Post-(Clan of) XYMOX - Vaselyn, Hypercycle, Born for Bliss (Biography Part 5/5)

{jcomments off}anka_irainThis final part of the biography deals with musical projects by Anka, Pieter and Frank (including interview) after their split with XYMOX (hier zum deutschen Text)


Anka Wolbert

After her exit from XYMOX Anka began working on a new project called 'Bud', with Toni Halliday, who had also just split with her band, Curve. In 1994 Anka signed a publishing deal with Anxious Records [1] (ran by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics), but Anka decided to go her own way and the 'Bud' project did not materialise in a release. [2] After re-working her songs, she signed a development contract with 4AD in 1995. Everything seemed to be developing in a very promising way, so she convinced Pieter to join her in London. "Pieter and I still carried that special 'something' in our musical collaboration stemming from the XYMOX days; It just seemed obvious (...) It was self-evident to me we should be doing this together and I was hoping for his and my input to merge musically. This struck me as a wonderful recipe." [3Pieter also brought a number of tracks with him, and in 1996, under the name "Vaselyn", they signed a major recording contract with 'The Enclave' label [4], a subsidiary of EMI NY. But once again the dark side of the major music industry showed its ugly face; in 1997 EMI Music folded the Enclave label into Virgin Records. [5, 6] Consequently Vaselyn lost their A&R manager whilst still recording their album and, stopped in their tracks, a waiting game enfolded. Eventually, on their manager's advice, they successfully sued 'The Enclave' to exit the contract and get back the rights to their songs. Ultimately, of course, this meant the album did not get released. [2]

Both Anka and Pieter withdrew from the music industry for years, and it took a getting-together with Sophie Zeyl for them to return. Anka and Sophie founded I-Rain Records in 2006, and Anka finally released a solo album, "Cocoon Time". In her compilation of songs Anka consciously decided to take the most intimate versions and omit the 'bombastic' recordings made for EMI. [3] And so "Cocoon Time" is an intimate, warm album with minimalistically arranged songs which fit perfectly with Anka's gentle vocals. At the same time, together with Pieter, Anka produced Sophie Zeyl's debut album, "Two Ways of Running". Unfortunately, Anka's musical return was this short period of time only. She has not released or produced any more music since. [7]

Pieter Nooten
nooten-4_200pxPieter, who had long been dissatisfied with the musical development of XYMOX, now turned to techno / house music. He was the resident producer of One4Two studios in Amsterdam and released music as part of Hyper Cycle Production (i.a. Alfred Bos, Anniki Sommerville, Tino Nooten), under various pseudonyms, such as Cyberia and First Contact. "Hyper-Cycle was a great time. We used to put out 12-inches almost every week. We knew some of the DJ's playing at the infamous Roxy in Amsterdam at the time. Seeing them trying out our tracks on a real audience was fantastic. We would stand on the balcony watching the crowd and when they responded in a certain way to some remix, we would go back to the studio and change things accordingly. Dance music always intrigued me because of the possibilies of extreme experimentation combined with blant, brutal banality. " [8] Hyper Cycle produced house, techno and ambient 12 inches, which still contain much of the euphoric mood and experimental joy of the early 90s. Apart from that, it produced yearning dance tracks ("Seizing the Moment," "I Call Upon") which sounded like a logical development of the idea of "Dream House" (XYMOX - At The End Of The Day, 12 ", 1991). The 'Hyper Cycle Vegetarian Picnic' compilation gives a good idea of the music produced between 1992 and 1994, also containing the remarkable 12 inches "I Call Upon", "Albatross" and "Open Up".

First Contact - I Call Upon (leider zu Beginn im Video-Soundspur-Destruction-Mix)

Becoming tired of dance music, in 1995 Pieter moved to London to work on music with Anka as "Vaselyn". After Vaselyn he took an extended musical break, only writing occasional songs for theater, film and art projects, before he and Anka appeared on the scene in 2005 as part of I-Rain Records and producer of Sophie Zeyl's debut album. In 2006, his ambient solo album "Ourspace" (I-Rain Records, 2006) was released, a compilation of forgotten and unpolished tracks. In 2010 Pieter released "Here Is Why" (Rocket Girl) which represented his idea of electronic chamber music; remarkable music in the spirit of the Mortail Coil projects; minimalist, intense and with a fragile beauty. 

Frank Weyzig
bornforblissIn 1994, Frank started Born for Bliss with Willem van Antwerpen (also Wim Anvers) and Remco Herbers (ex-The Dreamside). A self-titled demo CD reached the Ruhr region in the same year, thanks to old XYMOX contacts. Contrary to the music XYMOX was making at this time, the sound of Born for Bliss dispayed a lot of 80s-Wave flair without relying on modern sample sounds and beats. The way of playing and the sound of Remco's Chapman Stick brought a very special dimension to Born for Bliss's sound.

