Telex (band)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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 à St. Tropez" by Les Chats Sauvages. Their debut album, Looking for Saint Tropez, featured the worldwide hit single "Moskow Diskow", one of the first ever electronic dance/pop songs.

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 "Ça 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 "Euro-Vision" 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 mostly stunned silence, with scattered polite applause. Dan Lacksman took a photograph of the bewildered audience. The band walked off 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, Atlantic Records 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.

After almost two decades of silence, Telex makes a come-back in March 2006 with How Do You Dance on EMI. It comprises 5 original compositions as well as 5 covers. Their last release, as of 2006, is a cover of "On the Road Again", originally by Canned Heat. They also began producing remixes for other artists' single releases, including "A Pain that I'm Used To" by Depeche Mode and "Minimal" by the Pet Shop Boys.

Discography

  • Looking For St. Tropez 1978
  • Neurovision 1980
  • Sex 1981 (released in some countries as "Birds and Bees" with a slightly altered tracklisting)
  • Wonderful World 1984
  • Looney Tunes 1986
  • Les Rhythmes Automatiques 1989 (all traks are remixed or re-recorded)
  • Belgium...One Point 1993 (a box set of the first five albums plus bonus tracks)
  • Is Release A Humour? - We Love Telex 1994 (Japan only. remixed by Japanese DJs)
  • I Don't Like Music 1998 (remixed by Carl Craig and others)
  • I Don't Like Remixes: Original Classics 78-86 1998 (a 'best-of' compilation)
  • I (Still) Don't Like Music Remixes Vol. 2 1999 (DJ remixes)
  • How Do You Dance? 2006


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Telex (band)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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