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 Reviews -
The Vacuum Boys - Space Breakdance Challenge
May 2005

Vacuumboys are back in town

"Venga, venga, aqui vienen los Vacuumboys, imaginense a Sabrina y su Boys, Boys, Boys ahogados en una piscina californiana. Vacuum Boys ponen la musica perfecta para los funerales de la pop music. Saca los K.ways y los relojes de Public Enemy, pon Vacuum Boys en tu stereo y listos para un boom boom boom boom I want you in my room. Si buscas un par de horas encontraras unas perlas de jip jop, hip hop rugoso a miles del hip esponjoso. Una pista: no te pierdas su Space Breakdance Challenge. Tchuss y gracias Ruben! Seguimos rastreando..." (posted by olive)

Vital Weekly #431
July 2004
By: Roel Meeklop


So, here is yet another adventure of those young daredevils, the Vacuum Boys. This time they have to save earth from evil aliens, hovering in the atmosphere in their space ships, sucking up humans to feed on them. The aliens offer Earth one chance: beat them in a break dance contest and they'll leave. Of course, the Vacuum Boys were called and they won, judging by the fact that we're all still around......In good style and with very fitting design by Meeuw, this disc is filled with nine tracks, all based on early hiphop and electro beats. The tracks are short and quite simple, but all have a distinct character and keep attention focused. There are many subtle sound sources layered over the beats (most of which are sampled, I believe), the most interesting of which is actually the guitar (!!!). This instrument adds just the right amount of weird distance to the otherwise pretty clean sound. Of course, this disc is very funny, but that is not all. It is really god as well. The
length of almost 18 minutes is perfect, it never bores. Good stuff yall! (MR)
Address: www.vacuumboys.com

The Vacuum Boys Play Songs From the Sea of Love
mimaroglu music sales

fire inc. (netherlands) #f 24 cd
the vacuum boys "songs from the sea of love" compact disc

hottttt 50s euro/scandi-bubblegum combo fakeout disc from the quartet of guy amitai, gert-jan prins, heimir bj÷rg˙lfsson, and dan armstrong.  i was actually half-expecting some choice close-harmony gems the first time i put this on, despite knowing full well it would be crunched-out digital/analog hybrid free-burst electronics.  and good c-od/ahf-be at that...  in fact one of the better ensemble electro-acoustic free improv recordings in recent memory...

All Music Guide
By Franšois Couture
The Vacuum Boys
Songs from the Sea of Love

Fire Inc. (f-24)

Remember The Honeydrippers? In the early '80s, the musicians of Led Zeppelin masqueraded as the '50s nostalgia group The Honeydrippers to play covers of old rock 'n roll songs -- they had a hit with the smoochy ballad "Sea of Love." The Vacuum Boys follow the same guidelines, with two main differences. First, instead of a rock monument the name hides four musicians from the experimental electronica underground. Second, despite the claim that they are "hair-rising rock 'n roll mischief," the {Vacuum Boys} are a laptop improv quartet -- typical experimental electronica at the turn of the millennium. The packaging and marketing is impeccable.

On the cover shot the quartet is dressed in sailor get-up, the booklet includes a dime novel-type story starring The Vacuum Boys themselves (ain't that showbiz) and distributes the following credits: bass and keyboards for Guy Amitai, lead vocals and rhythm guitar for Heimir Bj÷rg˙lfsson, lead guitar for {Dan Armstrong}, and drums for Gert-Jan Prins -- check their AMG
biographies to see how ridiculously funny this all is. {Songs from the Sea of Love} (oh, that title cannot be a mere coincidence) contains 44 minutes of inspired laptop improv, noisy, challenging and rewarding. You might detect an electric guitar here, a vocal sample there, but they are
heavily treated and have nothing to do with rock. The 10-minute "All It Took Was a Single Spark" (advertised in the booklet as a hit single!) provides the highlight in the form of a maniacal avant-techno suite. Recommended as much for the music than for the irony and humor of the project.

