For this edition of Sunday Evening Sessions, Marc, Serge and Eline digged into their experiences with classical music. Most of them we have been enjoying since our early childhood. With these, we kick off the 'Analogue Atmospheres' version of Sunday Evening Sessions, the one where computers and synths are banned...
Belgians are a weird folk but if there is one certainty, it is the fact that we know how to enjoy things. We love eating and we love drinking. Our beers are the best in the world, our chocolates are ridiculously expensive delicacies in Japan, our fries (you know, "French fries") have become side dishes ànd main courses all over the world. We turn chicory and Brussels' sprouts into tantalizing dishes. Waffles! I haven't mentioned waffles yet! We are the best cooks in the world but we're also open to other cuisines. In fact, I once heard someone say, "Belgians don't like foreigners except the ones who open a restaurant". Something similar goes for our music...
Bedlam In Belgium
We start this edition of our 'Belgium' series with an Englishman. Mr John Makin released this novelty song in 1998. It quickly became a one-hit wonder, especially in Belgium. "Potverdekke" is a Belgian curse word, something like "damn". It used to be "Godverdekke" but the Christians didn't like that very much.
During the history of music, there have been a few songs about Belgium. The best known is probably 'België' by Dutch band Het Goede Doel a song which claims that we are a gentle and nice country, perfectly suited to spend your holidays. AC/DC thought otherwise, releasing the song 'Bedlam In Belgium' in 1983. The song describes the turn of events during an AC/DC show in Dancing Thierbrau in Kontich, near Antwerp. The building has been demolished a few years ago but the story will never be forgotten.
In October 1977, the motor club Outlaws, who had already served as security for AC/DC shows, invited the band to play in Kontich. The venue was not suited for a concert like this. The power supply was insufficient, causing the Outlaws to drive to Brussels to find a power group. Eventually, the show started a lot later than expected but AC/DC wanted to play their full show and refused to leave the stage. What followed was an hallucinant cat and mouse game between AC/DC, the crowd and the cops, who pulled the plug on the entire thing. The bass player, Cliff, took out one cop with his instrument. According to the band, the cops shot firearms in an attempt to regain control of the situation.
You've been recording all your favorites on a Belgian concept
In 1962, electronica giants Philips released the first compact cassettes, the so-called audio tapes which are still popular in the underground DIY scene. Although Philips is a Dutch company, the cassettes had been developed in Hasselt. The team at Philips was led by Lou Ottens. They wanted to find an alternative for the big, expensive tape recorders like the Magnetophon which AEG had invented.
Twenty years later, Philips would come up with yet another immensely popular invention when they developed the CD in cooperation with Sony. Both devices eventually led to new ways for musicians to sell albums to their fans. They were smaller and easier to handle than vinyl, plus they made it possible to listen to music on portable devices. From then on, people were no longer restricted to their living room if they wanted to listen to their favorite music.
From Dinant to New Orleans in three letters
When Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846, he sparked something that would grow out into an entire scene. His invention reached military bands in New Orleans around 1900 and quickly became the instrument par excellence for the entire jazz scene when minstrel shows started adopting the instrument.
Belgian musicians were among the first to make recordings of saxophone solos in America. Eugene Coffin, for example, made recordings on wax cylinders (1895–1896) and Jean Moermans on gramophone record in Washington D.C. (1897). But it was in 1927 when publisher Félix Faecq discovered jazz clarinetist and alto saxophonist Charles Remue and his "New Stompers" when they were playing in a dancing in Namur. In June of that year, he took the band to London to record the first ever Belgian jazz album. The album contained a few covers from American bands but also seven self written tracks. That same year, jazz started to become a concept, cueed by the American film 'The Jazz Singer'.
Doing something different
Born in 1942 and the son of Léo Moulin, a sociologist and writer, and Jeanine Moulin, a poet and literary critic, Marc Moulin started performing as a solo pianist in 1960. In 1969 he recorded his first album, 'Jazz Goes Swinging'. Two years later, he formed a jazz-rock band named Placebo, obviously not to be confused with the English alternative rockers with the same name. Even at that early age, Marc Moulin didn't seem too happy with simply performing and recording jazz. He wanted to do things differently. With Placebo, he started experimenting with both jazz and rock music and after the band disbanded his interests shifted towards electronic music.
Along with Michel Moers (vocals) and Dan Lacksman (synthesizer), Moulin formed Telex, a band credited as the first Belgian electronica act. The band first covered several pop and rock songs before they scored a worldwide hit with 'Moskow Diskow'. In 1980, Telex's manager asked the group to enter the Eurovision Song Contest, something that was not very popular with Marc Moulin and his band. The group entered anyway and were eventually sent to the finals, although they apparently hoped to come in last. The song, aptly named 'Euro-Vision', is a hilarious parody on the entire Eurovision Song festival. It eventually ended up being the second last.
