Polyphonic Size has never been a real band, but Roger-Marc Vande Voorde's
project. Born in Charleroi (Belgium) in 1959, the young teenager Roger-Marc
spent some time in Germany, near Cologne. Being a true Rolling Stones
fan, he started to learn guitar and began to play in small local bands
: Berk, Reynolds, Magnetix and mostly Melody.
Some live tapes still exist, recorded late 76, early 77, with an overexcited
Roger-Marc singing 1960's/70's classics : Get Back, Jumping Jack Flash,
Walk On the Wild Side, Gloria...
1978, back to his home land, RM starts some psychology studies and forms
a new band, the Cookies, with Johan Van
Mullen on bass and Michel Verbeek on drums. No more 60's cover songs
this time, the Cookies only play their own stuff. A strong punk/new
wave rock, not far from the Modern Lovers, or Police in their early
days. Roger-Marc becomes a member of the B Clique,
Brussels punk scene.
RM creates the Oblik Mouvement,
centred on electronic music, with Kraftwerk and Devo influences. Other
people involved in Oblik : Jerry
WX (lately in X Pulsion and Revenge), Daniel B (Prothese, then Front
242) and Michel Lambot, who's running a record shop, Casablanca Moon
(years later, Michel will manage Play It Again Sam records). Alain Neffe's
band, Pseudocode, is also around. At this point, Oblik is just a concept,
but Roger-Marc writes down some ideas in little notebooks, filled with
collages and drawings.
B is working in a Bruxelles music shop, Hill's Music. Together with
Roger-Marc, they discover the very first "cheap" Korg synthesizers.
RM buys some stuff and soon changes his room into a kind of home-studio.
The result will be Algorythmic
EP, the very first Polyphonic
Size EP, released in december 1979 on Sandwich Records, a small
underground label, founded by Michel Lambot.
songs on this record : Saison, Space Rejection, Mode and Plage Privée.
Small extraordinaire electronic pieces, with spoken french or english
lyrics. RM plays all the instruments, sings, produces and even designs
the sleeve artwork.
Buxin wrote the lyrics. RM met him in Germany in the Melody days, when Dominique
was more or less singing in another band called Kolossal. Although he
will never appear on stage, Dominique will always be a main part of
Polyphonic Size, writing brilliant lyrics, not far from Serge Gainsbourg
or Jacques Lanzmann (Jacques Dutronc's 1960's author).
7" EP quickly follows : Pragmatic Songs.
This time, Roger-Marc is not alone in the studio : Régine
K sings Ommatidia (with her own lyrics). She's a very strange
girl, fond of S & M, and breeding snakes in her flat... The 3 other
tracks are Logique Polygonale (then changed into Rendez-Vous on the
first LP), Party and Travelling Things, a fantastic collage of tapes,
sirens, dialogues and electronics.
is also running a belgian Stranglers fanzine : Strangled. He first met Jean-Jacques Burnel in Cologne in 1978,
then sent him the 2 Polyphonic Size EP. JJ has just released Euroman
Cometh, his solo European / electronic, rhythm boxes / english and french
LP. He listens to the singles and offers to produce the next one right
away. This third single, Nagasaki Mon Amour/Hiroshima
1945 is recorded in England, in April 1980. RM will publish the
story of this fascinating session in Strangled # 5, under the title
of "Chronologie d'une production". Japan, electronic, Europe...
JJ and RM share many passions. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and musical collaboration.
goes to Japan for summer and meets (among others) YMO and Ryuichi Sakamoto.
In early 1981, Polyphonic Size records a new maxi single, PS,
including a robotic cover version of the Rolling Stones classic, Mother's
Little Helper. RM has written a few words on the vinyl : "Fuck
the Stones"! But he will still give it to Keith Richard himself
some time later. The four other tracks are "Girlscout" (sung
with an english friend called Angie), Men & Construction (obviously
inspired by Kraftwerk), On the Way To Medora (the opening track for
the 1982 tour) and a brand new version of Saison. This time, Polyphonic
Size is also Martine Bourlée (who
is also RM's girl friend) and Jean Marc Lederman (lately in Kid Montana and Weathermen).
