"This is a mix of what I consider our heritage. It’s an almost forgotten 70’s era of incredible good jazz and fusion made in Belgium by musical geniuses. The most famous artist in that genre was probably Marc Moulin, who was known outside of Belgium for his more recent releases on Blue Note. But in the early seventies Marc Moulin founded a jazz fusion band, Placebo. Kirk Degiorgio signed the band on his label Counterpoint by insisting on the relevance and visionary side of the group. These releases are still on the list of many diggers today. Another artist who’s been sampled by the greatest is René Costy. A violin player with a successful career which ended - from what I heard - with a job on Belgian television as a composer. He has an enormous amount of library songs - over 400 - and in different genres. Huge catalogue but the most notable song was probably "Scrabble" on Chappell International (part of Universal Music) which was sampled by the late Jay Dee aka J Dilla for his classic hip hop record "fuck the police".
Hiele - Say (2014)
Belgium’s Hiele is a producer who prides himself on crafting unidentifiable hybrid structures within the realm of electronic music. Opening the man’s forthcoming Essential Oils LP for Ekster (out on March 14), “Say” is one such track, stitching together sections of jazz-inflected beat work with traces of IDM precision and skweee’s playfulness. To his credit, Hiele is able to make sense of it all, and what emerges is a sharp image of the Antwerp producer’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production approach.
Le Colisée - La fin des temps
19 year old philosophy student David Nzeyimana writes beautiful compositions, sings, dances and plays the guitar under the moniker of Le Colisée. He teamed up with Bruxelles Ma Belle to film an acoustic session at the Antoine-Wiertz museum.
"Nectar et ambrosiam"
Collegium Vocale Gent, Herreweghe
Lassus: Cantiones sacrae sex vocum
Veence Hanao - Chasse & Pêche (2013)
Inspired videos, moody hiphop-based music and clever rhymes in an end-of-year list but it’s not Stromae. This is far deeper and came out six months earlier. Reaffirmed our belief in (French-spoken) MC’s and proved you don’t have to bring out the corny synth sounds to avoid being categorised as old school or golden era nostalgic.
Chantal Acda - Let Your Hands Be My Guide (2013)
Sometimes there is no more powerful music than that marked by delicacy, quietude, and understatement. Look no further than Chantal Acda’s Let Your Hands Be My Guide as proof, for it’s one of the most beautiful recordings issued this year. Ably supported by Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick, Gyda Valtysdottir, and Shahzad Ismaily, the Belgium-based, Dutch-born Acda (who has recorded under the Sleepingdog moniker since 2006) has released a collection that in certain moments is so lovely it verges on overwhelming.
74 Miles Away - Gear Change (2013)
Belgian quartet 74 Miles Away combine the talents of a jazz pianist, production duo and flautist to create a heady mix of old and new that taps into everything that makes you feel good about jazz, soul and beats. Having released on Cologne’s MPM and London’s Brownswood, their latest release comes with the support of Brussels’ Laid Back, and sees the quartet delve deep into their influences and current interests. Across eight tracks, Gear Change covers dedications to greats like Bob James and Weather Report, ’80s boogie and modern beats without ever sounding clichéd. The title cut is a particularly funky highlight, sure to perk up anybody’s day.
Jüppala Kääpiö - Excerpt from a concert in Finland, April 2013
Ha- ha, I was fooled into thinking Jüppala Kääpiö was indeed a Finnish folk group beavering away on portable electronic gadgets and handheld instruments in a little log cabin in dense forest somewhere far from Helsinki. In fact the only real Finnish deal about Jüppala Kääpiö is the name: the Belgian-based act is actually made up of Japanese sound artist Hitoshi Kojo and Swiss singer Carole Kojo. The music they play is based on environmental themes and folklore traditions drawn from various countries and if I listen carefully, I swear I can hear something almost like Okinawan folk music: light, sunny and on the playful side.
Kaboom Karavan - Hokus Fokus (2013)
The good folks at Miasmah are set to release yet another incredibly moody, exquisitely detailed album, this time by Kaboom Karavan. It’s called Hokus Fokus and sees Bram Bosteel amplifying the surreal and filmic qualities of his music, evoking both terror and immersion with structural suspense and textural versatility. The album sounds aggressively modern, with its interplay between abstraction and narrative, but it also sounds anachronistic at times, with the creepy Kreng-like atmospherics heading straight into a pre-WWII smokehouse of clunky Tom Waits rhythms and sinister vaudeville theatrics.
Villa - Mint (2013)
The track features vocal from Francois De Meyer (one half of the duo), who does a sterling job in both content and delivery. It’s so much more than just a recycled sample which, these days, too many producers seem to rely on, as the vocal interweaves with chugging bassline to create moments of really punch and harmony.
Squeaky Lobster - The Monster Swim (2013)
On ‘The Monster Swim’ there’s clever sampling shot through layers of delay, uprising vocal crescendos, textured breakdowns and a snare that hits into the classic lurch from the very first hit. It’s got that ribboned, running arpeggiator sound to it in places that hints of rainy rooftops, disturbing wind up toys and androids fighting for the truth but to me, it’s just really pretty the way he manages to wrap all of those things up in the one three minute package without it ever sounding tired.