Moulin's career would go on after Telex disbanded. He became a household name in the house scene where fans of deep house and future jazz adore his warm electronic sounds. He was a well respected producer, journalist and sound track composer. Marc Moulin died in 2008. His musical career is now succeeded by his son Denis Moulin who produces deep house anthems under the name La Malice.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
Yes, we are exceptionally good at eating, drinking and making music but we also have a certain sense of humor and - obviously - that comedic aspect of our character also shines through in our music. Telex' 'Euro-Vision' song was already quite tongue-in-cheek but there are numerous of hilarious musical acts. Let's go over a few.
Urbain Joseph Servranckx was born in Dilbeek in 1949. When he was 25, he started performing as Urbanus Van Anus, named after his former backing group. For years, Urbanus was pretty much our only comedian, mainly influenced by Dutch cabaret. Yet, he scored several hits with songs like 'Hittentit', 'Bakske Vol Met Stro' and his "protest song" 'Madammen Met Een Bontjas'.
Humor has been a constant throughout Belgium's musical history. Everyone who is old enough to remember the late eighties and early nineties, will undoubtedly remember Frank Dingenen's takes on new beat. Some even say that follies like this one destroyed the credibility of the new beat scene. Dingenen, much like Urbanus, was a comedian and actor who sometimes scored a hit single.
On the guitars and drums driven side of the Belgian musical spectrum, there is also plenty of laughs to be found. Now, I'm not so sure about the Walloon side of our country, but on the Flemish side, there are loads of artists who combine music with the Dutch language, often presented in a local dialect. In Antwerp, Katastroof is an immensely popular folk act that sings about sex, booze, more booze, and some more sex,.
Bands like Belgian Asociality and Clement Peerens Explosition are welcome guests on any self-respecting rock festival in this country. In Ghent, Flip Kowlier wishes everyone a 'welhemeende Fuck You' in his own dialect. In Eeklo, not far from Ghent, there are The Evil Pony's who combine local dialect with heavy metal, similar to Fleddy Melculy. Yes, even our band names are hilarious. Don't forget that even Revolting Cocks was partially Belgian!
Anyway, that will do for this edition of our series about Belgium. Next time we'll... I don't know, we'll see about that then. Thank you for reading and enjoy this song by Vuile Mong & Zijn Vieze Gasten which so perfectly describes how all Belgians feel about life...
John Duffy and David Mulcahy were two british serial killers, responsible for the rape, sexual assault and deaths of several women in Camden, England. Duffy and Mulcahy were childhood acquaintances and school friends, that solidified their mutual friendship while they were growing up. When the two individuals reached adulthood, their friendship developed into something dark, inconspicuous and sinister. For an insanely mysterious reason, the two best friends started to attack young women in the area of Hampstead Station, beginning a sordid chapter of brutal and violent murders in the history of crime in the United Kingdom.
The vicious attacks started in the early eighties. Initially acting as serial rapists, John Duffy and David Mulcahy had brutally assaulted and raped dozens of young woman, before making their first fatal victim. Alison Day was followed by the pair of assailants in December 29, 1985, and eventually killed after being raped several times. Nonetheless, Duffy and Mulcahy began to act more sporadically, and this fact caused some difficulties to the police, that was having a hard time to connect all the crimes to a single suspect.
As the rape and murders had continued, though, the police set up several different investigative task forces, to align everything correctly into a diagram of cohesive patterns. When different cases were conclusively linked to a single perpetrator, they were classified together. Since John Duffy already had a criminal record, registered when he was accused of raping his own wife, he was enlisted as a main suspect, among thousands of others.
As the investigation advanced, it became increasingly clearer that John Duffy was, beyond any question, the real offender. When the police collected enough evidence to prove that he was, indeed, the offender beyond any reasonable doubt, he was imprisoned and sent to justice. Nonetheless, by virtue of several clues left at the crime scenes, as well the nature and the circumstances surrounding the rapes and the murders, it became clear that Duffy hadn’t committed all those crimes alone. Probably he had an accomplice, something the police investigators had already suspected. Despite his reluctance – Duffy and Mulcahy had some sort of a mutual agreement, like a “code of honor” that inherently left implicit the fact that if one of them was caught by the police, there would be a refusal to reveal who was the accomplice – Duffy eventually agreed to name his partner in crime, probably bittered by the fact that, while he was in prison, his former murderous associate was free to live his life exactly as he wanted. Nonetheless, it took a long time, before Duffy decided to reveal to the police who his accomplice really was. Imprisoned in 1986, it would take more than a decade for Duffy to speak to the officers that his partner in crime was his childhood school friend, David Mulcahy, who was finally arrested in 1997. After a lot of evidence was gathered, the case was closed, as it was finally proved that John Duffy and David Mulcahy were the Railway Killers. To this day, David Mulcahy still affirms he is innocent, and runs a website that contests the investigations.
Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman were two criminal accomplices arrested by police on August 3, 2006, accused to be the perpetrators of several random shootings in the Phoenix area, as well as another locations in the state of Arizona.
With the beginning of their illicit malevolent activities a little more than a year earlier, in May 2005 to be precise, Dale Shawn Hausner and Samuel John Dieteman started shooting passengers in the streets at random while driving by the Phoenix area. Since the one who fired the shots was hidden in the trunk of the car, initially the task to identify who was the individual targeting people in the streets randomly at night proved itself to be very difficult. Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman had a very discreet modus operandi. They drove by the streets quietly, and when they sppoted someone that looked like a potential target, then one of them shot at the person. It is believed that the two accomplices had committed almost forty shootings in total, with eight fatal victims. To complicate affairs, the hunt promoted by police against the fearful and unpredictable serial shooter – the police wasn’t aware at the time that the crimes were being perpetrated by two individuals – occurred concomitantly to the persectuion of another dangerous serial offender, known then as the Baseline Killer, who became also the target of a complicated police investigation. Like the serial shooter, the Baseline Killer, who later was revealed as a man named Mark Goudeau, was active from 2005, until his arrest in 2006. He was indicted for a string of serious crimes, that went from murder to rape and kidnapping.
Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman were eventually arrested when the police intensified their search for possible suspects. Members of the community gave tips to the police that led authorities to the criminals, since Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman were probably too relaxed and less vigilant about their activities. Since they haven’t been cautious, nor downplayed their suspect behaviors, especially in their own neighborhood, they were eventually betrayed by their own indiscreet actions.
Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman’s trial was severely covered by the media. Considered to be the mastermind behind the atrocious crimes committed by both, Dale Hausner received the most hard sentences, upon which were included six death penalties. In the trial, Dale Hausner apologized to his victim’s families, and advocated himself the capital punishment as the only possible quest for justice, arguing that he not only deserved, but that his execution should occur as soon as possible, for the sake of his victim’s families relief. Dale Hausner also apologized to his own family, begging forgiveness for having ruined the family’s reputation. Sam Dieteman was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Dale Hausner was found dead in his cell in June 19, 2013. The cause of death was ruled a suicide.
Charles Bukowski was one of the great literary icons of American literature in the 20th century. Born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Germany, he moved with his parents to the United States when he was only a child. The young Bukowski very soon had to learn from the painful hardships and depressive ordeals of life. A severe case of acne in his teens turned him unattractive to girls, and the shy and introverted Bukowski, as a result, became even more closed to himself. Already in his youth, he relied on alcohol, in order to anesthetize chronic social rejection, and the general pains of existence. Having very early manifested his literary tendencies, Bukowski’s father was an abusive, aggressive and authoritarian figure, that would tear up his manuscripts, and do everything possible to keep his son away from writing. This terrible treatment in the part of his father would leave deep scars and lasting marks on the young Bukowski, and would play a vital role in the formation of his cynic, sarcastic, pessimistic and disillusioned view towards life.
Bukowski was able to sell relatively early his first short story to a magazine – he was only twenty four years old –, and managed to sell a few more in the following years, but the difficulties in the literary business soon exasperated the young Bukowski, that grew severely disillusioned on his dream to become a writer, and for almost a decade, he ceased to write. In order to maintain himself, he worked in all kinds of odd jobs, and this period of his life is well described – although in fictionalized versions – in autobiographical novels, such as Factotum (which is a Latin word that literally means “Do Everything”, in reference to a worker that literally do all kinds of jobs) and Ham on Rye, which covers a long period of his life, from infancy to adulthood.
Although he continued writing, and publishing in independent newspapers and magazines, Bukowski’s achievements through this point were mediocre ones, and his literary endeavors seemed to go nowhere, to his constant and ongoing frustration. Although it took some time, in 1969, when he was forty nine years old, all was about to change, when a small publisher offered him the possibility to quit his job – which was in a Post Office agency – and become a full time writer. Already exasperated with his work, he accepted the offer, resigned his job, and very soon, published his first novel, titled Post Office, which, like many of his works, was extremely autobiographical. And you could certainly say that a literary legend was born.
