Tag: Edith Piaf

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Balthazar Return with a Deceptively Straightforward Rocker

Over the past handful of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, best known as the frontman of two critically applauded, internationally recognized acts and JOVM mainstays Balthazar and Warhaus, which was a side project conceived during a lengthy hiatus. Interestingly, Devoldere’s work with Balthazar was a sonic departure, as the project’s sound could be described as atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock that may remind some listeners of The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in Kyrgyzstan, his longtime friend, songwriting partner and Balthazar bandmate Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. And during their primary gig’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez enjoyed the ability to indulge their whims and follow their individual creative muses — while individually receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating. The duo also found that the time apart created an undeniable urge to work together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for each other’s work. 

So when the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to improve upon their previously released work and to further the band’s story.  As they were beginning to write material, Devoldere and Deprez agreed that their new material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel while leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound that retained the hook driven quality that won the band national and international attention. “Fever,” the first single and album title track off the band’s recently released Fever was inky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone to create a song that was playful and infectious.  “Entertainment,” the album’s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor but was centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook. Sonically, the Jinte Deprez-led song nodded at The Rolling Stones‘ “Sympathy for the Devil, but with some Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion. “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again,” the album’s third single was a slow-burning, Jinte Deprez led Quiet Storm-like jam that reminded me of Milagres’ “IDNYL” and classic Hall and Oates. As Deprez explained in press notes, “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again’ is a breakup song with a twist, a groovy soul ode with a synthesizer, a chorus with a Bee Gee touch. It’s shaking it off, wherever it stuck.”

“Wrong Vibration,” Fever’s fourth and latest single is a Maarten Devoldere song is a  superficially a sultry come-on that slowly reveals frustration and confusion over mixed signals. Much like its predecessors, the song is centered by an infectious and breezy hook, a sinuous yet propulsive bass line while being arguably one of the more straightforward rockers on the album. 

Directed by Benny Vandendriessche, the recently released video for “Wrong Vibration” features the band’s creative duo in a dramatic, slow-motion theatrical stage performance, seemingly rooted  in a series of mixed signals and miscommunications. 

New Video: Balthazar Returns with a Breezy and Anthemic New Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. Warhaus was a bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as the project’s sound was atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock the brought to mind The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. However, Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material thematically moving away from sin, lust and decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album were also a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in  Kyrgyzstan, his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses in different directions — while receiving boy commercial and critical success to be liberating. But it also created an undeniable urge between the two to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for real other’s work. 

When the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to better their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, the duo of Devoldere and Deprez agreed that the material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining the hook driven quality that they’ve long been known for. And the end result is the band’s forthcoming full-length Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first single, album title track “Fever” was a slinky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. Interestingly, the single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty. 

Fever’s second and latest single “Entertainment” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its remarkably upbeat and downright playful but centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook — and while sonically the song at points nods at The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” as the Jinte Deprez-led song features Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion, a buoyant bass line and a strutting guitar line while Devoldere contributes equally playful harmonies. As the band explains “‘Entertainment’ was written at the end of the album recordings as one of the last songs, functioning as the loose, uplifting tune, celebrating a carefree take in the entertainment business. We wrote an ambitious album but tried not to take ourselves too seriously, sure it’s an outspoken singalong chorus, but there’s a rambling playfulness to it which we love.” And much like its predecessor, the new single is a razor sharp take on how much the entertainment business manages to influence every aspect of our lives — and how so many people get into the entertainment business to get laid. And much like its predecessor, the song reveals an incredibly smart band crafting a truly unique sound and aesthetic. 

Directed by Wouter Bouvijn, the recently released video captures the band jamming in their performance — and having a helluva time doing so further emphasizing the song’s breezy and playful nature. Interestingly, the video features the band’s newest member Tijs Delbeke, who joins as a replacement for Patricia Vanneste, who left the band. 

