Thursday, March 4, 2010


There are many reasons why Belgians have to explain why they feel some pride about their country…it’s tiny, some say it’s the country in where things can happen that just can happen here, we come in the news because we think it’s dumb our neighbour speaks French and vice versa, we come in the news because of some disturbed child murder…and yet I think Belgium must be the coolest country ever. Mind you, I haven’t been around the world so I can’t judge… It’s also not my goal to pen down some geographical literature cos in the first place I don’t even wanna write about that…no I write about music…
Please if you’re Belgian, don’t judge this article as I’m not telling anything new and you can’t expect from me that I can write down a detailed history in a nutshell. There are times I’m seriously thinking about writing a book about the Belgian music in the 80’s, who knows one day…who knows I do it in snippets in my blog, who knows…
I know every country has its merits if it comes to music. It’s just very normal, due to different facts, that we know more about the British and the American scene then, let’s say, the Finnish scene. I don’t say it’s fair, but it’s only logic…English being a sort of universal language is already a main factor.
Throughout networks like Facebook I try to ask different musicmaniacs (that are people who breathe 24 hrs music just like I do) from all over the world if they’re aware of the Belgian musicscene and apart from some exceptions who come up with some obscure names, or those who cite regular names like Plastic Bertrand, Deus, Soulwax, Jacques Brel but then it mostly stops….
Again, I think it’s logic, but more than unfair as the Belgian music is genius in many different ways and not that much is known about it outside Belgium. And Belgium used to be always different….take the Eurovision contest for example…we were the first who sent a child and we won, we were the first who sent electronic pioneers (Telex) and we lost, we were the first who sent minimal wave (Pas De Deux) and no one understood, we were the first who sent Clouseau and the world started again laughing with us….
In this article I wanna concentrate on the 80’s (so don’t start being pissed off cuz Ferre Grignard or The Pebbles aren’t mentioned). It’s very difficult do it historicwise as all kind of streams started at the same time….
There was the typical new wave-movement who found their example in the British post-punkheroes and it gaves us bands like Siglo XX, Phantom Limb or Red Zebra. In some way they did nothing new as after all it was based on that typical Peter Hook-bassline that would change the musical world forever, but it gaves us albums and songs to be proud of.
There was a movement which was called by DJ Gust De Coster something like Belpop which was alternative Belgian music with most of the times average albums but strong and genius singles that are till today high wanted items by many collectors. Bands in that league were The Machines, The Bet, Toy, Lavvi Ebbel, Scooter, Won Ton Ton, 2 Belgen, Schmutz, The PopGun, Elisa Waut,…..
The most interesting thing was to be found in the South of Belgium (where they speak French) as one band named Front 242 started what was known as EBM aka Electric Body Music. For that fact I think they must be the most important band in Belgium ever as it started giving inspiration to tons of bands like A Grumh, The Klinik, A Split Second, Absolute Body Control while others like Neon Judgement, Luc Van Acker, Poesie Noire, Flesh and Fell or Company Of State started melting wavemusic with electronic sounds.
Before the EBM-mania there were hundreds of Belgian bands pioneering the minimal synth-route with A Blaze Colour, Snowy Red and PseudoCode being the most known bands.
I’m not saying that Front 242 were responsible for all this (Joy Division aren’t responsible for all post-punkbands too) but their success and influence surely shaped most of these bands.
Another very important fact was the rise of some labels with Les Disques Du Crepuscule and Crammed Discs as the most important ones. Men can write books about these labels so what else can I say that both these labels had an immense influence on the 80’s alternative music in general and bandwise it gave us acts like Soft Verdict, Marine, Isolation Ward, The Names (who later could release a single on Factory) and 50 others…
Apart from all those scenes there were bands who were following their own route like Dole (who had a genius album being produced by Adrian Borland), The Scabs, TC Matic (perhaps the most popular alternative Flemish band ever), Arbeid Adelt, Jo Lemaire (who worked together with Vini Reilly and made some underrated gems in the early 80’s), Aroma Di Amore, De Brassers, Lio, Parade Ground…..
In 1987 a DJ decided to play a 45rpm-track at 33-rpm (“Flesh” by A Split Second) and the biggest dancegenre ever exploded….new beat….there were literally hundreds of new beatbands (Confetti’s, Amnesia, Lords Of Acid, …) and it became the scene that killed itself and before we knew it, the eighties were over but in the corner were already standing persons like Stephen De Waele (Soulwax) and Tom Barman (Deus) who were preparing a 90’s for Belgium, but that’s an other story…
I forgot bands, I think I have forgotten 500 or so, so don’t judge me on that…I just wanted to say to non-Belgians : we do have a scene, we do have a history…I was just fed up by having to read that we only gave this world chocolate and French fries, we even gave you Sandra Kim!

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