Phrixus! songs from the Midlife Crisis
Phrixus! Discography part 2
(2009 – 2013)
Phrixus has produced an incredibel amount of CD albums. Just taste it underneath..
And by the way: Excuse the Dutch (text that is).
This seventh Phrixus album combines instrumental prowess with intimate lyrics and some of the most stunning vocalizations. The band doesn’t shun the experiment and their mix of styles is simply incredible. The Art Of Noise is a true gem!
Jaap de Boer (manager)
On this eighth Phrixus album the musicianship and experimental mood of its predecessor (The Art Of Noise, 2009) are taken one step further. Lyrics are few, the focus is on the instrumental side of the music. This is more out of necessity than by choice: in July 2008, just after the cd Eternal Snow had been released, lead singer Cynthia Kuijper decided to leave Phrixus and devote her energy to other musical activities. The Art Of Noise was the last project she participated in, all tracks for that album having been recorded before she left. The only track on this new album Cynthia sang on is ‘It Won’t Go Away’, the last song the band recorded with her.
The songs on It Kind Of Grows On You were inspired by a story about a lunatic who suffers from all kinds of imaginary diseases. In his more lucid moments he may be aware of the fact that his alleged physical ailments are symptoms of his psychological deterioration, but most of the time he’s convinced he’s really ill. He’s generally afraid of people – the one exception being the doctor he visits all the time and who’s decided long ago that it would be best to play along – and he only talks to a life size mirror in his sitting room, which (he thinks) talks back to him.
‘Bump Headache’ pictures him alone in his home at night, with a crate of beer and ‘a little by the side’ (pills or drugs?) As his only companions. It’s perfectly clear he’s ‘in the woods’. In ‘It Won’t Go Away’ he complains to his mirror about the persistent nature of his diseases. He is not only frequented by bump headaches but also by periods of ‘Uncontrollable Nausea’ that impede his ability to eat or drink. The only thing that goes down well is beer. The track ‘No Eggs For Easter’ – which is played in a trio setting, with no bass – refers to the part in the story that our anti-hero wakes up at Easter morning with his lips sewn together, a particularly ghastly experience because now even beer is out of the question. In ‘It’s Not Too Late’ the man has a lucid spell. The ‘you’ he ‘sees coming to the door’ is his mental illness, which he tries desperately to ‘close from the gate’. To no avail, apparently, because in the next song he wakes up and, looking in the mirror, discovers he has a bad hair day. The doctor identifies his strange condition as ‘violent hair growth’, a hereditary disease that can be cured quite simply by shaving the entire body. The story ends with the lunatic questioning his mirror whether he looks bald or beautiful now.
A crazy story, good music… what more do we want?
Jaap de Boer, manager of the band
Late summer, early autumn 2009 a series of jam sessions was held in cafes and bars all over Phrixus’ hometown Alphen aan den Rijn. On several nights Phrixus took part in these jams.
It was not until a good three months later that they discovered recordings had been made during some of the sessions, by someone who had just pushed a laptop computer on stage. Though the recording quality turned out to be rather poor, the band felt some of the songs were interesting enough to be released on cd.
This bootleg album covers three different sessions. In two sessions Phrixus played with local guitarist Mike Emmen. From each of these one song is included. The other three pieces were taken from the final jam session in the series, when Phrixus was invited to perform a short show of their own.
The material on this cd has never been released before, which makes it a rare and valuable collector’s item for the true Phrixus fan. And I am confident that anyone who knows anything about good music will come to appreciate this remarkable document as well.
Jaap de Boer
I think it’s best to leave it at that and keep my laptop shut for once.
Let music work its way!
Jaap de Boer
* Now that I’ve opened my laptop anyway, I think it won’t do any harm to add this little footnote to enlighten you on the fact that this album contains a selection of the best songs Phrixus put forth in the seven years of its existence. But it is not the kind of crappy ‘best of…’ compilation that you normally find, with only old tracks and just the one never-released song thrown in to spice things up. True enough, four of the songs were previously released in (more or less) the same version, but that still leaves you with three newly recorded ‘old’ songs that the band made new arrangements for, plus one brand new song. I say no more!
Dear listener and Phrixus fan, welcome to Darkness. I’m happy to tell you that Phrixus has come full circle! With this new album the band is back where they started in 2003, playing only instrumental music. But it’s not a perfect circle, it’s more like an outward spiral, each new circle starting at a higher level. (i always try to find some visual support for the point I’m making, in case you wonder why you have to crane your neck so awkwardly to be able to read this. Sorry about that!) Anyhow, if you listen to Darkness you’ll get the point soon enough. The album gives you a pretty good idea of the way the band’s sound has evolved over the years. It contains eight pieces of high compositional quality, with more harmonic consistency and melodic direction than Phrixus’ earlier work, and above all with more simplicity. Less is more! Although there are no lyrics, the songs do have a story to tell. As is clear from the poems in this booklet, Darkness is about dealing with the grief of losing a child, in this case a child that is brutally murdered in a heinous sex crime. Indeed a serious subject, but sadly enough a very realistic one in our present-day ‘civil’ society. To me this album ranks with the best Phrixus has put forth up till now. Enjoy listening!
