Belgian siblings David and Stephen Dewaele, better known as Soulwax, blend synth sounds with melodic vocals backed by no less than three live drummers for their newest release.
It’s been a staggering twelve years since Soulwax released their last studio album, ‘Nite Versions’. That’s not to imply that the Belgian duo have been slacking, far from it. With a multitude of remix projects and their successful Too Many DJs project keeping them busy, who has the time?
Fortunately David and Stephen Dewaele found a couple of hours to record their new album, ‘From Dewee’, named after their Ghent studio. Backed by three drummers, including former Sepultura powerhouse Iggor Cavalera, ‘From Dewee’ was recorded live in one continuous take and released a couple of days later.
I fell in love with Soulwax via their 1998 release ‘Much Against Everyone’s Advice’, an album crammed with catchy rock riffs that was filled out with electronic melodies and borrowed hip-hop influences. Even the nerdy fanboy in me found something to love with lyrics like “Answer I love you with I know” referencing Star Wars. ‘Much Against Everyone’s Advice’ is a constant in my playlist.
To say that I was excited to learn, that Soulwax had released their latest studio album towards the end of March is an understatement. Sadly, ‘From Dewee’ falls somewhat flat.
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From start to finish the album is best described as background music. Lacking in flair or diversity throughout its entirety, ‘From Dewee’ consists of complex rhythmic beats, provided by the aforementioned trio of percussion session musicians, whilst ambient synth sounds and effects are layered over the top.
Dreary vocals do little to raise the level of interest with their shoe-gazy, bland tone. Awkwardly, the most dynamic track of the twelve is the instrumental ‘The Singer Has Become A Deejay’.
In a review written by Saby Reyes-Kulkarni for Pitchfork, ‘From Dewee’ is described as – “a glimpse of what those ’90s acts would sound like today had they managed to loosen up just enough to absorb modern sensibilities“. Modern sensibilities be damned. ‘From Dewee’ is self indulgent and rather dull. Shame.
‘From Dewee’ is available to buy and download now from most music providers including bandcamp.