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Le Travo – “Erring and Errant” – [Dark Entries]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2014   12-inch, A Library

Vita Noctis remains my favorite 80’s Belgium delight revived
by the excellent Dark Entries label, but this Le Travo reish
from ’84/’85 sure gives it a run for its francs. The liner
notes read, “Le Travo is the brainchild of singer-songwriter
Patrick Bollen.” Or is it vice-versa? Or perhaps Bollen is
the loinchild of Le Travo? Hey the album comes with a blue
smoldering poster of a young Bollen, and on the back side
of that lyrics that work the “Hips” (a great track) and
leave a “taste of sweat in my mouth” (from “Caterwaul”).
The lyrics sung in English have an awkward lilt and often
delivered in a direct duotone, up then down then up
patter. But the lyrics are a mix of clinical and physical
while the album also combines much of the trademark
isolated synth sounds that Dark Entries has unearthed
but some guitar with plenty of frisson (especially on
side B where Jan van Winckle rips!). Each side also ends
with slow, introspective retro-futuro instrumentals. Some
wordless vox arc over the bass plod and keyboard shimmer
on “E La Nave Va” while “Amarcord” feels like it could
play with David Bowie’s “Low.” Both pieces completely
solo efforts by Bollen, important in letting us see that
he was not just some propped-up pretty boy, evidently he
was in his late teens when these first came out, surrounded
by talented studio players and slick producers (Revolting
Cock Luc van Acker and Dirk Blancart helped on some cuts).
Pretty amazing one-off work, apparently Bollen never
recorded anything else (yet?) but he might have studied
’round here at USF. Le Travo works in many ways.

-Thurston Hunger

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