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New Beat history, Belgium
Related: 1980s music - dance music - New Beat - music - Belgium
Rock to the Beat (Unlimited New Beat) (1999) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
1. A Split Second : Flesh 2. Erotic Dissidents : Move you Ass & Feel the Beat 3. Snowy Red : Euroshima 4. Electric Shock : Don't talk about sex 5. In-D : Virgin in D-Sky 6. Dirty Harry : D-Bop 7. Taste of Sugar : Hmmm Hmmm 8. Public Relations : Public Relations 9. Fatal Error : Fatal Error 10. Nux Nemo : Hiroshima 11. 2 DJ's : The Creation 12. PLB System : Just Like This 13. Mac Sample: House Inspector 14. Jade4U : Rock It To The Bone 15. Tragic Error : Tanzen
CD2 1. Amnesia : Ibiza 2. Confetti's : Sound of C 3. Beat Professor : Beat Professor 4. Jamie Principle : Baby wants to ride 5. 101 : Rock to the beat 6. Lords of Acid : I sit on acid 7. Rhythm Device : Acid Rock 8. L&O : Even Now 9. Code 61 : Drop the deal 10. B-Sides : Compression 11. Kate B : Breakdown 12. Westbam : Monkey Say, Monkey Do 13. Tragic Error : Klatsche in Die Hande 14. Grauzone : Film 2 15. Arbeid Adelt : Death Disco
Belgium hooked into the international house-craze of the late 1980's in a unique way : by developing an own brand of house, called New Beat. This monotonous discotheque dance-music, powered by a slow and heavy beat, combined the new elements of house music with elements which existed in Belgian music for a number of years. These were the industrial and underground electrowave bands like Front 242, Poesie Noire, A Split Second and The Neon Judgement.
New Beat music was a contemptorary genre to Techno and House music from Detroit and Chicago respectively, although not intrinsically linked [although New Beat clubs did play the Detroit and Chicago imports]. New Beat originated in Belgium in the late 1980s and was a forerunner to European House music. Legend has it that New Beat was invented by accident when a DJ mistakenly played a 45rpm acid house record at 33rpm. The iconic example of early New Beat is said to be the playing of the track Flesh by A Split Second, by DJ Marc Grouls. As well as A Split Second, New Beat was also heavily influenced by other Old-school EBM acts such as Front 242 and The Neon Judgement, as well as the likes of Fad Gadget, Gary Numan and Anne Clarke.
Notable New Beat record labels include Antler-Subway and R&S.
Notable New Beat artists include:
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_beat [Sept 2005]
- The Lords of Acid, of which Praga Khan (aka Maurice Engelen) was a member 101
- Erotic Dissidents
- Miss Nicky Trax
- Poésie Noire
Feel The Belgian Beat
From electronic body music and new beat to techno and trance: Belgium is considered as one of the pioneers in the international dance scene, just ask Carl Graig, The Chemical Brothers or The Prodigy : "We were laughed at or simply ignored when we claimed this, but history has proven us right."
"We felt like revolutionaries." and this is what they were, the people who at the end of the eighties gave shape to the Belgian dance scene. They were a small group of music fanatics and/or business people who heard what others didn't: the power of the beat, the energy of electronics. Techno heroes like Carl Graig are full of praise for Belgian dance music, the Chemical Brothers based one of their singles "Hey Boy, Hey Girl" on an old track from Praga Khan, and a couple of years ago also The Prodigy showed they were very good at borrowing from Praga.
Belgium has undeniably played a prominent role in the development of dance music, on the commercial as well as artistic level. "We knew immediately that we were creating something special. And the massive export of our releases proved that Belgian dance was highly esteemed across the borders as well.", says Hessel Tieter, who in the mid seventies joined the now almost legendary Music Man record shop, and who is today one of the driving forces behind the record company NEWS. So what makes Belgium so special ? You can fill dozens of dissertations looking for the answer to this question, but never obtain any satisfactory results. Everybody has his own views, but nobody knows what exactly made it work. One thing is sure: clubs played a crucial role. This is how it went in the early days: in the Boccaccio discotheque in Ghent, young artists presented their demos to the DJ, hoping they would play them. When the audience went wild, the track was approved. When there was no reaction, the artist went back to his studio to tinker on. And the week after that he came up with a new tape. It was an excellent experience.
