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. It’s essentially everything you’d expect from a Soulwax record – larger-than-life drums, squelch-bass-driven and dancefloor-ready. Only ‘OH DEEWEE’ is, like its sleeve’s sheeny sculpture, particularly refined and polished.
Maybe the less processed sound is a direct result of how it’s produced (all recorded in one live take). However opener ‘Present Tense’ – with its sparkling and crystal-clear arpeggios – feels like a statement of a purposeful tilt towards luxury. If older Soulwax work represents a spoiler-topped Subaru Impreza, then the 2017 model is a Porsche 911 – a sleeker, matured and more elegant framework.
But whilst production and rhythms are excellent, the hooks (barring the album’s final lyric: “There’s so much bullshit comin’ out of your mouth”) often fall short. The Kraftwerk-esque melodies during ‘Transient Program For Drums And Machines’, for example, are nostalgic but soon fritter from memory.
Perhaps this is why Soulwax’s acclaimed soundtrack for feature film Belgica and excellently curated GTA radio channel were more effective; their method is evocative, propulsive but only ever a passenger to the real fun.
Words: Jordan Foster
- - -
- - -