As the man in charge of Les Atelier Claus’ artistic direction, Tommy De Nys (Ostend, 1977) occupies a prime, and crucial, spot in the country’s alternative music scene. Indeed, the Brussels-based concert venue, known for its finely-crafted programme of concerts and festivals, exists nearly exclusively as a stage for the lesser-known acts that operate on the fringes of contemporary music of all sorts – everything from the most experimental electronic to the most forward-looking folk. And, with a solid background releasing records (with aim-records, the record imprint he founded in 2002), working for labels (with stints at Aim, Lowlands and Ghent’s famed KRAAK), playing with bands (Spookhuisje and Ignatz to name a few) and publishing a free magazine (Ruis), Tommy’s knowledge of the local scene is second to none. The perfect person to contribute to our on-going favourite Belgian releases feature then.
1. Bear Bones, Lay Low – “Hazy Frog” (“El Telonero” LP/CD, KRAAK, 2012)
I love Ernesto’s music and his live sets. It’s been a good ride to see his different personas and evolution. I also enjoy his bands such as Tav Exotic, Viper Pit & Sylvester Anfang. This track Hazy Frog is great because it has a good melody, weirdness and playfulness. Library music for good trips.
2. Ignatz – She Gets All She Wants (“God Damn, I Hate The Blues”, KRAAK, 2011)
I never tire of listening to Bram Devens. I just picked a track, but I could have selected any of them.
3. Klanken – Drie (“Drie / Twee”, Deewee, 2015)
The Dewaele brothers (of 2 Many DJs fame) recorded this EP at their own Deewee Studio. This track made me instantly go crazy and makes me want to crawl into my speakers. Such a good sound, mixing, drive and colour.
4. Daniel Schell & Dick Annegarn – la ballade du Zwin (“Egmont and The FF Boom”, Free Bird, 1979)
Beautiful track from an excellent album that talks about a part of Belgian history. This album means a lot to me as I was introduced to it by Tom De Weerdt aka DJ Low, who put so much of his life into the Belgian music scene. I’m a fan of Daniel Schell and his other acts such as COS too.
5. Aksak Maboul – Modern Lesson (“Un peu de l’âme des bandits”, Crammed Discs, 1979)
I could have chosen almost any Aksak Maboul track. This one is the opening track from their second album. Has it all for me and is so unique in its entity. The band is key to the Belgian music scene and so is their frontmant Marc Hollander and his label Crammed Discs. Still going for it 24-7.
6. Madou – Witte Nachten (“Witte Nachten / Bijna Gelukkig”, Parsley, 1981)
This tracks gives me goosebumps. I can’t give an objective opinion about this one anymore. And it brings such great Belgian figures together: Wiet Van De Leest (of Rum), Leo Coomans (great free jazz player), the unique voice of Vera Coomans and one of my favourite producers: Jean Marie Aerts. Incredible what Aerts produced in the past. This guy deserves a statue!
7. Soft Verdict – Invader (“For Amusement Only”, Les disques du crépuscule, 1982)
Music by Wim Mertens and Gust De Meyer. Great and funny electronic music made for pinball machines. Witty and intelligent at the same time. Released on such an important label for Belgian music: Les disques du crépuscule.
8. Mittland och Leo – Spinning Tires (“Myland And Lion”, Ultra Eczema, 2011)
I love the dreamy pop music of Mittland Och Leo. Sunny haze from Antwerp on the unique Ultra Eczema label. I wish I had more time to extend this list to include tracks by Miaux, Dolphins into the Future, Floris Vanhoof, Gerard Herman, Vom Gril, etc…
9. Hendrik Daems – Ethnical Music in Belgium (BRT, 1970)
Short track in a Flemish dialect with a Rommelpot taking care of the pace. For starters I like the instrument, love the story that’s being told, but also find it incredible that this music is disappearing despite being part of our cultural history. Sublime Frequencies from our very own regions.
10. Scan Lines – the paradise of the artificial eye (M. Galasso , J. Van Rymenant – created by the Plan K, Igloo , 1984)
I chose this track because of John Van Rijmenant’s music, but also because of Plan K, who made this work possible, and the finishing touch of the label Igloo, that’s responsible for so many good Belgian music such as Jacques Bekaert, Leo Kupper, Walter Hus, Maximalist, Julverne, etc..
11. Kebab – Life is a Joke (Barakkenplaten, 1982)
Great uptempo track that works even better after a few beers. Early 80’s stuff (which I like), in the vein of De Brassers, Zé Barbies, Aroma di Amore and Struggler.
12. Louis De Meester – Betje Trompet en de Reus (“Betje Trompet En De Reus / Kindertonelen Opus 60 Voor Klein Orkest”, Alpha Brussels – Musique Belge Contemporaine, 1975)
I chose this track because I love the work of Louis De Meester. He made great classical, electronic and contemporary classical music, but this track is a mixture of classical music and a listening play. It’s only a short piece that I put online where a small bunch of instruments get lost in the woods and a Giant captures them. And his main problem is that he hates music! Music from the Belgian archives.
Don’t miss the second installment of Les Ateliers Claus’ Circus Claus on Saturday 28th May in St Gilles, Brussels.