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Telex (1978 - )

Related: dance music - new wave - Belgian music - Marc Moulin

Sleeve for Moskow Diskow (1978) - Telex


The Belgian pop group Telex was formed in 1978 by Marc Moulin, Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, as a kind of elaborate joke. Mixing the aesthetics of disco, punk and experimental electronic music, they released a stripped-down synthesized cover version of "Twist St. Tropez" by Les Chats Sauvages.

They followed up with an ultra-slow cover of "Rock Around the Clock", a hilariously relaxed and dispassionate version of one-hit-wonder Plastic Bertrand's punk song "a Plane Pour Moi", and a perversely mechanical cover of "Dance to the Music", originally by Sly Stone.

Like Kraftwerk, Telex built their music entirely from electronic instruments, and the sounds of the two groups have a certain similarity. However, unlike Kraftwerk's studied Teutonic irony, Telex favour a more joyously irreverent humour.

In 1980 Telex's manager asked them to enter for the Eurovision Song Contest. They did so, and somehow managed to get sent to the finals. Their song "Eurovision" was a cheerful bleepy song with deliberately banal lyrics about the contest itself.

The audience clearly wasn't sure how to react to this self-referential joke, and after the band stopped playing there was a stunned silence. One of the members of Telex stepped forward and took a photograph of the bewildered audience. Finally, some polite but uncertain applause broke out, amidst sounds of muttering. When the vote-counting began, the verdict was so clear that when Greece actually awarded Belgium three points, the announcer thought she had misheard and tried to award the points to The Netherlands.

All of this was clearly bad news for the band's English record label, Virgin Records, who were trying to pass them off as part of the New Romantic movement. The self-mockery of tracks like "We Are All Getting Old" didn't help either.

For their third album, Sex, Telex enlisted the suddenly hip US group Sparks to help write the lyrics. However, the band still refused to play live and preferred to remain anonymous common practice in the techno music artists they later inspired, but unusual in 1981. The fourth Telex album, Wonderful World, was barely distributed.

In 1986, Warner Brothers inexplicably signed Telex and released Looney Tunes. By then, the band's earlier sound had influenced many other groups, but they had abandoned it in favor of sampling (music) and a more up-tempo humorous style. "Temporary Chicken", for example, was a strange joke track about a man so desperate for work that he accepts a part time job in a chicken costume. It was social commentary, but so bizarre as to be almost incomprehensible to most listeners. Predictably, the album had no commercial success.

In 1989, Telex revisited all of their old tracks and remixed them to resemble the house music and other genres they had allegedly inspired. The result was Les Rhythmes Automatiques, which vanished into obscurity, but not before apparently inspiring Kraftwerk to do the same for their album The Mix in 1991. They are now finalizing an upcoming 10 tracks album, to go out in late 2005 on EMI. It will comprise 5 original compositions as well as 5 covers. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telex_%28band%29 [Jan 2006]


MARC MOULIN Writes and Arrenges most of the tracks. He also works for Belgian radio station "RTBF". He is well known as the founder of Belgian's first French FM station "Radio City", and has a huge record collection of more than 30,000 strange music. During the 1970s he established his label "Kamikaze" and produced many artists. As a producer, he is well known for the smash hit of LIO's "LIO".

MICHEL MOERS Vocal(vocoder). He also works as a graphic designer and architect. He laid out TELEX's visual strategy and designed many cover sleeves after"SEX". Now he's well known as modern artist and composes a lot of commercial music.

DAN LACKSMAN Group leader.Manager of "Synsound Studio" and also programmer/engineer. Haruomi Hosono, known as the leader of YMO, has a studio called LDK which was inspired by the compact design of Dan's studio.Also, Dan's production style inspired Hosono for Yen label. He was the first person in Belgium who bought a synthsizer, and he released many "moog sound" records as "Dan Lacksman Association". He also participated in many recording as engineer. Recently he is well known as producer of "Deep Forest".

Moscow Diskow

"At almost any other moment in history, Telex's 'Moskow Diskow' would seem to be inviting scorn and derision upon itself. Recorded by a trio of Belgian electronic aesthetes towards the end of the '70s, it's a rough approximation of what a male Grace Jones impersonator would sound like fronting Kraftwerk on the set of Cabaret. To wit: a mincing line in analogue disco rendered in widdling synths and embellished with outrageously camp and coquettish lyrics delivered in blank European tones (eg, "When the dancers start to flee /We drink several daiquiris"). Sounds appealing? Thought not, but don't be put off: 'Moskow Diskow' comes recommended as a classic by significant numbers of Detroit's premier league techno gang, and for this release is fully tweaked by an unusually game Carl Craig. It's a record steeped in electronic history but, put next to standard-issue Detroit techno products, it sounds delightfully fresh. Stop giggling for a moment, and it sounds like the greatest remix of a Belgian disco track ever - and that really is something." New Musical Express (UK), Sept.98



  • Telex - I Don't Like Remixes [Amazon.com] remixes
  • Telex - One Point (almost) [Amazon.com] Collected works

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