Over the better part of this year, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring Belgian singer/songwriter and guitarist Maarten Devoldere. Perhaps best known as the frontman and primary songwriter of the Belgian indie rock act Balthazar, an act that features members, who hail from Kortrijk and Ghent, Belgium; however, Devoldere has started to receive both national and international attention with his solo, side project, Warhaus, which has further cemented his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane and hyper-literate material with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility with his work managing to simultaneously nod at the surrealistic and moody art rock of 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, complete with a decadent and boozy slide into sinful ruin. Unsurprisingly, one of his earliest Warhaus efforts We Fucked a Flame Into Being was derived from a line in DH Lawrence’s classic, erotic novel Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and the material thematically focused on lust, desire, the profound inscrutability of random encounters — with a decidedly European decadence and a deeply personal, confessional nature, as you would have heard on the slow-burning and sensual “Machinery.”
“Love’s A Stranger,” an equally slow-burning rumination on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature and on adultery was interestingly enough, the first single off Devoldere’s sophomore Warhaus album, a self-titled effort slated for release on October 13, 2017 through [PIAS] Recordings. The material on Delvodere’s sophomore Warhaus effort was written largely on the road, as well as on a remote Kyrgyzstan retreat with only a local shepherd for company, and was recorded back home in Belgium. But whereas his previously recorded efforts focused on sin, lust and love — with a bittersweet aftertaste, reportedly, there’s at points where the worldly cynicism gives way to sincere, honest love; while pairing his boozy baritone with the gossamer vocals of his backing vocalist and girlfriend Sylvie Kreusch throughout. “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 with “Mad World,” the album’s woozy and boozy, late night shuffle of a second single, the backing band pair lush and atmospheric strings, voodoo and jazz-inflected rhythms with Devoldere’s boozy baritone. And while evoking something of a late night, drunken stumble, the song focuses on desperate, unfulfilled lust and desire but within an angst-filled world that’s gone mad — and Delvodere does so in a way that feels and sounds like a charmingly roguish and nasty come on.
The recently released video for “Mad World” was directed by frequent collaborator and friend Wouter Bouvjin and Benny Vandendrissche and shot in one continuous take by Jeronimo Fantini Foradellas during some nighttime escapes in Magaluf, Mallorca, a city known for wild parting, boozing and casual sex — and the video features Maarteen Devoldere initially dancing in neon-drenched street by himself before random pedestrians join him or jump in front of the camera. Personally, while watching the video, I was reminded of walking out of the Sugar Factory nightclub in beautiful Amsterdam at 4:00 in the morning, and as I was heading back to my hotel room near the Museumplein, I came across a group of rowdy and fun-loving kids who were dancing and chanting in the street. And although I was alone and far away from home, there was something strangely comforting and warmly ridiculous at that moment, perhaps because we were all trying to escape our own loneliness?