Antwerpen

We should have been in Belgium this week, a few days in Antwerp and Brussels for my fiftieth, frites and beer, cafes on squares, some browsing of record shops and some sightseeing. We’ll have to see if we can get there for my fifty- first. In 1980 Vini Reilly wrote this beautiful, shimmering, fluid piece of  abstract guitar music. Produced by Hannett and with ACR’s Donald Johnson on drums

For Belgian Friends

This cover version by Dream Lovers came out back in 2017, an even more blissed out, laid back version than Vini’s original.

Belgium also says Belgian new Beat, proto- house music built on juddering drum machines, wonky basslines and vocal samples. Most of this music is the best part of thirty to thirty five years old. Selecting one track from random out of a forty three song compilation called The Best Of Belgian New Beat Vol. 1 brings up this by Chayell from 1989, a moody synth monster with a voice intoning ‘with a girl like me’.

Don’t Even Think About It

A/B Music

Back in 2013 Hardway Bros put out this monumental piece of dance music, A/B Music, a dramatic collision of  cavernous acidic squiggles, metallic guitar and a driving, lurching rhythm track. A dark, propulsive dancefloor gem.

A/B Music is also Sean Johnston’s tribute to the sounds of Belgium in the mid-to-late 1980s and the Antwerp club that the track is named after (AB, Ancienne Belgique). Belgian New Beat was centred around slow, downtempo club music, DJs spinning dark European industrial music, Eurobeat pitched down from 45 rpm to 33, early house from Chicago, a minimalist precursor to house, acid and techno, played to full houses as the youth of Ghent packed into the Boccaccio club. A record label in Ghent have recently put out two compilations, each one a four CD box set, packed full of new beat. Volume One is here and Volume Two is here.