he name may look unfamiliar, but if you’ve ever ventured into a club in which DJ Hell, Derrick May or Carl Craig have been spinning you may have already heard this group. “Los Ninos del Parque,” the second song on this single full length release by the group has endured over time as an obvious precursor to EBM movement. But the 80s are back, you see. And with the 80s come the reissues of the overlooked classics of the period- and Liasons Dangereuses easily fits the bill.
Formed in 1981, the group was composed of Beate Bartel, later a member of DAF, and Chris Haas with vocalist Krishna Goineau and recorded their music in the studio of famed Kraut-rock producer Conrad Plank. These references- EBM, DAF, and Krautrock- only begin to tell the tale of exactly where this group was coming from. Tape manipulations, no wave, post-punk, all of these terms apply to a certain extent, as well. But taxonomy isn’t the point here- this group was a one-of-a-kind entity and their reputation doesn’t rely on their obscurity, but rather the quality of the music.
As such, “Mystere Dans le Brouillard” begins the album with a panned drum beat accompanied merely by a lone cowbell. An eerie beginning, the song only gets odder as the vocals enter the mix, with a male vocal intoning in French, spitting out each line only to be met at the end by Goineau for a few words. The song moves slowly, achingly simple and augmented only by increasingly obtrusive sound effects that resemble a strangled lion’s backward roar at times. In the end, the song is finally overcome by the encroaching noise and falls in on itself.
Later on, “Kess Kill Fe Show” employs dueling vocals, a limited synth melody and a shuffling programmed beat. The instrumental arrangement allows the two to improvise vocals against one another, yielding some strangulated yelps and snippets of recorded conversations, as well as a maniacal laugh that nearly overpowers the song at one point.
But it’s nearly hopeless to go track by track explaining this album. Each track would need to be explained because of their essential differences in tone and execution. This is perhaps its greatest strength. Taking liberally from a limitless sound palette, the group in one forty minute document completely encapsulates the sound of the early 80s- a sound that defiantly experimented with sound, structure and production and still maintain the possibility of pop superstardom And while Liaisons Dangereuses never did achieve this end, Hit Thing gratefully did have the good sense to make this disc available widely to allow the critical reevaluation to begin.