March 1981, Sandwich records release a compilation LP sampler, B9,
including one PSize new track : Kyoto (with
Akiko, a japanese journalist, on vocals). A different version of Kyoto
will be available on the B-side of Nagasaki french pressing (on Radical
very first Polyphonic Size concert happens in Brussels, April, 3rd,
1981. In a small festival called The First Belgian
Rhythm Box Contest, with Etat Brut, Nausea, Pseudo Code and Snowy
Red. No drums on stage (just a cassette with all the basic rythm tracks).
Two new singers : one girl, France Lhermitte, and a guy named Bernard Dradin (who will
lately be part of Noh Mask). Kloot Per W plays bass. On stage, Bernard sings a smashing speed version of Space
Rejection, wearing a ski mask on his face.
are still many unreleased tapes from these
days ; different version of Nagasaki, Kyoto, Girlscout, Mother's Little
Helper, Saison,... lots of electronic instrumental pieces, and even
a couple of weird Stranglers covers : Meninblack, Don't Bring Harry,
3 years and half a dozen singles, Polyphonic Size decides to record
its first LP in Brussels, from January to April 1982, with Roger-Marc,
Martine Bourlée (vocals), France Lhermitte (vocals), Kloot Per
W (bass) and Dominique Buxin (lyrics). JJ Burnel produces, sings and
plays some bass guitar too. Other guests are Luc Van Acker (guitar),
David Salamon (saxophone in Arbeid Adelt, another belgian band) and
Phil Wauqaire (who plays stick-bass in Digital Dance). . Live
For Each Moment/Vivre Pour Chaque Instant will be PSize masterpiece,
released in September 1982, under 2 different picture sleeves (french
or belgian). At this time, we can say that JJ became a real member of
the band, as he's the one who sings Winston & Julia (from Orwell's
1984), and Je T'ai Toujours Aimée (recorded in 2 hours, with
JJ on bass guitar).
Polyphonic Size goes on tour for the very first time. First date is Gand (Belgium), October 29th 1982. The second one is Paris, Bains Douches, November 4th. A fantastic performance, broadcasted on the national french radio (France Inter). As for the 81 festival, PSize plays without drums, just voices, synthezisers, guitars and tapes.
version of Winston & Julia soon follows, with a crazy Parties
Dance on b-side, improvised in the studio by JJ and RM, with
Dominique Buxin's lyrics. Dominique also writes the extraordinaire Detective
Privé for JJ and Dave Greenfield duo LP, Fire & Water.
The french label New Rose releases a free promo single of Je T'ai Toujours
Aimée, then a new LP sampler called Rose
83, including Girlscout and Parties Dance. Meanwhile, France
Lhermitte sings backing vocals on the Stranglers Feline album.
1983 : PSize got a new contract with Clouseau Musique, a small Virgin
Records subsidiary, managed by Philippe Constantin. Then JJ,
Martine and Roger-Marc spend the whole summer in the studio to record
the second album. JJ sings, composes, plays bass, produces, and brings
lots of ideas into the band. Seems like Polyphonic Size has becomed
a kind of alternative project to him, smaller but more european than
the Stranglers. But JJ also takes some definitive decisions : he decides
that Kloot Per W won't be on the record. Of course, Kloot doesn't appreciate
Everywhere is released in January 1984, with more great lyrics
written by Dominique Buxin and new guests : Daniel B, Dave Greenfield
(Stranglers) and several others. The whole LP is a kind of Tour du Monde,
from Europe (Brussels Waltz), to USA (Le Rocker de la CIA), via Africa
(Irrigation) and the Middle East (Mohammed & Sarah).
it doesn't sound as spontaneous as the first album, Walking Everywhere
is a real great record, and Walking Class Hero is a great single. At this
point, everything sounds perfect for Polyphonic Size, but that's when
things will start going wrong...