x
Les Disques Du Crépuscule | healthy eclecticism and dodgy foreign deals
Frank Brinkhuis © 1990/1997

For more than a decade and a half Les Disques Du Crepuscule has proved to be one of the finest record labels on the Continent, with a high and lasting reputation worldwide. The Brussels based label, formed in 1980, issued more than 400 titles on vinyl, cassette and CD, and also tried its luck in book publishing, video production and fashion. The sheer musical variety ranging from pop to jazz and from classical to experimental music; the hype-free treatment and presentation of the artists and the close attention paid to graphic design; these have delivered Crepuscule a very special name among the independent record labels that were founded in the late 70's and early 80's.

| Plan K and Plein Soleil

A brief recounting of Crepuscule's history so far is very much a hopeless task. Of course there are 'big' names -Wim Mertens, Isabelle Antena, Paul Haig, Tuxedomoon, Cabaret Voltaire, Anna Domino, Blaine L. Reininger- on whom the whole story can be hung. But equally important are the numerous artists who made only one or two records, to disappear from view forever, or when they were lucky, to crop up again on a compilation or re-issue of some sort. They all have their own story, to be recounted somewhere else, sometime. In this piece I'll restrict myself to the main releases and events, and not get into detail too much.

Crepuscule's official birth dates back to August 1980, when A Certain Ratio's Shack Up 7" was released, carrying a double label identity: Factory Benelux/Les Disques Du Crepuscule and a double catalogue number: FAC BN1-004. The 7" was followed by The Durutti Column's Lips That Would Kiss 12" in October, and Section 25's Charnel Ground 7" in November, when a Factory package tour hit The Lowlands. Although it's claimed by Crepuscule that the reason for the double label identity of these records is unknown, it's not too difficult to guess.

poster (58cm x 82cm) by josy for a concert in brussels, thursday january 17 1980. In October 1979 Michel Duval, a journalist, and Annik Honoré had started organising gigs and events at the Plan K in Brussels. The Plan K, opened in 1973, was a five stories high dismantled sugar refinery, turned into an arts centre, located at 21 Rue de Manchester. Joy Division (gigging abroad for the first time), Cabaret Voltaire and William Burroughs performed at the promoters duo's first night on October the 16th. They were later followed by many hot and important bands from the post-punk era, most of them British. For one reason or another, especially the Factory artists enjoyed their stay in Brussels. Duval's idea to release some (shelved) Factory material was picked up by Factory boss Tony Wilson and Factory Benelux was born, in the Spring of 1980. But since Duval and Honoré were also interested in releasing material from other artists and bands, they founded their own label: Les Disques Du Crepuscule, in April 1980.
poster (61cm x 86cm) by benoit hennebert for an event in brussels, friday june 27 1980. The Plein Soleil fanzine(1), issued in June 1980, counts as the very first Crepuscule manifestation. While on June the 27th they staged an ambitious hommage to Jean Cocteau titled Grande Nuit De Cloture at the Plan K in the form of a lavish multi-media event. The exquisite poster, designed by Benoit Hennebert, promised performances by Bill Nelson and The Monochrome Set, an Erik Satie recital, a Factory exhibition plus video clips, and a bizarre 'exhibition of smells'. The Monochrome Set pulled out of the show and were replaced by Richard Strange, while the weakened bill was bolstered by a then-rare Durutti Column performance. The event was covered with a lenghtly report in NME (July 12).
napkin by benoit hennebert for the opening of the Caroline record shop in brussels, thursday september 4 1980. Early traces of the label can also be found on two 7"s, released on the Belgian Double Dose label. The first of these, War Economy, by Silent Types, was released in July 1980. The back of the sleeve says: "Double Dose would like to thank Les Disques Du Crepuscule for their help". The 2nd 7" was originally even set for release on Crepuscule as TWI 008: Mark Beer's Realisations, released in October, sports a very handsome cover by the later Crepuscule house designer Hennebert. Earlier on, Hennebert had put out a privately pressed bootleg 7", comprising two Eno songs on the Floral label. Only a few copies were pressed.

| From Brussels With Love

The first true Crepuscule product, the now legendary cassette compilation From Brussels With Love, TWI 007 (spot the Ian Fleming/James Bond reference) was put together between July and October 1980, to appear in November. Its release marked the parting of Factory Benelux and Crepuscule, although both labels kept operating from the same offices.
Even in 1980's unbridled world of independent music, From Brussels With Love, originally packed in a clear PVC pouch including an attractive 16-page booklet, was something of a stranger. It was an unusual mixture of pieces from well known and less well known artists -Thomas Dolby, Richard Jobson, Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Gilbert & Lewis, Der Plan, Vini Reilly, Brian Eno- that despite just being an 'aural magazine', unintentionally burst the Rock 'n' Roll tradition more than punk had done before. Or, as NME's Paul Morley put it:

The arrival of this thin tape from Belgium provides the reminder: rock 'n' roll is 25 years old and on the surface never more horrible. But deep down! My heart jumps the beat. Rock 'n' roll isn't really about staying power, or the ability to fill huge halls, or...
Let's pretend that Chuck Berry never existed: that the first rock 'n' roll star was Schoenberg, the second James Brown, and that David Bowie was a properly bad nightmare. From Brussels With Love is the reminder -without really trying, without being obvious- that pop is modern poetry, is the sharpest, shiniest collection of experiences, is always something new.

