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Playlist: Eighties Live

Musically speaking, the Eighties don’t have the best reputation. There was Hair Metal, George Michael in different blazers, the electronic drum and MTV pushing music videos.  One often forgets that it was also the decade of the New Romantics, New Wave and early electronica. Here is a selection of timeless 80s classics, all performed live. You’ve guessed it, I do like analog synths. Full track listing if you continue reading.

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Live set: Nakadia @ Green Love (Novi Sad, 03/12/2016)

Nakadia kicked bottom in 2016: she signed with Cocoon and was named one of the six people that changed dance music in 2016. Impressive, kudos! She caught my attention years because of a shared (adopted) hometown in Isaan and kept lingering on with her great sets, that I’ve been featuring for a long time. A 2011 documentary about her impressive track record is available here. Full set recorded at Green Love in Serbia if you continue reading.

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Playlist: Deep Despair

The current grim and dark Belgian weather is reflected in my latest compilation: Deep Despair. Deep house to Electro Pop with a melancholic undercurrent. Swapping a tropical climate for winter and leaving my princess behind in the process might have been a contributing factor, but let’s not dwell on that. For your consideration and perfect for gym and workout purposes. Full track listing if you continue reading.

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Playlist: Zillion Classics

In 1997, a new venue was added to Antwerp’s nightlife scene. Zillion took the use of technology to new levels, added an element of showmanship to night time entertainment and became an overnight success. Legal troubles surfaced from the very beginning and would ultimately lead to its demise in 2002. With plenty of media attention, several plot lines, plenty of drama, suggested criminal activity, potential stock market manipulation and sexual intrigue, the story warrants its own article (*coming*) and has the potential for a blockbuster movie. However, Zillion also leaves a lasting legacy and a devoted following. This playlist contains tracks straight from its dance floor. For most people they are trance classics, but for regular visitors they will always be Zillion Classics. Complete track listing if you continue reading.

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Playlist: Belpop

This time, a playlist that doesn’t tell the story of a subculture but rather that of a geographical area: my home country of Belgium. This is a collection of records that have an international appeal, but have slipped into relative obscurity. It’s a trip starting in the clubs, moving past trip-hop, visiting rock venues and ending up in a tropical ska atmosphere. Isn’t Belgium wonderfully diverse? Full track listing if you continue reading.

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Glitterati tune: Slow down, Jolene!

Recently, I’ve told you about two historical Belgian subcultures that featured playing pitched-down versions of songs: Popcorn and New Beat. There’s another fairly recent example of this phenomenon, with a surprisingly pleasant result. When Dolly Parton’s Jolene is played at 33 rpm (in stead of 45 rpm, or slowed down by 25%), a completely new kind of song, with a spooky male voice appears. Eerie, isn’t it?

 

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Playlist: New Beat Classics

Last time, I told you the story of Popcorn music and how it was the precursor to modern day nightlife and the record culture. Just like its cousin Northern Soul, Popcorn eventually gave way to the disco era. Belgians hadn’t lost their eclectic taste and preference for pitched-down records and soon grew tired of disco. In the mid Eighties, the first sign emerged in Antwerp’s Ancienne Belgique club were legendary DJ Dikke Ronny (‘Fat Ronny’) started playing a mix of ska, synth pop, new wave, jazz and other obscure records. Initially, this was known as AB music. The real spark came when Ronny played Flesh by A Split second at the slower 33 rpm (+8) tempo. The sound struck a chord and Ronny’s successor Marc Grouls labelled it New Beat. The mood was recreated by playing other tracks at the same speed, and the popularity skyrocketed. Because of this, independent labels started producing new records with the same hypnotizing feel and sales went to the roof, unexpectedly. Mainstream media initially ignored the movement which grew to monstrous dimensions, even spawning its very own way of dancing and very specific fashion statements. When radio and television caved, New Beat went mainstream and peaked from ’87 to ’89, in parallel with Chicago’s Acid house movement. New Beat records started being released in extremely high numbers, quality dropped and the audience grew tired. Because of this, many classics slipped into obscurity. The impact and legacy of New Beat should not be underestimated: many producers learned their trade in this short period of time and the movement would lead to the Rave culture in the Netherlands and the UK. That is a story for another time. The playlist contains my personal favorites (track listing if you continue reading). If you would like to learn more, I highly recommend Joseph DevillĂ©’s The Sound of Belgium documentary and this video by the Dewaele brothers.

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