Aquarius Review

"Join the team as they uncover the secret of the three-hundred year old Spanish mummy, solve the riddles of the scary old woman, help Gert-Jan face his fear of water, and try to save the city's pets in an adventure of endless twists and turns, laughs and rock n' roll!"
When I was younger (no seriously, much younger) I liked to read books about kids who started their own detective agencies, Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigators, that sort of thing. Indeed I tried to set myself up as a detective too (I had a fingerprint kit and a magnifying glass and even a deerstalker hat) but sadly if unsurprisingly had trouble finding clients with crimes to solve, unlike my fictional counterparts.

So I was immediately taken with this new Fire Inc. release, the booklet of which contains Episode Four of "The Secret Of The Haunted Spanish Galleon", a mystery story featuring those precocious kids turned detectives turned rock n' rollers, The Vacuum Boys. Very cleverly presented, with appropriate artwork and graphics. In reality, The Vacuum Boys aren't kids, mystery-solvers, or a rock band. They're Heimir Bjorgulfsson (of Stilluppsteypa), Girt-Jan Prins (MIMEO, solo electronics), Guy Amitai, and Dan Armstrong, and deal in electronic clicks and cuts, not clues, and certainly not rock n' roll. Sure there's guitars on here, and drums (Girt IS a real drummer we know, and Dan does guitar and electronics improv), but there's a lot of computer processing involved as well -- and maybe a Hoover. Recorded live at Prins' studio in Rotterdam February 2002, it's a noisy (but pleasantly so), chopped-up glitch-fest of crackle, distortion, whoosh, and bleep, sounding more akin to Merzbow than the Monkees.

Of the current spate of experimental electronic releases, this one is not only pretty great but definitely gets points for being packaged in such an imaginative and thankfully not over-intellectualized way. Go Vacuum Boys! We look forward to their next adventure!

Banannafish #17
by Andrew Shires

Both [Gert-Jan Prins'] RG-58-GJ and The Vacuum Boys' "Songs from the Sea of Love" (F.I.R.E. Inc.), however, are bowel-moving, high-fiber celebrations of electrogunk. The Prins solo LP is pure, un-sweetened roughage, its square wave generators providing the blocky base on which acidic enzyme squeals carve narrow ditches, eroding occasionally into grand gullies ripe for the residence of torrents of excited electrons. The Vacuum Boys, a four-piece consisting of Prins, Dan Armstrong, Guy Amitai and Stilluppstepa's Heimir Bkorgulfsson, sail in under the counterfeit flag of a rock band. Indeed, their banner is not entirely misleading, as smidgens of cheapo drum machine and highly effected guitar lurk in the corners, making for a more varied, congenially gaudy romp than Prins affords on his own.

"Whole Lotta Hoovin" and "To All the Trees" deft expectations by offering comfy seats to synthesized bass lines and psychedelic guitar solos, but shroud them behind translucent curtains sewn together, keeping them safe from quivering sea cucumbers and brine shrimp. Cruel, but necessary. Unlike "Dawn," all The Vacuum Boys' parts fit together seamlessly, like raisins and dates in an oatcake, without any discordant saccharine upsetting the palate.

Brainwashed Brain
by Andrew Shires

The Vacuum Boys, "Songs From The Sea Of Love"

The hilarious packaging for this release would have us believe they're a clean-cut, fun-loving rock'n'roll band getting into scrapes and solving mysteries Scooby Doo-style. They're actually experimental improvisers who've made a successful crack at differentiating their record from the hundreds of others which opt for a dour, minimalist presentation.

Consisting of Icelandic superstar Heimir Bjorgulfsson, of Stillupsteypa ("He's usually got the best girlfriends"), sound artist Guy Amitai ("a great addition to the club because he's a master of disguises and costumes"), MIMEO member Gert-Jan Prins ("goes to a special science camp every summer"), and guitar improviser Dan Armstrong ("I suppose that I am the one that usually gets us into trouble"), The Vacuum Boys are surely the team to clear Amsterdam's Staalplaat shop of the hauntings caused by the Carl Michael Von Hauswolff spirit communication LPs in the racks.