twi 011: poster (50cm x 70cm) by claude stassart for a concert in brussels, october 31 1980. The label's only other act of that year, and in fact preceeding the release of TWI 007, was a poster for a Factory night at the Free University of Brussels, on October the 31st, featuring A Certain Ratio, Section 25, Durutti Column and Belgian band The Names, who had then just recorded a single for the Manchester label. In true Factory style the poster, designed by Claude Stassart, got its own catalogue number: TWI 011.

| Classic Compilations

Crepuscule's first proper record, in January 1981, was Mozart, a 7" (previously released as In Re Don Giovanni on Piano in 1980) containing three short pieces by the then still rather unknown Michael Nyman, who'd already contributed to From Brussels With Love. Being an odd choice for a single, Mozart now is a sought after record.
During the course of 1981 Crepuscule began to find something of an own identity, through records by exceptional artists and bands, some well-known (Josef K, Cabaret Voltaire, Bill Nelson), others (Marine, Repetition and Ike Yard) less so.
On July the 13th Repetition, Marine, Eric Random, Richard Jobson & The Swamp Children performed during a Crepuscule Night at Heaven in London. The event was covered in NME and a cassette souvernir Rendez-Vous Au Paradis was announced but did not appear. A Soft Verdict show at Heaven, on the same day, was cancelled. A UK press release circulated for the event announced a 6-piece line-up, with Michael Nyman supposed to play keyboards...

1981 also saw the constitution of Crepuscule's publishing company Bruits Essentiels, as well as the first samples of excellent and original graphic design, that contributed very much to the label's reputation. Especially attractive proved those by the aforementioned Benoit Hennebert, also a director of the Crepuscule company. In the meantime Honoré had left Crepuscule.
It further became clear that Crepuscule used a very strange numbering system. Numbers were skipped at random, on purpose, leaving the fan, who tried to hunt down numbers that might not even exist, confused! And there was early proof of another of the labels characteristics: the abortion of projects and shelving of recordings. Brussels' band Marine, who had made a fine debut EP, Life In Reverse, saw their already recorded second single Stripped Portrait and debut album Une Soiree Avec being cancelled because of a line-up change. (With the dissident members going on to become Allez Allez, on Virgin).
November brought the classic compilation double album, The Fruit Of The Original Sin, housed in a extraordinary Hennebert sleeve. Early December another compilation was issued: Chantons Noel, Ghosts Of Christmas Past. It was the first in a series of 5 X-mas albums that were issued over the years, and includes a track by The Swinging Buildings, rumoured to be New Order in disguise...
Two further 1981 releases deserve special attention. The first one is A Man For All Seasons, a book of poetry by (then) Skids singer Richard Jobson. The second one is a flexidisc with two live tracks by Marine. The flexi came with Dutch magazine Vinyl.

| A Rich Crop

Crepuscule's 1982 crop is one of the richest of all years in terms of variety and quality. Thick Pigeon, Paul Haig, Tuxedomoon, The Names, Soft Verdict and Antena (the name supposedly taken from the Kraftwerk track Antenna) all made memorable records. There are a few rarities to check out here as well, such as Soft Verdict's For Amusement Only cassette and impossibly rare video, and another cassette: Some Of The Interesting Things You'll See On A Long Distance Flight. The latter features a report on the Crepuscule 'Dialogue North-South' tour, in February 1982, through Holland, Belgium and France and ending in London, with The Names, The Durutti Column, Richard Jobson, Paul Haig (fresh from the split of Josef K), Tuxedomoon and others. An extended and adapted version, including a reprint of the original tour booklet, surfaced on CD in 1991, in a limited edition of 500.
A report on a second Crepuscule package tour, 'Move Back - Bite Harder' through Belgium (with more dates in France and Italy scrapped) in October 1982, dedicated to the late actress Jean Seberg, with Antena, The Pale Fountains, Isolation Ward, Cabaret Voltaire and 23 Skidoo, was also set for cassette release, cryptically entitled To Gain The Affection Of Miss Creezy Only For One Short Minute Would Benefit Me No End(2), but never got issued. Nearly half an hour of the recordings, an improvisation by Tuxedomoon and Cabaret Voltaire, can be found however on the limited 1990 CD version of Winston Tong's Like The Others. One further track, Walk On By, performed by The Pale Fountains, surfaced as hidden track on the band's 1998 retrospective compilation album Longshot For Your Love on Marina, but the rest of the tapes remain in the archives.
The Miss Creezy cassette wasn't the only tour-related release that failed to materialise. UK indie stars Felt were supposed to release a 7", Trails Of Colour Dissolve, on Crepuscule, in September, as a taster of their appearance on 'Move Back - Bite Harder'. But when the band pulled out from the tour, the single was scrapped, to appear as the B-side of My Face Is On Fire, on Cherry Red. Another Cherry Red act, Eyeless In Gaza saw a Crepuscule 7", Second Nature, coupled with Still Hours Flickering and another track, being scrapped as well.
Crepuscule's first and only video compilation, the excellent Umbrella's In The Sun, was released in July. The video not only includes most of the label's early promo videos, but also a series of humorous 'inbetweens', that caused mixed reactions, since a lot of people thought they were rather tasteless. They must have missed the point.
In December a new Christmas album appeared: Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Remake, packed in a lavish gold sleeve by Jean François Octave. The LP features half of tracks from the '81 Xmas album and 7 new tracks, while the cassette version, contains a bonus track by Monks In The Snow.