Their first EP, "Arabia" (Nuclear Blast), instantly brought Born for Bliss their biggest success; the title track was a seductive, dynamic song, combining the melancholy of 80s and dynamics of the 90s. The single was a real club hit, and found its way into the German Alternative Charts. In 1997, the debut album "Flowing With The Flue" (Nuclear Blast, 1997), in its intro not unjustly characterised as "a Wave album for the 90s". [9] 

The second album "Between Living and Dreaming" was scheduled to appear in 1999 but differences with management and the record company resulted in Born for Bliss dissolving. The already-mixed album was never released. After the split of Born for Bliss Weyzig Frank and Remco Helbers continued working as Stargaze Project and Frank began working with White Rose Transmission. Born for Bliss's second album "Between Living and Dreaming" was released in 2010 via Echo zone, including as bonus material the track, "Dragon", which Frank wrote in 1985 during his time in XYMOX. Encouraged by the good reviews of the album, Born for Bliss continued working on new songs.

What was the motivation for you to reunite B4B?
After I joined White Rose Transmission we released the album ‘Spiders in the Mind Web’ on German Label Echozone. There I got in touch with label owner Jörg Tochtenhagen. He knew about my early work with Xymox and Born For Bliss and I suggested him to listen to the (at that time never before released) album ‘Between Living & Dreaming’.

After recording this album with Born For Bliss in 1999, the band split up due to all kinds of problems with our former management and record company. At that time, frustrated as I was with the whole business, I just gave up and never found the energy to do a final effort to release the album. Until one night, while I was working in my studio on one of the WRT tracks, I stumbled on these long forgotten B4B files on my hard drive. After playing some of the tracks, I was stunned about the freshness and the dynamics of the songs. Just one thought entered my mind… This album deserves a second chance!

And that’s what happened. Jörg decided to release the album after all on Echozone (2010)… From that point on we received numerous good reviews and I started to notice that there is still interest in Born For Bliss. That’s when I decide to blow some new life into the band. I contacted Remco and Willem and now we are writing new material for a follow up album…

B4B are working on new material. What can you tell us about this new songs and your plans for the future?
Well.. we’re in the middle of the writing process so it’s difficult to already pinpoint a certain sound or direction. All I can say is that we stay pretty close to the style that we made our own on the two previous albums… Maybe there will be some more psychedelic influences on the album this time... Perhaps the best way to describe our new music is; psychedelic wave with melodic guitars, dark layers of keyboards and expressive vocals…

There’s a slight change in approach this time. On the previous albums Remco played the Chapman Stick and I did all the guitars, keyboards and vocals. Now Remco will play the bass guitar instead of the Stick and some extra guitar and keyboard parts as well… Willem will do all the drums, percussion and drum programming. Hopefully we will finish writing and recording in the beginning of 2012 and do a fresh album release. We’re also preparing rehearsals to do some gigs later this year…

Was the label "ex-XYMOX" a blessing or a curse for the career of B4B?
Well, to be honest…. It was more a curse than a blessing. From the moment our debut album “Flowing with the Flue’ was released, every first question that came up in an interview had to do with Xymox… Even in reviews of our album they wanted to look for parallels with Xymox so hard, that they almost forgot to judge our music in a more objective way. Of course we were not Xymox. And I certainly never had the intention to be a Xymox clone. Our music is totally different. Fortunately we also had many good reviews and we did quite a few gigs in Germany that were received very well. So we got the attention that was needed to enter high in the German Alternative charts after all.

Another thing I remembered from that period was the fact that I was misquoted a couple of times. Especially in an interview I did for a German music magazine. I think it was Orkus… Again I was asked about my Xymox past and they asked me what my role has been on the first Xymox album. So I told them that I was most known for my guitar solo in ‘Cry in the Wind’ and that I mainly played some basic keyboard parts besides the great stuff that Pieter had played. There translation in German was something like this; ‘Frank played the main keyboard parts on the album’, which of course was totally wrong translated. There were more misquotes that I can’t remember anymore. Anyway, later Ronny read those interviews and I could be wrong but I feel that since then he did everything to jeopardize my Born For Bliss career and even tried to wipe me out of the Xymox history completely ;-)

How did you become a member of White Rose Transmission? Can you describe your current role there?

"White Rose Transmission" started in 1995 as a collaboration between Carlo van Putten (at that time vocalist of The Convent; now the singer of Dead Guitars) and Adrian Borland (front man of English 80's cult band The Sound). WRT did two album releases with the input and help of different collaborating artists such as Marty Wilson Piper (The Church), Mark Burgess (The Chameleons) and Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls). After the sudden death of co-founder Adrian Borland in 1999, WRT came to a halt until 2006 when Carlo decided to pick up things again and released the songs he wrote together with his friend Rob Keijzer on the third WRT album "Bewitched and Bewildered".

