Your Host your gHost your Most Wholly-Oh

Hello Spookies!

Please let me introduce myself.

As you've already and shrewdly noticed, my mother tongue is not English. The main reason for that deficiency holds in the simple fact that I'm Belgian, to make matters worse I'm a French speaking Belgian. So I'm asking you here not to hesitate to correct me when my English looks and sounds like shit.

My birth was absolutely no major event, except for my late mother, but it was in 1967 and I'm idiotically proud to be marked for a lifetime by the best ever year in rock history. 1967 was the year Captain Beefheart, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Red Crayola and Pink Floyd all released their debut album. I don't see any other year in rock history which contains so many indisputable classic debut albums. Besides, all these bands and artists are among the most influential ever. I'm kinda pissed that Can was only founded and Leonard Cohen only issued his own debut album a year later, I believe that's in 1968, otherwise I would be able to say that 99% of today's rock music find its roots in 1967, now it's only 97%.
Now, what this has to do with your spooking gHost? Absolutely nothing.

Despite my mom so told predilection for jazz without having one single jazz record, my passion for music blossomed pretty late. Before that I wanted to become chronologically a veterinarian, a zoologist and a soldier. Needless to say, I became none of them. Furthermore, I was musically a philistine kid with some attraction for black ass funky shit : Kool & The Gang, Earth Wind and Fire and on top of them all Michael Jackson. The first vinyl album I bought with my pocket money was Queen's "Greatest Hits" in 1981. I was already 14, you're right. For the rest, I was watching football, on TV and in stadiums. Punk was way to noisy for my delicate ears but hooligans anthems were a bliss.

A couple of years later, a friend of mine was into New Wave and stuff, so he made me a mixtape. I was very pleased with the attention, far less with the music : Simple Minds and U2 already sounded very weird for my contrived senses, imagine my initial reaction in front of Public Image Limited, Sisters of Mercy, New Order, Liaisons Dangereuses and I don't remember the rest of it. Since then I lost that tape, dammit! Anyway. I was also a coward, I was too afraid to look uncool by saying to my friend that I dislike his tape. I found the music cold, devoid of groove, chaotic, monotonous and plain unlistenable. So I played the tape over and over. The miracle happened, I began to like it. The seeds were planted.

The revelation came with Prince and The Revolution (sic). The second album I bought with my pocket money was "Purple Rain" in 1984. That record was at first a pain in the ass. I wanted to love the album but I couldn't. I fell for Prince's subversive attitude but his music sounded way too weird and experimental for me. Yeah, 8 millions of that album was sold that year only and I stamped it as acquired taste. I liked "When Doves Cry" and the first half of the song "Purple Rain", just before Prince starts to scream and goes guitar solo, then I was turned off. Once again, I wanted to love this album, so I played it over and over. The second miracle happened, I literally fell in love with it. It put a spell on me. And I became a fan. You know, posters everywhere, buying all singles for the bonus tracks, acquiring all previous albums, translating the lyrics. I think it's around that time that I found myself masturbating intensively, with or without a magazine... But that's none of your concern, you Peeping Toms!

The revelation : there is music to discover out there. Not knowing where to begin, I frantically read several rockzines. I believe that for some years I must have bought all the albums of the week or of the month : Bruce Springsteen's "Born in The U.S.A.", Tom Waits' "Rain Dogs", The Waterboys' "This is The Sea", Sonic Youth's "Sister", Felt's "Forever Breathes the Lonely Word", Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' "The Firstborn is Dead",  Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell", yeah the latter too, etc.

In 1988, Prince delivered "Lovesexy". If I liked it I didn't love it. It didn't matter, Fishbone offered "Truth and Soul". With them, I discovered what was called then funk metal bands : Living Colour, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scatterbrain, etc. and Dutch luminaries Urban Dance Squad. From 1986, I was already going to some gigs and huge festivals, but funk metal did the trick. Actually, honestly, sincerely, the very first concert I lived was that of Hüsker Dü. I still have the "Eight Miles High" t-shirt. I see your face has become green with jealousy. Don't be so predictable. That Hüsker Dü gig was a dream, completely a dream, you know the sort of dream you do at night while sleeping. Indeed, it was night and I was sleeping. Only, I still remember it like I actually lived it. I bought that t-shirt in a spooking shop, homie. And no my Fishbone's double t-shirts are not for sale, forget it! No, that destroyed Jane's Addiction one neither! Jeez.