| The Belgian Connection - Foreign Operations

Brussels being an international city, Crepuscule soon spread its tentacles abroad. In 1982 no less than 3 foreign operations were launched: Crepuscule Section Francaise, Operation Twilight (UK) and Crepuscule America. All proved short lived, with the US section, run by Factory US supremo Michael Schamberg issuing only one record: Paul Haig's Running Away 12". (A live LP by The Fall, recorded in the USA, never made it, at least not on Crepuscule America.)
As far as Crepuscule's French connection is concerned there are some unique records to look out for. The first of these, Isolation Ward's Lamina Christus 7", was allocated a Crepuscule catalogue number (TWI 072), but the record got released through Crepuscule's French branch, managed by Serge Marcillaud via Radical Records. Radical issued a few other French-only Crepuscule records: the A Day In October compilation LP and Marine's Rive Gauche 12".
Operation Twilight's ties with the Brussels' headquarters were via Rough Trade and Patrick Moore in London, but Twilight certainly was a Crepuscule operation. The label's first release was Divine, by Tuxedomoon, who had then just found domicile in Brussels. It was a score for a ballet by Maurice Bejart, based on the films of Greta Garbo. James Neiss informs us in his book on Tuxedomoon, published by Stampa Alternativa, that "trough necessity a rather rushed job, the score cannibalised existing tapes extensively while standout cut Ninotchka was a direct lift from a polka heard on Radio Moscow." And indeed, the LP was not fit to hold a candle to their brilliant first two LP's, Half-Mute and Desire, on Ralph Records.
Divine was followed by 7"s from Paul Haig, Antena, The Pale Fountains and Mikado, that all got released on Crepuscule on 12" format, with different artwork and bonus tracks. Apart from a badge-set and another badge, Operation Twilight issued 3 records that have no Belgian counterpart: The Lost Jockey's Professor Slack 10", Eraserhead, a 12"EP by later Propaganda mainman Ralph Dorper and The French Impressionists' Santa Baby Christmas single. Two projected 7"s -Paul Haig's Justice and April Showers' City Sleeps- were never released. Test-pressings of the first exist however.
Due to their signing to Virgin, a second Pale Fountains single, Thank You, was scrapped (but later issued on Virgin), as was their Crepuscule debut-LP, featuring Sergio Mendes, Simon & Garfunkel, Love and Burt Bacharach covers.
Further Twilight plans to release a Howard Devoto lyrics book, Heart Beats Up Love, a various artists double-12", Antelopes & Alligators, a pre-ZTT Propaganda 12", Diziplin, a cassette called Piano Solos, a Jazzateers LP (later released by Rough Trade) and a 12" by Bourgie Bourgie, never materialised, as the operation closed down in April 1983. The Twilight catalogue is certainly one of the strangest around though, if it was only for the inclusion of a set of four differently coloured 1950's toy robots, used as promotional device!

| Crepuscule Au Japon

Another foreign Crepuscule branch, granted a much longer life, is Crepuscule Au Japon, set up early 1983 in association with Shinseido Sirius. It would go beyond the scope of this piece to investigate all the special product from Crepuscule's Tokyo offshoot, and important source of income. So let's just mention a few interesting albums, beginning with the From Brussels With Love 1983 Edition double-LP, that is quite different from the original cassette release. This album, as well as Japanese-only LP editions of Some Of The Interesting Things You'll See On A Long Distance Flight and Soft Verdict's For Amusement Only were imported in very limited quantities into Europe.
By far the most gorgeous Japanese album is Coincidence Vs. Fate, again a double-LP compilation, in a magnificent sleeve by Hennebert. The set was issued late 1984, along with a Japanese-only Wim Mertens 12", A Visiting Card. And when a big Crepuscule package tour hit Japan -a few months later- the label issued Coincidence Vs. Crepuscule, a large size 'coffee table' book, featuring texts on Brussels, profiles on artists, an essay on Ludus by Stephen Morrissey and a poem by Winston Tong.
The labels' current Japanese outlet, Victor/JVC, merely has a license deal and hence there are fewer collectibles. Special product Victor issued include *5 Close Up: My Hand Places A Black & White Photograph Of Your Face On The Table, The Entire Population Of China, Isabelle Antena's L'Alphabet Du Plaisir, Les Voix Du Crepuscule -a compilation with tracks from most of Crepuscule's female artists, an Anna Domino compilation, L'Amour Fou, and another Isabelle Antena compilation, La Mer De L'Ete. All of them on CD only, in unique sleeves.

