Boomkat Product Review:
Delicious dose of Belgium gloom-pop from who else but Stroom, holding a candle to the mid-‘80s run of Gerry Vergult’s Fred A. output in a charming shadowplay of dark comedy and cabaret or Belgian “kleinkunst” conjuring imagery of lowlit bars, lofts and drizzly cobbled streets...
“A first appearance of Fred A. – the brainchild of Gerry Vergult – was noted in ’84. Gerry, who already had a foothold in the music scene with the Flemish cult ensemble Aroma Di Amore, was in need of a new creative disguise, to get some ideas out of his system. He managed to get three of his tracks on a split-album with Le Travo and his wistful song ‘November’ even became a modest radio hit. The minimalistic disposition of Fred A. was reinvented when Gerry accidentally met Gerrit Valckenaers. Upon their very first meeting, Gerrit proved himself a virtuoso on the primitive synthesizer that Gerry just had bought and G and G decided to team up. A second record was wrapped up shortly after and the tone was set.
In line with the artist inside Gerry, Fred A. was a two-faced act. His musical grasp to the new wave-movement was countered by his lyrical love for Flemish and Dutch ‘kleinkunst’, and his progressiveness as a composer was in stark contrast with his restraint as a performer. With Fred A., Gerry had unintentionally – and to his regret – manoeuvred himself into the role of frontman. This resulted in a short-lived career as a live act, with only one single gig as Fred A. in a local venue in Leuven in ’86. Somewhere below the current, Fred A. would always remain a living room project.
The often downhearted lyrics in Gerry’s songs were most of the time autobiographical. “The explicit nature of my lyrics was closely tied to my personal life. To this extent that I almost feel embarrassed when I look back at it today. I often ask myself why I needed to put things that way, but I just had to write some things off my chest.” Despite his lyrical talent, Gerry never felt like a writer, neither he ever felt like a singer. “Every single day I had 10 musical ideas welling up, but for 10 lyrical ideas it took me a year.” It caused Gerry’s productions to gradually drift towards the instrumental and after a failed attempt to reinvent his old work under a new alias, he finally drew a line under his Fred A. remnants.
‘De Angst Voorbij’ is an anthology of those remnants, with eight songs derived from the most fertile period in the musical career of Fred A. The record translates how Gerry opened up again to his late musical endeavours, recalling the 30-years younger version of himself. “The music on this record is a testimony of my life back then. It is delimited in time, that’s why this whole feels coherent to me. It shows who I was back then and what I stood for. And that’s worth cherishing.”