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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
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05.02.2013
07:27 am
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SSION’s ‘Earthquake’ will rock your world
06.21.2012
07:57 am
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I’m a big fan of SSION, but you should know that by now. SSION, aka songwriter, performer and music video director Cody Critcheloe, has just brought out the second video from last year’s dance-pop magnum opus Bent, and it’s killer.

A logical progression from its predecessor “My Love Grows In The Dark”, “Earthquake” sees an androgynous alien-boy moving through a landscape that is simultaneously pop-art bright and druggily disconnected. All the time SSION is beckoning him on, from his iPad, from his TV, from his four-by-four, all the way up to their final, honey-soaked encounter:

SSION “Earthquake”

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Getting Bent with SSION: an interview with Cody Critcheloe
‘My Love Grows In The Dark’: SSION’s springtime pop perfection
Get SSION’s new album ‘Bent’ free for a month

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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06.21.2012
07:57 am
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‘My Love Grows In The Dark:’ SSION’s springtime pop perfection
03.02.2012
11:05 am
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Another act who featured on My Awesome Best of 2011 Mixtape and who deserve special mention for the little beauty: ‘My Love Grows In The Dark’ is the new video by SSION (aka Cody Critchloe) and it is simply gorgeous.

SSION’s excellent 2011 long player Bent was my second favourite album of last year, only being pipped at the post for the title “best of” by John Maus’ extraordinary We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Bent was released as a free download for just one month, but if you didn’t get it (and why not?! I told you so!) fear not, it will be getting a physical re-release soon on Dovecote Records with an accompanying tour.

As well as performing, writing and recording as the floating collective SSION since the late 90s, Cody Critcheloe is a video director who has recently helmed clips for both Santigold and Peaches. It shows: he is an artist with real vision, talent and skill and I’m glad to report I will be posting an interview with Cody in the very near future.

Musically “My Love…” is classy, catchy and excellently produced dance-pop (it’s how I always really wanted the Scissor Sisters to sound, no mean feat that) and in the ace video he rocks a look that’s a bizarre hybrid of Boy George, Andrew WK and Snoop Dogg. Spring is in the air, so let some aural sunshine in:

SSION “My Love Grows In The Dark”
 

 
SSION (the band) will be performing live in New York tonight at the Highline Ballroom. More details for this (highly recommended) gig here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.02.2012
11:05 am
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‘African Mayonnaise’ - Christeene returns and brings the filthy fire

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Texan drag sensation Christeene Vale is back and she’s durtier than ever. “African Mayonnaise” is taken from her upcoming album Waste Up Knees Down - and while she may not be crawling out of a butthole a lá the video for “Bustin’ Brown”, I think there’s some sort of commentary going on here. I’m not sure exactly what but I guess it has something to do with life in modern, late-capitalist America? 

I am your new celebrity
I am your new America
I am the piece of filthy meat
That you take home and treat to yourself

I don’t feel like there’s been a drag act this out-there (and hence exciting!) in a looong time, and I await her full length album with glee (no, not the stupid show). We’ll be doing our best to get an exclusive interview with Christeene for DM, or even better her “handler” Paul Soileau, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

But for now, just check out the video. “African Mayonaise” is good. No, it’s better than good, it’s great - I’d say it’s Christeene’s best video yet. As she rides roughshod over some nasty synth horns and slick dubstep beats, we see some real world reactions to this, ahem, unusual character, including getting chased out of a mall by a cop on a Segway, being heckled by Christians and being assaulted by a member of the Church Of Scientology. You GO girl!

Christeene “African Mayonnaise” NSFW
 

 
Previously on DM:
Sexual terrorism and drag de-evolution with Christeene

After the jump, Christeene’s very naughty “Nun’s Litany”...

READ ON
Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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12.29.2011
05:24 pm
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‘Underwear’: Top Ten Videos Of 2010…So Far
07.31.2010
03:35 am
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I’m starting to compile my choices for best videos for 2010 and this is a contender.

Dan Scheinert and Dan Kwan directed this slice of visual deliciousness for Icelandic electro poppers FM Belfast. Using variable speeds, warping, time displacement, jump cuts and stop motion, the two Daniels have created a mindbendingly cool video. And the song Underwear ain’t bad either.

Posted by Marc Campbell
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07.31.2010
03:35 am
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Obscure 80s German duo sing ‘Tippen Ein’
07.14.2009
05:16 pm
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I couldn’t find much information on German group New Production Goes to Munich’s 1987 hit “Tippen Ein.”  But, for all you Tim and Eric fans out there, I think you’ll really love this twisted synthpop masterpiece. Genius.

Here’s a link to a live version of “Tippen Ein”

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.14.2009
05:16 pm
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