Maybe good things really do come in small doses. And I’d wager this is still the sound of the Netherlands’ more remote backwaters.
So I’m sat at the first record fair in Amsterdam (the Excelsior one, props to Ferry by the way!), and I’m sat talking to one of the lads from Samling records, and we’re having a beer and watching the well-heeled groovers of Amsterdam listen to some jazz nonsense and eat finger food, and he goes, "you heard this?" And gives me this CD. And I haven’t. I know the name well enough, Bonne Apart… I’m sure I’ve got some remixes by them of Moi Non Plus at home, (I still haven’t checked by the way but I’m sure I have but that’s by the bye). I know the record label well, too; Wham! Wham!, a tiny but immensely cool concern up in the Northern Wastes of Holland. They put out the brilliant Adept and the bonkers but cool Harmweirda. But no, I’ve not heard this.
There are times that you just have to accept that your efforts will never be enough. If only I’d been paying attention to this bunch back then, but in these cold times, 2006 seems an awful long time ago. So what to make of this in hindsight?
A visceral but poppy record, recorded when wearing tight jeans seemed perfectly acceptable, (with the intent of overcooking virtually every sonic ingredient in sight), this is a listen that demands a fair bit of reciprocal adrenaline from the listener. The mannerisms of that arty, fuzzed out glitch-Garage revival from 2005-6 are there for all to hear, that bloated hi-tempo dance sound between speeded up disco and whatever electronic pounding could be coaxed from some gadget or other, a sort of shiny anti-pop welded onto a brutish wall of sound.
The sound may be familiar to those who had their nose pressed to pop’s grindstone back then, but the songs give this record its edge. The opening five tracks are just relentless: Come to Rest is great call and answer opener, balancing shards and clumps of electronic noise with abandon. Tell Me is a classic Franz Ferdinand / “arty-band” off-cut, the sort of gleefully tacky construct that somehow seemed so vital in the early noughties… ah nostalgia. Elsewhere Dance With Local Stars just screams boredom at you, and Higher – one of this LP’s undoubted highlights, is a brilliant sort of bleached out provincial nightmare – a ride on a branch line looking into dour, windswept fields, full of cow shit and crows. It’s a teenage Goth rock opera par excellence, with another brilliant call and answer effect roughly welded into the track’s structure. Taste My Snow is a bit softer and shorter but still married to the idea that making a noise is the only thing that music’s there for.
After the atonal interlude of Question we have Democracy, where a distant screaming is married to a wobbly march to good effect. Media is a sub ZZ Top tremor which I suppose is meant to sound sinister (or tries to at any rate for about 30 seconds), before it reverts to sounding like a howling adolescent. Less is More follows the template pretty faithfully without adding much but last track I Don’t Wanna Die redeems everything with its glorious charge into the sunset, it’s sudden ending leaving you a bit out of puff. The whole thing can’t be longer than 25 minutes.
Despite the last track’s name, Bonne Aparte did just that and split up: though on reflection I’m not sure how they could have followed this howl of anguish up. Maybe good things really do come in small doses. And I’d wager this is still the sound of the Netherlands’ more remote backwaters.