Made To Measure is one of the most comprehensive series of experimental music out there, and it’s certainly one of the most intriguing. Between 1984 and 1995 the Belgian label Crammed Discs released 36 volumes featuring a variety of artists, from avantgarde icons like Fred Frith and John Lurie to lesser known composers like Hector Zazou and Yasuaki Shimizu.
After a hiatus of over 10 years the series was revived in 2006 and is presently counting 42 volumes. What do all these albums have in common? According to Crammed Discs Made To Measure is “a collection of aural garments that have or could have been commissioned as soundtracks”. Indeed, most of the albums have a distinct soundtrack feel, though some weren’t written for the screen, but rather for ballet or performances.
The Made To Measure series mainly consists of instrumental music, ranging from ambient and tribal to neo-classical and jazz. A central figure contributing to this stylistic diversity is the Belgian electronic artist Benjamin Lew. Besides his wonderful solo album Nebka he also recorded three collaboration albums for the Made To Measure series, one with Samy Birnbach, leader of the Israeli group Minimal Compact, and two with Sam Brown, saxophonist of Tuxedomoon.
Benjamin Lew’s criminally underrated output serves as the guiding thread on our round trip through the Made To Measure universe. On our way we encounter the pioneering turntablism piece Scratch Holiday by Aksak Maboul, we hear an excerpt of the tribal ballet piece Pretty Ugly by Peter Scherer and Arto Lindsay, we listen to the Philip Glass like minimalism of Daniel Schell & Karo, and delve into the Desert Equations of Sussan Deihim and Richard Horowitz, before we end our journey in dissonance with John Lurie.
1. Benjamin Lew – Comme Tout Embue, Tout Danse
Nebka – Made To Measure Vol. 17, 1988
2. Aksak Maboul – Scratch Holiday
Made To Measure Vol. 1, 1984
3. Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown – Bamako Ou Ailleurs
Douzième Journée: Le Verbe, La Parure, L’Amour – Made To Measure Vol.15, 1988
4. Samy Birnbach & Benjamin Lew – The Wheel
When God Was Famous – Made To Measure Vol. 19, 1989
5. Peter Scherer & Arto Lindsay – Pretty Ugly (Excerpt)
Pretty Ugly – Made To Measure Vol. 23, 1990
6. Daniel Schell & Karo – Un Celte
If Windows They Have – Made To Measure Vol. 13, 1986
7. Benjamin Lew & Steven Brown – Profondeurs Des Eaux Des Laques
A Propos D’Un Paysage – Made To Measure Vol. 16, 1985
8. Sussan Deihim & Richard Horowitz – Desert Equations
Desert Equations: Azax Attra – Made To Measure Vol. 8, 1986
9. John Lurie – Sixties Avant-Garde
Music From The Original Scores: Stranger Than Paradise And The Resurrection Of Albert Ayler, Made To Measure Vol. 7, 1985