| 1983: The Island Deal

But let's now return to 1983. In March Crepuscule signed a UK/Benelux distribution deal with Island/Ariola for Paul Haig and Antena, with an unknown third act being left out of the contract at the last moment. As a result of this deal Paul Haig's already scheduled Rhythm Of Life LP was recorded in New York, with famous sessions musicians like Anthony Fier and Berny Worrell, and produced by Alex Sadkin. Island and Crepuscule lifted no less than 3 singles from the album: Heaven Sent -a re-working of the Josef K song, Never Give Up and Justice. They all failed to chart, maybe because the lush electro-dance of Rhythm Of Life, didn't appeal to the people who liked Josef K. The album itself sold rather well though in all European territories, so the US market seemed to be a logical next step. But Island decided not to release the album over there. Strangely enough however, a self-titled Paul Haig mini-LP, featuring remixes of most of the Rhythm Of Life tracks, was issued the following year through Island Records' US offshoot Antilles, and through Crepuscule in Belgium. This time it was the UK release that was scrapped. In 1990 Crepuscule proposed Haig to release Rhythm Of Life and the New York Remixes album together on one CD, but Haig vetoed the idea.
Former Virgin Records artists Post War Nudes, renamed Three Easy Pieces, recorded two tracks: The Heated Room and Sweet Drowning for Crepuscule, but the projected 7" was never released.
No doubt 1983's most sought after releases are Winston Tong's Like The Others cassette, issued as a limited edition, packed in a PVC wallet with lyric booklet, and the Chicago 82 -A Dip In The Lake cassette, a report by Wim Mertens on the 1982 Chicago New Music Festival. Chicago 82 is a real gem, featuring music by and interviews with Glenn Branca, John Cage, Peter Gordon, Meridith Monk, Harold Budd, David Van Tieghem and others.
Anyone interested in Wim Mertens' early work with Soft Verdict, should look out for the Close Cover 7". The triple-groove B-side contains 3 short pieces, not available anywhere else. Although it should be noted that new, extended versions of the pieces appeared on the Sources Of Sleeplessness CD set, in 1991.
The honour to do 1983's Christmas record was passed on to Factory Benelux, who fashioned the infamous Factory Benelux Greatest Hits LP.

| Tuxedomoon

Time to pay attention to a band that owe as much to Crepuscule as Crepuscule owe to them: Tuxedomoon. The story began in October 1980, when Tuxedomoon played their first European gig in the Plan K in Brussels, as part of tour that would bring them to Holland, Germany and England (after a projected tour in June, supporting Joy Division, had been cancelled, because at that time the JD's were no longer around).
The band received an almost ecstatic reception everywhere. Plans to leave San Francisco and move to Europe quickly materialised and at the end of the year all band members found themselves living in an artist's commune in Rotterdam, Holland. Within a year though they were forced to leave and moved to Brussels, to find shelter in the Plan K. That marks the beginning of a long lasting relationship with Brussels in general and Crepuscule in particular. Even if Tuxedomoon released only one LP and three 12"s on Crepuscule, three of its members -Blaine L. Reininger, Winston Tong and Steven Brown- have used the label as an outlet for various solo- and side-projects.
The aforementioned Tuxedomoon Divine LP, in May 1982, came accompanied by the Ninotchka 12", while the Umbrellas In The Sun video, released in June, features 2 contributions from Tuxedomoon as well. The same month Blaine Reininger issued his first solo album for Crepuscule, Broken Fingers, and in July yet another Tuxedomoon 12" appeared, the excellent Time To Lose. The rest of 1982 is spent touring and recording.
In April 1983 The Cage 12" was released, which proved to be the last Tuxedomoon record for Crepuscule (the band would later sign a deal with Crammed Disc, also based in Brussels), but that didn't withhold the various members to work on solo projects for Crepuscule. Winston Tong's Like The Others cassette package was the first of these to appear, in June, followed in October by a new Blaine Reininger 12", Magnetic Life. By the time of release of this 12", Reininger had left Tuxedomoon, and was keen to embark on a solo career. His second, and probably best, solo album, Night Air was issued in May 1984, with a new version of Mystery And Confusion, a track from the album, following on 7" in June. The album appeared on the Another Side label, set up by Crepuscule and distributor Himalaya, but was re-issued the next year through Crepuscule. Steven Brown's first solo album , issued on Another Side in April, experienced a similar fate.
Winston Tong in the meantime, had started a recording project with Niki Mono, a Belgian singer. This resulted in the Theoretical China 12", issued in August and best remembered for it's impressive B-side, The Hunger. It would take almost a year before a second Tong 12" appeared, Reports From The Heart, forerunner of the Theoretically Chinese album, released in October 1985, that costed a fortune to record. The LP, with members of New Order and A Certain Ratio guesting, "surprised all who heard it, being a lush and expensive-sounding dance album, courtesy of producers Alan Rankine and Dave Formula," as James Neiss puts it. Due to the success of Theoretically Chinese plans were made to record a second Tong album, but had to be scrapped when Tong returned to the USA, in 1987.

Blaine Reininger and Steven Brown, still living in Brussels, went on record for Crepuscule however. Blaine Reininger issued the Paris En Automne mini-LP recorded with bass player Alain Goutier, in July 1985, followed by Live In Brussels, in October 1986. Three more solo albums would emerge in the next couple of years, including Byzantium, in April 1987, sporting the Kraftwerk 'tribute' single Rolf And Florian Go Hawaian, before Reininger would team up with Steven Brown for the great 1890-1990: One Hundred Years Of Music live set, recorded in Portugal, and put out in March 1990. After that, Reininger released Songs From The Rain Palace, in September 1990, while Brown issued Half-Out in April 1991. It turned out to be the last albums they would record for Crepuscule (when we leave out of consideration the extended re-issue of Reininger's Instrumentals and Brussels USA compilations). Reininger and Brown went on to record solo albums for labels like LTM Recordings, Ankh Productions and Materiali Musica.