33 instead of 45
And at the end of the 80s there was New Beat. It was the catalyst of Belgian dance. Everyone agrees on this. according to the legend, new beat comes into existence when DJ Marc Grouls by accident plays the maxi version of "Flesh" by A Split Second  at 33rpm instead of the regular 45. In other words, he obtained slowed down new wave, with rarely more than 100 beats per minute. Soon the Ancien Belgique (AB) in Antwerp (with DJ Fat Ronnie) and the Boccaccio in Ghent made the sound their trademark. The Aarschot-based record company Antler is the first to pick up the trend. It makes them big money and puts Aarschot on the map.
Belgian new beat was certainly not inspired by the techno and house that were simultaneously maturing in Detroit and Chicago respectively. On the contrary, at the time American electronic music is hardly noticed by anyone. Pioneers like Derrick May and DJ Pierre cannot make a living out of their records. They just don't sell. "One by one the records ended up in the sales", Hessel Tieter laughs. In those days trendy, young people danced to the new wave tunes of Fad Gadget, Gary Numan or Anne Clark. Or to our very own Nacht und Nebel ("Beats of Love"). Not surprising then, that new beat was closer to this genre than to Rhythim Is Rhythim. By the way: distrust friends who claim that already ten years ago their record collection boasted 12-inch records from Detroit or Chicago. They lie. They bought the American classics afterwards.
This is not music
Unless one of these friends is called Jo Casters. This front man of the electronic pop group Poésie Noire and one of the founders of new beat, has always been a visionary. "Very early already I played this American stuff in the Belgian Congo club in Leuven. But it's true: early techno and house sounded so alternative that they remained marginal." It is around '81 that Casters becomes fascinated by electronics. In his band Poésie Noire he combines guitars with synthesizers and the first drum machines, inspired by the electronic body music of Front 242 and The Neon Judgement. According to Jo Casters new beat is a simplified form of that electronic body music. Whatever it is, it certainly allows him to develop a successful career. Jo Casters is part of the well-known and infamous new beat producers trio Morton- Sherman-Belluci, the creative forces behind bands like A Taste Of Sugar and Erotic Dissidents. Casters is Morton, Sherman is Herman Gillis, also a member of Poésie Noire and now world-famous of his invention the "Sherman filterbank", an indispensable accessory for techno artists.
Belluci finally, is Roland Beelen, the big boss of the Antler-Subway record company. They honoured a point of view that also applied to Poésie Noire: 'we have to make special music'. And special it was, as appears from the reactions from the public and the press. Electronic body music, and later new beat, is often the subject of heated debates. Meanwhile fans are living it up in clubs. Opponents shout that this is not music. At best they talk about 'soulless music'. Made by 'button pushers'. History has put them in the wrong.
Times were different then. Today's eighteen year olds cannot imagine that ten years ago bands like Underworld and the Prodigy would have been booed off the stage, because they weren't 'real'. It was unthinkable that a dance act would make it to the bill of rock festivals like Torhout / Werchter. It was sacrilege ! Casters: "We weren't frustrated by this hostility, it only confirmed us in our opinion that we were doing the right thing." But let's move back further into history. before Poésie Noire, Neon Judgement and Front 242, there was already Telex. The Brussels trio were the first to experiment with electronics and they knew damn well how to create a good beat. Telex is its time a little bit too far ahead. The band has only nestled in our collective memory thanks to their song "Eurovision", Belgium's entry for the Eurovision song contest of 1980, where they were - needless to say - the odd one out.
But we were talking about new beat, and the transition from the underground to the general public. Ironically enough, especially in Belgium this was a difficult process. While new beat hits the cover of leading English rock music newspapers like New Musical Express and Melody Maker, the genre is treated condescendingly in its home country. Press and radio presenters sneer at the music, or worse: they ignore it. When the Erotic Dissidents enter the charts with "Move Your Ass and Feel The Beat", a radio presenter apologizes to the listeners because he has to play the song. The disapproval is often based on pure hate, because new beat is "anti-music". Sometimes it is fed by the fear of parents that their offspring would take to using drugs in discotheques. Sometimes people are uncomfortable, because acts like Erotic Dissidents have erotic connotations. "Wherever we performed, we were followed by the vice squad. We once did a TV show in which our female singer playbacked with a vibrator. Apparently this was so shocking that it was not broadcasted."