For the next album Rob Keijzer got in touch with me. Rob and I are long time friends and he thought it to be a good idea to hook me up with WRT. Maybe coincidence, or just faith, but I was also a huge Adrian Borland fan myself and liked the idea of doing live gigs and working together with Rob and Carlo on a follow up album for White Rose Transmission. So I joined in as producer and band member. In 2009 we did some live gigs in Germany. Later in the spring of 2010 i finished the final recordings and the production for the fourth WRT album "Spiders in the Mind Web" on German label ECHOZONE. This coming spring we also release a WRT Live album “Spinning Webs at Night”…

After the split of B4B you've started with Remco the Stargaze Project. What is the significance of this project besides B4B and WRT?

After a couple of years of silence, somewhere around 2006 me and Remco decided to join forces again to produce new music. For that new project, the main source of inspiration was the Internet. Inspired by the many mysteries of our modern times; conspiracies, alien abductions, ufo encounters and other strange events, we started to search on the internet for unusual sounds and strange recordings. These elements give shape to the StarGazing Project in a very peculiar way....

About the project:
While searching the Internet, we came across a spoken interview in which a woman claims to be abducted by aliens. This interview triggered the initial idea for the StarGazing project. The song (Stargazing) that was build around the audio recording of this interview, reflects the mood and state of mind of the woman, who is clearly emotionally affected by the experience... Writing the music for the album, it became clear that all the songs were breathing this same strange emotion. Even the lyrics are being affected in the same way and drift seamlessly from dream to reality. After editing, mixing and placing the songs in a particular order, there appears to be an underlying storyline. The story of a woman who seems to have lost her grip on reality. A story being told from the perspective of the woman's friend. But, is this woman really losing grip on reality after all?...

About the music:
The basic idea was to combine traditional songwriting with modern techniques as sampling and sounds aping. The drums, for instance, consist of chopped up live performances which were later edited and manipulated on the computer. On the album the different songs are connected with sounds capes composed on Chapman Stick using modern looping - techniques. This technique, based on long digital delays, also appears throughout the actual songs.

All the sampler sounds were painstakingly crafted to fit every song and to blend with the live played instruments as acoustic guitar, loops and vocals. Although many of the songs seem to have an electronic basis, the main chord and melody instrument appears to be the acoustic guitar. This unusual approach gives the music it's unique characteristics….
The album ‘Stargazing’ will be released in May 2011 on Echozone.

You've founded a new music platform for independent artists called with Turmoil Music.  What's the concept of Turmoil Music?
Turmoil Music is based on a music network for independent musicians (Indie / Alternative / New wave / Electronic / Ambient / Other). No annoying charts or rankings. Just free web space to promote bands or music projects.

As a musician and long time user of open music platforms such as ‘Myspace’, I started to get more and more annoyed by the everlasting growing list of other musicians trying to get my attention. Instead of getting attention from my true fans, my message board was overflowing with links to music releases and other stuff I didn’t ask for from musicians all over the world, trying to get a top position on the ranking list… Most of the time their music didn’t appeal to me at all and not seldom these same musicians were cheating by using automated click bots to have more audio plays showing up in their embedded audio players and a higher count of profile views on their home pages…
This fact together with the also annoying advertisements that showed up on my own page made me decide to try something new… Setting up a new Independent Networking site dedicated to Professional Independent Artists with a similar view and approach on Independent Music… This is the reason why Turmoil Music is only accessible by invitation or by direct request. My goal is to gather a cool family of artists coming from the same corner of "Alternative" music with the same ideas and philosophy about independent music...

On Turmoil Music you will find no advertisements and no charts and best of all it’s totally free! As a supplement to our ‘ReverbNation’ label and our ‘Facebook’ page, Turmoil Music offers a strong tool to promote music and a means to collaborate with other fellow musicians. A tool that does not have to suffer from the heavy traffic and comments from other non musicians….

part 1: Subsequent Pleasures (1983 - 1985)
part 2: Medusa (1986-1987)
part 3: Imagination (1988 - 1991)
part 4: Metamorphosis (1992 - 2001)

[1] Wikipedia: Anxious Records -, retrieved: 09.11.2011.
[2} Mic: Anka Wolbert "In a mad devotional style" -, 2005, retrieved: 27.02.2011
[3] Manfred Zippel: Anka "Ex-Clan of Xymox" - Black, 45/2006
[4] Wikipedia: The Enclave (record label) -, retrieved: 09.11.2011.
[5] "EMI records label in New York closes down". 14.07.1997, Jet.,, retrieved: 09.11.2011
[6] EMI Records Closed; Many Artists in Limbo - Billboard, 28.07.1997,, retrieved: 09.11.2011
(7) Mic: Pieter Nooten "To be honest I never listened to pop music" -, 2010, retrieved: 27.02.2011
(8) Mic: Pieter Nooten "Ourspace",, 2006, retrieved: 27.02.2011
(9) unknown: Born for Bliss "Flowing With The Flue" - Intro #45, Juni 1997,, retrieved: 28.02.2011

unruhr-Interview Ronny Moorings 2004
unruhr-Interview Anka 2005
unruhr-Interview Pieter Nooten 2006
unruhr-Interview Pieter Nooten 2010
unruhr-Interview Bert Barten 2010
unruhr-Tongrube: XYMOX - Blind Hearts