God, did anybody else feel seriously bored these past two days? We’ve been spoiled this summer; somehow it just didn’t feel right not having any football on, even with Wimbledon to keep my thirst for sport going (even if there are literally two people willing to talk about tennis at my workplace, and one of them is me). We’re back today, though, with a potential classic in the shape of Holland against Brazil. It’s easy to have mixed feelings on a match like this when it happens at the quarter final stage – it’s brilliant for the neutral fan and for the world cup itself that a team as unfancied as Ghana or Uruguay (or perhaps even Paraguay) will make the semi finals, but at the same time, it seems wrong that we will be kissing goodbye to one of these teams so early. Perhaps it’s for the best that Holland go out now, though – I mean, could you imagine a team lifting the World Cup when their star player looks so much like Screech from Saved by the Bell?
Dutch folk music distinguishes itself from that of the countries around it almost purely by virtue of tempo – to be blunt, it’s faster – although the more simple rhythms and grounded melodic patterns are also a giveaway sign. Much of it is built around dancing, which goes a way to explaining why all of these conformities exist; unusually, it’s specifically based around group dancing rather than couples or solo dancers, which is a world away from the great traditions of major cities as nearby as Berlin, Paris, and Vienna, and is a fascinating thing to consider when coupled with the knowledge of the traditional Dutch trade links to Africa. Luckily, it’s not hard to stumble across traditional Dutch folk, as there was a major revival in the mid-’70s, led by a band called Fungus – observe in wonder how magnificently bearded they are.
That’s not the Holland you know, though; outside of “Venus” by Shocking Blue (as covered by Bananarama), the Holland you know splits off into two very different directions, both of which have a major roll-call of internationally famous acts. The first one you’re going to hear below is metal, of various distinctions – there’s the Within Temptation/After Forever/Epica axis, of course, but there’s also Pestilence, Destroyer 666, and Asphyx for those who like something heavier, and Ayreon for the arty crowd. Best of the lot, though, is The Gathering – a band who started life as a pretty great metal band and went on to become an even better trip-hop/art rock/prog one.
Yet more famous than that, though, is the Dutch dance scene. You know the entire genre of gabber? That’s Dutch. You know that one that goes ‘no no, nononono, no no nono, no no THERE’S NO LIMIT!’? That’s Dutch. You remember the Venagboys? They’re Dutch. Been paying attention to the hype for Noisia on this site? They’re Dutch. You know DJ Tiesto? Dutch too. And Armin van Buuren? Yup, Dutch (and he recently did a song with the lead singer of Within Temptation, which is just bizarre). The one I’ve plumped for, though, is a similarly famous track with just a little more nostalgia attached for me – Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone”. Anybody else remember when she was a really big name? Strange days indeed.