Well, what can we exect from a band with a name like that ? Maurice Engelen, the man behind Lords of Acid and Praga Khan also came out with a controversial release: the single "I Don't Do A Thing On My Thing". The record was released in a limited edition and came with a condom.
The decline is inevitable. As soon as big record companies start meddling in, new beat collapses. It is 1990. The majors smell money, turn the genre into a gimmick and muck up the whole thing, with a commercial new beat version of Rocco Granata's "Marina" as an absolute low to many. Sadly enough, also today new beat is often associated with The Confettis and their single "The Sound of C". Great look, immensely popular, but poor musical quality. Luckily other people have things simmering on the stove. The Ghent-based label R&S (named after the founders Renaat Vandepapeliere and his wife Sabine) enters the scene. The first "In Order To Dance" compilation of R&S flops, but the second edition and all the following ones are increasingly successful. R&S by the way, sets a spectacular record: the first fourteen releases on the British market all make it to the charts. And talking about winner's instinct: "Pump up the Jam" from Technotronic - a product by Jo Bogaert - goes straight to the top of the American charts. Bogaert, a man from the Eastflemish city of Aalst, who was successful during the new beat period under the name Nux Nemo, now lives the life of a recluse. We rarely hear from him these days. Not really necessary, since this one song turned him into a millonaire. even the female singer Ya Kid K, who also wrote the lyrics, says that the copyrights from "Pump up the Jam" still yield her a decent month pay. Juicy detail: the first version of the song, which was without vocals, was a dead loss, but remains a collector's item. It seems like yesterday, but in 1999 it was the tenth anniversary of Jo Bogaert's "Pump up the Jam".
Sharon Stone without knickers
Another Belgian goldmine was 2 Unlimited [not true, 2 Unlimited are Dutch]. The figures speak for themselves: twenty million records sold, number one in the charts in forty countries. It even yielded the group a page into Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia. 2 Fabiola, the band of Patrick 'Pat Krimson' Claesen did not gain world fame, but was immensely popular here in Belgium. Meanwhile Lords of Acid, one of the projects of Maurice 'Praga Khan' Engelen, is taking the American market by storm with over a million records sold. When during the shooting of "Basic Instinct" (Sharon Stone, no knickers) film director Paul Verhoeven hears "Rave to the Rhythm" by Lords of the Acid in the New York Limelight club, Maurice Engelen and his partner in crime Oliver Adams embark on an exciting film adventure. After contributions to the soundtrack of "Basic Instinct", the Belgians also write songs for "Sliver", "Strange Days" and "Bad Lieutenant". In America they even meet Mick Jagger in the studio. The only thing left to do was to conquer Belgium. The foundation of present-day house and techno were laid in the transition from underground new beat to the commercial start looking for new sounds. They are not only helped in their search by labels like Antler and Pias, but also by specialized dance-shops like USA Import. Sven Van Hees, the man behind trendsetting programmes like "Liaisons Dangereuses" on the Antwerp local radio, is entering the picture with his releases on the Wonka label. Later Van Hees moves to R&S in Ghent, where he starts the Global Cuts label, that in 1993 acquires a place among the big ones, thanks to the megahit "Plastic Dreams" by Jaydee.