Barfly, a 1987 movie starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, was written by Bukowski, as a work commissioned by renowned film director Barbet Schroeder. Though they had minor disagreements – Bukowski wanted his friend Sean Penn to star in the main role, and Sean Penn by his turn wanted the film to be directed by Dennis Hopper, although Bukowski wouldn’t deliver to Hopper a script that was solicited by another director – the movie came along well. Semi-autobiographical in tone, Barfly shows the ups and downs of Henry Chinaski – the alter ego of Bukowski in his fiction works – in an almost permanent alcoholic stupor, wandering endlessly through the underground decadent bars of L.A, not knowing precisely what directions to follow in life. Bukowski made a cameo appearance in the film. Sean Penn and Bukowski remained very close friends, until Bukowski’s death in 1994.
From the early seventies, until his death, in March 9, 1994, aged seventy three, Bukowski was a full time writer, that has written hundreds of poems and short stories, as well as dozens of articles, columns and non-fiction pieces for underground newspapers and magazines. Most of his work published in periodicals was eventually collected, and printed in book form. Nevertheless, today he is best remembered for his six novels, that went to be his most successful literary achievements: Post Office, Factotum, Women, Ham on Rye, Hollywood and Pulp. He also worked occasionally as a film scriptwriter.
His main literary themes were mundane ones: alcohol, sex, his complicate relationships with women, the ups and downs of life in L.A, the act of writing, trying to break into the literary business and, in later life, dealing with fame and notoriety. He is frequently cited as the poet and philosopher of the marginalized, poor, neglected and forgotten ones, probably because he was all those things, before the world was able to acknowledge him as a talented, proficient and versatile writer.
There are a lot of reasons for us to think that Bono is an abject and despicable individual. If you are fooled by what the television, the internet and the fake news network present to you, the facts and the events surrounding the terribly ordinary, but notorious U2 frontman are never what appearances may suggest. The reasons behind the man that seems to love African children, fight poverty and proclaim a battle for equality and justice are not exactly advocated by the motives you think they are. In fact, Bono has always been a master of well played theatrics and deceitful treachery, doing a real awesome work, as a mindful and unlawful trickster. But think just for a second. Do you know what Bono really loves? Let me follow with three simple words here: fame, notoriety and money. Behind the man that sometimes act as an ambassador of all the good fortunes, posing as the savior for the poor and the destitute, kissing popes, wandering by the White House with American presidents and meeting statesman from several countries, while he receives medals for acting as the paladin of humanitarian causes, you have in fact an egomaniac individual desperate for attention, that seeks with an absurd obsession his desire for global recognition. Bono is in fact a sordid opportunist of the worst kind, that never loses the chance to be exactly where he wants to be: at the center of the spotlight, receiving exclusive attention.
As most people known – although this doesn’t make a difference in anybody’s life – Bono is the singer of U2, an Irish band that has had worldwide fame, for more than three decades now. And let me be true and honest here: U2 is one of the most tedious and mediocre bands that the world has ever seen. But, despite the fact that this conclusion seems to be a contradiction, the mediocrity of U2 is one of the reasons for them to be so famous. U2 does rude, unsophisticated, boring, average, ordinary and superficial pop music, that literally serves for the masses, people who are exactly like U2: rude, unsophisticated, boring, average, ordinary and superficial. But going straight to the point, why a mediocre singer from a mediocre pop band, for quite a while now, has been hanging around the world so much, with so many politicians, especially American presidents?
Well, you know, like I wrote some lines above, this happens exactly because Bono loves the spotlight. He doesn’t know how to live without being the center of all attentions. And he will do everything in his power to achieve the level of recognition that he desperately wants. Whatever and whenever there is a camera on, Bono will run away very fast to appear right before ahead of it. If he can hug an African child before the photographer shoots a picture, he will do that. To hug a lot of politicians, and to proclaim words of hope, wisdom and faith seems to be his real expertise, way more than singing, if you ask me. But of course, he will always proclaim empty words of hope, wisdom and faith, that conveniently never translate into action. A tour at the White House was always at his disposition from the Bill Clinton administration onwards. He became very friendly with George Bush and Barack Obama as well (I don’t know if Trump will allow his privileges to continue, though). Now, ask yourself – or anyone who is fooled enough for being tricked by Bono’s humanitarian and political superficial theatre – how this have benefited the world exactly?
Well… the world hasn’t seen a milligram of benefits whatsoever, in any moment of Bono’s career as an attendant of fancy presidential dinners and extravagant political events. The only one who has advantages with all of these insanely comic acts is Bono himself. Why? Because he gets famous, and famous and famous, and photographers follow him wherever and whenever he goes, and he can deceive everybody by pretending to be an angelic emissary sent from heaven to save the world. This is exactly what he wants.
