Good things come slow, and this is certainly the case for Beequeen. Unlike so many others, who spit out albums every week, the Beequeen takes a slow course. It took Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar two years to complete the recordings for The Bodyshop, the successor to their much-acclaimed CD Ownliness from 2002. Not because of laziness, band fights or drug abuse, but simply because the whole thing had to be good. Every single second, every single instrument and every single sound has been examined and re-examined until the boys were satisfied with the results. And rightfully so.
The Bodyshop continues where Ownliness left off. Ownliness marked a distinct break with Beequeen''s past. The ambient-industrial drone music of yesteryear was said goodbye and the Beequeen’s love of pop music returned. The instruments changed from organs, synthesizers and sound effects to guitars, drums, bass and guest musicians on cello and even vocals (a distinctive first for Beequeen). The Bodyshop features two of these remarkable vocals tracks; a cover of Nick Drake''s “Black Eyed Dog” (sung by Antenne''s Marie-Louise Munck) and the indeed very sad track “Sad Sheep”. Although Beequeen never cites influences, it''s easy spot their interest in the Beatles'' psychedelic period and latter day Talk Talk in combination with a love for krautrock and microsound - not the most likely of combinations, but somehow it all makes sense on The Bodyshop.
The Bodyshop was produced by Erik Drost, guitarist extraordinaire with The Legendary Pink Dots, who also contributes guitar on “Buzzbag Drive.” This brand-new Beequeen album comes in a colourful tasty gatefold packaging and is available from Important Records, USA.
Beequeen happened as a result of a Legendary Pink Dots'' intervention. In the winter of 1988 Pink Dots-singer Edward Kaspel asked Freek Kinkelaar if he would be interested in doing the solo support act to the LPD performance in Utrecht on 13 January 1989. Freek teamed up with industrial veteran Frans de Waard whom he had met a couple of years previously. The two had already performed live together with members of THU 20 in November 1988 when they did an improvised performance for radio at the 042 club in Nijmegen. They had also worked together for several years at radio station RATAPLAN, where they fronted a radio programme called ART AND NOISE concentrating on experimental and avant-garde music.
For the Utrecht performance they decided upon the band name Beequeen. The name refers to the work of German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys whose work they both admired and who worked a lot with the concept of the ''Bienenkonigin'' (the Beequeen). Beuys'' theories about warmth and organic growth were and continue to be an influence on the music of Beequeen. After the performance in Utrecht Frans and Freek decided there were enough mutual ideas to continue their musical partnership.
In the summer of 1989 they recorded Mappa Mundi as their first release. This tape was based upon slow dense musical patterns that only marginally changed. The tape was released in an elaborate packaging on Korm Plastics, Frans'' personal label. The tape easily sold out its 200 original copies.
In 1990 they collaborated with the Legendary Pink Dots on a record DER AUSSIEDLER. The music for this release (available both as a 7" and 12" with a T-Shirt) was based upon fashion designs of Rene Heid, a student from the Arnhem Academy of Arts. The record was later re-released in a very limited edition of 30 copies with a cassette featuring extra tracks. Close contact with the Legendary Pink Dots continued over the years. Beequeen performed many times as a support act to their continental shows.
In 1991 Beequeen composed the music to Erik van Wesserloo''s 8mm film ''Metamorphazen''. This film was based upon the alteration of a human face after a jaw-operation. The film was shown during the exhibition of the photos while the music was being played from tape. The music was divided into several ''suites'' for the different stages of the face-alteration. Also in 1991, Beequeen performed at the AVE-festival (a festival about current developments in the Audio-Visual arts) in Nijmegen with Edward Ka-Spel at the mixing board. Parts of this performance were featured on the album Fond. The music on this one-sided LP was mostly in a quiet vein, concentrating on the ''soundtrack'' nature of Beequeen''s music.