Life is unfathomable. Take Bonzaï. Fly, one of the founders of the record label, starts off as a barman and as a DJ in the AB in Antwerp. He keeps a close track of dance, but also plays things like the Simple Minds. In September '90 he opens a record store in Deurne: "Blitz". It's an ordinary record store where you can also find Helmut Lotti and Pavarotti. But one day thieves ransack the shop. And because he has to start again from scratch (the insurance company only covers 25 percent of the total loss), Fly resolutely decides to focus on dance only, a decision which he doesn't regret. DJs like CJ Bolland and Yves De Ruyter make regular stops at Blitz. One thing leads to another and soon a studio and record label are started. They are an instant success. Bonzaï's concept is ridiculously simple: "releasing music we like ourselves". The first release in '92 is followed by a hype. Bonzaï T-shirts are extremely popular: 400.000 of them are sold. Fly: "I don't know exactly how many records we have sold. It must be between three and five million." At this moment BonzaÏ employs fifteen people and the label has branches in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Canada and Israel. Also after the Boccaccio heyday, Ghent remains the epicentre of the Belgian dance scene. There's not only R&S, but also MMI, which later merges into Music Man. Important feats are "B-Sides" from Frank De Wulf and "Destiny" from Insider, then already a well- known DJ at Boccaccio and La Rocca. Also remarkable in the light of techno history: in 1994 MMI signs the first release of Chicago pioneer Green Velvet. Talking about vision... Hessel Tieter is also crossing the borders with NEWS (short for North East West South). The Ghent record label, founded in '92 as a joint venture between MMI, Antler and R&S, has already licence deals with Robert Miles and Josh Wink long before anyone has heard of them. But compilation albums remain their speciality, with releases like "Serious Beats", "Club System", "I Love Techno", "Dance Train" and "Solid Sounds". These commercial products enable the company to invest in new/young/undiscovered talent. Because: "The intention of NEWS is not to make big money, but to send loads of good music into the world.", according to A&R mananger Jan Vanneste. Belgium offers quality that proves to be a real seller, and that's why international recognition remains. NEWS is strengthening the position of Belgian dance on the international market, while they continue to sign international top artists like Deep Dish and Jeff Mills. Up with Belgium ! Roland Beelen of Antler/Subway: "The first time I was in the States, I met a chap who knew more about our record company than myself." And what about the future ? Hessel Tieter: "Belgium should keep its leading position. And if things go less well for a while, we will certainly be back..." -- David "Fonzamundo" De Scheemaecker
From NME, 1991???
New Beat:One Nation Under A (Slowed Down) Groove
by Richard Noise
(a.k.a. Richard Norris of The Grid!)
First there were a few more club flyers boldly proposing a shift from Acid, if not nationally, at least amongst that ficklest of fraternities, the London club scene.
Then came the news filtering through from the States of obscure 12"s on independent continental labels cropping up in weekly dance charts. Top House producer Kevin Saunderson started name checking the discs, Red Rhino started importing them, London Records suggested the inevitable compilation and every A&R man in the land jumped aboard a Sabena airline flight to check out the new talent.
A disjointed, subsonic dance pulse is causing the biggest shock waves ever to grace European ears. The sound is New Beat and it's coming outta Belgium. Belgium? C'mon, the country which spawned the legendary 'fat Belgian bastards' jibe in Monty Python's 'Prejudice' sketch? What the hell is going on?
The story, or at least this version, goes approximately like this . . .
In the early '80s, a dedicated Belgian underground frequented a smattering of dancehalls throughout the land dedicated to the dictates of electronic music.
Places like The Happy House in Aarscholt, the Apelier in Leuven and On The Beach in Kortrijk all spun a variety of import material, from The Normal's 'Warm Leatherette' through Throbbing Gristle's 'United', checking A Certain Ratio, DAF, Cabaret Voltaire and Medium Medium along the way.
The scene receded in the smaller Belgian outposts as the decade wore on, but remained consistent in Antwerp, where a shiny new venue named the Ancienne Belgique opened its doors with a capacity of 2,000. Notorious and later jail-bound local DJ Fat Ronnie, who'd worked his way up from smaller Antwerp clubs like Scandals, began to mix favourites from the suburban venues with film music and tracks from the likes of John Foxx and Soft Cell.
"We didn't think it possible to entertain 2,000 people with that kind of music," DJ Marc Grouls reflects some five years later. "We were still playing Top 40 music, but the spark was there. A lot of people from outside town came to Antwerp, they began to call it AB music, after the club."
Fat Ronnie's inspiration snowballed when Marc and a handful of other DJs were listening to 'Flesh', the latest 12" from Belgian electronic band A Split Second in Antwerp's USA Import record store. By slowing the pitch control down to a lurching 33, Marc transformed the track from pleasant Euro-Industrialism to the melodramatic, pomp-laden epic that's been firing London warehouses all summer. "Then," as Marc puts it, "we started to talk of Belgian New Beat."
The pitch-altered Split Second disc reverberated throughout the Belgian DJ community. It came to the attention of Maurice Engelen, a former promoter who had brought the likes of Modern English, Eyeless In Gaza and Josef K to the country, and later set up Antler Records with one Roland Bellucci.
