheless, the influence of Telex in later electronic pop was huge. Together with Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode, they are often recognised as the primeval form of electro house.

Moulin did not succeeded in maintaining his success (consciously or unconsciously). Only with the revaluation of the eighties electro-wave at the beginning of this century, his music became successful once again. But beyond music he also worked as a radio presenter for the RTBF ('Cap de nuit', 'King Kong' and other jazz programs), a columnist for the magazine 'Télémoustique' and author of the book 'La surenchère (l'homme mediatique)' and 'A la recherche du bemol'.

In 2006 the old Telex reunited and released the album 'How do you dance?' including a cover of 'On the road again', which became a small radio hit in Belgium. In 2007, Moulin recorded a jazz album for the famous Blue Note label, entitled 'I am you'. Both albums were not too well received by the critics. On the 2008 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, Moulin finally was honored by French entry Sebastien Tellier, whose song 'Divine' resembled the Telex style. Again without much success.

Moulin died on September 26, 2008 at 66 years of age to the effects of throat cancer. He was burried on September 30 in Ixelles.