Again time to return.

| Blanco Y Negro, éL Benelux, Anna Domino, Interferences

Crepuscule's 1984 output fell behind that of the previous years. This was due maybe to the 'crisis' that struck many of the independent labels around that time, when the flood of interesting bands and fresh talent had dried up. New signings like Pleasure Ground proved to be unable to carry the flame handed on by bands like Tuxedomoon and The Names. The only exception was Anna Domino, whose debut single Trust In Love was released late 1983. Early 1984 Domino made a promising mini-album, East & West, with help of Crepuscule stalwart Blaine Reininger.
The main reasons however why Crepuscule's 1984 output tailed off, was the faltering connection with Island (they scrapped Paul Haig's already finished 2nd album) and Duval's time absorbing participation in Blanco Y Negro Records, with Geoff Travis (Rough Trade) and Mike Alway (Cherry Red). It's interesting to note here that Blanco Y Negro put out a nowadays difficult to find but brilliant single by Brussels' Berntholer, My Suitor, produced and arranged by Wim Mertens, that was originally intended for release on Crepuscule.
The Travis-Alway-Duval partnership didn't live long and Alway and Duval left soon. Alway went on to found the eclectic, and later highly collectible éL Records, in the Autumn of 1984, that owes a lot to Crepuscule, in its musical philosophy and style. Crepuscule even helped out éL at the beginning with manufacturing capacity: the first five releases are actually éL Benelux records.
In April and May of 1984, a host of Crepuscule records that had been in the pipe-line for a while, were re-allocated to Another Side, a new label set up with the help of the label's then distributor Himalaya. Half of these however never got any further than the test-pressing stage, with Ludus' Completement Nue Au Soleil 12" only gaining a very limited release in Italy, on Base Records.
Paul Haig's The Only Truth, a collaboration with New Order's Bernard Sumner and A Certain Ratio's Donald Johnson, was issued in the UK through Island Records in an overkill of formats, including a limited edition US Remix 12". Shortly afterwards Island dropped Haig...
Two further 1984 limited editions are interesting to mention here: Soft Verdict's The Power Of Theatrical Madness 12", that was exclusively sold during performances of Jan Fabre's play of the same name, and the Merry Christmas mini-LP, featuring tracks by Wim Mertens, Thick Pigeon, Current 93, The Arcadians, and Pleasure Ground. The mini-LP was sent out as Xmas present and given away at Interferences, a now defunct cafe and arts centre at Brussels' Grand Place, that was opened in December 1983 as Crepuscule's answer to Factory's Hacienda. The sober, lineair interior of Interferences was designed by Hennebert.
The 1984 account wouldn't be complete without mentioning the birth of Laylah Anti-Records, early home of highly acclaimed Industrial acts like Coil, Current 93, Laibach and The Hafler Trio. The label, that existed until 1989, was put on the right track by Crepuscule early 1984, before joining up with distributor Himalaya. Laylah's prolific roster of course deserves much more attention than just getting referred to sideways here.

| A New Direction

1985 marks the beginning of a move towards a new, more sophisticated and mainstream direction for Crepuscule, which doesn't mean that the label was taking a back seat as far as its aim to release uncommon and unheard music was concerned. Artists like Anna Domino, Winston Tong, Kid Montana and ex-Associate Alan Rankine however, were definitely not battling on the frontline of the avant garde!
Early 1985 Crepuscule persuaded Paul Haig to release the Swing In '82 mini album, that, as the title suggests, was recorded in 1982, in Brussels around the time of the sessions for Running Away, Blue For You and Justice, when Haig was living in the Belgian capital. The unusual album, originally set for release as a 10", features big band cover versions of Love Me Tender, Let's Face The Music And Dance and 3 other numbers.
Even more curious than Haig's side-step is The Arcadians' It's A Mad, Mad World LP. This (debut) album by ex-Border Boys 'Louis' Philippe Auclair, who worked as a cook at Interferences, gained a limited release in Japan, but was shelved over here. In 1986 Auclair signed a deal with El Records and started recording as Louis Philippe. But it was not until 1988 that Crepuscule had Auclair's first LP re-issued through Interior Music, in an almost plain white cover.
Along with The Arcadians LP, Crepuscule Au Japon issued another limited edition LP, Un Hommage A Marguerite Duras, by Richard Jobson, also containing 3 previously unreleased tracks by Vini Reilly.

| Lome Arme

August 1985 saw the start of a new Crepuscule project: the classical Lome Arme series, directed by Wim Mertens. The series took off with an esoteric album with music from the 17th century Portuguese composer Joao Lourenco Rebelo, performed by the acclaimed Huelgas Ensemble. Another five Lome Arme records were issued over the next two years, with a seventh LP, Cornelius Cardew's Lowlands Recital being cancelled.
In the late summer Crepuscule started a new UK branch, Operation Afterglow, and just like Operation Twilight, the label didn't live long.
Paul Haig's The Warp Of Pure Fun, conatining some tracks from the unreleased Island album, Winston Tong's Theoretically Chinese LP -accompanied by a promotional only Interview 12"- and Soft Verdict's double-LP Maximizing The Audience were the highlights of the year. The latter was originally issued as a boxed set, including a 24-page book. An outake from the Tong album, Dream Assassins, was set for a 12" release on Laylah. But the haunting, Gothic track, with Niki Mono on vocals, never made it.
Xmas was celebrated with a gift/mailorder-only 7", containing Scottish Christmas by Paul Haig (included on the 1988 Ghosts Of Christmas Past CD) and two pieces from The Durutti Column's unreleased Factory Benelux LP, Short Stories For Pauline. Both tracks were later made available on the Durutti Column's Lips That Would Kiss compilation CD, on Factory Benelux.

