Berntholer

Belgian post-punk group Bernthøler were barely a cult item during their short existence in the 1980s, but they scored a small international hit, "My Suitor," that's now regarded as a minor classic of Belgian pop. Bernthøler were formed in the fall of 1981 by Simon Rigot on guitar and saxophone, Manuel "Manu" Poutte on keyboards, Pol Fourmois on bass, and Drita Kotaji on lead vocals. While the group was formed out of a desire for musical experimentation rather than launching a career, Bernthøler (their name drawn from a tune by Virna Lindt) created a song for a video piece three months after they formed, and in the spring of 1982, a small Belgian independent label, Putovsky, released a 7" single by Bernthøler, "Japanese Garden" b/w "The Others"; the sessions featured second guitarist Perry Rose, who left the band a few months later.

Despite producing a music video for "Japanese Garden," the single didn't fare well in the marketplace, and Bernthøler went on a brief hiatus. In the summer of 1983, the group re-formed to cut a second single, released by the Blue Feather label, and the A-side, "My Suitor," became a minor hit in Belgium, thanks in part to the interplay between Kotaji's unusually accented voice (she was a native of Albania) and a sampled cello line. The single became a favorite of innovative British disc jockey John Peel, and the success of "My Suitor" as an import in the U.K. led to Bernthøler signing a deal with the Blanco y Negro label in England, which reissued the single with a new B-side and later produced a longer 12" version.

However, when Bernthøler passed on an offer to appear on the popular television series The Tube, relations with their new label took a turn for the worse, and the group's attempts to work with a drummer after recording with rhythm machines were unsatisfying. Bernthøler played occasional concerts and recorded demo tapes, but the group didn't release another record before performing its last show in the spring of 1985. In 2004, the British indie label LTM released Merry Lines in the Sky, a compilation that featured the group's complete discography of single sides and a number of unreleased demo tracks.

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