Aroma Di Amore is/was Belgian’s premier cult band. Since the early eighties ADA innovatively combined electronics with rock. With a mix of razor-sharp Flemish lyrics and unconventional song structures the group earned a cult status in Belgium and abroad. 40 years later they conclude their career with a few last concerts and a vinyl box set spanning the years 1983-1987.
At the notorious Rock Rally of 1982 Aroma Di Amore stands out with their wonderful handling of the Flemish language, a deep bass, typical cold new wave drums, biting guitar riffs with the occasional flavor of absolute madness. Frontman Jos Verlooy adopts the stage name Elvis Peeters. The explanation for this remarkable pseudonym choice: in 1977 – the period of the singer's musical awakening – one of the two famous rocking Elvises (not Costello, but Presley) succumbs to his pill addiction. So, dixit Verlooy, there is an Elvis vacant. A banal surname belongs next to that exotic first name. A combination that breathes rock 'n' roll, according to the singer.
His companion Gerry Vergult – who very much determines the sound with his metallic riffs, somewhat indebted to Jean-Marie Aerts – adopts the stage name Fred Angst. Completely in line with the depressing zeitgeist of the 1980s. Gerry eats and breathes music. Besides composing most of ADA’s songs, he records & self-produces a few fantastic dark en loner solo minimal wave tracks as Fred Angst. He is still musically active, more towards the electronic leftfield nowadays under the moniker Zool.
It is clear from an early age that companion Elvis Peeters possesses the gift of the word. As an adolescent he published the punkzine “Dus”. The punk spirit stimulates Peeters. He begins to transform the poetry that he has been entrusting to paper for some time into song lyrics. It is on a whim and without any stage experience that punk friends Peeters and Angst register for the Rock Rally as Aroma di Amore. On a bed of post-punk and cold wave (Joy Division, Wire and Sisters of Mercy are the main influences), they initially let out playful, minimalist and nonsensical slogans such as "Doe De Mafia" (1982) and "Gorilla Dans De Samba" (1983). Later on, the tone becomes more serious, although Peeters' choice of words continues to show a penchant for absurdism and sarcasm. No one in Dutch songwriting imitates this verbal elasticity, certainly at that time.
The numerous songs about war are downright horrifying. In the 1980s, an arms race is underway. When the Belgian government decides to install nuclear missiles in 1981, Aroma di Amore asks for one minute of silence in the hall during performances. In "Lauwe Oorlog" (1983), Peeters exposes the core of his unrest: “paraat voor de parade / de vrede wordt begraven / met militaire eer”. To this day, the frontman of AdA still proudly wears his at least 30 year old 'atomic energy, no thanks!' button.
In 1984 Aroma releases Koude Oorlog on the new and independent Brussels label Play It Again Sam. The traditional press and radio ignore the record, but in the alternative circuits the mini-album does not go unnoticed, and the group starts to build a solid fan base, resulting in more and more offers for gigs. There's also interest in the Netherlands, and due to the international contacts of PIAS, the record also ends up in France, Switzerland, Spain and Canada.
Encouraged by this modest success, the group returns to the studio for a 12" single. With new group member Frits De Cauter on sax, they record "Voor De Dood". To this day, Voor De Dood remains the most popular AdA song, as evidenced by the countless compilations on which the song has appeared.
AdA goes to the Netherlands to record their next album “De Sfeer Van Grote Dagen”. The people from Nasmak have built a new studio in Eindhoven and one of the members, Theo Van Eenbergen (later Henry Rollins), will be the producer. “De Sfeer Van Grote Dagen” is the group's most adventurous album, and the reviews are again unanimously favorable. However, sales are disappointing and PIAS proposes to recruit Chris Reed of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and record a new single with him. "Zonder Omzien" is recorded at the prestigious Pyramid Studio. However, PIAS is waiting to release the album and in the meantime AdA is recording a number of extra tracks with producer Ludo Camberlin, including "Koekoek In De Stad". Towards the end of the year, Lo and Elvis travel to Africa for a few months and as a result the group comes to a standstill. In this period, Zonder Omzien is released.
At the beginning of 1986, Peeters and Meulen return, and Andrea Smits leaves the group. Luc Pillards is hired as a replacement, and when Ludo Camberlin presents himself as a new label boss and producer (Anything But Records), they start recording their first full album for the label. “Harde Feiten" kicks in immediately, and the group is back up to cruising speed. In the first week of release, the record even appears in the bestseller list of the record stores.
At the beginning of 1987 the recordings for the second album start, this time in a production by Peeters and Angst themselves. Shortly after the shooting, AdA goes to Switzerland for a short but successful tour, with Men 2nd and Cas & Organized Crime as support act. "Koudvuur" is published in the autumn and considered to be their strongest record so far by the group, the reactions are rather low. Both the reviews in the press and the sales are disappointing and put a damper on the joy. Nevertheless, the group is invited to perform in Valencia, Spain, where they have an unexpected success.
MUTANT SOUNDS BLOG
Aroma Di Amore have always been outsiders, even within the confinement of the alternative rock circuit. Their peculiar blend of raw guitars, electronics, Dutch lyrics and unconventional song structures was too hybrid for many. Those howewer who, without prejudice, would lend an ear to the band's music, discovered an energetic, authentic and uncompromising collective that stood above all trends. While so many Belgian "connaisseurs" had their doubts about the possibilities of international recognition for a band singing in Dutch, Aroma Di Amore toured France, Switzerland and Spain; their records figured in alternative charts from Poland to Canada.
From beginning to end the nucleus of Aroma Di Amore consisted of Elvis PEETERS, who in a inimitable, possessed way delivered his highly original lyrics, and Fred ANGST, guitarist mastering the heaviest riffs as well as refined tapestries of sound. Furthermore, the line-up varied throughout the band's carreer with:- H.K. (Guitarist from 1982 until 1983)- Andrea SMITS (Organ from 1982 until 1985)- Luc PILLARDS (Synthsizer in 1986)- Jan WANDELAAR (Guitar and synthesizer in 1986)- Pulcherie (Saxophone in 1983)- Wout DOCKX (Bass from 1987 until 1988)and especially- Lo MEULEN (Bass from 1983 until 1987)and the late Frits DE CAUTER (Saxophone from 1984 until 1986)contributing to the music.