For a country with a population of only 11 million, Belgium has long had a disproportionately large impact on global culture. Its chocolate, beer and recently its football team have won admirers around the world, whilst its electronic music scene has also been the envy of Europe for many years. The birthplace of R&S Records in the mid 80’s, Belgium was one of the first countries on the continent to embrace the highly influential American sounds of Acid, House and Techno in the latter part of that decade. It would go on to become a hotbed of these new styles, as well as a key site in their ensuing mutations with its relevance in the electronic music world continuing through to the present thanks to a host of acts including San Soda and Red D’s FCL and Locked Groove.
Hailing from the small town of Aalst, Thomas Blanckaert aka. Innershades is the latest artist from Belgium to enjoy acclaim beyond its borders. Drawing inspiration from rugged and raw Chicago style House music and Detroit flavoured Electro, he’s fashioned a sound that is richly danceable and laden with nostalgia – yet still somehow sounds impossibly fresh. After several years bubbling under, 2013 saw him finally release original material – for both the aptly named Wicked Bass imprint and DJ TLR’s trusty Créme Organization. Marrying effectiveness with artistry, he’s found himself carefully working the dancefloor in constantly interesting ways.
Taking control of the 1’s and 2’s for Hyp 214, Blanckaert has put together a mix that stays close to home – with many of tracks either by himself or released on his label Roze Balletten. Despite the obscure status of many of these cuts, his mix is nonethelss grounded in its recognisability – with a selection that leans on club cuts that simply demand listeners start pumping their firsts.