New Beat has taken a back seat and despite notable exceptions this very Belgian sound has remained on the margins. And perhaps that’s where it belongs, in the late night club where echoing acid is spliced by beats and sweat, on the purity of sticky floors. The Fashion Victims of Fenix Fire are ready to welcome a new breed into the darkness, to infect them with the addictive sound of Belgium.
Electronic music has always suffered from its genre tags. Tell people you listen to techno and they’ll respond with: “Like dwuffth dwuffth dwuffth?” Say house and you’ll get the even worse: “Like in Ibiza?” Then there’s the abbreviated names, IDM being the most universally disliked (though personally I’ve come round to it.) EBM is another one. Electronic Body Music. Not to be mistaken for EDM, the less said the better. EBM, a genre tag with little sense attached to it, also had a lesser known cousin. Born in Belgium, New Beat grew up in an era of Wave and Rave. There are solid differences between these relatives, differences explored by a new Antwerp based label: Fenix Fire.
The four track compilation is steeped in the late 80s sound of its homeland. As bright eyed popstars filled the magazines and screens of western Europe the Belgians were cultivating a dark underground, one born out of the burgeoning acid house scene of Chicago and its own post punk movement. The quartet of Fashion Victims were moulded in a time of ragged chic, neon and strobe. Shimanski Beats sets the tone with “When He Arrives.” The track is brooding and unapologetically menacing. Drum patterns are slow and marked with intent. Bitter 303 bars corrupt as you’re pulled towards the floor, and once there you won´t be leaving. Pakrac follows. The scene is similar, percussion leading the listener into a stark and shadowed den of smoke. And it is within this darkened audio lair that Pakrac strikes, allowing toxic acid chords to infest and turn “Breakpoint” into a barren beast. Q’pnz opens the flip with the smouldering “Celeritas.” Steady claps support writhing chords. Bending bars are simmered into a twisted residue that will ignite floors with an extra bit of pitch fader bump. The slowest, and most domestic, of the 12” is Pakrac’s take on a Human Nihil number. Tempos drop with a low gurgle and growl being the focus.
It’s interesting how certain sounds and styles have come into focus. EBM definitely has, magnified over the last decade by the surge in synth-wave reissues and the development of a burgeoning fan-base. New Beat has taken a back seat and despite notable exceptions this very Belgian sound has remained on the margins. And perhaps that’s where it belongs, in the late night club where echoing acid is spliced by beats and sweat, on the purity of sticky floors. The Fashion Victims of Fenix Fire are ready to welcome a new breed into the darkness, to infect them with the addictive sound of Belgium.
Fashion Victims is available on Fenix Fire.