The Vacuum Boys sound isn't exactly rock'n'roll, but it might just be on the edge of post-rock. They're perhaps a more improv, and less serious, version of Austria's superb Radian, arranging glitch, earth-hum and white noise sounds, as well as guitar, keyboards and drums, into tracks that are abstract, but warm and friendly too. The sense of humour in the booklet is reflected so well in the music that it'd be mean to call the Vacuum Boys concept gimmicky. It's definitely a lot of fun, at least for fans of hair-raising musical experiments; maybe the girls in Amsterdam cafes will be slightly harder to impress.

Dusted Magazine
by Wilson Neate

Misrepresenting the Glitch

You shouldn't judge an album by its cover, but there are few examples of CD packaging as brilliantly deceptive as this one. Songs from the Sea of Love resembles the sort of pop artifact you might unearth in a box of old vinyl at a yard sale, lodged between Phil Phillips & the Twilights and the Crew Cuts.

Set against a pink backdrop, the black-and-white descending lettering proclaiming the band's moniker is pure kitsch, rather like a sign bearing the name of a 1950s diner. That pastiche flavor is reinforced by the black-and-white photo of the Vacuum Boys themselves. They look like a fun bunch, decked out in sailors' suits and waving to the camera from their boat. Inspection of the back cover reveals a cartoon of them playing their instruments, with credits: Guy Amitai (bass/keyboards), Gert-Jan Prins (drums/backing vocals), Heimir Bj÷rg˙lfsson (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), and Dan Armstrong (lead guitar).

But there's more: a Tin Tin-style story booklet with illustrations, featuring the lads (who, in addition to being a band, are "a rock 'n' roll detective agency"), entitled "The Vacuum Boys and the Secret of the Haunted Spanish Galleon: Episode Four." We're encouraged to "JOIN THE TEAM as they uncover the secret of the three-hundred year old Spanish mummy, solve the riddles of the scary old woman, help Gert-Jan face his fear of water, and try to save the city's pets in an adventure of endless twists and turns, laughs, and rock 'n' roll." And, as if that weren't enough, there's even an invitation to join their fan club, with promises of a free Vacuum Boys iron-on patch, autographed photos, and profiles of band members.

The supreme irony is that once you actually get to the CD itself, there's no trace of these wacky popsters and no songs of maritime romance, seafaring intrigue or nautical derring-do. In fact, there aren't any songs and there's little immediate evidence of any human presence or organic instrumentation either. Rather, Songs from the Sea of Love is an entirely improvised electronic album comprising some of the most minimal experimental fare that you're likely to hear.

Like some of Bruce Gilbert's or Aphex Twin's more demanding works, this isn't exactly easy listening. The Vacuum Boys assemble sparse, frequently jarring collages from percussive fragments, distortion, glitches, hints of melody, harsh metallic eruptions, and subtle ambient coloring.

Although the repetitious sub-rock of "I Feel Love" ľ which could never be confused with the Donna Summer number ľ offers some continuity, linear progression is rare on this album; often when the Vacuum Boys' austere, fractional soundscapes coalesce into sustained patterns, they're interrupted or terminated relatively quickly.

Indeed, listening to Songs from the Sea of Love is sometimes like skipping from station to station every few seconds on an old transistor radio with poor reception, one that receives only stations dedicated to varieties of electronic noise. It's one of those records that might prompt the age-old parental question/reproach: "You call that music?" To which you can reply, "No dad, it's...er...art, actually."

But that's not to say that Songs from the Sea of Love is overly cerebral and affectless. On the contrary, it could be argued that the Vacuum Boys' machine-based exploration of sound is wholly playful: this album's fragmented, structureless structures; its discontinuous, chaotic narratives; its apparent lack of logic; its perverse delight in the multiple possibilities of noise; and its emphasis above all on process are the sonic embodiment of the spirit of human play.

Some of the longer, more expansive tracks offer the most intriguing accounts of the Vacuum Boys' experimental methodology. The epic "All It Took Was a Single Spark" keeps listeners on their toes with all manner of busy, jittery ingredients, including snatches of a vocodered voice recalling Sparky's Magic Piano and what sounds like a tape recorder rewinding at high speed. (The liner notes would have us believe that this track is a single....) Especially compelling is "To All the Trees": deconstructed funk played through blown, shorting-out speakers, with a song buried underneath, and rounded off with the ghost of a heavy metal guitar solo.