"DJs from all around Belgium were playing 'Flesh' at different speeds," recalls Maurice. "I saw there was a strange atmosphere on the dance floor when they played the record, so I asked Bellucci to produce another record with the same ingredients."
Bellucci teamed up with cohorts Morton and Sherman to produce a 12" under the name Fruit Of Life, entitled 'Not Afraid To Dance'.
"We had been working for maybe a day and a half on the track, and tried to make it as interesting as possible," states Roland. "There were lots of funny breaks and effects, lots of crazy things happening. We went over to USA Import and played them the tape. The guys from the store and a couple of DJs who were there said 'take out this one, that break there - take out that one'.
"So I went back to the studio and spliced the tape - I took out all the bits and pieces. We listened to it; it was just bashing for six and a half minutes, from beginning to end... but alright, we thought, if they want it, they'll have it that way. We put it out and in two or three weeks time we sold five thousand copies. We couIdn't believe it."
'Not Afraid To Dance' was the first in around 50 12" releases that have emerged from premier New Beat label Subway Records, Maurice and Roland's newly formed division of Antler. Maurice smelled success and started looking for new material.
"I asked a few other people that I knew to make a few records for me - Jade 4U, Dirty Harry, Chris Inger and Praga Khan. The sales figures for an obscure Antler band were less than 1,000, but on Subway the first 1,500 always sold out in no time."
Meanwhile, the influence of 'Flesh', Boytronic's sublime Euro-smash 'Bryllyant' and German band 16 Bit's local hit 'Where Are You' filtered through to the most technologically advanced musicians in the vicinity. The New Beat hits started rolling in.
Jo Bogaert, a musician with previous experience working on theatre and ballet scores, created Nux Nemo, notching up the first New Beat Number One last summer with 'Hiroshima'. It stayed on top for seven weeks and established the form as a viable chart alternative. Since then the new Beat 12"s have poured in, all on independent labels like Subway, R & S, Ferrari and Indisc. Some are terrible and some merely adequate, but when they work, these tracks scale the heights of the more substantial end of the Belgian scene, the Electronic Body Music hardcore, populated by acts like Front 242, The Weathermen and Neon Judgement. One thing's for sure - New Beat is selling by the bucketload. And it's about to make it's way over here.
So what does it sound like? Well, the records are slowed down to a constant, yielding bass drum thud; New Beat is a sparse, relentless Mogodon groove.
Roland Bellucci explains: "From our point of view the tempo is important - the slow beat, between 90 and 115 beats per minute. In the beginning we did a lot of tracks at 90 bpm, then it became a little faster."
Why so slow? Marc Grouls: "Here in Belgium we can't dance to an Acid record on normal speed - we can't follow it because we don't take drugs or anything! You just need a beat to bring you into a trance, with not too many words. It's not too difficult, it's dance music."
Paul Ward, an SIS radio DJ who runs the Liasons Dangereuses show with Sven Van Hees, finds my listening tastes unusual.
"You play Nitzer Ebb at normal speed? We never do that! Only on one song - 'Alarm'. We said with 'Alarm' that this is the absolute limit - after that there's only pain. Now people accept it ... you can see the borderline always pushing a bit further...."
"We mix very loud," adds Bellucci, "like we're in a club with maximum power. We are aware that most of the tracks are listened to in clubs; you have to give yourself to the sound, let the sound come over you."
Maurice Engelen views New Beat as a combination of other dance styles: "What's good about New Beat is that the best ingredients are taken from the other dance styles. They took the low bass drum and heavy old synthesizer tunes from Electronic Body Music, they also took sounds from Acid.
"It's not like Detroit Techno or the Chicago scene or the London Acid scene - New Beat is a reaction to disco - I don't think Deep House will catch on in Belgium. New Beat is completely soulless - it's sterile music created to dance to and nothing else. We don't have a rap or hip-hop culture here. Belgium is so under attack from France, Germany, England and the United States; you are bombarded with all these different sounds. HI-NRG from Italy, the music of England... we became a meltingpot for all this different music. The DJs got fed up with it - suddenly you could hear Brian Eno and David Byrne's 'Jezebel Spirit' or 'Regiment', Kraftwerk or PiL's 'Death Disco' (a New Beat rare groove that changes hands over here for around 150 British pounds). Everything got mingled up because you hear so much."
