Bernthøler – Japanese Garden

Bernthøler – Japanese Garden // The Other (Putovski Records) 1982. Bernthøler is definitely not something I would have liked when I was a kid. I would have thought they were boring. Luckily I didn’t hear them back then. Recently I bought a compilation of all of their music entitled Merry Lines in the Sky on emusic and discovered them for the first time. Their most famous song is a track called My Suitor and is very European in the sense that it has no real connection to any US rock-n-roll tradition. The band were from Belgium and were named after a Virna Lindt song so this is no real surprise. My Suitor and the the next track on the record, Pardon Up Here is just singer Drita Kotaji and a Cello. Pardon Up Here is even better. Completely amazing pair of songs. The rest of the record is the same style but with additional instrumentation. Sort of a chamber new wave pop band that you could envision playing in cafes and tube stations. The Japanese Garden single is Bernthøler’s first single and establishes their sound quite well. Both sides of the single sound mysterious with Japanese Garden being a more surreal and lush mystery and The Other incorporating some Spy-Music elements. I think liking Bernthøler is somewhat reliant on how much one likes Drita’s strongly Albanian accented vocals. I think they are just perfect and complement the enclosed European sounds of Bernthøler perfectly. Perfect 3 AM music. With a cigarette and a glass of wine.

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3 Responses to Bernthøler – Japanese Garden

  1. Tim says:

    I loved MY SUITOR when it came out in 1984 but I seem to remember it was re-issued by a multinational label (Warner Brothers?) in 1984 in the UK, and it was a slightly different (inferior to my ears) version to the original Belgian single on Blue Feather Records — all this is from memory, but I think this is the case. My fav band at the time was THE FALL, so I am not exactly sure why I was drawn to that record. It was more like something my Mum would listen to!
    There’s a cute electronica cover version of MY SUITOR by Figurine which I like too.
    I had not heard this single though, and it sounds great, reminds me a little of Tuxedomoon, who I think were actually hanging out in Belgium at that time, which is too much of a coincidence I think.
    I don’t think anything sounds like this nowadays – a real lost gem — thanks.

  2. Joe says:

    Boy you are totally right about the Tuxedomoon comparisons, I am surprised I did not hear that….

  3. Simon says:

    Drita was indeed friend with Blaine Renninger of Tuxedomoon , but she was more influenced by Wim Mertens’s Soft Verdict for “My Suitor” . I wrote the complete score of My Suitor and played all the instruments , inspired by Eric Satie and “I am the Warlus” . Japanees Garden , as most of the Berntholer songs , is coming directly from my way of writing music in that time, searching for other harmonies than the classical or basic blues keys , major and minor . The score in Japaneese Garden does not have traditional chord , only Dim , Aug , 6th and all kind of weired chords played on my guitar. In additon to that , as music concerned , some later music were also wroten in collaboration with Manu Poutte (he is the author of “The others” were I play Saxophone) , and also with very strange dissonencies (creditet on the LTM CD)

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