New Video: Acclaimed Belgian Act Balthazar Releases Cinematic Visuals for Their Breeziest and Most Accessible Single to Date

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Maarten Devoldere, a Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the frontman of the internationally acclaimed acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. And as you may recall, Warhaus isa bit of a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as it was atmospheric jazz-leaning art rock that managed to recall  The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its title from a line in DH Lawerence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and the album’s material thematically focused on lust, desire and the inscrutably of random encounters with a deeply personal almost confessional nature. Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore album found the material moving away from sin, lust an decadence and towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, as much of the material was inspired by Devoldere’s romantic relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by  Dr. John‘s The Night Tripper period — with the material leaning even more towards jazz while hinting at voodoo rhythms. 

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a retreat in  Kyrgyzstan his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During their primary project’s hiatus, Devoldere and Deprez found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses while receiving commercial and critical success to be liberating; but it also led to the urge for the duo to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for each other’s work.

Interestingly, when the members of the band reconvened, they had no particular plans, just a desire to better their previously released material and further the band’s story. As the band’s primary songwriters Both Devoldere and Deprez agreed on an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining their ability to sharp hook. The end result is Balthazar’s forthcoming album Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records.  Album title track “Fever” is a slinky and sultry sunset jam, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a bridge featuring twinkling keys and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. The new single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty while being smart and unlike anything else written or recorded by a contemporary artist. 

Directed by Athos Burez, the recently released and incredibly cinematic video stars the songwriting duo of Devoldere and Deprez driving around and goofing off in a decidedly foreign and mountainous land. Shot between declining sunset and nighttime, the video is a woozy and feverish dream — the sort that as a photographer, makes me feel envy — centered around two old pals, and their easygoing chemistry. 

Live Footage: Warhaus at Music Apartment

Maarten Devoldere is  Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has received national and international attention for both his primary gig fronting Balthazar and his side project Warhaus. And if you had been frequenting this site over the course of 2017, you may recall that Devoldere’s side project has managed to further cement his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane and hyper-literate and decadent art rock with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility in a way that’s reminiscent The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake. In fact, unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derives its title from a line in DH Lawrence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and naturally, the material on Warhaus’ debut thematically focused on lust, desire, the inscrutability of random encounters,  bittersweet and aching regret with a deeply personal, confessional nature of someone baring the sinew and fiber of their soul as you would have heard on an album track like the slow-burning and soulfully sensual “Machinery.”

Interestingly, the material on Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore effort reportedly found Devoldere’s work at points giving way from decadence, lust and sin towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, with songs partially inspired by Delvodere’s relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. “We’ve very different people,” says Devoldere. “She’s this natural force which I don’t understand at all and I’m the guy who thinks everything through. It’s an interesting combination.”  Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by Dr. John‘s legendary The Night Tripper period, as you’ll hear hints at voodoo rhythms and hints at jazz — and although his touring band, aren’t technically known for being jazz musicians, as Devoldere says of his band, “they’re good at faking jazz.” And as you may recall, album singles “Love’s A Stranger,” and “Mad World” are slow-burning, ruminative songs with a late night, boozy vibe — after all, “Love’s a Stranger” focuses on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature while “Mad World”  focuses on unfulfilled lust and desire but within an angst-filled world that’s gone mad. And while focusing on different things, the songs seem to focus on our own desperate escape from loneliness in a bitterly cruel, uncaring universe. 

I recently came across some live footage of Warhaus performing a set featuring material off both of their albums live in an intimate and gorgeously shot showcase for Music Apartment back in 2016. Simply put, more people should know about this act. 

 

Livia Blanc is a French-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who specializes in a subtly modern take on 60s-inspired, cinematic pop that mischievously nods at the likes of   Edith Piaf, Portishead and Melanie DeBlasio; in fact, the French-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s second and latest single, “Mr. Hyde,” which was produced and cowritten by The Chevin‘s Coyle Girelli and Andrew Horowitz, who has cowriting credits with Jidenna, Verite and John Legend, finds Blanc cooing in a coquettish French over a breezy yet mischievously anachronistic featuring strummed ukulele, whistling, polyrhythmic beats and soaring synths. But despite the song’s ethereal quality, the song reportedly explores the inner duality of good and evil that we all have, reminding the listener that we’re all capable of good and evil at any particular moment. Fitting for the Halloween season, indeed!

