04 December 2012A Factory Benelux Story
How did it come about?
When the Shadowplayers book was published in 2010, Peter Saville and I discussed some sort of umbrella organisation to protect and preserve the Factory legacy, rather than the logos, brand, heritage and so forth being used willy-nilly. Something like the Bauhaus Foundation.
That led to the formation of a new company, Factory Records Limited - which in turn led to a lengthy negotiation with WMG... After more than two years all we'd manage to achieve was a double vinyl reissue of Fact 90, and the Polite postcard and badge editions. From the outset we tried to involved Alan Erasmus and several other interested parties, but it just proved unworkable - rather like New Order and Hooky have proved unworkable in recent years.
So Peter and I gave up, really. It was like trying to raise the Titanic. And as the old joke goes, it might have been easier to lower the Atlantic.
What I would say is, the moment you wave the Factory flag and stick your head above the parapet, all sorts of nutters break cover and start firing potshots. Life's too short.
Anyway, I didn't want to cancel the Factory music reissue projects I had in mind, and earlier in 2012 I'd already issued the limited edition vinyl album of Short Stories for Pauline by The Durutti Column, with the blessing of Michel Duval. Since that edition was favourably received, I figured why not carry on with Factory Benelux.
Who is behind it?
Me, and the participating artists. I obtained the FBN name and logos from Michel in exchange for a donation to the Christie Hospital in Manchester, who looked after Tony Wilson at the end. It seemed like an appropriate gesture. Annik Honoré gave the idea her blessing too. Plus, on a personal level, I'm a lot more comfortable working with the Factory Benelux brand, because I worked with Michel in Brussels for several years between 1989 and 1991, whereas I was never directly involved with Factory Records in Manchester.
FBN is also a nice way of returning the Factory marque to come key recordings, without actually calling it Factory. Like the original FBN, it retains a sense of distance and otherness.
What other reissues do you have planned?
They're editions, dear boy. It's a mixture of CDs and vinyl, mostly remastered and with upgraded artwork. So Swimming by The Names gains their Peel session, the Crispy Ambulance album the original De Roeck artwork, and so on. The booklets are mainly visual, usually period photography and satellite artwork, without too much in the way of sleevenotes.
We've expanded LC by The Durutti Column into a double disc edition, because Vini was so prolific at the time, and very little that he recorded was filler.
All the CDs will come in a special FBN slipcase also - at least if you order direct from us. It proved a bit difficult trying to apply a generic slipcase to shop copies. All sorts of tedious issues with barcodes etc, plus it obscures some rather nice original artwork, which is somewhat counter-productive.
The Blurt vinyl is interesting. Live In Berlin should have come out as a 10" (FBN 5 or 6, depending on which archive source you consult) in 1981, but then Ted got a better offer from Armageddon, who released In Berlin as a standard 12" live album. To fit all 8 tracks on, we've had to include a bonus 7" as well. That costs way more to press than a 12", but a 12" would be a bit boring, and not true to the original FBN concept. Plus a 10" really suits Blurt's music well. There's a kind of faux jazz sleevenote from Chris Bohn also. It'll probably lose money!
Will you be releasing any wholly new material?
Yes, the new Section 25 album Dark Light will be on FBN, as will their limited 7" single for Record Store Day in April 2013. Peter Saville kindly provided the cover image and the title for the album. There will also be a vinyl edition of the recent Wake album A Light Far Out, again for RSD.
It's important to stress that all 'new' FBN releases are new editions through, not simply facsimiles of the original releases and formats. That would be misleading, and plain dull. Instead it's high-end antique futurism. From Belgium. Kinda sorta.
Many thanks to James Nice.
Spotlight - Wim Mertens
Wim Mertens (born 14 May 1953) is a Belgian minimalist and contemporary-classical composer and instrumentalist.
His earlier work on Les Disques du Crepuscule was recorded under the name Soft Verdict, with key material that includes For Amusement Only (composed using pinball and arcade machines), Vergessen and Struggle For Pleasure, both of which contain several tracks used on the Belly Of An Architect soundtrack
Mertens's later material has typically been a mixture of solo-piano, vocal/piano and string/woodwind-ensemble recordings, some of which have included works comprised of multiple CDs and intricate repetitive cycles.
His key works, most of it initially released on Crepuscule then later licensed to EMI Benelux, include A Man Of No Fortune And With A Name To Come, Educes Me and Jeremiades.
Biography by Paul Pledger - with thanks.
Wim Mertens - Selected Discography