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.