 

 

 

Born Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws in Bristol, UK and currently based in Berlin, Germany, the British-born, German-based emcee, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Tricky is arguably one of the most influential and important artists of trip-hop  — both as a member of the genre’s pioneering act Massive Attack and as a solo artist, who has also collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Terry Hall, Bjork, Gravediggaz, Grace Jones, Live’s Ed Kowalczyk, PJ Harvey, and others. And throughout his career, both as a member of Massive Attack and as a solo artist, the British-born, German-based emcee, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer has a long-held reputation for being difficult to pigeonhole as his work and aesthetic draws from American and British hip-hop, rock, dub, reggae, punk rock, New Wave and ambient electronica while blurring the lines between each genre and style in an unrecognizable fashion.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall that I had written a bit about Tricky’s musical project, Skilled Mechanics, a project that he started almost as soon as he relocated to Berlin. And while in a conventional sense, whenever a renowned solo artist would form a band it was largely considered a sign that the artist was sick of the spotlight and desperate to fade into something much larger than themselves, Tricky’s motivations for the project was the opposite — with the idea that Tricky would take more of a leading role with a series of rotating collaborators and friends.

 

Unsurprisingly, the renowned artist and producer has also managed to work on and release solo material, including the critically applauded single “The Only Way,” which managed to be a subtle change in sonic direction with the original version nodding towards the lush, cabaret crooner sound of  Edith Piaf. He then recently, a stopped down mix of the song that emphasized the loneliness and ache at the core of the song; but along with that, Tricky had been working on the material, which would comprise his forthcoming album ununiform. Slated for a September 22, 2017 through False Idols Records/!K7 Records, the renowned trip-hop artist and producer’s 13th album reportedly finds his material reflecting a larger and perhaps more radical step forward — towards happiness and contentment, while he confront his own artistic legacy, his own family and even death.  The album’s latest single “Running Wild” features  Mina Rose’s husky yet soulful vocals singing over a moody yet lush production featuring strummed guitar, shimming strings, stuttering drum programming — but underneath the surface is plaintive and visceral longing that hasn’t been revealed to this extent in his previously released work.

 

 

 

 

 

Born Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws in Bristol, UK and currently based in Berlin, Germany, the British-born, German-based emcee, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Tricky is arguably one of the most influential and important artists in trip hop — both as a member of the genre’s pioneering act Massive Attack and as a solo artist, who has also collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Terry Hall, Bjork, Gravediggaz, Grace Jones, Live’s Ed Kowalczyk, PJ Harvey, and others. And whether with Massive Attack or as a solo artist, throughout his career, Tricky has had a long-held reputation for being uncompromisingly difficult to pigeonhole and for being remarkably iconoclastic as his work and aesthetic has drawn from both American and British hip-hop, rock, dub, reggae, punk rock and ambient electronica and blurred lines between each genre and style.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past two years or so, you may recall that I’ve written about Tricky and one of his musical projects — Skilled Mechanics, a project that derived its name “from a documentary about espionage,” as the renowned trip hop pioneer explained in press notes, and started almost as soon as he relocated to Berlin. In a conventional sense, when a renowned solo artist forms a band, it’s frequently considered a sign that the solo artist in question is sick of the spotlight and is desperate to fade into something much larger than themselves; however, oddly enough for Tricky, his motivations were the exact opposite. As Tricky notes, over the years, he’s received quite a bit of criticism for what fans, critics, producers and others have perceived as frustrating habit of playing second fiddle to a variety of collaborators. “People have been asking me for years, ‘Will you ever take charge vocally? Will you ever lead as the singer on one of your albums?’  On Adrian Thaws, my last album, I came to the forefront vocally. I was more in your face on three of the tracks but I wanted to build even further towards a catalogue of songs where I didn’t rely on a girl singer. But I realised it would be hard to do under the name Tricky because people would always associate that name with me using a female singer. I haven’t been alone at the front of the stage on my own since before I released my first album Maxinquaye 20 years ago. I needed to change. It is good to change and to keep on pushing yourself,” Tricky explained in press notes.

