The Sound Of Belgium – **(*)

Posted: March 18, 2018 in 2012, Belgium, Documentary, XX1/2

30 years of New Beat. Especially in Belgium, this is a bit of a celebration. From 1985 to 1995 the country (well, Flanders and Brussels) were at the centre of the global music scene because they released successful vinyl tracks that sounded like nothing else before and became such a hype that pop music took over and killed it. However, this ‘new beat’ became a foundation of anything else that was produced in the club scene afterwards.

It’s a fun documentary if you’re interested in the topic. It actually starts with a short (but correct) introduction of Belgium, a fabricated buffer state in between England, the Netherlands, Germany and France. It talks about the yearly fairs, the barrel organs, the invention of bakelite by Belgo-American Leo Baekeland that was used to make vinyl, the opening of dance clubs along the highways, the import of international sounds by the port of Antwerp, the dj’s from the seventies, the popularity of disco and the counter-reaction of punk. And hup we are  in the eighties, where Belgian dj’s and producers start playing aggressive, dark dance music with an edge. They spin the records at a different speed and add all kinds of sounds to the music. It’s music made by producers and not by musicians! It’s Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre, but with a rebel attitude. And that’s how we got to NEW BEAT.

It’s a good documentary, but the ‘sound of Belgium’ just focuses on new beat really. It doesn’t say anything about the indie rock scene or the mishmash of cultures we put together in the music is made in Belgium. There are influences from France, England, the US and Africa…. the entire world. That mix is what makes the sound of Belgium. So, this documentary has a wrong title. It’s also a bit patriotic/nationalistic. But that suits the scene well. Maybe the new beat was the only thing that united the Flemish and the French-Speaking Belgians! You hear both languages throughout the documentary. However, there’s no mention of other influencers from other countries. They even forget to mention that Baekeland was really an American from Belgian descent. Dance music really didn’t originate in Belgium either. The UK and Germany were as influential. And let’s not forget Chicago and New YOrk! And there’s an unnecessary diss to Depeche Mode by Sven Van Hees.

So, fun to watch, but pretty superficial. Give it a shot though.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2966298

The whole movie is available on this site:

https://boilerroom.tv/recording/sound-belgium

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