Friday, August 30, 2013

RIP Karel Van Bergen (The Features)

Confirmed by Simon Grigg (via Twitter) "Cantankerous bugger, but often warm and wise. I'll miss you heaps Karel Van Bergen. RIP". He passed away in Munich, Germany, on August 28th, 2013.

Van Bergen was a member of acclaimed Auckland 1980s post-punk band The Features, alongside Jed Town, James Pinker and Chris Orange.

back cover of Features debut single

From Audioculture's story on The Features: "Drawing from the likes of Public Image Ltd, Wire, the emerging New York no-wave movement and Town's passion for late period Beatles, The Features offered a far more experimental and jagged sound than most of their peers and were instantly popular, drawing strong crowds at Liberty Stage, XS CafĂ©, the Rock HQ and the assorted hall gigs that were increasingly regular weekend events in the city...

... In late September, 1980, Jed Town left for Sydney, thus effectively ending the band, however four songs from the Harlequin sessions were mixed by James Pinker and Simon Grigg. These were issued as the numbered limited edtion The Perfect Features Exposed 12-inch EP in December. Town returned for the release of the record but soon returned to Sydney.

Van Bergen and Pinker followed Town across the Tasman early in the new year. In Sydney, James Pinker played with SPK (Van Bergen would tour the US with them); Town would form Fetus Productions, initially with Van Bergen, Pinker and others, and later ICU.

In the UK from 1982, James Pinker was a member of Dead Can Dance and played with The Jesus And Mary Chain.

Karel Van Bergen was later in The Band Of Holy Joy in the UK (with former Proud Scum member John 'Atrocity' Jenkins), recording several albums for Rough Trade, then moving to Germany in the 2000s. He passed away in Munich on August 28th, 2013.

Despite their brief lifespan and handful of releases, The Features are repeatedly named as a primary influence by many acts that followed them, breaking down, as they did, the barriers that had been constructed by the first and second waves of New Zealand punk."

Chris Orange, Karel Van Bergen, Jed Town, James Pinker. Photo by Peter Cathro

From Amplifier: "Auckland punk band who in their brief time on the scene managed to get to number 32 on the singles chart and have their video to Secret (a twisted version of The Beatles' Do You Want to Know a Secret) banned because it featured the group throwing bodies off Grafton Bridge onto the motorway.

Their single City Scenes/Secret/Police Wheels was recorded at Mascot Studios for $1100 and sold about 1000 copies over three or four weeks. City Scenes was featured on the [1993 reissue of] 1980 punk compilation AK79."

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