His idea was that Skilled Mechanics would be a rather loose collaborative project that would allow him to work with a variety of musicians and artists while pushing his imitable vocals to the forefront as much as possible. And interestingly enough, the project’s earliest collaborators included DJ Milo, who is not only one of Tricky’s oldest friends but also the first person the Bristol-born, Berlin-based artist ever recorded with, as well as his introduction to The Wild Bunch sound system, which eventually evolved into Massive Attack. The other early collaborator on the project is Luke Harris, who is the drummer in Tricky’s backing band — but as a vocalist. As the story goes, Harris’ vocal talents were discovered by complete accident: Harris was covering for Tricky’s regular vocalist Francesca Belmonte during a quick bathroom break during soundcheck. Tricky was so impressed by Harris that he asked him to take part in his next musical project. The trip hop pioneer and his band recorded a full-length album, Tricky Presents: Skilled Mechanics and while the album featured collaborations with with Oh Land, Ann Dao, Ivy 艾菲, Francesca Belmonte, Renata Platon, and Xdare, as well as a murky and ominous lullaby-like re-working of Porno for Pyros’ “Porpoise Head,” “Diving Away.”

Unsurprisingly, Tricky has continued to work on solo material, including the recent release of a new single “The Only Way” to critical acclaim earlier this year. Interestingly, the track managed to be a subtle change of sonic direction as Tricky pairs his vocals with a lush, 50s and 60s cabaret crooner production featuring strummed guitar, twinkling piano and a stunningly  gorgeous string arrangement — all of which give the track a cinematic sweep while subtly nodding at the work of Edith Piaf. Recently, Tricky released a new mix — a stripped down mix of the song that pairs his vocals with a murky and ambient production featuring droning and twinkling keys and ominously swirling electronics that emphasizes the loneliness and ache at the core of the song. The mix came about by accident”  Tricky explains  “I was working on something else, playing around on the keyboard, and when I heard the 3 chords I was playing I knew instantly it was a special vibe but it didn’t work with what I was working on at the time.  So rather than finish the track I was trying to do, I carried on with this track and did vox of ‘The Only Way’ on top  —  it was just meant to be.”

New Video: The Dark Lonely and Decadent World of Belgian Pop Project Warhaus

Perhaps best known as the frontman of Belgian rock band Balthazar along with Jinte Deprez, Warhaus is the solo recording project and alter-ego of Maarten Devoldere. And both with Balthazar and more so with Warhaus, Devoldere has developed a reputation for being a songwriter, who deftly walks a tightrope between the urbane and hyper-literate and an accessible, pop standard-leaning sensibility. In fact Devoldere’s recently released effort We Fucked a Flame Into Being will further cement the Belgian singer/songwriter’s reputation as the album’s title is derived from a line in DH Lawrence’s classic, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and as a result, the material on the album thematically explores lust, desire, love, the profound inscrutability of random encounters while paying tribute to the decadence and intensity that life can offer.

“Machinery,” the latest single off We Fucked a Flame Into Being is a moody, slow-burning song that to my ears sounds like a strange yet sensual and accessible mesh of Untitled # 23 and Further/Deeper-era The Church, Edith Piaf and fellow countrywoman Melanie De Biasio as the song features Devoldere’s crooning with a gorgeous arrangement featuring horns, twinkling piano keys, a small string section, shimmering electric guitar and shuffling drumming. And from its sound, the song evokes smoke-filled, late night cafes, slightly off the beaten path, intimate jazz clubs, of nights that will take a strangely decadent turn that will slowly consume you. As Devoldere explains in press notes “‘Machinery’ is about not being in control, about being consumed by love and excess, as if to ask me to let me off the hook for a night.”

Directed by fashion photographer Willy Vanderperre, known for his campaign work with Prada, Christian Dior, Raf Simons and Jil Sander among others, the recently released video for “Machinery” takes place at a location that would be familiar to most of us. And as Vanderperre explains in press notes “We went for a location that we all have been to in our lives, a party we all were at one point as well. It could be a wedding or an office party. The night is over, smoke in the back of the room. This guy goes on stage to sing a song. He has had all night to find the courage to do so. Maybe tries to impress a girl. He sings and tries to be smooth, which makes him vulnerably sexy. There is a certain discomfort in his moves.” And while emphasizing the late night exploits-based feel of the song, the video emphasizes the song’s underlying loneliness and vulnerability; the song and the video ache and yearn for something more — although the narrator doesn’t quite know what it is.