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by François Zappa

Normally the only positive thing you get out of a vacation is a good tan and some peace. This is not the case for Jean-Marie Aerts and Dirk Da Davo who have recorded a new EP during their holidays meeting in Fuerteventura. They won’t be as tanned as, let’s say, Julio Iglesias but, instead, they have recorded four fantastic new tracks to which they have added a collaboration they did together in 1996 and that appeared on the first solo EP of the legendary guitarist of TC Matic. You can listen and download 23 on the Neon Electronics leader’s bandcamp.

23 is the second work of the couple of old friends, after Oceaned released in 2020 on the Dancedelicd label. The two musicians have already known each other for a long time, since Jean-Marie collaborated in the production of several of The Neon Judgement‘s albums. The friendship between the two of them continued until our days when Jean-Marie, still quite active in the music scene as you can read in the interview we did with him a few months ago, started to visit Dirk Da Davo who is currrently living in Fuerteventura. There, in the Belgian musician’s studio they started to rehearse and improvise. After the vacations, Da Davo would lock himself in the studio and add vocals, rhythms and details until the songs were finished. That’s how Oceaned was born and also its continuation.

Knowing the context, let’s go through the tracks. You can feel the summer spirit and that they are having a good time in the funky “Touch the monkey” that opens the EP. Jean-Marie Aerts commented that it reminds him of Sly and The Family Stone but there is also some of the more synthetic funk of the eighties. The track features an infectious rhythm, good guitars, lots of details and a great chorus. “Trouble In Paradise” is closer to the line that Da Davo has followed in his last works, a quite peculiar western sound. The song features a heartfelt performance by Da Davo in the chorus and guitars that transport you directly to the desert. “Treasures” is a proof that musicians with such a long career still can manage to make a really cool track. It is a quite striking song, especially for the structure: at the very beginning of the song we have Da Davo singing the first verse, but then follows a more “jam” part during almost a minute until he comes back with the second verse and chorus. The fun rhythm and guitars of “Duck and Dive” are the first thing that gets your attention in this catchy song that you won’t get out of your head for days. But, without a doubt, the most surprising composition is “Wow Ze Wow”, from Jean-Marie Aerts‘ first EP released as JMX in 1996. It’s an original electronic dance track in which he demonstrates his interest in dub music! In this day when so much old material is being re-released and recovered, let’s hope that a label with vision will release this track on vinyl.

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