| The Crepuscule Collections

In 1986 no less than six compilation LP's were issued, including another double-LP version of From Brussels With Love, and 3 Crepuscule Collection albums: The Quick Neat Job, State Of Excitement (title taken from Ian Fleming's unpublished book State Of Excitement: Impressions On Kuwait, 1960) and The Rough With The Smooth -all combining back catalogue material with loose tracks that had been shelved.
In the early spring Crepuscule moved into fashion, with the Collection Ete 86. It should be said though that the label's line included just one shirt that was available in either black or white. The next year a black Crepuscule jumper was presented, and there the matter rested.
Isabelle Antena, who had left the label in 1984 for a stint with Mercury, returned with En Cavale, a funky, jazz flavoured album that would set the tone for her further career. Anna Domino's self-titled 'debut' album was without doubt Crepuscule's best record of the year. One of the singles taken from the album, Rythm, even became a Top 10 hit in some European countries.
With A Man Of No Fortune And With A Name To Come, Wim Mertens dropped his monicker Soft Verdict. The album was the first in a series of solo piano & voice albums, and his most prolific statement so far. Alan Rankine first solo-album for Crepuscule, The World Begins To Look Her Age, on the other hand, proved to be a disappointment, as the LP couldn't stand comparison with his earlier work in The Associates.
December saw the third Ghosts Of Christmas Past LP, announced as 'The Final Mix', a claim that would prove to be untrue.
Early 1987 Crepuscule released a 4th Collection LP, Death Leaves An Echo, while two more volumes, Wait Until Dark, and For Tomorrow We Live were announced, but never issued.

| European Sun

Paul Haig, unhappy with the sales of The Warp Of Pure Fun, had signed a deal with UK label Circa. His Crepuscule career was documented on European Sun, Archive Collection 1982-1987. The album contains some previously unreleased tracks, including a collaboration with Cabaret Voltaire, Executioner's Theme, earlier set for release on Factory Benelux, but never issued because Factory closed down the label. European Sun was followed early '88 by the nowadays hard to find Torchomatic 12", including another 4 unreleased Haig tracks, and fitted in an 007 'Goldfinger' pastiche sleeve. 2 other 12"s, Reach The Top, and Swinging For You were recorded and set for release, but cancelled. The latter because it was considered too weird for an A-side, and the former because it was felt that Haig was capable of a better version. At one point there was talk of Billy McKenzie (The Associates) doing Reach The Top with producer Trevor Horne. The idea came to nothing, although a McKenzie version of Reach The Top can be found on the unreleased Associates' Glamour Chase WEA album. While a Paul Haig version of McKenzie's Chained can be found on Haig's Chain album on Circa...
Alan Rankine's second solo-album, She Loves Me Not, partly made up of tracks remixed from his first offering, was released in association with Virgin, and like its predecessor, it failed to impress. The instrumental B-sides of the two singles that were taken from the album -The World Begins To Look Her Age and The Sandman- caused some confusion. Together, they make up: Can You Believe Everything I See? Parts 1 to 3; a piece that can also be found on the 1986 From Brussels With Love album, covering completely different music! Note that one-sided 12" test-pressings of an unreleased single, Days And Days, are also around.

| Interior Music

January 1988, a new subsidiary, Interior Music, run by James Neiss (Les Temps Modernes) issued two albums that had been on the hold for more than two years: Ludus' marvellous Nue Au Soleil (Completement), originally entitled Let Me Go Where My Pictures Go, and Cabaret Voltaire's Eight Crepuscule Tracks. In March Interior put out a Euro-edition of The Arcadians LP Mad, Mad World, and a new version of the rare Japanese Un Homage A Marguerite Duras LP, now entitled Hommage A Duras, including some different tracks and fitted in a totally new sleeve. The same month Minutes To Go - Hommage A William S. Burroughs was released. A third 'hommage' LP, Hommage A Lautreamont, dedicated to the 19th century writer also known as Isodore Ducasse (as in A Certain Ratio's Do The Du(casse)...), was scheduled as well, but never made it, just like an excellent, lush album by Brussels singer/composer, and Blaine L. Reininger collaborator, Klaus Klang.

