Beequeen - The Bodyshop (full length) - CD
Good things take time, and such is certainly the case with Beequeen. Unlike so many other artists who spit out albums every week, Beequeen take the slow route. It took Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar two years to complete the recordings for The Bodyshop (the successor to their much-acclaimed 2002 CD Ownliness) and not out of laziness, fights, or drugs, but because the whole thing had to be that good. Every single second, every single instrument and every single sound has been examined and re-examined until the boys were satisfied with the result. And rightfully so.
Ownliness marked a distinct break with Beequeen's past.The Bodyshop continues from where Ownliness left off. The ambient-industrial drone music of yesteryear was abandoned and Beequeen’s love of pop music returned. The instruments changed from organs, synthesizers and sound effects to guitars, drums, bass, with 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 very sad track Sad Sheep. Although Beequeen never cite influences, it's easy to 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.
Erik Drost (guitarist extraordinaire of The Legendary Pink Dots) produced The Bodyshop and played guitar on Buzzbag Drive. This brand new Beequeen album comes in a colorful, tasty gatefold packaging.
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 program 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 their first release, Mappa Mundi. 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, in an edition of only 200, quickly sold out.
In 1990 they collaborated with the Legendary Pink Dots on a record Der Aussiedler. The music for that release (available both as a 7" and 12" with a T-Shirt) was based upon the 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 often performed 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 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, and parts of that performance were featured on the album, Fond. The music on this one-sided LP was largely subdued, 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 get you into a natural state of trance. The flexidisc contained a cut-up of the original material Beequeen had composed for the evening. A couple of years later, six special copies were made featuring felt and copper covers. A Japanese release contained extra discs.
In 1993, Anomalous records in the US released Beequeen's first compact disc Der Holzweg, which was packaged in a wooden box. The 1000 copies sold out quickly and gained favorable reviews worldwide. A prestigious performance at the Musique Interieures festival in France turned into a nightmare though when the complex machinery failed. After that, the experienced Beequeen decided to keep their live shows as technically simple as possible. Beequeen live appearances became quite rare, playing out only once or twice a 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 opposed to the more structured harmonic music represented on their first two compact discs. This resulted in Sugarbush. That disc is also the first ever project wherein the artists chose to cover their favorite 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), but 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 that 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 sounds of Sugarbush. The music was meant to enter a room slowly and to change it in a subtle, almost unrecognizable way. Music For the Head Ballet is Beequeen's vision of what ambient music should be. 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 performed live for Dutch national radio VPRO. The 40-minute piece was broadcast on the program De Avonden (the evenings). Mort Aux Vaches later released the recordings as the new Beequeen album under the title Stetson, 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 people of the city of Split in the 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 their very rare live performances). The music is quite different to the music on other Beequeen albums. It features slight rhythmic 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 Beequeen at great length. Both felt that they had reached a certain stage with the music and feared that continuation in the direction of ambient-industrial music was a dead end for 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, a first for Beequeen. The new, more poppy sound formed a radical break with the old sound and brought smiles to their faces. Ownliness was released in 2002 by Infraction.
Beequeen didn't play out a lot in their first thirteen years, but in April 2003 they embarked for an eleven show tour in the USA, with an additional show in Reykjavik. They played material from Ownliness as well as embryonic versions of tracks that would later appear on The Bodyshop. In 2005, they looked to return to the USA, and a small tour in Japan with Andrew Liles, whom supported Beequeen on their USA tour.
Apart from Beequeen, Frans and Freek are also working on their solo-acts. 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?
1. Swag Cave
2. Sad Sheep
3. The Dream-O-Phone
4. Black Eyed Dog
5. The Bodyshop
6. Penelope Patience
7. On the Road To Everywhere
9. Admiration of the Rod
10. Buzzbag Drive
11. Last Song of the Dodo
"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 Beequeen's 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 lack.” ~ Rumore
“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...." ~ Incursion
“The Beequeen sound is generally a lush, subtly melodic drone with subdued electronic crackle, a nice in between 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