Although New Beat looks to an electronic European past rather than black culture, it's not without feeling or humour. Particularly prevalent are erotic, near pornographic samples, many of which border on the offensive.
When I broached this subject most Belgians couldn't see it; they just muttered something about British sexual hang-ups that I didn't quite catch. Maybe there's no translation for 'sexist'.
It all started with Subway 001, an anti-AIDS tune entitled 'I Don't Do A Thing With A Thing On My Thing' a Chris Inger/Praga Khan project. Maurice from Subway struck upon the bright idea of issuing the record as a limited edition with a free condom.
"We made 1,000 with condoms stuck on the cover. From the 1,000 we sent out, we had 700 returns from the shops because people had ripped off the condoms! I said to Inger and Khan, 'We'll do it again, but this time you've got to put the condoms on the covers. From the 700 going back to the shops, once again, another 500 came back!" The sexy sampling debacle really took off with a Morton Sherman Bellucci project entitled 'Move Your Ass And Feel The Beat' by the Erotic Dissidents. With its monotone sub-Village People hook, it's more camp than offensive, but the Belgians were shocked and sales began to soar.
"When 'Move Your Ass' started selling, we were supposed to do a television show," recalls Bellucci. "There was no real Erotic Dissidents - it was just an idea in Morton's mind. We tried to find an image in the style of La Cicciolina (the Italian pop star-turned-MP); we looked for a girl to give image to the Erotic part but it was really difficult to find somebody to do it. Two days before the show we found someone; we rehearsed for an hour or two and went on stage. They banned it from television...."
Not surprising, really. With their bondage gear, sex toys and semi-nudity, the Erotic Dissidents are hardly family viewing. Still their notoriety led them to the top of the charts, selling over 40,000 copies. Cheap thrills....
It didn't need the Erotic Dissidents outrage to tarnish New Beat's image. The national media was steadfastly ignoring the most popular musical force ever to darken its doorstep. Bellucci continues:
"The club scene is very big here, with thousands of young people going to clubs every weekend, yet the national radio just plays mainstream rock and pop. The press has only been picking this up for a couple of months because it's such a big scene - they can't just keep on ignoring it. If you can find 50,000 people buying one record without any press or radio pushing it, something definitely must be going on."
Marc Grouls echoes the problem: "At the moment Belgian TV and radio will play anything that comes from abroad, and some Belgian stuff they know - mostly Flemish slagen music. For us it's really frustrating - Confetti's 'Sound of C' has sold over 56,000, it's been in the Top Five for weeks; Amnesia's 'Ibiza' is Number Eight... and they won't play it. We have to fight against the media."
"There's a lot of frustrated musicians playing journalist," says Bellucci. "In Belgium there's only three or four talented journalists that take themselves seriously and are listening to records. It's difficult for them to think that we are successful when in their opinion we are not musicians."
"A lot of these new names are going straight to the top of the chart," adds Engelen. "The radio doesn't know them, so they lose control. That's something they can't stand here. Jade 4 U or Morton Sherman Bellucci are always working on many projects - it's very hard to follow if you're not on the inside.
"The press is the main offender - not only do they ignore most releases, when they discover them, they slag them mercilessly. National rag Humo ran a four page article last week ridiculing the whole scene . . . they made the Erotic Dissidents out to be three old men who wanted to rape little girls. Y'know, tasteful stuff. But because of New Beat's massive popularity, they ran an advert in every Belgian paper stating 'This week in Humo: New Beat'. Hypocrites or what?"
Patrick de Meyer of T-99 isn't put off that his records don't receive rave reviews: "The press is not a big problem. I think it's good for New Beat - if the people into the music read such an article they're going to buy more. They play the records to escape from reality - there's still some darkness and mystery in it. If it was always in the press or on TV the mystery would disappear. There is some tension,some vaultage. It keeps New Beat alive."
Luckily distribution is no problem. Shops like USA Import or Music Man in Ghent service most of the country's DJs.
"Thousands of copies of each record will sell there," explains Bellucci. "They break a record and slowly, very slowly, this crosses over."
