Antwerp’s contribution to the stream of interesting new Belgian music makers includes the likes of Pomrad, Internal Sun and A/T/O/S. The proud city is looking beyond its city walls and heading for a promising future, flying the flag of fresh new sounds.
Though Antwerp has always been an early adopter of hypes as well as a hotbed for contemporary forward-thinking music, electronic or otherwise, the amalgam of difficult-to-define musical adventures gathered under the umbrella name of ‘beats’ – for lack of a better word – didn’t manage to stir up much in this proud city. The ‘car park’, as they like to call the rest of Belgium, led the way while Antwerp ‘s beats scene was notable only for its deafening absence. That was, of course, until Pomrad burst onto the scene. This one-man band not only reapplied Antwerp’s finger firmly on the pulse but also introduced a much-needed dose of humour and ruckus to a genre that’s not known for more exuberant reactions than hefty head nods.
In little over a year, Pomrad claimed his place among established Belgian festival acts and made an international name for himself as one to watch. One EP on Oh Wee records and a feature on a Brownswood compilation made sure of that. Turning this momentum into something more permanent, the “This Day EP” has just been released on the British Earnest Endeavours label. His sound hasn’t changed much since his first official release, yet it’s still crisp enough to convert more minions to his gospel, and establishes a firm foundation for his energetic live act which, coupled with the catchiness of the tracks, is what made his appeal so powerful in the first place (…doing more than checking your mails from your laptop is still a considerable edge as an live act in electronic music these days.) What we do hope is that his next EP will, on top of taking his music to that all important but wonderfully vague ‘next level’, bring back his humorous side which made his first steps so refreshing.
There was a time when Internal Sun and Pomrad were label-mates, but Andrew Claes and Natalie Meeusen ended up releasing their self-titled debut EP themselves. Sounding less conventional in structure, and with more emphasis on texture and a wider diversity in sounds and moods, their sound is not too far off Flying Lotus. But instead of trying to emulate the Los Angeles beat maker’s sonic escapades – like so many others, ending up with a insipid copy – Andrew’s background as a trained jazz musician and his experience in bands like BRZZVL and STUFF. sets Internal Sun’s music apart. Live, his improvisations, coupled with interaction with VJ Natché, transform his music into a multi-faceted experience that’s far more than new versions of original compositions. The EP is a promising start and should definitely motivate listeners for the live performance.
And finally, the last act to reestablish Antwerp’s status as bastion of interesting new sounds is A/T/O/S (A Taste Of Struggle). Signed to dubstep originator Mala’s Deep Medi Musik label, with Skream and Commodo remixes and heralded by, among others, Mary Anne Hobbs, this new project by a city music veteran will probably get its fair share of attention internationally. It’s slow, moody and bass-heavy, a sort-of updated version of what Massive Attack did more than a decade ago, as opposed to pure dubstep or that horrible American offspring filed under the daft moniker of EDM. Solid release that leaves us yearning for more.
Three rays of sunshine don’t make it summer but it’s good to see Antwerp adding her two cents to the stream of interesting music currently produced by Belgian artists, assertively looking beyond the country’s borders in a way few others are. Feels like there’s lots more to come.