Life After X-Legged Sally

Pierre Vervloesem — Not Even Close (Off, 2008 )

Oh my god this is awesome. It’s like a moving walkway with the speed set too high — you don’t lose your balance, but you often feel like you’re almost there.

I’m only vaguely knowledgeable about X-Legged Sally, the crazy Belgian rock band Pierre Vervloesem was involved in. Mainly, I saw their name on old Knitting Factory bills (back when the Knitting Factory was a free-jazz haven), and I’ve heard a track or two during my time on-air. Still, I love the dizzying craziness on this album.

It’s catchy stuff, mostly instrumental, with lots of synthesizers. Bouncy electronica mixes with prog-sounding ideas and some goofy vocalizing from Vervloesem and his wife, Michelle, sometimes. The music is fast and cerebral, but the overall package is fun — I’m reminded of Frank Zappa’s Jazz from Hell crossed with the synth nuttiness of Thelonious Moog.

Tracks like “Luis Luis” leave you feeling bombarded — just as you settle into one musical idea, it throws something else at you. “Martino” starts out loungy and nice but ends up more tense, with “bow-bo-bow” vocal chanting. One of my favorite moments comes in the opener, “Burba Bubba,” where the vocals go into a pattern that goes, “Yip – yip – yip – yip – ” then “voila!!” like a punch line. You’ve also got some Bacharach-like choralizing on some tracks, light and harmonized.

Then there’s “400 Personnes,” which includes a French narration against a dry, indifferent film noir backdrop. It’s oh, so Euro and (I’m assuming) wry and satirical. (If you speak French, you can judge for yourself with the video here.