In the last two months that crossover has seeped abroad. Major British labels are falling over themselves to grab a slice:
ffrr/London are rush-releasing Subway's "New Beat, Take One" (reviewed in last week's NME) compilation under the title 'Balearic Beats Volume Two', as well as re-issuing 'Flesh' and sides from Dirty Harry, Erotic Dissidents and Taste Of Sugar.
Virgin 10, Jive, MCA, most of the UK's dance labels and a host of others are also getting stuck in. There's even a dodgy British version of 'Flesh' knocking about.This has come as a mighty shock to the fraternity; I mean, since when did Britain look towards Belgium for it's music? Maurice Engelen finds it all a bit much.
"When I saw the interest at the beginning of the year, I thought I'd call a few companies in London because it was taking off. There wasn't even one percent interest. A year ago if you printed Made In Belgium on a record cover it would be the reason it didn't sell... now Jive Records are asking me if it's alright if they print it on the cover!"
Roland Bellucci is more relaxed. "We were surprised at the beginning, but after a couple of months we were expecting it. It's flattering when record companies calland ask us to remix this one or that one, but we try to keep cool."
In parallel to UK dance releases, all the New Beat hits have stemmed from independent labels.
"The records have to be made very fast," says Engelen. "If a major company does something it always takes weeks to decide. That's the strength of the independents - you have to react directly."
"The majors are scared," Bellucci reckons. "There's a lot of sampling in this scene. We are aware that some of the things we are doing are not very legal. Also, the whole story of this Acid thing going on in England has kept them away". Not only were the majors scared, they were highly suspicious. They rallied round and set the Belgian equivalent of the British Phonographic Industry onto the indies, unable to believe such sales figures and chart positions.
"We had a lot of investigation," Maurice understates, as did Ferrari, USA Import and others.
Some reactions have been not quite so bad. Maurice has received favourable post from DJs like MARK MOORE; JELLYBEAN loved Morton Sherman Bellucci's 'Beat Professor'; even FRANK ZAPPA wrote in praise of Subway records. "His letter was very strange... he said it sounded like James Last plays Zacharias!"
It's in the clubs however that the scene is really kicking. After Fat Ronnie's mysterious departure from the Ancienne Belgique, three new clubs picked up the action - Prestige in Antwerp, Vertigo in Brussels and Ghent's Boccaccio club.
All are high-tech pleasure domes fitted with shockingly expensive hi-fidelity sound systems that grind to the beat.
Sunday night at Boccaccio is the pinnacle of the New Beat week - here even the doorman's made a New Beat record. Porches and BMWs line outside the neon splendour of this 2,000 capacity haven; inside it's like imagining the Tackhead Sound System at the Hippodrome.
The crowd are decked in high fashion by Six of Antwerp or Boy of London, flaunting imported Oxford Street 'Have A Nice Trip' t-shirts or flamenco fashions. Most wear the spanking new design from New Beat Fashion, a sweatshirt Maurice launched the previous week. Retailing at eight pounds, the 600 tops designed by Bart Declerq and Indriz Jossa sold out in a day.
At Saturday's fashion bash at La Rocka, Antwerp's premier venue since the decline of Prestige, the entire audience sported these items, posing for Belgian TV and NME photographer Tim Jarvis' ever-present lenses.
Back in Boccaccio, the drinks are as expensive as the threads. This is no place to have a headache in - even 'Oochy Koochy' can't rattle these speakers. The sound is acid-tinged but the mood stays as solid as that bass drum beat.
So where does it go from here? Morton Sherman Bellucci have experimented with Reggae New Beat (New Beat Sensation's 'Robbin' And Stealin''), opera (Danse Macabre's 'Spirit Of Bulgaria') and global influence with their releases on the World Today label.
The beat is pumping faster than the original 90 bpm to catch up with Acid's trance dance.... Marc Grouls is bringing a soundtrack atmosphere to New Beat with his In-D releases.... and every week more and more New Beat tracks fill the racks.
"Because of the success everybody wants to make New Beat," shrugs Maurice. "All the guys who were coming to us with Flemish folk song cassettes came to us in September with New Beat. There's a lot of bullshit in there."
Unfortunately the more unscrupulous end or the market started printing their own stickers, so a new, foolproof "New Beat: Made In Belgium" logo has just been designed.
