Graham Reid | | 1 min read
A decade before Prince became TAFKAP (The Artist Formerly Known As Prince) and adopted an odd symbol instead of a name, this band of mysterious origins also did the same.
They insisted their name was the even more odd pictogram which appeared on the cover of their Doot Doot single, but at the counter-insistence of their record company CBS they had to adopt a name people could pronounce -- hence Freur.
Their beguilingly electronica single Doot Doot (see clip below) had just the slightest touch of New Wave pop about it and that was more than enough to take them into the far recesses of the brain. But the killer punch was their video (MTV was new then, everyone was entranced by pop clips) which showed them in odd clothes and one of them playing an unusual instrument.
The rumour was that they were from Iceland -- this was before Jaz Coleman went there, before the Sugarcubes/Bjork and latterly Sigur Ros. Iceland was odd, mysterious, remote and basically nowhere. So the Freur story just kind of grew.
The flipside of the Doot Doot single was this, in which they introduced themselves in a sonically manipulated piece and one of them adopted an accent which suggested they were German (or Icelandic?). But not really.
At other points it was clear they were from England or Wales (where they formed, an early version of Doot Doot was sung in Welsh, see here).
In fact among the six-piece were Karl Hyde, Rick Smith, Alfie Thomas and Bryn Burrows who later went on to form the first version of the techno outfit Underworld, Hyde and Smith resurrecting the name for the more successful second edition. (Suggestions of early Underworld you can hear in the Hold Me Mother which follows the babble here).
But it was in odd clothes and instruments -- and the what's-that? electro-sound of Doot Doot -- which first got them a foot on the rung of fame. They released two albums before splitting.
Doot Doot went on to become a cult classic (it appears in soundtracks, most recently Vanilla Sky) and every now and again it conjures up nostalgia for a sound that never went away.
Those crazy Icelandics, huh?
For more oddities, one-offs or songs with a backstory see From the Vaults.