But the truth speaks for itself. There is a great gap between what Bono proclaims to defend, and how he really lives his life. For the ones who haven’t been informed, U2 relocated to The Netherlands some years ago to avoid taxes. Bono and his gang are multimillionaire bullshit rock stars, but they changed their country of affairs to avoid paying higher taxes. While Bono pretends to care and to protect and to defend the world, the poor, the homeless and the defenseless, shouting to everybody the importance to fight the systematic problem of poverty in Africa, his only real preoccupation is to get richer, and richer and richer. And the most unbelievable thing is that his attitudes really deceive naïve people, who really believe that he is some masculine version of Angelina Jolie (who, unlike Bono, is a true humanitarian activist). U2 has high financial risks and investments operations, but they have arranged everything for their costs to be the lowest possible, and the profits to be the highest. U2 is not a band, but a multimillion business enterprise – a category upon which the most famous bands in the world, like the Rolling Stones, Metallica and Aerosmith, to name just a few, could be included – and the priority on Bono’s agenda, as well as his band mates, is to keep the money flourishing, without a truce. Money is the only thing that really matters. Oh, and keeping up with the appearances too.
So, a man that really has enough money, the means, the influence and the power to make the difference choses only to speak, to meet politicians and to appear in front of the cameras, instead of giving up a generous amount of his abundant financial resources and taking action? If you don’t see a lot of things clearly wrong in this story, you should really open up your eyes. Bono only cares about money, medals, notoriety, distinctions, fame, money, more money, and of course, deceiving everybody to think that he is the savior of the world.
Today is International Women's Day, commemorating the struggle for women's rights. You would think that in this age, the so-called "civilized" one, there is no need to fight for women's rights and equality but apparently (and mainly because of people like this one - click) there is. So today, we devote a playlist to all the women in music. However, we are Merchants Of Air, so no Beyoncé, no Lady Gaga, no Avril Lavigne. There are many others that deserve to be on this list. Here are some of the women that shaped your favorite music...
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Didn't It Rain
A pioneer of mid-20th-century music, she attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. So yes, she is the one that actually started it all, the "Godmother of Rock 'n Roll".
Girlschool - Race with the Devil
Girlschool are a British rock band that formed in the new wave of British heavy metal scene in 1978 and frequently associated with contemporaries Motörhead. They are the longest running all-female rock band, still active after more than 35 years. For that alone, Girlschool can indeed be seen as a groundbreaking act for female rockers all around the world.
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now
Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever", and AllMusic has stated, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century". Singer/songwriter/painter Joni Mitchell has been an example for many women around the world, inspiring them to turn their own emotions into beautiful songs.
Kittie - Brackish
The all female nu-metal band Kittie showed the world that women can be make music just as intense and heavy as their male counterparts. Even though someone once called this Canadian band 'Cute Korn' these girls can scratch, claw and bite, and definitely come up with an energetic live show.
Melt-Banana - Shield For Your Eyes...
Speaking about energetic live performances, Japanese noise group Melt Banana are as intense as a massive meteor impact. Fronted by Yasuko Onuki, Melt Banana has been mesmerizing noise fans around the globe and with good reason too. Nobody does this like Melt Banana.
Shonen Knife - It's a New Find
Japanese punk rockers Shonen Knife have been legends since 1981. With their poppy punk rock, inspired by The Ramones and The Beach Boys, they have been playing stages all over the world, much to the delight of an enthusiastic crowd.
The Shangri-Las -Leader Of The Pack
Back in the sixties, there were several all-female bands climbing the charts. The Shangri-Las threw their melodramatic teenage anthems into the record collections of many fans, with 'Leader Of The Pack' still be a widely recognized tune.
Siouxsie And The Banshees - Spellbound
Of course Siouxsie deserves a spot on this list. The absolute queen of new wave is still a constant on gothic and new wave parties everywhere. 'Spellbound' is just one of her many hits.
The Great Kat - Flight Of The Bumblebee
Mad as a whistle to some, a shredding mastermind to others, The Great Kat is a guitar and violin virtuoso gone wild. During her career she mostly turned classical pieces into speed metal tunes. Why? Well, I guess she just was the first person on earth who discovered that headbanging on Beethoven is perfectly possible.
Zola Jesus - Night
Zola Jesus is the stage name of American singer-songwriter and producer Nika Roza Danilova. I've seen her perform alone on stage, armed with what looked like a tape deck and a microphone. Last year, she cooperated on the new Jozef Van Wissem album (read), which turned out to be something completely different but equally captivating. Zola Jesus is truly one of the best female performers in the electronic scene.
Myrkur - Nattens Barn
If you are one of those nitwits that think women do not belong in the black metal scene, please get off this site immediately. Myrkur is the one-woman black metal musical project of the highly talented Danish musician Amalie Bruun. Although massively respected by many black metal fans, Myrkur has been dealing with negative comments and remarks throughout her career, but, as you can see, she is still going strong.
