Belgium Makes, the World Takes
Like Abraham siring children who would herald separate but equal fields of faith, Stephen and David Dewaele of Belgium helped form both the mashup craze finally sweeping indie rock (see: Girl Talk) and the wailing, crackling neo-disco that one might believe begins and ends with the Ed Banger label and other Daft Punkisms. That belief will end — or at least change — on hearing Soulwax, the Dewaeles’ pride and joy, and their latest collection called Nite Versions.The Dewaeles picked up proper instruments as Soulwax in the mid-1990s, a good four years before they hit Belgian radio as 2 Many DJ’s. Over time the latter alter ego not only helped elevate the bastard-pop genre to the mainstream, it made their rep as remixers and producers nearly overshadow their work as musicians. Nite Versions — an album title and remix name that acknowledges Duran Duran’s extended dance tracks — gives the modern rock sound of Soulwax’ classy 2005 album Any Minute Now the 2 Many DJ’s treatment.
Soulwax hacks and rebuilds their material to blend in with the new school (see: Justice) as well as the old (see: Giorgio Moroder). “E-Talking,” “Slowdance,” and “Compute” sacrifice most of their lyrics in favor of grooves with pouty supermodel style. The guitar crunch of “Krack” is retuned for keyboard soul; the shoegazer beauty of “Accidents and Compliments” is unrecognizable behind fuzzy synth arpeggios. And in typical bootleg fashion, Lipps, Inc.’s classic “Funkytown” figures prominently on this album as do Daft Punk, Van Halen, and L.A. Style.
Soulwax’ career is bigger, broader, and more influential than any stage name would imply. Nite Versions is a booty-shaking testament to that.