Summer or not, “Feuilleton 2: the story behind Kaleidophone” must be told out, since there is also a “story after Kaleidophone” to follow. Episodes 1 to 7 have already been posted. In episode 8 it is winter (1979) and a world fire threatens… Below this article you can read more about Paul Verkempinck. And we are preparing to include more episodes of this story …. please allow us for some time.
Episode 8. KALEIDOPHONE ON THE SLOPE.
Exactly 40 days before my demobilization is the price. On the night of Sunday, December 23, 1979, Russia under Leonid Brezhnev invades Afghanistan. The occupation of Kabul is already a fact on December 25.
The story goes that a Soviet chef tried to poison Afghan President Hafizullah Amin, but the attack failed because the target, who had studied in America, had drunk Coca Cola, which diluted the poison. He eventually died in a bombing raid a day later. Is the beginning of the Afghanistan war relevant to the Kaleidophone story?
Anyway. There was panic! It was winter, cold in the barracks on the Hazegras, the Cold War was in full swing and there was the threat of a world fire. Not that our country was suddenly literally dragged into a military conflict: our only 4 battleships were still quietly moored at the quay in Ostend and Zeebrugge. Still, the military staff was nervous: it was raining in Brussels and dripping in Ostend. In my barracks, the leave was canceled immediately and for at least a week.
Premature? Overdone? To scare us or keep us sharp? Or just: maneuvers?
In any case: as a driver for the chief of police, albeit with privileges, I was still stuck in the barracks and ugly in the rats. The 2nd New Year’s Kaleidophone was literally in jeopardy! And I had prepared a special broadcast that I wanted to broadcast directly on the antenna and afterwards raise a glass to a new Kaleidophone year with the presenter on duty!
Live broadcasts (with René Gysembergh, Julien Put, Annemie Coppieters, Betty Mellaerts or Guy De Pré) were always exciting and surprising and I should have missed it for too long. Although I too had not foreseen the invasion of Afghanistan, I was not completely unprepared. I had not spent my waiting time in the military staff’s car In idleness. (Remember episode 5) For any emergencies during military service (unexpected watch, maneuvers or Model-C) I had prepared some spare broadcasts in ready-made packages: the albums with a record list plus a director’s report with the lyrics and special instructions for the director-announcer: fade in, fade out, crossfade, music under the text etc… All permissions revoked! We were, however, still allowed to telephone the outside world from cold, coin-operated booths at the sentry. The queue was long and the atmosphere grim due to the canceled engagements and uncertain fate. Would we be involved in a war?
I called my girlfriend (now my wife…) with the bad news and passed on further instructions. She came to collect my Kaleidophone packages at the gate of the barracks and took it to my younger brother who took the MI6-style package to the BRT broadcasting building on Place Flagey and handed it to the director-announcer with the words: mission accomplished. It was an exciting time and there was quite a bit of improvisation involved, but the series was never interrupted! 1979 came to an end in a minor way. And I didn’t know that it had already been decided that 1980 would be the last year of Kaleidofoon…
About Paul Verkempinck.
Paul Verkempinck (1958) is a Belgian radio program maker and music composer.
From 1976 to 1981, Paul Verkempinck was a program maker and music composer for BRT 2 Omroep Brabant, where he was responsible for the late evening programs Kaleidofoon and Muziek uit de Kosmos. Presenters on duty included Betty Mellaerts, Julien Put and Guy De Pré. Both programs marked the beginning of electronic music in the Benelux because they were also widely listened to in the Netherlands. Verkempinck organized dozens of concerts as part of the programme; several with Klaus Schulze, including a concert with symphonic orchestra in the Casino-Kursaal Ostend and (on May 17, 1979) a Europe-exclusive concert with Vangelis in the Royal Circus in Brussels. Paul Verkempinck also organized the legendary concert of Klaus Schulze in the Sint Michiels Cathedral in Brussels for 5500 concert-goers in 1977, through “Music from the Kosmos”, the highlight of his radio program. The main presenter on duty with his unique warm voice was René Gijsenberg, who in a unique way also brought poetry from listeners between the pieces of music. Paul was of course also the inspiration for later musicians in Belgium such as Age, Walter Christian Rothe, Patrick Kosmos etc… Paul was in fact the man who created “The Berlin School” (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Ashra, Popol Vuh and others..) announced in Belgium and the Netherlands. Memorable was the concert of Ashra in the planetarium of Uccle in 1977: with the PA of Manuel Göttsching who failed. He introduced audiences to masters of electronic music such as Edgar Froese and Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream, Michael Hoenig (“Departure from the Northern Wasteland”), Brian Eno (“Music for Films”), Cluster (Moebius & Roedelius), Florian Fricke (see “Hosianna Mantra”) and other avangardists such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Eberhard Schooner (“Tranceformation”), not to mention Kraftwerk (“Autobahn”), Walter Carlos (“Sonic Seasonings”), White Noise (“An Electric Storm”), Baffo Banfi, Deuter, Harmonia, Michael Rother, Brainticket, Tim Blake, Roberto Cacciapaglia (with his then hard-to-obtain album “Sonanze”) (listeners were warned in advance to be ready with the tape recorder or cassette recorder), and later also Jean Michel Jarres “Oxygene” and “Equinoxe”. “Muziek Uit De Kosmos” also featured a real poll (“De Witste Ruis”) in which the best and most impressive albums of electronic music could be chosen. At number 1 was the album “X” by Klaus Schulze. Remarkable in “Muziek Uit De Kosmos” was the soothing and somewhat melancholy song “La Vie Claire” by the French singer and songwriter Pierre Vassiliu. This song was featured because it contained a special kind of electronic instrument. Also worth mentioning is the mysterious case of the missing (or stolen?) synthesizer, in which the program appealed to listeners to shed light on this case. Verkempinck was ultimately the founder of our contemporary electronic music scene.