Release Date: Mar 24, 2017
Record label: Play It Again Sam
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
As Technicolor dream synths creep to life, so begins the journey of From Deewee, the Belgian duo's eighth set and first as Soulwax in over a decade. Recorded in just one take at Deewee -- the Dewaele brothers' studio in Ghent -- the album follows 2004's electro nu-rave effort Any Minute Now and its 2005 remixed sibling Nite Versions, yet it bears more resemblance to their 2007 one-off project, Die Verboten, which was heavily informed by Kraftwerk. Melding the pounding beats that recall early Daft Punk, Vitalic, or Infusion and the indie dance stylings of contemporaries like Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem, the combination is infectious.
The Dewaele brothers are back! Again! This time, as actual Soulwax. After (kinda) leaving it for about a decade, the Soulwax name gets a workout on From Deewee, a 50 minute, glistening synth odyssey beamed in from their Ghent studio. It's actually a kind-of follow on record from last year's 2007, which they released with their Die Verboten project (I gave that one a glowing review too by the way).
If every '90s alternative act updated their sound as gracefully as the Belgian electro-rock outfit Soulwax , the alternative era might never have ended. Hold the band's latest full-length up to, say, God Lives Underwater's likeminded 1998 sophomore effort Life in the So-Called Space Age , and you might think the two titles came out no more than a couple of years apart. On closer inspection, though, FROM DEEWEE gives us a glimpse of what those '90s acts would sound like today had they managed to loosen up just enough to absorb modern sensibilities.
Soulwax are, it seems, pining for the past. Lately, the duo of Stephen and David Dewaele--who also perform as 2ManyDJs--have been touring alongside James Murphy with a customised, million-euro soundsystem, Despacio, playing all-vinyl sets of funk and disco. Last year, Soulwax made music for a film, Belgica, about a fictional Ghent nightclub in the early noughties.
Soulwax founders Stephen and David Dewaele, along with third member Stefaan Van Leuven, have been progenitors in the places where indie sensibility meets the club. After dropping two studio albums as Soulwax, the brothers Dewaele dropped one of the most important releases of this century with their duo project 2manyDJs called As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2, which was a stunning remix album that opens with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer getting mixed with Basement Jaxx’s “Where’s Your Head At”.
H earing that Soulwax's latest was recorded in one take - a process that must, then, have taken them a whopping 49 minutes and 5 seconds - makes you wonder what took them so long. It has been more than a decade since the last Soulwax studio album (2005's Nite Versions). Then again, the Belgian duo - with their 2manydjs DJ sets, remix duties and various alter-ego bands - are no slouches, and so it transpires that the one-take rule was installed as a means to push themselves into uncharted territory rather than just because they wanted to play more Candy Crush.
On 7th February of this year, Stephen and David Dewaele went into their Deewee Studio in Ghent with the same people who went on their 'Transient Program For Drums and Machinery' tour. One take (yes, just one) later and they came out with 'From Deewee', the first Soulwax record since 2005's highly influential remix album 'Nite Versions'. Of course, the brothers haven't been hiding themselves away in that time.
After Soulwax's 2005 release of the gritty and acidic 'Nite Versions' EP, few would have expected its successor to drop as long as twelve years later. In an unconventional approach, the Belgian duo instead grew their reputation by churning out a deluge (extensive enough to compile two multi-disc compilations) of cutting-edge remixes - for artists ranging from Robbie Williams to DJ Shadow. Whilst everything in and around the music industry seems to have revolutionised since their last proper studio record, 'FROM DEEWEE' is the produce of a band sticking to familiar ground.