Janis Joplin - To Love Somebody
Janis Joplin was an influential American singer of the 1960s. Her raw, powerful and uninhibited singing style, combined with her turbulent and emotional lifestyle, made her one of the biggest female stars in her lifetime. To this day, she inspires girls to rock out and to rock hard.
Jo Lemaire + Flouze - Je Suis Venue Te Dire Que Je M'en Vais
Just because it's one of the most beautiful covers in the history of covering music, we picked this version of Gainsbourg's 'Je Suis Venue Te Dire Que Je M'en Vais' by Belgian vocalist Jo Lemaire. This is her biggest hit, that's true, but Jo Lemaire is one of the most respected female artists from Belgium and she is blessed with a beautiful voice.
Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers
To this day, the unique voice of Elizabeth Fraser is a reference for many young women starting out in the rock scene and even in the doom metal scene (see Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard for example). To some, Elizabeth Fraser might be best known for being the vocalist in Massive Attack's smash hit 'Teardrop' but for shoegazers like me, Cocteau Twins will always be a landmark.
Aretha Franklin - Respect
And we end this list with some good advice by Aretha Franklin, arguably one of the greatest voices in pop and soul music history. Just a little respect, that's pretty much all it takes.
Serge & Eline
In the past few weeks we have been digging in the Belgian music history (read: Belgium, The Capital Of The (Underground) Music Scene). During our research and of course by personal experience, we have come to the conclusion that we are a pretty damn good country for soothing drones, relaxing ambient and other calm sounds. So today, we dedicate our Sunday Evening Sessions to our own country and engage in a nice chauvinistic chill-out session.
Chauvinistic Chill-Out: The YouTube playlist
Jean Hoyoux - Chronos
Vidna Obmana - A Scenic Fall
Ashtoreth - Whisper
Premonition Factory - To The Dark Place Where It Leads
Stratosphere - Entrance (short version)
Virlyn - Pine Forest
CHVE - Charon
Misantronics - Khota
Henri Pousseur - Quintette à la mémoire d'Anton Webern
Yannick Franck - Invott / Elements
After multiple demands, power slams and clothes lines, we were finally able to ask columnist Rik about his weird fascination with professional wrestling. Every Monday and Tuesday night (and occasionally other days too), Rik hides in his man-cave and watches those half naked men fake-fighting each other. He claims it's fun and he has been doing that since the eighties. So why not give this wrestling fan and sit-down comedian a spot on our little website?
Did you ever encounter a wrestling fan who was really, really, really surprised when you told him that wrestling is fake? Did a conversation about professional wrestling - or "sports entertainment" - ever go like this?
-Oh man, Wrestlemania was awesome!
-Wrestlemania? Really dude?
-Yeah, Goldberg kicked Lesnar's ass. That was so cool!
-You know that wrestling is fake, right?
-What? No, can't be.
-Yeah, it is. The matches are predetermined.
-Predetermined, they know who is going to win before the match even starts.
-No, it's not.
-Yeah, it is.
-No, it's not. Hulk Hogan and André and John Cena and Undertaker.
-Nooo, there go all my hopes and dreams!
Nope, that is not the way those conversations usually go, do they? Usually, the scenario is something like this:
-Oh man, Wrestlemania was awesome!
-Wrestlemania? Really dude?
-Yeah, Goldberg kicked Lesnar's ass. That was so cool!
-You know that wrestling is fake, right?
-Yeah, so are your mom's boobs but I'd still do her.
Wrestling is one of the most ridiculous things on this planet, apart maybe for peeled and rewrapped eggs. The crazy thing is, both fans ànd haters are aware of the nonsensical phenomenon that pro-wrestling really is. We all know that, somewhere in an ivory tower, Vincent Kennedy McMahon pulls the strings of the entire industry. He decides who wins, who loses, who gets into the spotlight and who will forever fade away in the indies. But even Vince can't control our minds so we all have a different opinion about his trade. I've had and heard several of those useless discussions over the years. I discovered that in each one of them, the anti-fan is the most annoying of the two, stating the obvious as if it were an epiphany. As if he finally understands the meaning of life.
On the other hand. The die-hard wrestling fans usually don't add a lot of deep thoughts into the discussion either. Most WWE-Universe members won't find much more arguments than "yeah, but I still think it's cool", or "everything you're watching is fake too". And they are damn right about that. There is no reality in reality-tv, just like there's no reality in the news. Reality is something different. Reality is the reason why you are reading this column instead of getting drunk with some bimbo on a tropical island in front of fifty cameras, recording your pathetic romantic moves and showing them to the world (Yes, that is a Temptation Island reference, that show is soooo real).
