x-legged sally

Eggs & Ashes


SR77 CD jewel case


An experimental, Zappa-influenced group from Belgium, X-Legged Sally's membership included Peter Vermeersch, Paul Belgrado, Pierre Vervloesem, Danny Van Hoeck, Peter Vandenberghe, Bart Maris, and Michel Mast. In 1990 the band contributed a track to the Live at the Knitting Factory, Vol. 4 collection, which resulted in a continuing loose affiliation with the New York downtown scene. Following three albums on the Sub Rosa label -- two of them produced by Bill Laswell -- X-Legged Sally released their American debut, The Land of the Giant Dwarfs, in 1995. Fired, a live album featuring music from several of their previous CDs, was released in 1996.

Aha, so these guys really are artists, not just members of a mere rock band, even of the avant-prog variety. X-Legged Sally might've made a couple of forays to record at Bill Laswell's Brooklyn studio, but while back in their home turf of Belgium, Peter Vermeersch was pulling the bandmembers into the studio to record his music composed to accompany works by Flemish choreographer/director Wim Vandekeybus and the Ultima Vez production company. Vandekeybus is internationally renowned for his groundbreaking works, and on the evidence of Eggs and Ashes, X-Legged Sally was ideally suited to playing music for a number of his Ultima Vez productions. Nine tracks from three works, dating from 1991, 1993, and 1994, are included on the CD. Taken together, the tracks illustrate the stunning range of the band's capabilities better than either Slow Up or Killed by Charity. And Eggs and Ashes hangs together as an entity unto itself, despite the wide disparity in stylistic material as the tracks jump back and forth among the three Vandekeybus works. There are certainly plenty of surprises, starting with the opening, "Lulu," a deranged waltz from the 1994 production entitled Mountains Made of Barking. With an eccentric vocal performance by Carlo Verano (Evil Superstars), the piece becomes progressively more unhinged until it approximates something akin to a hellish mix of big band, jazz, and speed metal. "Laut und Leise," from 1991's Immer das Selbe Gelogen, is up next; it includes voice samples from Carlo Verano, an 89-year-old artist and hermit who Vandekeybus had befriended and who inspired not only the 1991 production but also Alle Größen Decken Sich Zu, a 1995 work undertaken after Verano's death. "Laut und Leise" introduces electronic percussion loops, noise guitar, and abrasive textures into the X-Legged Sally sound; Verano's voice and the muted trumpets of Bart Maris and guest Jan Weuts provide welcome organic touches. Later on, "Immer Carlo" is more successful in revealing Verano's charm, with its gypsy-flavored violin from guest George Van Dam adding a perfect touch to the elderly traveler's singsong delivery of a simple verse that seems to reflect satisfaction with a life well-spent. The rare gentle side of X-Legged Sally is also revealed in "Two Volcanoes"; another Immer das Selbe Gelogen piece, it features harp-like acoustic guitar voicings and a European folk flavor that would be right at home on a Mike Oldfield record. A completely different mood is set by Immer das Selbe Gelogen's live version of "Turkish Bath" -- it's a rough and tumble reading of the tune that appeared in a studio take on Slow-Up, and sure to please those looking for touchstones to the band's earliest sound. Even better in that regard is "Midwave," from Her Body Doesn't Fit Her Soul, a 1993 Ultima Vez production that featured blind dancers. "Midwave" brings back the kind of funk-flavored arrangements, driving momentum, and incendiary front-line soloing that made the first two X-Legged Sally CDs such knockouts; the piece also incorporates a vocal sample of Muhammad Ali offering particularly cutting remarks about how even the words "white" and "black" can be used to reinforce racist attitudes. But the best is saved for the CD's finale: the 17-and-a-half-minute "Mask" (from Mountains Made of Barking), the longest and certainly one of the most ambitious X-Legged Sally tracks found on any CD (although admittedly sounding a bit more like a Vermeersch studio production using X-Legged Sally members than a full-band effort). "Mask" takes listeners on an extended burn through Middle Eastern-flavored motifs, wild guitar shredding, emphatic harmony clarinet punctuations, floating space jazz, and finally a series of episodes -- fuelled by relentless tribal-flavored percussion -- that ratchet the energy level higher and higher before a final burnout. At the close of this third CD, it indeed appeared that Peter Vermeersch and company were capable of practically anything. And yet one thing had eluded X-Legged Sally to this point: a domestic release that could finally get the band out of the import bins in the U.S. That would come next.
Dave Lynch / All Music Guide

Peter Vermeersch - Clarinet, Sasophones, Vocals
Pierre Vervloesem - Guitar, Vocals
Peter Vandenberghe - Keyboards
Michel Mast - Saxophone
Bart Maris - Trumpet
Paul Belgrado - Bass
Danny Van Hoeck - Drums

Carlo Calvano - Vocals
Mauro Pawlowski - Vocals

all tracks written by Peter Vermeersch

music from the Wim Vandekeybus Ultima Vez performances:
"Immer das selbe gelogen" (91) 2, 5, 6, 8
"Her body doesn't fit her soul" (93) 3, 7
"Moutains made of barking" (94) 1, 4, 9.




01 Lulu 2:40
02 Laut Und Leise 3:39
03 Midwave 9:47
04 Hate Song 4:27
05 Turkish Bath 7:06
06 Immer Carlo 1:46
07 Sparadrap 7:15
08 Two Volcanoes 4:37
09 Mask 17:24