The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Dance Like It's OK 2: New Music From Netherlands Belgium & Germany
Theo Ploeg , August 30th, 2013 05:31

Our Dutch Master Theo Ploeg continues his search for the best new electronic music emanating from Europe's lowlands...

Okay, I admit it: this column should be about electronic music but I really can't ignore the current developments in Dutch neo-indie. You know: loud, distorted guitars, a longing back to American hardcore, British shoegaze and other stuff from the past, but in an amazingly good way. Last year's album by The Sugarettes was magic and earlier this year I wrote about the excellent Rich & On Wheels by Vox Von Braun. But now there are some new kids on the block. First off the noise pop outfit from Eindhoven Nikoo have teamed up with Dazzled Kid, the former singer of Amsterdam rockers Voicst for new single ‘The Coast’. Nouveau Veló from Helmond have released their third EP Dazed, which is full of noisy shoegaze. Spikier and noisier are the three first songs off Enschede's The Daydream Fit, unmistakably influenced by 80s American indie rock, while Make Me Forget sound like a low-fi Metz or Japandroids. And that's just fine.

And now: let's talk about electronics.

The last time I was in Cologne I visited the excellent record shop Groove Attack. While digging the crates I couldn't stop listening to the record that was played in the store. It turned out to be Forget The Pink Elephant, the long player debut by DWIG, Die Wiesen im Garten, meaning the meadow in the garden. Now, I still haven't found much about this German producer; I'm still working on it but Forget The Pink Elephant is released on Giegling, founded in 2009 in Weimar, the birthplace of the Bauhaus school. DWIG and Giegling match perfectly, being both keen on creating moods. Forget The Pink Elephant is a very open record. as if DWIG are giving you a black and white picture and are leaving you to fill in the colour. The rather slow dubby techno they create is laced with accents, odd and very short rhythm changes and strange samples. It is a tricky sound that disappears before you even notice it. It is very subtle without being background music. Musically there is a link with the weird techno/house of Kalabrese who uses the same way of accentuating, although his music is much more in your face. The best track here is 'Der Apfel und das Ei' (the apple and the egg), which is introverted and supercooled house, with brilliant use of chopped up vocal samples that would fit perfectly with the micro house sound of the Kompakt label, also based in Cologne. I'm madly in love with this album.

In 2012 Martijn van Gessel - founder of the infamous record label Enfant Terrible - founded Gooiland Elektro (the name is a reference to the area between Utrecht and Hilversum where the label is situated) bringing all kinds of danceable electro on vinyl. Their seventh release is the 12" Dunkel For Den Augen by Berlin based duo Schwefelgelb. Although the sound is influenced by early eighties Neue Deutsche Welle and the centre of the revival is situated around Club des Amateurs in Düsseldorf, Schwefelgelb breathes Berlin. Dunkel For Den Augen has a very rough and raw sound that reminds me of the early days in clubs like Tresor, making the mixture of early electro and cold and hard 90s techno a special one.

Schwefelgelb AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE VOM FENSTER from Schwefelgelb on Vimeo.

Hailing from Tilburg, DRVG CVLTVRE is synthesizing a weird kind of dance floor narcotic. The man behind the project is Vincent Koreman, the artistic director of the Incubate Festival and a veteran of the Dutch music scene, who has been active in electro, techno and punk outfits during the last twenty years but DRVG CVLTVRE is his best guise yet. His last 12" Oblivion has been released on Gooiland Elektro a month ago and has a mixture of slow rhythms, deep bass, percussion, acid and a deep dark vibe. Koreman calls his music doom disco, but this is definitely beyond doom. He drowns the Thin Lizzy classic 'Bad Reputation' in acid and slows it down so it's unrecognisable and sounds ruthless. Scary stuff. In the universe of DRVG CVLTVRE there is no hope.

Heerlen is the next Berlin, some people say. Could be, but truth is Heerlen is in a way still a non-place. Areas of the city centre are empty, young people are leaving when they are 18 and there isn't much to do. Such a situation has advantages though. Nothingness leads the way for creative people with no money or stimuli around. Despite all this the electronics scene in Heerlen is very vibrant with Raadsel, Kijk Een Ster, Roestvogel and Subp Yao as most interesting producers. Their monthly club night Depth at club De Nieuwe Nor is the best thing around. Subp Yao just releases his new Bottles Poppin' ep in the Dutch Bass series by the Amsterdam based label Basserk, although it's not his best material, to be honest. In comparison to earlier work Bottles Poppin' is rather straightforward bass music with elements of hip hop and trap. The glitchy sound and subtleness that is so typical for Subp Yao's work on the Hamburg label Saturate! records seems to have been lost. But hey, of course this is the bass series and if these four tracks are good for anything, it's dancing your ass off.

Talkin about dancing: the five track EP Sweat by Stacey Angst clocks at 12.12 and contains some rough booty shacking material. "Turn around and fuck her backward", a voice keeps repeating in opener 'Turn' while the bass pounds deep. In another track "we can do it..." is repeated over and over again. Stacey Angst, from Perth, Australia but releasing his stuff on the Amsterdam based Basserk, knows how to make some fine sex-fuelled ghetto bass. Just listen to those bass drums...

Best way to know what's hot and upcoming in Dutch electronic music? Check the Nieuwe Electronische Waar (N.E.W.) compilation that is released each year by the platform for producers from the east of The Netherlands. Edition eight is worth checking out ranging from fierce bass music to glitch and techno. Highlights? The moody future garage by Sam A La Lot & Asterisms with Bijou’s beautiful vocals, SineWave77's deep and cold bass music, the slow dubstep/drum & bass meets progressive trance monster by Knarsetand, Raymond Brugman's eight minute long dub excursion 'Einzelganger' and the much too short glitchy ambient goes latin beat 'Jumbled' by Julien Mier.

Talent Julien Mier is also present on the Lo Pack sampler by Lomechanik, an adventurous label from Nijmegen. A city with an interesting past in more experimental electronic music and a huge alternative scene surrounding club Extrapool and Lomechanik. Lo Pack is a 22 track digital sampler showcasing some new Dutch talents, mixing them with new material from more known producers. Excellent compilation kickstarting Van der Waal (present with three moody and melodic bass tracks) and bringing new compelling stuff by Know VA (mixing deep techno with old school rave) Raadsel (from Heerlen and present with a dark, introvert dub track) and Terugklap (experimental bass madness). Nice job.