Ultimately, the tongue-in-cheek packaging of this CD isn't as deceptive as it first seems. The invitation to "Join the Vacuum Boys on an another hair-raising adventure" does have something to do with the listener's experience of Songs from the Sea of Love. This is an adventure of sorts: you don't know what's going to happen next and you can never anticipate the sonic shocks or surprises lurking around the corner. Unfortunately, however, the mysterious disappearance of the Vacuum Boys' parrot is not solved and Gert-Jan doesn't face his fear of water. Still, there's always the next episode.

Incursion Music Review
by Richard di Santo

Wonderfully packaged like an innocent pop album from the fifties, Songs from the Sea of Love is the new release from the Vacuum Boys, bringing you intrigue and rock n' roll from the far reaches of the imagination. The team consists of Guy Amitai, Gert-Jan Prins, Heimir Bj÷rg˙lfsson and Dan Armstrong. Of course, this isn't a real rock n' roll album (after all, we're dealing with a group of artists with a penchant for electronic experimentalism), but the entire concept of this project, from the package design and track titles right down to the music contained within, plays with the idea of rock n' roll in a light-hearted yet complex manner. The boys sample, cut up, and turn inside out samples of guitar, voice, drums, bass, arranging them alongside electronic tones and textures, creating these new asymmetrical structures, rhythms, melodies. There are some fascinating tensions and compelling arrangements here, each track presents its own world of ideas, all the while keeping things light and free from all pretension.  Also in the packaging is an amusing detective story titled "The Vacuum Boys and the Secret of the Haunted Spanish Galleon." This one's not to be missed.

Noize Concept Review
by Stefan Beck

Afraid of noise music? No reason if you start with this CD from Dutch group "Vacuum Boys". These fab four from prominent Amsterdam noise backgrounds will introduce you to the art of noise on a smooth and mellow way. Indeed, the first easy listening noise ever. They even have "lead and backing vocals"!
Soft Secrets 2002-5
Door: Arjan van Sorge
VACUUM BOYZ: Songs From The Sea Of Love
Fire Inc.

Een jongensclubje met spannende verhalen en een zoektocht naar een verdwenen schat, zo willen de heren ons doen geloven. De voorkant van de cd-hoes laat een gezellig bootje zien waar ze lachend in hebben plaatsgenomen, vriendelijk verpakt in echte matrozenuniformpjes; de achterkant bevat een treffende tekening van onze zeewolfjes van Wilf Plum.

Niets is minder waar, want voor dit project hebben enkele grootheden uit de Amsterdamse noise-scene hun apparatuur gebundeld ľ Heimir Bj÷rgg˙lfsson, Guy Amitai, Gert-Jan Prins en Dan Armstrong. De ritmes zijn afgepast en afgekapt, kaal, als een cd vol fouten en haperingen ľ wat het behoorlijk spannend maakt: iedere toon een sonische verrassing.

Vital Weekly
by Roel Meelkop

The Vacuum Boys are on their way to a new adventure and this is part one of it. Their Rock 'n Roll Detective Agency will unravel the mysteries of the Haunted Spanish Galleon without any doubt, I am sure. So yes, the cover and booklet are hilarious and very well put together. Heimir Bj÷rg˙lfsson, Guy Amitai, Gert-Jan Prins and Dan Armstrong have been touring extensively last year and this CD is the edited result thereof. It takes a while for the record to get into the groove, but then it rocks.

The flirtation with rock 'n roll is not just a cover gimmick, it extends to the music as well. Samples of guitars and voices build up something akin to a rock song.  But the Vacuum Boys wouldn't be the Vacuum Boys if they didn't suck the roll out of the rock, so that we are dealing with electronic music after all. This play with a known format basically runs through the whole record and is very well done indeed. The Boys avoid obvious traps and establish themselves as the embodiment of the new laptop generation (with a lot of excellent choices). Deftly they manoeuver through seemingly opposite musical languages and make port in a new world. An excellent release. (MR)

Last Updated - 01 January 2008, ę The Vacuum Boys