This is the first in a series of short archival moments about electronic music and club culture in Belgium and beyond.
In Episode One of the Chronicles “Sound is colour and colour is sound”, we will tell the tale of a few youngsters from Brussels who came to draw up the blueprints for the European techno landscape.
When talking to Michael Stordeur (Mike DMA) and Christophe De Groote (Deg) about their memories of the first raves and club nights they played with B.W.P. they often mention how crazy the light show was, and how much this was connected to the experience of a night (or full weekend) out. Last year, Michael joined us at an event in Antwerp where Deg and Walrus played: mirror balls were hung from the ceiling, but there was no spotlight pointed on them. That drove Michael completely insane! He couldn’t understand why you would hang them up there without any lights to be reflected back into the room!
B.W.P. Experiments: the blueprints for a European techno landscape
The foundations for the B.W.P. Experiments collective were set in 1989 when the two teens sat down at the local swimming pool in their high school days. They’d forgotten their swimming gear so they had to stay out of the water and, in any case, they were more inclined to ditch school activities to go scour the record stores. At a time when New Beat had become unpopular and a new sound called “Techno” was on the horizon, they told each other of their love for Acid House and mixing. Deg had just begun collecting records and Mike was already a source of knowledge, having met a real dj and digger [who will remain unnamed] in 1987 who had been making regular trips to Chicago and New York for the past five years. It’s also worth noting that Mike traveled extensively to London and further afar thanks to his Dad, the Belgian classical electronic music composer André Stordeur who was then living in Chicago.
At this point, Deg and Mike had been organising parties individually, but soon realised the time had come for them to combine forces: their vows to the sounds of the future were taken!
After a few tentative parties in basements and living rooms came the night of December 21st 1989 and their first event under the organisation “FUSE” (later known as “Futuristic Hard Techno”, and to avoid confusion, nothing to do with the club of the same name). This semi-clandestine event brought together more than 300 people and welcomed new faces such as Sebastian S (Caustic 14) into the fold. More events followed, including the notorious “Heaven” party which took place in the ex-premises of a club called Amnesia tucked away in Brussels’ chic shopping mall, Galerie Louise. More than 1300 enthusiasts piled in while buses from the UK pulled up, bringing with them several future greats from the English hardcore scene such as Fabio and Grooverider to name a few.
It was all just getting started! One thing led to another: while their reputation grew, the New Beat venues were closing their doors, and the latest clubs only offered stale concepts to empty dance floors. This meant the pair quickly found themselves at the helm of mythical spots, disseminating their “religion” on the sound systems of the Mauna Kea club or Le Borsalino amongst others across Belgium.
B.W.P. truly began to take shape when, in 1991, our two nyctalopes found themselves (somewhat haphazardly and after four sleepless days) at the opening of “Fin-Fou”, a club which later morphed into the “caves de la Chapelle” then “Made in Brussels” in the late nineties. It was at this precise moment that they made a scene-changing connection: stepping into what looked like an episode of The Twilight Zone, two smoke-filled laser tunnels unfolded before their eyes. The strobe light imprinted itself on their retinae while tracks from Cybersonik, Transmat and Canadian white labels pounded out of the sound system. D-jack was behind the decks. The two youngsters had already crossed his path at the record store USA Import and at a previous party at the Birdie club with Steve Cop.
They were floored by his selection, which prompted Mike to speak to him on the night, in order to praise him and ask if he might want to see what the he and Deg were up to. The next day, the three came together to play records at D-jack’s place. Needless to say, after a few weeks they became inseparable and B.W.P. was born! The full name was actually The Bad Woofers Posse because – as legend has it – wherever they went they broke all the sub woofers.
Over time, B.W.P. gained notoriety and attention: Sebastian S, Little pat, Popane, Mirca, Acid Kirk, and Seal Phurick were among the first to sign up. Seal was studying video at university, and as part of his final project decided to film as many interviews and capture as many fleeting moments as possible. He contributed greatly to the movement with his compositions and visual mixes, documenting most of the raves in Europe where the B.W.P. traveled to and played. More than fifteen hours of VHS footage were immortalized during trips to Paris, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Brussels, Switzerland, Holland and the UK.
Basic Moves was granted permission from Seal to digitise the tapes, and to hand the footage over to video artist Eva Claus who edited her own vision out of it. This is how the next four Basic Moves video clips for Circadian Rhythms (BM02) and Caustic 14 (BM03) were created. We’re super excited to shoot this back into the world with a different perspective. Take your time to get your mind into the visions of the past, which donate a future to the art of electronic club culture.
Eva Claus on working with the archival VHS footage:
“Watching and editing Seal Phüric’s videos was a trip through the development of techno in the early ’90s in Belgium. The VHS tapes exposed a visual explosion of colours, places, faces, clothes, and sounds. Phüric’s naive and intuitive way of handling the camera opens up an honest and intimate view of the time and surroundings. He had a freedom to film. Many effects like colour filters, typefaces and fast zooming in and out are his visual translations of the music and the mood of that moment. I started slowly editing through the images and sounds, giving them space, looking for a form and rhythm, trying to find a balance.”