Dance Music on Film: The Sound of Belgium

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Let your ears take a breather from that bass and feast your eyes and mind instead on a screening about music. MEOKO recommends a film for your movie night or Sunday lie in, starting off with a documentary that captures the music and party scene in one country: Belgium.

 

 

Although ‘The Sound of Belgium’ does focus on one country, topical themes in the universal clubbing and music spheres do play a major part in the film. Topics that are current in today’s landscape include the effects of gentrification on clubs, commercialisation of underground music styles, and the race to find the most rare records.

BELGIUM: WWII to TODAY

Belgium. The Battlefield of Europe. The place where, in 1815, Napoleon would meet his defeat. The Battle at Waterloo would become the foundation of modern Europe. Napoleon was not the first to seek rule over the territory that would later become Belgium. To keep the warring nations apart, Belgium was founded in 1830, to form a buffer. To conquer Europe, one had to go through Belgium. A country for people that had been ruled and conquered so often, that these people did not really care who was in charge, anymore. They would just do as they had always done. Work the land, work hard and then... party harder”.

 

The ‘Sound of Belgium’ shows the way Belgians partied since World War II. Little do people know, Belgium played a key role in the electronic music scene with artists and labels of the past that are still having a big influence on artists today. This film focuses mainly on the eighties and nineties of the past centuries, during the time when Belgium was at the forefront of the electronic music scene.

 

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Exclusive images from the eighties and nineties are interspersed with interviews of interesting and influential people that have meant something in Belgian music history. Among them, Renaat Vandepapeliere, who is the founder of the acclaimed R&S Records, and Dan Lacksman, a Belgian sound engineer, most famous for being one third of the synthpop group, Telex. Also Herman Gillis, who is the founder of a real analogue, solid hardware instrument, the Sherman Filterbank, and above that a gifted producer in the new-beat era has several interesting remarks. Besides them, legendary producers such as CJ Bolland, Eddy De Clercq, Lou Deprijck, Nikkie Van Lierop and many more appear in this film. Even interviews of non-Belgians such as The Advent, Joey Beltram and 808 State are shown.

INNOVATORS OF SOUND: THE DARKER SIDE OF BELGIUM

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These legendary music maniacs explain why Belgium has developed their own scene and sound for many years, starting in the mid-eighties. Belgian music was typically characterised as a marching sound, which was much more aggressive in comparison to the typical happier sounds coming from the States, such as eighties band Front 242 and The Neon Judgement.

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All these interviewees were the forerunners of a typical electronic music genre and culture that lasted for several years. DJ Dikke Ronny (DJ Fat Ronny) accidentally invented a brand new genre, New Beat, which put Belgium on the worldwide electronic music map. In the nightclub Ancienne Belgique in Antwerp he played the 45-rpm EBM record "Flesh" by A Split-Second at 33-rpm, with the pitch control set to +8. This created an odd but cool and danceable vibe. From this day, in the late eighties, New Beat was born.

HIGHWAY CLUBS

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New Beat was a success and during the nineties, people would come from all over Europe to experience the club culture with evocative names such as Boccaccio, Extreme, Cherry Moon, Balmoral and At the Villa. Here is when Sunday day clubbing became popular amongst clubbers. During the weekend, when one club closed, people would continue the party, driving to the next club located in another town, stopping by at gas stations to take their morning showers along the way.

DOWNFALL AND FUTURE

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Further in this documentary, you can see this incredible music genre infiltrate in the commercial pop music. The honesty of the legendary new beat artists is remarkable. You can see the comparison with several music genres today. For example the typical minimal sound invented by M_nus came up incredibly fast, but also disappeared after several years as a popular genre amongst clubbers.

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This downfall did not mean the end of the Belgian story. These big nightclubs did still exist and the music evaluated to a forerunner of techno, house and trance music. Several years this mega clubbing experienced glory days in Belgium. Unfortunately for these clubs, their longevity did not last until today, due to clashes with the police and authorities. Gentrification and the war on drugs were main reasons behind the closure of these clubs. A story all too familiar, nowadays.

Music, nightlife, clubs, artists, producers, hardware, fashion and even drugs. ‘The Sound of Belgium’ covers it all. If you want to experience the Belgian music scene that influenced the whole electronic music world, you should definitely watch this documentary and be surprised about the legacy that Belgium has left behind. This is also a must-see for every electronic music lover, as it covers topics that are all too current in today’s landscape.

 

Youtube:

New Beat Anthems:

A Split Second - Flesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbKp9AADua0

101 - Rock to the Beat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YdtxmzUwqQ

2 Bodys - Astoria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baKsAlzQCf4

Public Relation - Eighty Eight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYeX7skgO4U

Two DJ's - The Creation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYVCKkzR63Q

 

90s Belgian sound:

Lords of Acid - Is It On Acid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hkwtZ29uFc

T99 - Anasthasia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLWzFda6C60

The Mackenzie - Higher in the Sky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxbTF1dl2Vw

At the Villa People - Open Your Eyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu9j3k8p5Mg

Spokesman - Acid Creak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9K8qlGmLXA 

2 Bodys - Astoria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baKsAlzQCf4

Cherry Moon Trax - The House of House: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZMf716hCZw

Afterboys - Welcom To The Afterclub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDiw84ZBJuw

 

The Movie: http://watch.tsob.be/

The Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaBDLS6sYPs

 

 

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