Reality is: waking up, stuffing junk down your throat, doing your very best to make someone else rich and trying to get enough sleep to be able do it all again tomorrow. Somewhere in between, you are allowed to find something to entertain you. For some of us - millions apparently - that something is wrestling.
Wikipedia says "Professional wrestling is a dramatized athletic performance inspired by competitive combat sports" and everybody knows that. Originating as a popular form of entertainment in 19th-century Europe and later as a sideshow exhibition in North American traveling carnivals and vaudeville halls, professional wrestling grew into a standalone genre of entertainment. Today, its popularity is mainly due to Vince McMahon and his business intelligence.
In short: Vince's dad had a wrestling promotion. Vince had money. Vince threw that money into a special called Wrestlemania. Vince now has more money. Without Vince, someone else would have tried, Paul Heyman probably, but aside from that, millions of people are being entertained by Vince's ingenuity several times a week. So I think Vince deserves his picture below this sentence.
Good guy Vince McMahon now runs a multi-million dollars company. He's good friends with Donald Trump too, which somehow draws parallels between wrestling and politics. It's all fake. It's all predetermined and it's all been choreographed. None of it makes any sense, but at least McMahon turns it into an enjoyable show.
I think for most Europeans wrestling is a guilty pleasure. I've been watching it since I was a little kid. I witnessed the wars between WWE & WCW, I've seen TNA try, I've seen the demise of ECW. I've enjoyed ROH and NJPW. Many Europeans secretly watch wrestling, but just like with their porn, they hide it from the outside world. Here, the form of entertainment is something for local sports halls and fairs.
So yes, when Serge put me in that sleeper-hold and demanded a series about wrestling, I quickly gave in. From now on, I'll be writing about all things wrestling. I'll tear it down to the bone, laugh with it, adore it, criticise it and respect it. There will be specials. There will be reviews. I'll call the series 'Rik's Rassling Ramblings' because: A: I always pronounce "wrestling" that way, B: these kinds of alliterations work in 'Suske & Wiske' so they will work here too and C: as a tribute to this legendary scene with Shelton Benjamin, Trish Stratus and the master of ceremonies himself, Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
For those who want an answer to the question 'How many wrestlers does it take to change a lightbulb', the answer is; doesn't matter, it will be a spectacle anyhow.
Let me start this edition of 'Rerooting' by mentioning that 'post-rock' is quite a vague term. Apparently, the term comes from an article about Bark Psychosis' album Hex, published in the March 1994 issue of Mojo magazine. The author claimed that this music used rock instruments for non-rock purposes. Over the years, the term gained an own identity, usually coined by long compositions, massive soundscapes and the absence of vocals. To me personally, the term arrived long after I started listening to some of these bands. So my vision on post-rock might differ, which will probably result in some surprising entrants on this list. But, just so you know, when the term was first penned down, I was already twenty years old and I had been wandering in the beautiful world of instrumental rock music for a while.
Kong - New
Dutch progressive masterminds Kong are pretty much never described as a post-rock band but they do answer to all the characteristics: no vocals, rock instruments in a non-rock sound, long compositions, soundscapes, electronics and a damn immersive atmosphere. They have been doing this since 1990, released several albums and managed to play on Roadburn, be it on one stage in stead of the usual four-stages set up. Kong is my all time favorite band and every gig is a spectacle. With that in mind, it truly is a surprise and a disappointment that they never got the attention they deserved.
Tortoise - Glass Museum
In a way, I was also surprised when people said Tortoise was a post-rock group. The first time I heard someone say that was shortly after I heard bands like Explosions In the Sky and Mogwai. Tortoise was very different, more jazz like. 'Glass Museum' became one of my all-time favorite tracks on the 'Mind The Gap' compilations from music magazine Gonzo Circus. Back then, the term post-rock was unknown to me. I just called it 'instrumental rock' and placed it in a folder with Kong, Ozric Tentacles and Explosions In The Sky. They're still there.
Explosions In The Sky - First Breath After Coma
Eventually, the term 'post-rock' finally gained a corner in my musical brain. I read the word in a little booklet, describing all the bands at that year's edition of Pukkelpop. I loved the music, embraced the sound and from that moment on, everything that sounded vaguely like Explosions In The Sky ended up in my post-rock playlist. The last time I witnessed Explosions In The Sky live, I made one of my best life-decisions ever, so yeah, in a way, post-rock can be damn romantic.
