Following a longstanding obsession with the Belgian music scene whilst hosting a weekly radio show in his hometown of Toulouse, Frédéric Alstadt (1973) made the move to Brussels more than ten years ago now. Head honcho at experimental Brussels-based imprint Ångstrom Records and mastermind at sister mastering studio Ångstrom Mastering, his perspective on and knowledge of the Belgian musical landscape runs deep. Here, in a list that tilts heavily towards the drone-ish, he reveals 15 of his favourite Belgian releases.
Photo: Sylvain Van Iniitu
1. Charlemagne Palestine – Ssingggg Sschlllingg (Sshpppingg, Idiosynchratics, 2015)
Charlemagne Palestine is an American born pluridisciplinary artist that’s been living in Belgium for years. He’s part of the American (or should I say Belgian?) minimalist movement. Anyway, to my ears this is one the best outcomes of Schaerbeek Chamanske.
2. Joachim Badenhorst – Duo with annoying birds (Santé Loisir, 2015)
One of the most talented Belgian clarinet players (he’s also a player of many other wind-instruments), this very special release was made during a trip to Japan with him, while he was playing in different situations and concerts.
3. Hiele – Saints (Soundtrack to documentary from Dieter Deswarte, Ekster, 2016)
Roman Hiele is mostly known for his hectic acid basslines, but this one is really special, embracing acoustic instruments while mixing them very subtly with electronic sounds.
4. Josquin Des Prez – Proche dolor pie jehsu (Capital Flamenca, circa 1550)
One of the masters of the Belgian Renaissance. Unavoidable. This particular piece still thrills me at every listen.
5. Amen Ra – ‘Reconciliatio et Paenitentia’, Excerpt (Amen ra self released, 2015)
Very special project that Ghent-based post-hardcore, doom and drone ensemble Amen Ra released. A bit out of their usual formats, they take rhythms apart to dive into some stretch of the core of their music: deep , dark and mystic.
6. Henri Pousseur – Huit etudes paraboliques 4 (re-edition Sub Rosa, 1972)
A timeless and modern piece by Henri Pousseur, the electro-acoustic master, re-released by Sub Rosa in 2001.
7. MS30 – Ndar (Silken Tofu, 2012)
Eric Desjeux & Aymeric de Tapol joined forces for this project. Unfortunately there was only one release, where both of them dogged their African influences to compose a series of hypnotic pieces.
8. Yves de Mey – Late night patching #1 (Entr’acte, 2016)
This release initiated from a very geeky approach, patching for hours at a time during long nights, with analog or digital synths (those who know will understand what I’m talking about ;-)). A timeless turn in Belgian repetitive electronic music.
9. Muziek In Vlaanderen – Elektronische produktie van het I.P.E.M. (Alpha Brussels, 1978 / Raoul De Smet – Studie V)
Extreme and intense synth piece for that era, breathtaking!
10. Syncopated Elevators Legacy – The Siamese level (Elf cut, 2000)
Cédric Stevens is, along with David Morley, the one I discovered the Belgian electronic scene with during the mid 90s. This one’s released on Elf Cut.
11. Saule – Olé (Sub Rosa, 2002)
A too rare turntablism outcome from Xavier Garcia Bardon (who’s also part of Buffle).
12. Sun papa & the fan club orchestra – Josée Andrei, an insane portrait (Sonig, 2013)
Wen it comes to Belgian Electronics, Laurent Baudoux is an unavoidable figure, with his own unique style in every project. This record is unfortunately one of his lesser known, where he could freely express his sensitivity on this soundtrack composed for a documentary about Belgian blind painter, José Andrei.
13. Sublime diagonal – 248 YEARS (radio pluton #3 K7, 2012)
Enigmatic Techno Acid release by one of the Martien go home members.
14. Stephen Montague – Slow Dance On A Burial Ground – 1 – Slow Dance On A Burial Ground (Institute For Psychoacoustics And Electronic Music (IPEM) – 50 Years Of Electronic And Electroacoustic Music At The Ghent University, 1984)
This piece is from an American composer and was initially released on an american label, BUT it was composed in Ghent! Re-revealed by the Metaphon Crew.
15. Aymeric de Tapol – Temple Gauche (VLEK, 2014)
I could absolutely not be objective about his music. It’s always deep and authentic.