Aksak Maboul (also spelled Aqsak Maboul for a while) were a Belgian avant-rock band founded in 1977 by Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis. They made two studio albums, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine (1977) and Un Peu de l'Âme des Bandits (1980), the last one with ex-Henry Cow members Chris Cutler and Fred Frith. They were also active in the Rock in Opposition movement.
Aksak Maboul began in 1977 as a duo of Marc Hollander (keyboards, reeds, percussion) and Vincent Kenis (guitar, bass guitar, keyboards). Marc Moulin (keyboards) and Chris Joris (percussion, keyboards) joined later, and with this line-up, plus guests Catherine Jauniaux (voice) and others, they recorded their first album, Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine (French for "Eleven Dances for Fighting Migraines"). It was released in 1977 under the name Marc Hollander / Aksak Maboul on an independent record label, Kamikaze Records.
Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine was a playful mix of musical forms, cultures and genres. With drum machines and looping organ lines, it shuffled between improvised jazz, ethnic music, electronics and classical music. It was largely an instrumental album with snatches of singing and voices.
In late 1977 Aksak Maboul started performing live, during which time Frank Wuyts (percussion, keyboards) replaced Joris and Moulin, and Denis van Hecke (cello) and Michel Berckmans (bassoon, oboe) of Univers Zéro joined. In early 1979, Hollander invited Chris Cutler and Fred Frith of the recently defunct avant-rock group Henry Cow to join Aksak Maboul on their next record. They rehearsed together, performed in a few concerts and then went to Sunrise Studio, Kirchberg in Switzerland to record their second album, Un Peu de l'Âme des Bandits (French for "A Little of the Bandit Spirit"). This was released in 1980 on Crammed Discs, a new independent record label Hollander had created to release the album.
Un Peu de l'Ame des Bandits was more intense and experimental than their first album. It contained complex written sections as well as improvised ambient pieces. It used sampling before samplers were invented and was a mixture of tangos, Turkish tunes, chamber rock, noisy punk rock and pseudo-Varèse music. Like the first album, it was instrumental with a little singing and voices.
Back on the road again, Aksak Maboul joined the Rock in Opposition (RIO) movement and in April 1979 they performed at an RIO festival at the Teatro dell'Elfo in Milano, Italy. Aksak Maboul were one of the last of the original RIO bands.
In early 1980, Hollander founded the Crammed Discs independent record label. A few months later the original nucleus of Aksak Maboul (Hollander and Kenis) and the core of a Brussels band Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel joined forces to become The Honeymoon Killers. They toured Europe between 1980 and 1981, although still under the name Aksak Maboul. "Bosses de Crosses", one of the first pieces they composed, was included on the CD re-issue of Un Peu de l'Ame des Bandits. In 1981, they recorded an album entitled Tueurs de la Lune de Miel / Honeymoon Killers, which attracted a lot of attention across Europe and Japan. The band toured for four years under that name.
During that period, Hollander and Honeymoon Killers vocalist Véronique Vincent, aided by Kenis, worked on a series of electronic avant-pop tracks which were meant to become Aksak Maboul's third album. The release was announced in the first Crammed Discs catalogues (in the early 1980s), but it was never completed and was put on hold.
The last Aksak Maboul recording to appear in the 1980s came out on a 1984 compilation album, Made to Measure Vol. 1, where the original duo of Hollander and Kenis contributed seven tracks of new material composed for a play by Michel Gheude based on the life of Maïakovsky. The music here has been described as "minimalist rock" and is very different from their two studio albums. By the mid-1980s Aksak Maboul ceased to exist as a group, but Hollander and Kenis continued to play an active role in Crammed Discs' musical policies.
In 2010, Aksak Maboul produced a new track for Tradi-Mods vs Rockers, the tribute album to the Congotronics series which came out on Hollander's Crammed Discs label. Aksak Maboul's contribution is "Land Dispute", a new take on a song by Congolese band Kasai Allstars.
In 2014, Hollander resumed work on the unfinished 3rd Aksak Maboul album from 1981-83, mixing and editing tracks from demos and rough versions (some of them retrieved from cassette tapes). Entitled Ex-Futur Album, the album will be released under the name Véronique Vincent & Aksak Maboul, and a first single ("Chez les Aborigènes") came out digitally on July 4, 2014.
Marc Hollander - keyboards, reeds, percussion, drum machine,
Vincent Kenis - guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, percussion,
Temporary members and guests:
Marc Moulin - keyboards,
Chris Joris - keyboards, soprano saxophone,
Catherine Jauniaux - singing,
Frank Wuyts - percussion, keyboards,
Michel Berckmans - bassoon, oboe,
Denis van Hecke - cello,
Geoff Leigh - saxophones,
Guigou Chenevier - drums,
Fred Frith - guitars, bass,
Chris Cutler - drums,
Bob Vanderbob - saxophones,
Yvon Vromman - guitar, vocals,
Gérald Fenerberg - guitar,
Jean-François Jones Jacob III - drums,
Véronique Vincent - vocals