Jaap de Boer (Phrixus management)
If you’re a hardcore Phrixus fan – and of course you are! – you will probably recall that in spring 2009 the band postponed all their activities to take a sabbatical leave that lasted for almost a year. In that year, apart from releasing It Kind Of Grows On You, containing songs recorded earlier, Phrixus only took part in some jam sessions that resulted in their album Why? For the rest no concerts were given, no songs were written, no recordings were made.
Why do I dwell on this? Well, the band has never divulged the real reason for their leave (apart from the nonsense on their website) and I have always been grateful for their secrecy. But now I will tell you the true story.
Towards the end of 2008 my rather eccentric – or should I say erratic? – lifestyle had landed me in a nasty situation. I faced all kinds of financial, physical and social problems, got evicted by my landlord because I hadn’t paid the rent for months and, after a short stay at a friend’s place, was forced to live on the streets.
I went off the radar completely and it took the boys in the band some time to track me down. By the time they did I was in a mess. I mean really in a mess: drugs, depression, booze, violence, theft, the whole works. The band was quick to decide that they’d do anything to help me back on track again, even if this meant giving up their music for a while. And that’s just what they did. Thanks to their genuine friendship I found the strength to recover from this nightmare and make a new start.
But the story doesn’t end there. What happened to me has inspired the band these past two years to write a bunch of songs for a new album, aptly titled Dumpster Diving. To me the music on this cd evokes exactly the right image and atmosphere of a life lived on the streets, with its hardship and pain, but also its rare occasions of joy. With Dumpster Diving Phrixus has delivered yet another masterpiece. Enjoy!
Jaap de Boer, Phrixus management
Hearing a new Phrixus album for the first time is like unwrapping an unexpected present, given to you by a close friend. Whatever the content may be, you know it’ll be perfect. So prepare yourself for yet another of Phrixus’ surprise gifts: Swapped.
And a surprise it is, for sure! After the last two Phrixus albums, which were completely instrumental, the band has swapped to vocals again. The star of the album is their new singer Jan Willem Swaters, aka Swap, who renders his intense lyrics in punk-like fashion, neatly contrasting with the progrock sound that built the band’s fame.
The result is a strange but not at all unpleasant amalgam of sound and style, waving to and fro like the tides, sometimes completely engulfing you and at other moments leaving you stranded like a whale on the Dutch coast which classifies under flesh, being neither fish nor fowl. In short: totally Phrixus!
What I’m trying to say is that Swap seems to really fit in with Phrixus. Being their manager, I felt extremely satisfied when the band decided to take him aboard, back in August 2011. I had great plans for this new line-up. After hearing the first couple of songs they recorded together I knew that what I’d hoped for was indeed happening. Phrixus was progressing into a new, less polished and more condensed style. Still prog, but very accessible.
Therefore I think it’s deeply sad that in early summer 2012, drummer Henk announced his departure from the band. He’d been in the seat for nine long years and that was enough, he said. With his new-found band suddenly blown from its moorings, Swap was quick to decide that extending his involvement with Phrixus would lead him nowhere. So he split, too.
Which, dear listener, brings us to the proverbial bottom line: Swapped is and will for the duration of your entire life continue to be the only album brought forth by this extraordinary line-up. I suggest you cherish it, like you would a new-born baby.
Jaap de Boer, Phrixus management (for as long as it lasts)
It’s been ten years since Phrixus recorded their very first song, ‘Dississis’. Now they present their already fourteenth album, called Stubble. The album title refers to Etienne ‘Stoppel’ Stekelenburg, who for the duration of nearly a year played with the band, first on drums to replace Henk Nagtegaal and later on bass guitar, creating an opportunity for regular bassist Hans to pick up the guitar, thus adding to the wealth of the Phrixus sound.
I think the Phrixus fan base will be grateful for Stoppel’s contribution to the band. For this new album is really good. As always, the songs are firmly rooted in (prog)rock tradition, but some of them display a cocky poppiness that’s rather refreshing. Also, the use of the acoustic guitar enables the band to explore a wider variety of musical moods.
Stubble tells the story of snorkel, a young man who is too timid and clumsy to start and maintain satisfactory love affairs and who obsessively dreams of secret meetings with big breasted ladies. In search of sexual gratification he enters a world of devious sexual behaviour and over time he becomes totally addicted to sleazy sex.
In his dreams he is haunted by a tantalizing vision of the ‘perfect woman’, who pledges her true and endless love for him only. She may be perfect, but she’s unattainable, a mirage that evaporates as soon as he opens his eyes to the hopelessness of his dog’s life.
In short, a pretty nasty piece of work!
Jaap de Boer (still manager of the band)