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Band & Musician News - Ballon D'Essai Announce Their Classic Hits Album "Woot" Is The Word'

Ballon D'Essai Announce Their Classic Hits Album

09 February 2024 - 0 Comments

Leather Jacket Records, in association with Flying Nun Records are proud to present Ballon D'Essai — "Woot!" is the Word; the band's classic hits remastered and back on vinyl for the first time in 40 years. Teenage music and comics from the early daze of Flying Nun! Out on March 1st, 2024 — and available at all good record stores!


With tracks taken from the 'Ballon D'Essai' EP [AKA This is a Level Crossing], as well as Grow Up EP and the 1986 R.I.P Failsafe Records compilation — this upcoming release is a remastered compilation of what is essentially the band's 'classic hits'.

Coming out on March 1st on royal blue vinyl, in a silver foil gatefold jacket with 48-page Ballon D'Comic & Ballon D'Sticker, this is a very special release.

In a 2022 blog article, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd recounted the early days of Ballon D'Essai:

"The name says it all. Ballon D’essai or a “balloon trial”, which is a fancy French way of saying “floating an idea”. This is exactly what happened back in 1980 in Christchurch with a young band. Ballon D’essai were a beginner band of arty schoolboys taking up the music thing to see how it would fly and to where."

"Being a bunch of Christchurch Boys’ High School students interested in art meant they were outsiders in this most rugby focused of Christchurch secondary schools. Because they were still in their teens they seemed unbearably enthusiastic compared to the jaded 20 year old wrecks that could be found down at The Gladstone listening to the Pin Group but an important attribute of the Christchurch scene at this time was the diversity of its participants and the music they made, all sorts were welcome."

"Being young and often in their school uniforms did not stop Ballon D’essai from being full participants in The Gladstone scene; they added considerably to the diversity of what was bubbling away. Mark Rastrick was an extremely energetic frontman. The band featured two bass players in Matthew Campbell and Stephen McIntyre, a splintery post-punk guitarist in Lindsay Davis and the rock to which everything clung, Scott Wilkinson on drums. The art school aesthetic and conceptual thinking saw the band often playing live with props or trying out other antics to make it all more interesting and a bit of an experience. Perhaps it all helped to mask the fact they were still learning to play their instruments although Mark really was distraction enough."

"The band went to record an EP at NightShift Studios in 1981 and Fred Kramer was there to help out while Arnie Van Bussell pushed and twirled the knobs. The outcome was four songs: ‘Testimony to Paradise Street’, ‘War Effort’ and ‘Sanitarium Peanut Butter’ which is not actually named on the record sleeve. Instead, the title was replaced with an illustration of a jar with some partial lettering on it. I guess the fear of litigation was high. These songs are very well recorded compared with some of the murky recordings coming out of NightShift around this time."

The sound is simple, trim and clear. The songs are a bit complicated in a post-punk way but here there is space for them to remain uncluttered as they unwind. There is a spikey post-punk feel, the guitar can be tastefully discordant in places and some effects drift in and about. The vocals are restrained which adds to the pleasing brooding atmosphere of the record although there does seem to be just a touch of apocalyptical fear running through a couple of the songs which was typical of the young of this era."

Read Roger Shepherd's full feature article on Ballon D'Essai HERE

To celebrate Ballon D'Essai's upcoming "Woot!" is the Word vinyl release; the band are also releasing this limited edition Ballon D'Tee Shirt — with artwork by Mark Rastrick printed on a lovely and loud SAFETY ORANGE t shirt.

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