With just two days to go before indie music magazine Subbacultcha takes over Brussels’ L’Ancienne Belgique for its annual festival The Sound of the Belgian Underground with a locals only line-up to die for – Shetahr, Samuelspaniel, Cocaine Piss, Wulfy Benzo, Mittland Och Leo and Orphan Swords to name just a few – we asked the team to handpick some of its favourite Belgian releases. And, true to its signature eclectic style, there’s a bit of everything for everyone with, as is expected, a focus on the underground sounds emanating from the country’s music vaults.
1. Camino del Sol – Antena (Camino Del Sol, 1982, Les Disques Du Crepuscule)
Antena was an electro-samba French-Belgian trio signed to Les Disques Du Crepuscule, little sister of Factory Benelux. ‘Camino Del Sol’ perfectly captures the ambience of a tropical summer at a semi-luxurious seaside resort. All you want to do is feel dazed from burning in the sun all day, dress in white and sip on some rosé while sitting at a similar terrace as on the album cover.
2. African Queen – Allez Allez (African Queen, 1981, Scalp Records)
Allez Allez, a short lived Belgian new wave funk band from the 80′s. They have produced a few hits, among them was ‘African Queen (Pour La Grace)’, a song dedicated to the beautiful and talented Grace Jones. There is also a remix out there by ‘Moonlight Matters’ that brings the vocals forward in a really cool way. Think we might actually prefer it to the original.
3. Voices in The Silence – Jo Lemaire + Flouze (Pigmy World, 1981, Vertigo)
Though probably more commonly known for an 80′s style cover of Gainsbourg’s “Je suis venue te dire que je m’en vais”, Belgian Jo Lemaire makes her way onto this list with ‘Voices in The Silence’, a sweet jam that mixes new wave and synthpop. Also, as a bonus, Belgian friend, Vini Reilly, from The Durutti Column, lent his guitar skills on the song.
4. Amoureux Solitaires – Lio (Amoureux Solitaires, 1980, Ariola)
So here is the story, Jacno, one of our musical idols, had his debut with the Stinky Toys, the first punk band in France. The band released their first LP ‘Plastic Faces’ with one of the songs entitled ‘Lonely Lovers’. Later, Jacno turns to synth-pop and meets Lio who was a big fan of the Stinky Toys. The two decide to work on a French version of ‘Lonely Lovers’: ‘Amoureux Solitaires’. Jaco arranged and produced it.
5. Marylin en Jean – Tonic (Marilyn en Jean, 1982, WEA)
We can’t really tell you too much about Tonic. It’s some rare shit and it’s some of the catchiest italo-disco-like songs we’ve ever heard. Don’t bother looking for more songs from them though, they’re not really worth it.
6. Japan Is Romantic – Ignatz & De Stervende Honden (Teenage Boys, 2014, Ultra Eczema)
We realize this song is the only ‘modern’ one out of the bunch. Ignatz has this American folk vibe in the music he’s making that sometimes makes you forget this thing comes out of Brussels. We like to listen to this song when we want to chill super hard and get lost in a daze. Close your eyes and listen carefully.
7. You Are Disco – Transvolta (Disco Computer / You Are Disco, 1978, Disques Vogue)
Belgian electronic music pioneer Dan Lacksman does not need much introduction. Telex, the project he assembled with Marc Moulin, is fashionably everyone’s favourite Belgian synth-pop band from the 80’s. However, before this, Lacksman worked on Transvolta. ‘You Are Disco’ is a very simple track that was ahead of its time and which remains one of the best electronic-disco song out there.
8. Controversy Between – Front 242 (Endless Riddance, 1983, Himalaya)
We’ve always wanted to learn more about the EBM masters Front 242. We only know a few of their songs and ‘Controversy Between’ is by far our favourite one; musically and visually. This gem needs to be experienced with its full content. The only real way to feel it is with the video. We’re loving those dance moves and them really going at it by 02:53. They look so cool.
9. Elle Et Moi – Max Berlin (Elle et Moi, 1987, Public)
‘Elle Et Moi’ just has this voice tone and sensual vibe that makes everyone think it is a Gainsbourg song. But it’s not. Max Berlin’s real name is Jean-Pierre Cerrone. There’s a rumour on the Internet that he is the brother of THE Cerrone, the euro disco figure.
10. Acid Rock – Rhythm Device (Acid Rock, 1989, Music Man Records)
“There was a time when Rock n’ Roll was easy, but now it’s clean and heavy”. This songs make it on the list for everyone to remember the New Beat era, when playback performances would take places across all Belgian clubs.