Placebo – Balek
CBS 1647 Netherlands 1973
12 years ago today we lost the legendary Marc Moulin, so I thought this is a nice opportunity to post the one and only seven inch Placebo ever released, in his honour. I was hoping I’d be able to dig up and share some hidden knowledge about this great man, but despite his legendary cult following even to this day, still not much out there that hasn’t really been shared before. I will however link to some rare footage and interviews that I have sourced and referenced below post.
The Belgian musician, producer and journalist was without a doubt a pioneer to experimental electro jazz funk. An absolute master on keyboard and synthesizer, his pre-hip hop rhythms and sound experiments was more than high end musicianship, but was also luminescent artistry at it’s peak.
Moulin began his career in the 1960s playing the piano throughout Europe and in 1961 won the Bobby Jaspar trophy for Best Soloist at the Comblain-la-Tour festival. In the early-mid seventies, Moulin formed the jazz-rock group Placebo with his close friend, guitar player Philip Catherine. They released three LP’s from 1971 to 1974 and were widely played on the alternative scene in the early 70’s. The first two Lp’s Ball Of Eyes and 1973 are the real blazers, but all 3 releases are believed to have very low pressing numbers, resulting in big money exchanges for original copies. But of course the allure comes down to every moment in between every groove.
Balek is a deep dark and cosmic journey and thankfully runs it’s entirety on this 7″, however it’s beautifully sedated flip Phalène II, is understandably an edited down version due to it’s running time on nearly 8 mins on the LP. As a music blog, I prefer not to try and describe sounds, moods and feelings, and instead would prefer the listener to appreciate their own ears and interruptions. But if I was too try and describe Balek? Balek is a dark light. It is science fiction in it’s sexiest form. It is flesh made up from electric energy. Creeping and slithering, seductively, enticing the soul. It is an ageless composition that has not lost any lustre since conception, and will continue to be sampled and held up in high regard by music enthusiasts and record collectors around the world. The LP 1973 as a whole, is a trip of syncopated moods and Balek is quite the pleasant disturbance. Even with everything that has happened in music from the then to the now, this instrumental album still engages defiantly. The excitement Placebo must have stirred up among the underground hipster jazz heads, with their groundbreaking and captivating musical explorations, must have been at the height of praise at the time.
In 1975 Moulin would release another underground showpiece entitled Sam’ Suffy, this, his premier solo album. A compelling and unique mosaic of jazz, soul, and electronic elements, it now has become highly influential, especially in acid jazz, hip and trip hop circles around the planet. Many fans say this is Moulin at his best. It’s a stunning piece of work, comparable to a cinematic dream.
Following Placebo’s breakup in 76, Moulin went on to become a member of the avant-rock band Aksak Maboul in1977 and also formed the space pop group Telex in 1978. Alongside programmer/sound engineer Dan Lacksman and vocalist Michel Moers, Telex would release five albums between 1979 and 1988 and would end up with some big sales in Europe, UK and in the US, with their unique quirky computer electro dancers.
During the ’80s, Moulin worked as a radio producer, and was the big shot of a revolutionary FM radio station in Belgium, Radio Cité. He would interview greats such as Miles Davis, and also wrote for various Belgian publications, including ‘Télémoustique’. I highly recommend you check out the link below to witness the live recording of Placebo in Bruxelles (Belgium, 12th April 1973).
Moulin died of throat cancer on 26 September 2008. He was 66 years old.
Below are links of sourced material and related interests…
Placebo extract from the 55 minutes documentary “Three Days In April”
Jazz en Belgique- Three Days In April
Miles Davis interview Marc Moulin
La fabrication de Moscow Diskow (Telex)
Placebo credited line up
Marc Moulin Arranged By, Composed By, Keyboards, Synthesizer
Drums – Garcia Morales
Guitar – Francis Weyer, Philip Catherine
Percussion – J.P. Oenraedt
Saxophone, Flute, Accordion – Alex Scorier
Trumpet – Nicolas Fissette
Trumpet [Electric], Flugelhorn – Richard Rousselet
Bass – Yvan De Souter