| New Order's Salvation

Crepuscule in the meantime, issued Salvation! the soundtrack for Beth B.'s movie, featuring New Order's Touched By The Hand Of God and 4 more New Order tracks (including the original instrumental version of Let's Go) nowhere else available, was put out in February 1988. The album was a Factory Benelux/Crepuscule co-release. The stunning Peter Saville-sleeve commissioned for the album, was supposed to be unsuitable and replaced by some horrendous sub-standard flyposter type design. Crepuscule have promised to re-issue the album sooner or later with the original Saville art work, but fans with little patience should look out for the Canadian edition, issued through Polygram on all formats.
In May, Shamrock, by acclaimed soundtrack writer Gabriel Yared, was issued. Shamrock is a score for a ballet (Yared's first) and one of the most overlooked Crepuscule releases of all.
A Winston Tong double-LP/CD, Communion, containing many unreleased pieces, was set for release in the Spring of 1988 too, probably to coincide with the Tuxedomoon reunion tour. But although Tong approved, the set was sadly scrapped.
Two 1988 Japanese albums deserve special mention here: Isabelle Antena's On A Warm Summer Night, an early-mix version of her Tous Mes Caprices album, that was issued in Europe later that year in a different sleeve, and Blaine Reininger's Instrumentals 1982-1987, containing 5 tracks not available on Interior Music's mini-LP version. Note that Instrumentals was re-issued on extended CD format on Crepuscule in 1991, including 3 previously unreleased pieces, and a curious hidden track!
For Christmas, Crepuscule sent out logo shaped biscuits with a Xmas message, and released what turned out to be their last Christmas disc: an 18-track best of Ghosts Of Christmas Past CD, containing material from all previous Christmas records.

| New Artists, New Divisions

Early 1989, duo Ian Devine & Allison Statton's (ex-Ludus/ex-Weekend) debut 7" Under The Weather, attracted attention not so much for its cheerful A-side, as for its B-side, an acoustic version of New Order's techno hit Bizarre Love Triangle. The cover version also appeared on their Prince Of Wales album, on various compilations, and was later re-issued as a limited edition 12".
To promote the singles and albums set for release in the autumn, Crepuscule made a radio- and promo-only cassette: Mmm Ahhh Ohhh. Some copies were sent out with a free, matching T-shirt.
The 1989 foreign activities included two samplers that were specially made for the UK market and released in association with Caroline distributors: Anna Domino's L'Amour Fou and Isabelle Antena's Fire. The label also issued a sampler CD for the US: New Music For America, in association with Memory Tech.

In 1990, another two (short-lived) divisions were called into existence: Dancyclopaedia, a dance label, and Little Circle, home of straight-forward rock acts like Fats Garden, Perry Rose and The Candy Men.
Marie Trintignant, daughter of famous French actor Jean Louis Trintignant had a wonderful cassette released, Poemes A Lou, with poems and prose by the like of Apollinaire, Tescaro and Desnos. Her father was working on a similar project for Crepuscule, called Prose Du Transsyberian, together with Jean-Louis Murat. Although some of the tracks made it onto compilations, the project was aborted.
Wim Mertens' back-catalogue was assembled as a lavishly packaged 6-CD box set, Play For Me, including a 20-page booklet with details on all recordings. UK-based Ultramarine produced Folk, an album full of early Crepuscule influences like Marine, Konk and Tuxedomoon, as if they had gone through the Crepuscule back catalogue...
Unhappy with two tracks and the artwork of Jouez Le Cinq, Isabelle Antena had the album re-issued on CD only as Intemporelle. Jouez Le Cinq was immediately withdrawn, and especially CD copies are difficult to find these days. In the meantime, Gasa in Spain, released a 12", also entitled Intemporelle, with the same sleeve as the CD, featuring the two new CD-tracks and two other songs, both sung in Spanish.
On October the 20th, the release of Gavin Bryars' Sinking Of The Titanic CD was celebrated with a one-off performance of the piece, in a swimming pool in Brussels. An earlier 23 minutes version of The Sinking Of The Titanic had appeared in 1975 on Brian Eno's Obscure label as OBS 1. The CD features a 65 minutes version of the piece, recorded live in a water tower, during the 'Printemps De Bourges' festival in France, where the piece was premiered back in 1976.
Like the year before, Crepuscule produced a sampler to promote the upcoming autumn releases. This time it took the form of a limited edition low priced CD, Un Peu, Pas Vraiment .
The 10th anniversary of From Brussels With Love passed without much celebration. The promo-only compilation CD Au Fur Et A Mesure, Crepuscule 10 Years?, a 15-track anthology of Crepuscule's history so far, from A Certain Ratio's Shack Up to Cathy Claret's Toi, was the only keepsake of the event.

| The Return of... Cabaret Voltaire

Almost 9 years after their Fools Game 12" (TWI 120), Cabaret Voltaire returned to Crepuscule, early 1991, for a 12", What Is Real, an album, Body And Soul and a mini-album Percussion Force. They featured the bands first experiments in ambient and meant the start of their comeback. Another Crepuscule veteran, former Thick Pigeon singer Miranda Dali, had an excellent eponymous CD issued through the Brussels' label too. Wim Mertens released his long-awaited, prestigious cycle Alle Dinghe, comprising two double CD's and one triple CD.
Moving Soundtracks, featuring Cabaret Voltaire, Blaine Reininger, Paul Haig, Antena, The Pale Fountains and others interpreting movie tracks, was originally set for release on LP in 1984 (to be housed in an Ennio Morricone rip-off sleeve, later used for the State Of Excitement compilation). In 1991 the project was given a new lease of live and in May Moving Soundtracks (Volume 1) surfaced on CD, with a few cuts left off, replaced by new tracks, including Theme by Be Music (New Order). It must be said that the CD edition is less balanced than the original configuration.
Along with Moving Soundtracks a limited edition CD-only version of Some Of The Interesting Things You'll See On A Long Distance Flight appeared, including 8 tracks from the original cassette and LP version and 10 tracks (by The Durutti Column, The Names and Antena) never issued before.
An updated version of Anna Domino's compilation album L'Amour Fou only gained a release on CD in Japan, in May, with the Euro edition being scrapped at the very last moment.
Quite unusual, the autumn brought only a handful of new releases. In October Wim Mertens' third piano & voice volume, Strategie De La Rupture appeared. A CD-single, Hufhuf, including 4 previously unreleased short tracks, was issued a month later, along with a nice CD-only soundtrack album by John Cale, Paris S'Eveille and David Linx' Moon To Your Sun CD. The latter is a serious contender for the 'worst Crepuscule album of all time' trophy.
Also set for release was Ultramarine's splendid, and later highly acclaimed 'ambient folk' album Every Man And Woman Is A Star. The album didn't make it on Crepuscule however, for reasons best left unrevealed, and only appeared on Brainiak in the UK. Later on Rough Trade reissued Every Man And Woman Is A Star with extra tracks, after which the band signed a deal with Blanco Y Negro, to become one of England's more innovative alternative bands of the early Nineties.