1992 saw the release of Nouen a 78-RPM flexi disc dedicated to Brion Gysin and his Dreamachine. The previous year, Beequeen had performed the live soundtrack to the first Dutch presentation of the Dreamachine to a general public. The Dreamachine is a circular tube-device with holes and a light bulb in it, which needs to be placed upright on an old 78-RPM turntable. By looking at the device with your eyes closed you see a pattern of flashes that gets you into a natural state of trance (as opposed to taking drugs, which is a boring thing to do anyways). The flexidisc contained a cut-up of the original material Beequeen had composed for the evening. A couple of years later, 6 special copies were made featuring felt and copper covers and extra discs for the Japanese market only.
In 1993 Anomalous records in America released Beequeen''s first compact disc DER HOLZWEG, which was packed in a wooden box. The disc sold its 1000 copies out quickly and gained worldwide favourable reviews. A prestigious performance at the Musique Interieures Festival in France turned into a nightmare though when the complex machinery failed. After that experience Beequeen decided to keep their live shows technically as simple as possible. Beequeen live appearances have been quite rare with an estimate of about 1 to 2 per year.
The well-known Dutch label Staalplaat released the second compact disc TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE in 1994. It came in an elaborate 4-fold digipack packaging featuring a photo of Marilyn Monroe (time waits for no one) on the cover. The disc dealt with the subject of time and its decay.
That same year, Beequeen started working on musique-concrete compositions as an opposite to the more structured and harmonic music, which was represented on their first two compact discs. This resulted into SUGARBUSH. This disc is also the first project ever where the artists chose to cover their favourite songs not by actually playing them, but by covering the titles only. The disc therefore contains titles like “Return To Sender” (Elvis Presley) and “A Beautiful Noise” (Neil Diamond) set to completely different music. SUGARBUSH was the first Beequeen record to be actually produced in a studio; Mark Poysden from The Self Transforming Machine Elves and Square Root of Sub produced and mixed the recordings together with Beequeen. As SUGARBUSH featured a lot of processed guitar sounds, Beequeen refer to the record as their ''guitar-album''.
MUSIC FOR THE HEAD BALLET was described as Beequeen''s ambient album. It was recorded during an intense weekend in November 1995 in The Hague. The recordings are based upon the concept of the first tape MAPPA MUNDI. The music floats out of the speakers rather than the sometimes more aggressive sound of SUGARBUSH. The music was meant to enter a room slowly and change it in a subtle, almost unrecognisable way. MUSIC FOR THE HEAD BALLET is Beequeen''s vision of what ambient music should be like. Even though everybody loved the album, it hardly received any promotion from the label at the time. Therefore, Infraction records will re-release the album in early 2005, with an extra track from the same period.
In 1996 Beequeen also performed live for Dutch national radio VPRO. The 40-minute piece was broadcast on the programme De Avonden(the evenings). Mort Aux Vaches later released the recordings as the new Beequeen album under the title STETSON, the name being a reference to the type of hat Joseph Beuys used to wear day and night. The three songs on the album were of a more abstract nature than the previous Beequeen album.
Also delayed, but finally made available in early 1997 was the SPLIT LP for Thomas Beck. This record features one side by Beequeen (3 ambient tracks, much like MUSIC FOR THE HEAD BALLET) and a live recording by Kapotte Muziek. The 3 Beequeen pieces are a suite made for the population of the city of Split in former Yugoslavia.
At the end of 1996, Beequeen started recording their CD TREATISE. This CD featured studio tracks as well as two live tracks (recorded at the Extrapool Club in Nijmegen during one of the very rare live appearances of Beequeen). The music is quite different to the music on other Beequeen albums. It features slight rhythmical elements and forms a transitional step in the development of Beequeen. The album was released by Auf Abwegen in Germany.
TREATISE marked the end of the old Beequeen sound. Frans and Freek discussed the future of the Beequeen at great length. Both felt that they had reached a certain stage within the music and feared that continuation in the direction of ambient-industrial music was a dead-end for the Beequeen. For many years Frans and Freek talked about doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac''s Tusk and Albatross. This seemed like a perfect moment to do so. In 1999 they recorded both tracks and released them on a single on their newly formed Plinkity Plonk record label. Originally their intention had been to release Beequeen and Beequeen-related material only on Plinkity Plonk (named after a particularly nasty review of the NOUEN flexi disc), but soon they started releasing music by other artists they appreciated.
