:::The Land of The Giant Dwarfs:::

Posted: Tuesday, 13 July 2010 by jazzlover in Etykiety: ,

Before the opening fanfare, there are the sounds of a belch, a laugh, and a drum roll. For the first time in any X-Legged Sally recording, here is something you might not want to play again, and the CD has only been on for 20 seconds. Not an auspicious start, and not the only misfire on this wildly uneven album. The Land of the Giant Dwarfs is comprised of 18 often very brief tracks, with touchstones here and there to the inspired mania and occasional subtle charm of the band's previous three albums. There are insistent grooves ("Skip XXI"), waltz and tango-flavored rhythms ("Yesbody 2" and "Yesbody 1"), inventive instrumental combinations (Pierre Vervloesem's heavy metal guitar and Bart Maris' muted trumpet on "Fes II"), atmospheric instrumental blues ("Poor Man's Rain," with some great clarinet from Peter Vermeersch), and even touches of swinging avant jazz and funk ("Starfinger," a showcase for keyboardist Peter Vandenberghe). There are two particularly strong tracks at the CD's close: "Quorns" is moody and ominous, with its tragic tale of doomed lovers (spoken in voice-over by Vermeersch) and stuttering, unsettling unison lines from keyboard and clarinet, and the evocative "Yesbody 1," which builds dramatically to become nearly thrilling before its subtle finish. But elsewhere there are dumb vocal samples ("Skip XXI"), insipid lyrical content ("Hair"), and tunes that seem complex just for complexity's sake ("R.I.P."). As the album leaps from sublime to sophomoric and back again, a sense of disappointment begins to prevail, particularly for anyone who is familiar with X-Legged Sally's previous stellar releases and who might have high expectations for this, the band's first full-length CD released on a U.S. label. Unlike any of the group's CDs on the Belgian Sub Rosa imprint, this one, on Knitting Factory, feels either dumbed down or naughtied up for the American audience. It's as if bandleader Vermeersch decided that the best way to gain popularity in the U.S. would be to push the influence of Frank Zappa more to the forefront, with an unfortunate focus on Zappa's most questionable vocal- and song-based work. How else to explain the vocal samples on "Skip XXI" that fixate on genitalia and masturbation? How outrageous! And doesn't the shopworn sentiment about not judging a man by the length of his hair (in the cleverly titled "Hair") arrive at least 25 years late -- or is there hopefully some sense of irony here? The overdubbed and heavily treated vocals of newcomer Thierry Mondelairs suggest more calculation to expand the band's rock-based audience. At times Mondelairs effectively takes the avant out of X-Legged Sally's avant-prog, turning the ensemble into -- horrors! -- a mere progressive rock band. But of course Vermeersch remains in charge, still writing the lion's share of the material, and now often demonstrating a greater interest in music that is difficult to perform than difficult music that is interesting and fun to listen to. Nowhere is this more evident than on "R.I.P.," an intermittently hard-rocking tune that throws constant changes at the listener; it feels like about ten songs cobbled together into one, with no sense of internal logic. The convoluted structure of "R.I.P." works against one of X-Legged Sally's previous greatest strengths: the ability to lock into a hard-charging groove and drive it to incendiary heights. And yet, 36 of The Land of the Giant Dwarfs' 59 minutes are phenomenal and as strong as anything X-Legged Sally ever recorded. Unfortunately, however, picking and choosing among the tracks is a necessity, something not part of the listening experience with any previous X-Legged Sally release.
:::Review by Dave Lynch:::

X-Legged Sally (XLS) - The Land of The Giant Dwarfs (1995)

1. Anthem - The Land Of Giant Dwarfs 1:05
2. Fes III 4:53
3. R.I.P. 3:36
4. Yesbody 2 2:42
5. Skip XXI 6:27
6. Yesbody 4 2:10
7. Charge 2:08
8. Yesbody 3 1:49
9. Lie To Me 1:32
10. Glad You're Dead 1:27
11. Home 3:04
12. Hair 5:
13. Poor Man's Rain 4:49
14. Starfinger 7:26
15. Mono Dolby 1:00
16. Owl Harry 3:10
17. Quorns 3:22
18. Yesbody 1 2:43

Bass - Paul Belgrado
Clarinet - Peter Vermeersch
Composed By - Peter Vermeersch (tracks: 1, 4 to 6, 8 to 11, 13 to 18) , Pierre Vervloesem (tracks: 3, 7)
Drums - Danny Van Hoeck
Guitar, Percussion - Pierre Vervloesem
Keyboards - Peter Vandenberghe
Saxophone - Michel Mast
Trumpet - Bart Maris
Vocals - Thierry Mondelaers

8 komentarze:

  1. E-mile says:

    jazzlover, I saw them live (once!) amazing band! I have all their CD's, maybe you want to explore more? here's what I got:
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -
    - - -

    be sure to get all the 9 links, it's one big file alltogether [:-)
    Good to have a chance to "repay" you in some way, hope you enjoy it!
    peace, E-mile

  1. Arthur says:

    Yes. This is a great blog. Check out something I've just started putting together if you feel like watching some musical videos.
    I'd be interested to get some feedback.

  1. E-mile says:

    indeed great stuff, very much recommended, I'd say try to score their other albums too [:-)
    peace, E-mile

  1. Zer0_II says:

    Greetings. I wanted to let you know that I've added your blog to both the "Jazz/Fusion" and "Experimental/Avant-Garde" categories of the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blogroll @ http://music-bloggers.blogspot.com as you requested. I also added your RSS feed to the master RSS feed, which aggregates content from all of the blogs on the list. You can find it here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/dmblogroll I also have a twitter account which automatically lists the most recent posts as well, which can be found here: http://twitter.com/dmaggregator

    If you would like to help me out, you can do so by linking back to my blog. Although it isn't required in order to be listed, I would greatly appreciate it. If you would be willing to mention the blogroll in a post that would also be much appreciated. Thanks for all the hard work and time that goes into maintaining this blog, and especially for the fantastic music you share. Take care.


  1. jazzlover says:


    Thanks a lot E-mile. Will definitely check them out.

    Peace! Jazzlover

  1. jazzlover says:

    Zer0_II you are the Men! Thanks dude!
    Great job!
    Will add your link on my site for sure.


  1. Zer0_II says:

    @Jazzlover: Thank you very much for the kind words and for linking to DM. Do you happen to have a page on Facebook for Jazz Archives?

    E-Mile: Thank you so much for those X-Legged Sally albums. I wish that they weren't all in one file, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers. I've only had the pleasure of listening to The Land of the Giant Dwarfs, Killed By Charity and Slow Up. I didn't think that I would ever have the chance to listen to their other albums any time soon.