(by Richard Noise, NME)
New Beat, Take One -- AB Sounds
(Subway LP -- Belgian Import)
REVENGE! After suffering years of ridicule as our laughably unfashionable European
relative, after endless Belgian jokes and Plastic Bertrand slurs, the lowest of the low
countries is striking back hard at the heart of Britain's hip junta.
In London clubs where the Acid House sound of Chicago once ruled and where everything American was held in reverence, a tiny elite force of DJs are now programming the relentless sound of Belgian 'New Beat' music and declaring people like The Erotic Dissidents and Jade 4U to be messiahs of the modern dance.
But what exactly is this New Beat of Belgium? Well, to understand its destiny one has, of course, to appreciate its history. Futurist electro-pop never died in the neon nightclubs of the Benelux. and while Brits were wearing distressed denim and proclaiming the virtues of the Super Heavy Funk, our Belgian counterparts were still clad in black garb and grooving to dark- minded synthetic pulsebeats.
In an Antwerp disco laserium called the Ancienne Belgique (hence'AB Sounds'), futurism mutated into a new strain of club music, one that, unlike the evil body-noise of Front 242, had a smile on its face, a silly porno groan or a trash movie sample within push-button reach. That, and a rhythm devoid of dynamic yet apocalyptic in impact.
lmagine the bastard offspring of Phil Oakey and Patsy Kensit, of S-Express and Ultravox, a bald guy in naff shoes with a fetish for synthesizers, and you'll be achieving a comprehension of In-D's electronic dreamdrone 'Virgin In-D Skies' or the merry ejaculations of Taste Of Sugar's 'Hmm Hmm'. New Beat is the ultimate soulless machine music, the robot dance of Kraftwerk's 'Showroom Dummies' stripped to its ribcage, to its rhythmically methodical conclusion.
It's because these Belgians chanting their twisted slogans over a barbed box-beat are so alien to our blinkered concept of cool that they're brilliant. If all the people adopting this skeletal New Romantic groove as their new club soundtrack are falling for an elite con trick (as they probably suspect themselves in this year of dance scams) well . . . who cares? Why not just, as The Erotic Dissidents suggest here, 'Move Your Ass And Feel The Beat', why not submit to the infectious melody of the New-Beat anthem, Split Second's 'Flesh'?
Why not enjoy the EEC's revenge on the British trendy, settle in with some 'AB sounds' and wait for 1992. Get right on one, Bertrand!
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