Saturday, October 04, 2008

Electroobit: Marc Moulin

Perhaps best remembered for a failed attempt to come in last during the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, Marc Moulin of Telex has died.

Moulin had initially come to prominence as a pianist, playing acid jazz throughout Europe in the 1960s. His first band, Placebo (not that one), formed in 1974 and released three albums which jazz experts will still argue sound fresh and surprising today. But Marc was about to make a surprising career change.

Established in 1978 in order to create a specifically European sound, Telex were a creation of Moulin, working alongside Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers. Blending avant-garde and punk aesthetics with a rejection of rock and guitars, the band achieved a degree of success with deconstructed cover versions - Rock Around The Clock was their sales high for the UK, although the perhaps-too-obvious, perhaps-too-European reworking of Ca Plan Pour Moi was a better joke.

Telex went to Eurovision at the suggestion of their manager; their plans to come solidly last were frustrated when the Portuguese took to them and gave them ten points (dix points):

So coldly was their performance received that, earlier in the judging process, the host decided that she was hearing things when they were given points from Greece, and tried to redirect the points to the Dutch instead.

Equally confused were Virgin, to whom Telex were signed in the UK; they'd been trying to market the band to the Duran Duran audience only to suddenly be saddled with a Eurovision gag act. Already a difficult sell - not playing tours didn't help - the record companies started to shift the band to their tax loss column.

Even a hook-up with Sparks to provide works for the third album, Sex, couldn't help with selling the band. The band's remix of their work in 1989, showing their influence on the now-popular house music, was something of a point being made.

That was the last of Telex until a 2006 reunion release, How Do You Dance; the reactivated band also took the opportunity to remix other act's work.

In the period between Telex's bursts of activity, Moulin built a reputation amongst jazz fans and working as a producer; he also wrote extensively about music. The Belgian weekly Télémoustique which announced his death had been running a weekly column from him.

Moulin died from cancer on September 26th.