It's this kind of attitude that sparked my Belgian visit - a mixture of naivete and corruption pervades, like the Larry Parnes era of the early '60s.
The strongest impression is, however, of great generosity - our party received free records, designer New Beat wear and enthusiastic debate wherever we went. If you're going to discover some New Beat, think of that spirit.
Death Disco (1983,1987) - Arbeid Adelt"Death Disco" is a cover track of Public Image Limited, a post punk band with the ex-vocalist of Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten. The New Beat version has strong & slower beats. This belgian electronic mood has also basslines of TB 303 and weird effects. The original one had elements of disco bass and punk rock, with lyrics like "Seen it in your eyes", a paradox about what the eyes show and the words cannot say... Alain_Patrick - 14-Sep-04 01:01 AM via http://www.discogs.com/release/89606 [Oct 2005]
- Serie Noire (2002) - Various Artists [Amazon UK]
1. Unit - Logic System 2. Jamaica running - Pool 3. Adventures in success - Powers, Will 4. Mammagamma (instrumental version) - Parsons, Alan Project 5. Flesh - Split Second 6. Euroshima - Snowy Red 7. Looking from a hilltop - Wardance 7 Section 25 8. Funkatarium - Jump (2) 9. Miura - Metro Area 10. Hypnotic tango (instrumental version) - My Mine 11. Film 2 - Grauzone 12. 8.15 to nowhere - Vicious Pink 13. Bus - Executive Slacks 14. End - Carpenter, John 15. Big man restless - Kissing The Pink 16. Nothing is true everything is permitted - Peron, Carlos 17. Shake the mind - C-Cat Trance
The ‘Serie Noire’ series presents a historical overview of key electronic cuts from the past, which are influencing the producers and DJs of today. Specific attention is paid to the brooding, dark electronics of the Belgian new beat scene, which emerged out of clubs like Ghent’s Boccaccio and Antwerp’s AB.
- Serie Noire 2 (2003) - Various Artists [Amazon UK]
1. Boytronic - Bryllyant 2. Savage Progress - My Heart Begins To Beat 3. Blancmange - The Game Above My head 4. The Nick Straker Band - Straight Ahead (Instr. Reprise) 5. Green Fridge Music - Da Best 6. Precious - Definition Of A Track 7. Adonis - No Way Back 8. Crash Course In Science - Flying Turns 9. Green Velvet - Coitus 10. Die Warzau - Strike To The Body (Lil Louis' Body Blow) 11. Mr. Fingers - I'm Strong (instr.) 12. Liaisons Dangereuses - Peut être...pas 13. Giorgio Moroder - Evolution 14. Easy Going - Fear 15. Bobby O - She Has A Way 16. Sandy Steel - Mind Your Own Business 17. P.I.L. - Death Disco (Megga Mix) 18. Rheingold - Dreiklangsdimensionen 19. The Passions - I'm In Love With A German Filmstar
The ‘Serie Noire’ series presents a historical overview of key electronic cuts from the past, which are influencing the producers and DJs of today. Specific attention is paid to the brooding, dark electronics of the Belgian new beat scene, which emerged out of clubs like Ghent’s Boccaccio and Antwerp’s AB. Eskimo Records [...]
- Aktion Mekanik (2003) - Various Artists [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
1 Nitzer Ebb - Warszaw Ghetto (4:48) 2 Crash Course In Science - Cardboard Lamb (2:27) 3 No More - Suicide Commando (3:20) 4 Normal, The - Warm Leatherette (3:19) 5 Fad Gadget - Coitus Interruptus (4:39) 6 Klinik - Hours + Hours (5:32) 7 Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft - Verschwende Deine Jugend (3:48) 8 Invincible Limit, The - Push ! (3:551) 9 Skinny Puppy - Assimilate (3:47) 10 Crash Course In Science - Flying Turns (3:00) 11 Liaisons Dangereuses - Mystère Dans Le Brouillard (3:49) 12 Front 242 - Kampfbereit (3:20) 13 Neon Judgement, The - TV Treated (5:00) 14 Psyche - The Crawler (2:16) 15 A Split Second - Flesh (Remix) (2:43) 16 Snowy Red - Euroshima / Werdance (4:15) 17 Terence Fixmer - Aktion Mekanik Theme (6:22)
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