Where was I? Showing off makes you dumb.
Ah yes, so in a few words, I was sold to rock music. But I found myself pretty isolated, poor me, my immediate surrounding found my musical taste sort of weird. Fortunately I had one nerdy and lovely friend, we were sharing music like bros and we went together to many many many gigs, pogoing here, stage diving there, once I even hold Fishbone's frontman Angelo Moore's tie in my hand, Angelo himself stood on the other end. He was smiling, I was too. Our relationship stopped there anyhow.

I got on with my life and finally went in College for studies, which I barely finished, it was the early 90s. And what happened then : Grunge! Suddenly I wasn't isolated anymore. Showing off with my Hüsker Dü t-shirt even looked pretty cool for I made new friends. I dug further into more and more adventurous rock music and stumbled upon one Captain Beefheart. This was at the same time a magnificent discovery, a turning point and a curse. Yes, a curse. Once you've listened to that guy's "Trout Mask Replica", everything labelled rock sounds kinda lame : verses-refrain-bridge-verses, 4/4 fascistic rhythm pattern, studio sound effects, I found all that pretty preposterous, shallow and boring. I needed to find something else. Captain Beefheart told mountains about one Ornette Coleman, I discovered Albert Ayler instead. And Ornette afterwards. Eric Dolphy slightly later. It was 1995 and I fell in love with jazz, surely free jazz, then quite logically improvised music : Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink, the whole Dutch scene, but also the even more abstract and challenging British scene with Evan Parker and Derek Bailey, German Peter Brötzmann, Belgian Fred Van Hove, Swedish Mats Gustafsson, etc. In a short period of time, I became a jazz nerd, you know, the kinda guy who can tell who's playing with who on which album and recognizing them by ear. Needless to say, I found myself slightly isolated again. I even stopped making mixtapes for my friends. I mean, no one cared about jazz, so what about improv. Fortunately I had one extremely open-minded spouse, we were listening to music as one man and we went together to many many many gigs, sitting here, sitting there, I even had conversations with Han Bennink, Joëlle Léandre, Lê Quan Ninh and Fred Van Hove. I must say these chaps are far more available than rockers, and believe it or not, they are incredibly friendly and humble, even Joëlle Léandre.

Anyways, to make a long story long, that passion lasted more or less ten years. Here and there I was still following rock artists and some experimental noise makers. The last fellas are at least as lovely as the improv guys : Maja Ratkje, DJ Olive, Ikue Mori and Otomo Yoshihide are all very huggable people. Maja Ratkje was the most impressive encounter. If once in your life you've met a genius, you must have felt something vibrating in the air, but also something completely inhabited in that person eyes, it's impossible to describe. All I want to tell you here is that I obviously won't meet Captain Beefheart aka Don van Vliet and it's a pity, but that's fine, I met Maja Ratkje. Dunno if you see what I mean any better. Whatever. It was 2004.

From 1997 to 2004, I produced and presented a radio show on a very small, very alternative, absolutely independent radio based in Brussels (oh yes, I didn't tell, I live in Brussels) called Radio Panik. The name of the show, you will never guess, was Spookrijder. For seven years, one weekly live broadcast, the introduction sentence was : "Spookrijder, couleur saumon pour sa traduction, une émission à contre-courant qui vous présente du jazz très moderne, de la musique improvisée et/ou expérimentale, du rock déglingué, de la variété oubliée et des inclassables, surtout des inclassables" which more of less translates "Spookrijder, salmon color for its translation, a counter-current radio show presenting very modern jazz, improvised and/or experimental music, busted rock, forgotten pop and unclassifiable, mostly unclassifiable."
There is a voiceless sample of that show on this very blog, see Odd Old Spookrijder Mixtape.

I had to stop that radio show for various reasons. No regrets, the only thing I was missing was sharing music with people. Eventually, Spookrijder the radio show turned some years later into Spookrijder the spooking blog.

2004 was another turning point. Put it simply, because there is not much more to tell at this point, I got back to my first love : rock music. Only, that already long journey through music defined the music listener I am today.

Thank you for visiting, thank you for reading, thank you for listening, thank you for watching and thank you for leaving comments. For the latter, don't be shy, kick my ass if you feel like it, stroke my ears if you like, but drop a spooking line once in a while. You're welcome.

Best wishes,

Spook