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Wizards of Ooze

From the Belgian pop & rock archives:
Wizards of Ooze are a hyperfunky Belgian band based in Antwerp.

Started out in the nineties under the name "Vibes Ahead Alliance" as an epigone of the "Jazz-dance"-genre (Gilles Peterson, Young Disciples, US3, Jamiroquay, Guru ...). The core Wizards are Wim Tops and Peter Revalk, who used to play in obscure small disco-funk bands, engaging in house, techno and raggamuffin experiments. In 1992 a jazzy-song demo was received well by their record company Creastars Europe, who immediately decided to invest in a recording studio for Tops and Revalk. Their debut is the October '92 EP "The Bone", which has become a classic since. The instrumental title track was a club hit in the Benelux and Great Britain, and appeared on compilation albums in many European countries, including "Totally Wired 10" of the London record label Acid Jazz.

Due to copyright reasons, the band had to change it's name in '93. The backbone of the band remains the same, but is extended with a few extra men (who had joined the band for the live gigs as the Vibes Ahead Allstars).

Some time after that, they debut as the Wizards of Ooze with the album "The Dipster". The record turns out to be more varied than the genre, as it includes soul, fusion, and psychedelica, all backed up by monumental Moog and Hammond organs. Other trademarks of their music include the high-pitched voices of the two front-men, the unpredictable changes of pitch and tempo and moronic lyrics, which they publish as "A horse, a bucket and a spoon". Some examples :

Fuzzball :
Fuzzball, You're my Taj Mahal,
'cos you got it all, Fuzzball
Fuzzball, You're my baby doll,
And now I've got it all, Fuzzball

Big Mama :
Big Fat Mama, Big fat brother,
Big fat daddy, And they all love each other
Big mama don't need me, Big mama is fine,
She's a big killer lady, with a big black behind
Big love allmighty, And she knows what it is,
I would die, for a Big Mama kiss

Zambeezy :
The dipster is back in full zambeezy outfit
She dipped and dived and has arrived
Superzam, hyperbam the main beezy operator
And together we'll be zambofied
Hail zambeezy queen of the dipsters mother of zambo
Thy mud will be molded and thy dip will be mine
And forever we'll dip and dive

"Trippin'" and "Fuzzball" become radio-hits in 1994 and the following year they tour all over Europe. In 1996, they release their second album "Bambee!".

The album is even more varied than the first one and includes guest-vocalist Marie Daulne & Sabine Kabongo (of Zap Mama, for which band members Luk Michiels and Bruno Meeus had contributed to their album "Seven"). The album is less also less instrumental than the first one.
Some reviews : "What to expect : take the best fusion group of all times (Chick Corea's Return to Forever), the funk of James Brown, synthesizer-fun à la Tangerine Dream and even a touch of hardrock, and you'll be close. This is Flemish Zappa : cool, nervous, funny, sad, difficult, easy ... in short, not a record for those who like traditional songs and probably as uncommercial as the plague."
Or : "More than ever, the phenomenal "Bambee!" proves that versatility comes natural to the two-headed Wizards brain and it's definitely more original and creative than its predecessor "The Dipster". The dark melancholic pearl "Dusty Pieces", the first single of the album, floats on a heavy, lingering beat and takes away the unsuspecting listener's breath with a surprise offensive of violins that slash like a knife. In the sparkling, wayward "Patrice" Zap Mama leadsinger Marie Daulne reaches true vocal depths. Her band co-member Sabine Kabongo's priceless vocal cords are supreme in the sentimental ballad "Bright Day" and Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis is "vitality incarnate" on the partyfunk track "Hifi". The Wizards also flirt with hardrock and metal on the "Buttgrabba" opening track. And the 'reinforced concrete' grooves of the "Sunnycruisers" and "Phaser" tracks really hit your ears."

In 1997 they go on an extended tour again. In 1998 they are recording again and appear occasionally on the summer festivals (e.g. Jazz Bilzen Revival).

In 1999 they released a new single "Big Red Balloon". In September of that same year, the third album "Almost ... Bikini" got put out. Is is their most "poppy" album, filled with delightful melodies and funny solo's, cheezy lyrics and wonderful outbursts.

On the last days of 2000, sad news arrived: Wizards of Ooze are splitting. The band will do a club-tour in March, April and May of 2001, but then will call it a day and stop existing ...
"We had already made the decision a long time ago that when the third CD wouldn't put us in a more comfortable position we would stop. "Almost ... Bikini" hasn't reached the sales we hoped for, and the German company we were in business with has gone broke." said Wim Tops.
It's already clear that the end of the Wizard of Ooze will not necessarily mean that the cooperation between the tandem Peter Revalk-Wim Tops will end, as they are already plotting future plans in their home-studio "Weird shit again", said Tops about this.
The farewell club-tour starts on March 3 in Merelbeke, then travels to Kortrijk (De Kreun, April 12), Turnhout (Wollewei, April 19), Ieper (JOC, April 21), Leuven (Stuc, April 25), Gent (Vooruit-café, April 26), Hasselt (Muziek-o-droom, April 27), Brussel (AB-club on May 3rd) and finally Antwerp (Monty, May 6th).

(Author:Dirk Houbrechts)

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