At the same time they recorded the TUSK single, they recorded another single entitled DOVIDZDANE VANJA (THE DEATH OF BEEQUEEN) as a farewell to their drone work. After that, along the fresh lines of the very rewarding sessions for the Fleetwood Mac cover, they started to work on OWNLINESS. This album featured guest players on cello and flute, which was a first for Beequeen. The new and more poppy sound formed a radical break with the old sound and caused smiles on Beequeen’s faces. OWNLINESS was released in 2002 by Infraction.
Beequeen never played out live a lot in their first 13 years, but in April 2003 they embarked for eleven shows in the USA and one in Reykjavik. They played material from OWNLINESS as well as embryonic versions of tracks that would later appear on THE BODYSHOP. For 2005 they are looking to return to the USA and possible a small tour in Japan, possibly together with Andrew Liles, whom supported Beequeen on their USA tour.
Apart from Beequeen, Frans and Freek are also working on their solo-activities. Frans has been releasing music under the names of Kapotte Muziek, Goem (both bands with Peter Duimelinks and Roel Meelkop), Freiband and under his own name. Freek releases solo records as Brunnen (pastoral acid folk songs) and more spacious material as The Beautiful Glassbottom Boat.
Still in love with drone related music, Frans and Freek formed Wander in the summer of 2002. As such they have already released a 10", a 7", a CDR and a LP all entitled WANDER. How could it be otherwise?
"Important has been issuing some great, challenging stuff over the past few years, and this new Beequeen release is another fine addition to a consistent catalogue of work. Consisting of the ubiquitous Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar, this highly experimental Dutch duo spent some two years developing the 11 richly textured tracks that make up "The Bodyshop". The integration of acoustic instruments and female vocals into Beequeen¹s typically fragmented; glitching electronic soundscapes proves most effective. Unlike past work, the new album retains a warm, organic tone, succeeding in its overall quietude. Each piece, a concise, delicately polished gem, combines shards of fragmented melody with highly processed electronics to create a gentle, somewhat queasy sound that will surely appeal to anyone who enjoys the more difficult electronic music coming from labels like Raster Noton and Mille Plateaux. " -Big Takeover
"The mythical almost undefinable sounds, like fresh dew on meadows, make this a record that sends shivers down your spine." -Muziekkrant Oor (Netherlands)
"...Influenced by the psychedelic period of The Beatles and latter day Talk Talk, de Waard and Kinkelaar seek to meld the soft wanderings of acoustic guitar to the minimal sounds of tiny particles and ambient spaces with The Bodyshop, their new release on Important Records..." Igloo
“There's a tentative, humble character to their music which lends the
proceedings a curious grace that some post-Industrial contemporaries
“Beautiful soundscapes for your cold winter evenings.”
GR - from Tanz Der Rozen No. 4
“Beequeen Is much like sand, abrasive and yet elusive and soothing as
It slips between your fingers.” Ares Solis - Eskatos #2
“As their name suggests, both industrious and distinguished.” Magic Feet
“A painting for the ears.”
Alan Freeman - from Audion
“Engrossing music that subtly leaves the impression to come back and
experience it further.” The Wire
“Beequeen's music has always been driven by the desire to find new
techniques and structures, to keep the fire of inspiration alive and
changing, adapting, overturning stones and uncovering new ones... “
“The Beequeen sound is generally a lush, subtly melodic drone with
subdued electronic crackle, a nice inbetween point between de Waard's
abstractions and Kinkelaar's low-key pop sense.” Brainwashed
“I have marvelled at their ability to create such delicate sounds, as
if treading on thin wires, being able to reveal the slightest
vibrations, the most subtle of silences, and arrange them in these
compelling ways.” Incursion