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‘This Is Belgium’: the Radio Soulwax guide to late 80s Belgian New Beat


  
The perfect follow-up to The Beat Club’s “Acid Train” video I posted a few days ago, “This Is Belgium” sees that country’s top dance music export, Radio Soulwax, compiling an audio/visual history of its New Beat scene from the late 80s.

Not only are these videos great to listen to, they’re also very informative, charting the cultural and social history of a localized scene whose influence has since spread far and wide (and which is not to be confused with the original American use of the phrase “New Beat”, which meant an off-shoot of New Wave, it seems).

A regional dance music curio similar in a way to Italy’s Cosmic disco scene, New Beat djs took popular tracks of the time and slowed them down, usually playing 45rpm records at 33rpm, pitched up to +8 on the turntable. Like Cosmic, the wrong speed aspect gave New Beat an otherworldly edge: something is up with these records but it can be difficult to pinpoint what that is, if you don’t know they’re actually being played wrong.

Kicks become thuds, claps become clanks, and every vocal seems wretched from the bowels of hell. Visually New Beat may be plastered in smiley faces, but musically it’s threatening, it’s a lil’ bit scary. Slowing down acid and techno records made the sounds heavier and the atmosphere darker, and it also chimed with the emerging industrial/EBM scene of the time. This dark, powerful aesthetic would be seminal in defining the techno that came from Northern Europe in the 1990s.

From Wikipedia:

The New Beat sound originated in Belgium in the late 1980s, especially in 1987 and 1988.

The Belgian New Beat was an underground danceable music style, well known at clubs and discos in Europe. It is a local crossover of EBM, Acid and mid 80s underground House music. The 80s Dark Wave also became an aesthetic influence (especially Depeche Mode’s videos from 1985–1989). At the time, EBM was popular in German speaking countries and The Netherlands, Acid / Acid Trance was popular in the UK, and House Music (in a 80s Eurodisco French twist) was popular in France. Belgium created this unique music sound, with huge underground success all over Europe.

Legend has it that the Belgian New Beat genre was invented in the nightclub Boccaccio in Destelbergen near Ghent when DJ Marc Grouls played a 45rpm EBM record at 33rpm, with the pitch control set to +8. The track in question was Flesh by A Split-Second.

In addition to A Split-Second, the genre was also heavily influenced by other Industrial and EBM acts such as Front 242 and The Neon Judgement, as well as New Wave, and Dark Wave acts such as the likes of Fad Gadget, Gary Numan and Anne Clark.

Part one of this two hour Soulwax trip comes complete with commentary/text that tells the story of this short lived but influential dance fad (very informative and worthy of your eyes) while part two features what is presumably some Belgians reliving the New Beat dance crazes of their youth (which involve a lot of hoping around from foot to foot) while rocking some awesome retro shell suits. Enjoy: 

Radio Soulwax ‘This Is Belgium Pt 1’
 

 
Radio Soulwax ‘This Is Belgium Pt 2’
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The ‘Acid Train’ will blow your brain!
04.30.2013
09:26 am

Topics:
Amusing
Dance
Music

Tags:
Funny
videos
Belgium
New Beat


 
Today’s dose of dance music silliness comes via Belgium, and New Beat act The Beat Club, with the video for their 1989 track “Acid Train”. It’s catchy, it’s fun and the video looks like it was made on a hijacked porno set. Come to think of it, the lingerie models were probably thrown in as part of the deal.

The tinny lead synth riff isn’t even the real ear worm here, that award goes to the uptight train conductor shouting before his head dissolves into a 3D smiley face button.

“CAN I SEE YOUR TICKETS PLEEZ?!” 

I’m sure it seemed like a great idea at the time.

The Beat Club “Acid Train”
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Rhythm Device: perhaps not the ‘Acid Rock’ you were expecting


Some ravers, yesterday
 
“Acid Rock’ by Rhythm Device is actually from Belgium in 1989, and not California in the late 60s, as the name might conjure up.

Hence the uber-silly video of leather-clad danse-boyz rocking out in a cheap looking discotheque.

The bass riff in this New Beat classic is naggingly familiar, it reminds me of the KLF a bit, but I am guessing it’s all nicked off some Chicago acid original anyway. That hasn’t stopped “Acid Rock” from being sampled by Nine Inch Nails, no less, on their late 80s hit “Down In It”.

Rhythm Device was the nom-de-techno of producer Frank De Wulfe, who followed up “Acid Rock” with the “Dream Trance” / “Higher Destiny” 12”. Although Discogs helpfully informs us that, even though they had different names:

These tracks are actually four different mixes of “Acid Rock”.

What a surprise.

Anyway, it’s all about the video. A perfect guide in how to look devastatingly butch and astoundingly gay at the same time, it’s all sold by the singers unwavering seriousness:
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Bilzen Festival 1969: 2 Hour Concert with The Bonzos, Deep Purple, Shocking Blue and more

vivian_stanshall_bilzen_69
 
Not going out tonight? Then stay in and enjoy over 2 hours worth of compilation footage of the Blizen Jazz Festival, from 1969. The concert includes performances by Deep Purple, The Move, Humble Pie, Shocking Blue, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine, Marsha Hunt, leading up to a joyous set by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Here’s the listing as posted on YouTube in no particular order:

Shocking Blue - August 22, 1969
“Venus” + interview

Deep Purple - August 22 1969
“Wring That Neck” 
“Mandrake Root”

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - August 22, 1969
“Big Shot”
“You Done My Brain In”
“Hello Mabel”
“Urban Spaceman”
“Quiet Talks And Summer Walks”
“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
“Canyons Of Your Mind”
“Trouser Press”

Taste - August 22, 1969
“Blister On The Moon”
“Sugar Mama”

Moody Blues - August 22, 1969
“Tuesday Afternoon”
“Have You Heard” (Part 1)
“The Voyage”
“Have You Heard” (Part 2)

Soft Machine - August 22, 1969
“Moon In June” + interview

Marsha Hunt & White Trash - August 22, 1969
Interview
“My World Is Empty Without You Babe”

Brian Auger & The Trinity - August 22, 1969
Interview
“Pavane”
“I Just Got Some”

Steve Shorter & Tilly Set - August 22 1969
“Move On Up”

Humble Pie - August 24 1969
“The Sad Bag Of Shaky Jake” /” I Walk On Gilded Splinters”

Life - August 24 1969
“Baby Please Don’t Go”

Blossom Toes - August 24 1969
“Stargazer”

The Move - August 24 1968
“Sunshine Help Me”

Roland and The Bluesworkshop - August 23 1968
Belgian TV - BRT

Various clips from this concert have appeared on the web over the years, but when placed altogether like this, it is a fab 2 hours. Enjoy!
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Ghost Town In Belgium Becomes A Canvas For Graffiti Artists
07.30.2010
02:07 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
Art
Graffiti
Belgium

image
 
Doel, Belgium, a town known mostly for it’s proximity to nuclear reactors, has become a virtual ghost town. Fortunately, radiation didn’t figure into Doel’s fate.  The townspeople of Doel were forced to move in order to accommodate the expansion of Antwerp harbor. Other than a handful of diehard citizens, a few businesses, and squatters, the town is uninhabited and will soon be demolished. In the meantime, Doel has become a huge canvas for artists. Cesare Santorini made this short film documenting the incredible and ephemeral street art of Doel.

I wish Santorini’s choice of music in this video had been better. You may want to turn down the volume.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment