Originally released in January 1980, the second album from (Crammed founder) Marc Hollander’s band was more intense and experimental than Aksak Maboul’s debut album, yet often as playful. Containing complex written sections, free improv, and a wild variety of elements, Bandits was recorded with a band comprising revered UK musicians Fred Frith & Chris Cutler, and is described by All Music Guide as “a pinnacle of the RIO movement” (RIO being Rock In Opposition, the late-‘70s radical, pan-European coalition of bands, of which Aksak Maboul was part). The album reached #3 in the NME’s top ten European albums of 1980 (after Yello and The Nits, before Steve Reich and Faust!).
For this reissue, the album was remastered from original analogue tapes, and includes a booklet with abundant liner notes, documents, and recollections by all the participants.
Also included in the LP is a bonus album entitled "Before and After Bandits" (CD+download), containing previously-unreleased live and demo recordings featuring seventeen of the band’s successive members and guests. Over the course of ten tracks and 78 minutes of music, this collection charts the sinuous evolution of the ever-morphing Aksak Maboul sound, from the 1977 debut "Onze danses pour combattre la migraine" through the "Bandits" album, a little-documented avant-No Wave phase in 1980, the atypical, eclectic electropop of "Ex-Futur Album", and until the project’s current live incarnation, which started in 2015 after a hiatus of some 30 years.
According to US writer Mikey IQ Jones (who penned the liner notes):
"Aksak Maboul are a brilliant, covert unit that managed to absorb the operations and thoughtforms of many seemingly oppositional aesthetics, fusing them into a sound that few really managed to extend or even emulate.
Each of Aksak Maboul’s three LPs stands as a sibling to the others, each with very distinct personalities and physical characteristics, yet sharing a very foundational chemical and aesthetic makeup– listening to their entire oeuvre, one recognizes melodies or polyrhythmic patterns from a song on one album subtly integrated into the body of one elsewhere.
The roots of Aksak Maboul’s appeal and longevity lie within the collective’s shapeshifting lineup and their chameleonic aesthetic abilities; the group’s ever-mutating sound is akin to a sonic möbius strip, always digesting and recontextualizing itself, where seams and edges show but continually fold in upon themselves as the madness evolves. The best part? That evolution hasn’t yet ceased."
Indeed… following the acclaimed 2014 release of its long-delayed 3rd opus Ex-Futur Album (assembled from unfinished material dating back to the early '80s, and issued under the name Véronique Vincent & Aksak Maboul), Aksak Maboul has taken to the stage in 2015 with a new line-up, and a fourth album is currently in the works.