Godspeed You Black Emperor - Sleep
Obviously, Godspeed! You Black Emperor deserves a spot on this list. Much like Explosions In The Sky Gy!Be entered my attention span on Pukkelpop (and a few more times after that). In no time, these two bands solidified my love for the genre. Here was a piece that dragged in classical arrangements and sheer beauty. I was stunned by all their performances. In fact, I think it's this band that eventually got me digging deeper into the genre, which makes them responsible for most of the following tracks here.
Meniscus - Room 3327
One of the acts I discovered while trying to find more post-rock, was Australian act Meniscus. Suddenly, I started to understand the word 'rock' again. The 'War Of Currents' album quickly became one of my favorites in the genre as I fell in love with the bass line on 'Room 3327'. The vocal sample by Stephen Hawking is a plus but the groove of this track is amazing. I hope they play this at the upcoming edition of Dunk! Festival. But if not, no worries, the new album is also brilliant.
Alice In The Cities - Valencia
In time, post-rock became a genre of grandeur, bombast and splendour, at least to me. It seemed like all the bands did their very best to put up a massive sound with complex song structures. Then, out of nowhere came this Berlin based trio. It was at Incubate in the Dutch city of Tilburg. Alice In The Cities showed a whole different side to the genre. Here were uplifting songs, cosy, intimate and just so lovely. There is no better way to describe this than 'lovely'. It's been quiet around this band for a while now, I hope they're up to new stuff...
Cecilia::Eyes - Loreta
Belgium's number one answer to the whole post-rock scene immediately became a favorite when I reviewed their album 'Disappearance' in 2015. They blew me away at Trix and at Dunk!Festival. I was so proud of this band, and I still am. So yes, Cecilia::Eyes triggered by newborn interest in this genre and even managed to get me interested in Slowdive. That's true. I knew Slowdive but never gave them any attention until I heard about their influence on Cecilia::Eyes. Strange world, isn't it?
65daysofstatic - Prisms
I already knew 65daysofstatic from my first searches in this genre. I had their 'Fall Of Math' album but eventually, 'Prisms' was the song that really pulled me over. The first time I heard it was in a record store in Tilburg. Soon after, I travelled to Leuven to witness them live. Although, I sat down for most of the concert (due to the following act on this list), this track got me off my feet and do a little dance.
Sleepmakeswaves - To You They Are Birds, To Me They Are Voices In The Forest
Yes, Australians Sleepmakeswaves were the reason why I sat down at the 65Daysofstatic gig. Why? Well, these guys came up on stage, said "this is the last show of our tour so let's party" and I just went with it. Their show was a blast, one I will not easily forget. Somehow, these blokes managed to turn post-rock into party music, something I never really expected.
Mogwai - Rano Pano
It took me a while to find this track because I did not know the title. In fact, I know very little post-rock titles. There was a time when I learned everything by heart but that has become impossible. Mogwai have always been one of my favorites in this genre but I mostly just lay down, enjoy the gig or the album and forget about everything else. So whenever Mogwai announces a song on stage, my reaction is 'good enough'...
Spoiwo - YOS
Goosebumps at Dunk! and a breathtaking album that easily reached out best of lists were enough to make me fall in love with the sound of Polish act Spoiwo. Today, still, I feel that this band deserves better, like a place among the big names of the genre.
Wang Wen - Red Wall And Black Wall
Another legend and another fantastic concert at Dunk! Festival. Hong-Kong residents Wang Wen have been delivering quality since the very beginning by 'Sweet Home, Go!' remains my favorite album.
Tiny Fingers - Deuteronomy
Tiny Fingers entered my mailbox and quickly made me rethink everything I knew about post-rock, again. With loads of live electronics and influences from dubstep, this particular track quickly became one of my favorite party tunes. It's bands like this one that made me glad I started this website.
God Is an Astronaut - Suicide by Star
Again, I don't know any title by these post-rock masterminds and I feel like I really don't need to. God Is An Astronaut is another one of those bands to enjoyed eyes closed, sitting or lying down and travelling through one's own imagination. They have just been announced for Dunk! Festival and guess what I will be doing when they appear on stage?
Terraformer - Adamantine
Last month, Dunk! Records delivered another smasher with Terraformer's 'Mineral' album. 'Mineral' is a post rock album you can bang your head to and it's once again evidence that 2017 is going a Belgian year, certainly in the end-year-lists.
There you go, fifteen tracks I identify as post-rock. I know, you might ask, "where are Mono, Isis, Sigur Ros, Russian Circles?". Well, everybody has to dig his own way into a genre and everyone will define it his own way. Mono is awesome, true. I don't like Sigur Ros, that's also true. Isis and Russian Circles will probably appear on another edition of rerooting, as will many others. Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins and Slowdive have been named as major influences in the post rock genre but they too will appear on other lists. Besides, we are Merchants Of Air, we like the little guys too :)