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also published in the magazine iO Pages

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January 2019

Every now and then you have those records that completely surprise you. Bands or artists you've never heard of that seem to pop up out of nowhere, yet sound so good they seem like they've been around for years. And sometimes they disappear just as quickly as they came. Let me keep it close to home with a few examples from the Netherlands.

Mo was a band that started in 1981. They consisted of keyboardists / brothers Huub and Clemens de Lange, singer Heili Helder and drummer Harm Bieger. I worked with the latter when he played in the band Sphinx in the seventies, but this aside. Mo had no bass player, no guitar player, but a bassoon was used here and there: it is hardly possible to be more original in pop music. The first two singles 'Nancy' and 'Fred Astaire' are still among my favorite songs, and it is actually a shame that Mo has not even appeared in the Top 2000 for more than a decade - as if they never existed. I don't know what happened in the group, but after an album it was already over. I understand that one of the brothers kept seeing it at the time, and also dropped out Heili because she didn't like being on stage. Bieger then tried it with varying line-ups, and The Mo (now with The before) made two more nice albums, but the level of the first work was no longer reached.


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You make such original music, get reasonable success and clearly have more to offer than many colleagues - and then you disappear like snow in the sun, never to be heard again. When hearing Mo, the freshness and ambition splashes off. And after that, at least nothing was heard from Messrs. De Lange. What drove them? Did they have enough of the music business soon enough? Never had the idea to do something again? This is a fascinating question for someone like me, who is hard to beat out of these parts.

Another example: Valensia. His 'Gaia' (1993), produced by Pim Koopman (one of his most impressive masterpieces, I may say) crushed me so much that I wondered what I had been doing all these years. A true musical epic with all the trimmings, enviously harmonious and melodic, and all contained in a phenomenal production - where did that suddenly come from?

But it also soon became the case with Valensia: where did it suddenly go? All that abundant talent, what did he do with it? Perhaps so shocked by its own success that an irreconcilable writer's block had arisen? Or fear of failure - it could be. Surely there must have been something worth bringing out?

I once played in the band Earth & Fire- in the later version, that is. The Koerts brothers (compositional heart and soul of the band) were already out of the picture. According to Jerney they no longer felt like asking me for a resurrection with which we made an album ('Phoenix') and performed for a few more years. I greatly admired how Gerard and Chris were able to write huge hits in the seventies, which were also rock solid musically. Later they released some records under the name Earth & Fire Orchestra, but never again did they come up with something comparable while their talent was still big enough for that. Both have lived in France for years. Did they or could they no longer? Story told?

Maybe it is nice to occasionally post something in this magazine (ie iO Pages, where this blog is also published as a column) , although not directly under the heading 'what are they doing now' - although that will of course be discussed- but just to look up people who once meant something or did something special in music and find out why they don't do that now. Whether they ever long for that life again. Where that passion, that talent, that ambition have remained - and what has replaced it. You are not a musician to have a good time - it swallows you up, and largely determines your life. That doesn't just disappear, and when it happens, it does something to you. I think this kind of background information is at least as interesting as the latest release of any newly discovered prog sensation - because despite all the wild plans for the future, the same can happen to them.

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