Casablanca Moon: from Sandwich to PIAS

At No. 5 Rue de l’Hôpital, in the center of Brussels, Casablanca Moon was more than just a record shop. Founded in 1979 by Michel Lambot, Raf Bauwens, Dominique Cornet, and Brigitte Brouillard, the store went on to become a meeting place for a great deal of Brussels-based musicians. Roger-Marc Vande Voorde from Polyphonic Size said that it was there that he met his future sidekicks Kloot per W and Jean-Marc Lederman in 1979. It was where you could also bump into Jerry (Jean-Pierre Poirier, alias Jerry Wanker, then Jerry WX), former member of Chainsaw, then guitarist for Digital Dance, and Daniel B from Front 242, who worked a bit further away on Rue du Marché au Charbon, in Hill’s Music, the musical instrument store. These meetings gave birth to the collective Oblik Mouvement, an association founded by Roger-Marc that brought together all these people around the shared fascination with the electronic experimentations of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno.

Very soon after that, in the manner of Rough Trade in London, the store expanded its business to move into concert and event organization like the First Belgian One of the most important productions from the label was the famous B9 compilationRhythm Box Contest, a festival set up by Oblik in 1981 at the Beursschouwburg. If the name brings to mind the famous First Belgian Punk Contest in March of ’78, the tonality for this one was radically electronic, and the poster, designed by Benoît Hennebert from Les Disques du Crépuscule, announced the performances of Polyphonic Size, Etat Brut, Nausea, Pseudo Code and Snowy Red, as well as the “visual ambiances” by Waving Ondulata (Guy-Marc Hinant and Frédéric Walheer, the future founders of the Sub Rosa label).

Another one of the store’s efforts in expansion was the founding of the Sandwich Records label by Michel Lambot in 1979. With Raf Bauwens, Lambot had already published singles from Red Zebra and De Brassers, but this new label was going to focus on the Belgian post-punk and electronic scenes. One of the most important productions from the label was the famous B9 compilation that brought together the best from the Belgian cold-wave movement at the beginning of the 1980s. Michel Lambot said that, being unable to put out a whole album for every group that participated, he wanted to make a showcase of that period’s underground scene with the anthology. On the record you can hear yet again all the locals from the record shop: Polyphonic Size, Digital Dance, Prothèse, the project of Daniel B, as well as Tristes Tropiques, the group formed by Erik Van den Broek with two other founders from Casablanca Moon, Raf Bauwens and Dominique Cornet. A song is also credited to Slim Jack & His Famous Cocktail, a pseudonym that Michel Lambot hid behind for this occasion.

In 1982, after 17 productions, the label had to shut down due to weak sales. The store stayed open for some time afterward until it was brought down by Sandwich Records during its own collapse, and was no longer able to pay the high rents on Rue de l’Hôpital. Michel Lambot bounced back almost immediately by establishing a new label, Play It Again Sam, four months later with new partner Kenny Gates, whom he also met when they were both customers of Casablanca Moon.

Benoit Deuxant

(photo of No. 5 Rue de l’Hôpital today by Caravane)