Belgian indie veterans come together to release their first fully fledged CD in an attempt to broaden their listenership and our horizons.
The country of Belgium is famous for numerous things. Chocolates, canals, Tintin and Trappist Monk beer. They are therefore not entirely synonymous with music beyond their flat borders. This is perhaps about to change however as the first fully loaded, fully comprehensible album from the band Buffoon goes on general sale. Poignantly titled Familiar Sounds, this latest effort from a Belgian band who are considered a super group in their homeland has a sound that is worthy of the international market.
Formed by their enigmatic leader, Peter Vleugels, a self styled and taught musician who learned to love music in the hazy days of the late 80s, Buffoon has become somewhat a popular alternative choice in Belgium in general. Formed from members of bands that could be loosely labeled indie, the lineup of Niels Hendrix on guitar, Mimi Van Den Put on bass and Dave Schroyen on drums, this amalgamation of talented young artists from the Belgian independent scene soon found their voice and direction, forming the band that appears in its entirety now.
With this latest offering in a long line of independent EPs and self published material, Familiar Sounds is a stomping introduction for a much wider audience than the band is used to. The initial interpretations of the band are not the usual eyes rolled response to yet another mainland European act desperately trying to conquer the already mass populated British and international market. Instead, a refreshingly original take on a relatively harder sounding indie theme greets the listener in a pristine, shimmering presence and production.
The opening track “Twisters” has about as much in common with the pre-formed stereotypes and skeptical nuances associated with Euro music as McDonalds has with gyms. The audience is instead treated to a roaring, up beat, high octane guitar anthem infused with a large dosage of electronica for good measure. The theme continues on with “Act as If” and “Did We Forget”, a more relaxed, slowed tempo rock lament. The eclectic guitar and bass of Hendrix and Van Den Put illict sweet memories of early Rolling Stones and Beck. Vleugels’ vocals, timing and tone make the audience weep at every note. The closing solo satisfies the listener as the damaged soul of the protagonist bleeds through the watts of the amplifiers.
Familiar Sounds closes with two contrasting tracks that perfectly sum up the album and band as a whole. “Strange” is another lazy, sun kissed rock number, excellently executed by a band that could quite easily be mistakenly taken from coming from an era and place far from their homes. Conversely the concluding track “Did We Forget? (Appendix)” serves as a less than harmonic, all together bizarre conclusion to an album that otherwise has a structural and musical hospitability. Possibly born out of Vleugels’ love for electronica and the musical freedom he has enjoyed under the blanket of international anonymity, “Did We Forget (The Appendix)” is a track that caters to the bands own preferences and in truth feels more like an in joke than a professional output to potential fans and album buys.
In all Familiar Sounds is an excellent introduction to a band that is perhaps unknown to most listeners within the UK and international listening communities. With a plethora of talent both on and off stage, Buffoon stands a competitive chance at making some headway in their quest for recognition. In a digitally dominated age such as this, bands like Buffoon have more than a good chance of breaking into the mainstream and with material like Familiar Sounds then they are in good stead.
For more information on the band, tours and availability of the album, check out their website: http://www.myspace.com/buffoontherockband