| In Lower Gear

January 1992, Duval, seemingly fed up with music, decided to slow down. Only five albums were released during the year, including Glenn Branca's fascinating The World Upside Down, and a CD by the Lounge Lizards and Jazz Passengers guitarist Marc Ribot, Requiem For What's His Name. Late November Crepuscule Au Japon released Isabelle Antena's Carpe Diem.
A second Gabriel Yared CD, with music composed for the ballet Le Diable Amoureux was canned, while an ambitious compilation CD, The Entire Population Of China, announced as "an amazing mix of jazz, chanson francaise, pop, film soundtrack, rock, contemporary music... a turning-point for the label," appeard only in... Japan.

From 1993 on Crepuscule's output would be restricted to only a hand full of releases each year. Isabelle Antena's Corto Prend Le Large CD-single and the Euro-edition of her Carpe Diem album, in January, were even a bit of false start, as they were licensed to Delabel, in France.
In the early spring a brand new album by Wim Mertens appeared: Shot and Echo. A limited boxed edition including an extra CD, A Sense Of Place was also made available. Paul Haig returned to Crepuscule again in May, with Coincidence Vs Fate, containing most of the tracks from his unreleased 1991 Circa album Right On Line. With the remaining tracks from the Circa album to be found on the Surrender CD-EP. Also in May, Marie Audigier's second album Ces Etes was finally issued.
Late September Crepuscule put out a second John Cale soundtrack, La Naissance De L'Amour, followed by a CD re-issue of The Durutti Column's 1986 Circuses And Bread album, now as Bread And Circuses. A few months later, Marc Ribot's Haitian Suite LP, from 1989, got a CD re-release on Crepuscule.

March 1994 brought the excellent Blaine Reininger compilation CD, Brussels, USA and an extended CD re-issue of the legendary Young Marble Giants' Colossal Youth album.
Also in March, Wim Mertens delivered his first live CD, Epic That Never Was, recorded in Lisbon. And in November Crepuscule issued his sequel to Alle Dinghe, called Gave Van Niets, a monumental cycle, encompassing two double and two triple CD's, and lasting almost 7 hours! As Mertens said: "I wanted to experience the feeling and the sensation of creating something that I was no more able to oversee." I'm sure he succeeded.

Wim Mertens signed for the first release of 1995, with another volume of his piano & voice series, Jeremiades. The same month Crepuscule released a Jazz Passengers compilation CD, Cross The Street, while September brought a new John Cale soundtrack CD, Antartide.

| Rap Francophone, Crepuscule France

Early 1996 saw a new John Cale soundtrack CD, N'Oublie Pas Que Tu Vas Mourir, while April brought the long awaited new Durutti Column CD, Fidelity and Wim Mertens' Lisa CD, the soundtrack for a movie by Jan Keymeulen.
June greeted the debut album of French rap/hip-hop act 2Bal 2Neg, 3X Plus Efficace. Jardin Clos, another monumental Wim Mertens album, was released in October, preceeded by the CDsingle As Hay In The Sun. The long awaited Euro CD edition of Glenn Branca's Symphony #3 also appeared in October, followed by The Domino's Gotta Get Out CD in November. A busy year, by Crepuscule standards.

A 'new' compilation CD, Twilight Easy Listening, was issued in May 1997, with the rap soundtrack collection Ma 6-T Va Cracker appearing in June, through Crepuscule France, a label headed by former Crepuscule artists Marie Audigier. Wim Mertens' solo guitar CD Sin Embargo, issued early November, was followed by yet another Mertens compilation CD Best Of, a few weeks later.

Frank Brinkhuis, 1990/1997.

| Notes

1) Plein Soleil (full sun) not only opposes Crepuscule (twilight) but the title could also be a reference to the 1959 movie with the same title by French director René Clément, starring Alain Delon. One of the characters in Plein Soleil (English title: Purple Noon) is named Duval, while another character is credited as "the Belgian lady".
2) I thought the title to be a reference to the 1974 movie La Race des Seigneurs (English title: Creezy) by Pierre Granier-Deferre, starring Alain Delon and Sydne Rome, the latter as Miss Creezy. César Gomes suggests that the title is inspired by Samuel Beckett's Murphy: "To gain the affection of Miss Dwyer, he said, even for one short hour, would benefit me no end" (Calder Publications, Montreal & London, 1993, p. 7).



This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 1990/1997 by Frank Brinkhuis.