Archives by month/year

Hoquets – Belgotronics

Crammed Discs

This could have been. The idea behind Belgotronics is zeitgeist-tappingly brilliant; we need a Belgian version of those Congotronics tricks; that DIY ethic, those tumbling rhythms, those alien sounding timbres and treads, that otherness. Everything seems in place; the name – Hoquets references “hockets” (the technique used in Western medieval music, Africa, Bali and elsewhere of sharing a melody line between several voices or instruments) and “hoquets” (pronounced “OK”, and the French word for “hiccoughs”) – even the music itself, which rattles and slips like a woodworker’s shed sliding slowly downhill, but… the vocals ruin it for me. They are ‘off the wall’ but not convincing, crazeee not crazy; you don’t have to be mad to be in this band but – well, that’s it. That’s all. There’s an absence at its heart that I can’t get past.

I have nothing against humour in music as such – always think Holger Czukay’s comedy verses got a bad press, for instance – but, amongst all the frenetic musicality, the proud cover showing all the homemade instruments, the woodblock loops, the loopy strings, the humour comes across as too forced, too self-consciously wacky to really succeed. It’s like an endlessly repeated in-joke, played for a crowd that has long since stopped caring about whether the stuff is, in itself, funny. Maybe I’m the wrong audience (I’m sure there’s a lot of Belgian/French/Americans who say the same about Half Man Half Biscuit’s references) but then I’m this audience and it just doesn’t work for me. And besides, it’s not the lyrics or the subject matter itself that grates; it’s the vocal delivery itself, a sort of cod-everything approach (cod HipHop, cod Oompah band, cod This Heat even!).

I guess I’m especially down on this because the music is more or less fantastic. They’ve got sounds that need hearing; fairy-tale, woodchopper sounds, the rhythms a wolf hears before it gets beheaded. If Hoquets were an instrumental band they’d remind me of a more intense, more wired, less considered Clogs and that would be a thing of small beauty. Stop singing, guys.


> Print this page

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>