I have a lot of music and I love sharing new and interesting music with people, so I’m going to start a series that will post on the first of every month called “Music You May Have Missed.” Most of the time I’ll showcase one band each month and will provide links and samples as well as give some of my reactions to songs or albums. Hopefully you’ll discover some music that makes you smile, or think, or cry, or simply rock out.
Current Band Members: Tom Barman – Vocals / Guitar, Klaas Janzoons – Violin / Keyboards, Stéphane Misseghers – Drums / Vocals, Mauro Pawlowski – Guitar / Vocals, Alan Gevaert – Bass Guitar / Vocals
Most recent album release: Vantage Point
Lyric of note: She walked into my life
The ridiculous and sublime
Beneath the lowered sky
She fell in love
And passed it on to me
I threw it all away
Like a record that you don’t play
And all the hurt i saved
Well, time had come
I passed it on to her
(“Bad Timing” from Pocket Revolution)
I first came across dEUS when I picked up In a Bar, Under the Sea from a used cd store. This was probably about 10 years ago. I had never heard of them, but liked the cover:
From the first track, the 46 second long “I Don’t Mind Whatever Happens” and the schiziod and hyper, “Fell Off the Floor, Man,” I knew I’d found a band that was on a different wavelength than most:
In a Bar, Under the Sea is probably one of dEUS’ most eclectic albums, and if there is a central theme to the album, it’s a kind of postmodern bricolage of styles and images. Playful and oddly angled, this was an album I liked on an intellectual level, and I appreciated what the band was doing musically, but the album didn’t get under my skin or draw me back again and again. I would occasionally listen to it, enjoy it, and then forget about it for a while.
Then, while living in NYC, I read an article in Time Out and became interested in the band’s more current work. Picking up Pocket Revolution I was soon hooked by the music and lyrics in ways that In a Bar . . . hadn’t quite managed. The tone of the album is captured in the first track, “Bad Timing,” that begins moody, with hypnotic, distant electric guitars and a low, insistent bass line that support the melancholy vocals. As the song progresses, however, everything winds tighter and tighter inward until it explodes in a wash of distortion that surrounds you and brings out the anger that is always implicit within melancholy. While the album has some quiet moments, (namely, “Include Me Out”) the songs that really struck me are rockers like “If You Don’t Get What You Want” and the slow-burn fuse of “Pocket Revolution” that erupts into a desperate gospel-esque chorus backed by a wall of distorted guitars, and the rock-funk of “Nightshopping.”
(The gospel elements aren’t in this video, you’ll have to listen to the album version to hear them.)
At the same time, I also got the earlier album, Worst Case Scenario, which came out in 1994. Less coherent than Pocket Revolution, but not quite as all-over-the-place as In a Bar . . ., it opens with “Suds and Soda,” a song that combines a wall of sound with lyrics and style that remind me of King Missile’s work, with a little early Flaming Lips thrown in as well.
This is then followed by the funky, bass-driven “W.C.S. (First Draft)” that plays jazz sensibilities and a cool, almost spoken delivery against outbreaks of punk noise and energy. Trust me, it works better than you might think. In fact, the album as a whole intertwines a laid-back and cool approach with eruptions of noise and distorted instruments and voices. The lyrics manage to be ironic without being self-involved and if you like your rock on the loud and sometimes chaotic side, this is definitely an album you will enjoy.
Last March, the band released Vantage Point. Quieter than some of their previous album, this is an album that doesn’t grab my attention as insistently as Worst Case Scenario or Pocket Revolution. The band presents a smoother, less experimental sound, with fewer odd angles and jagged edges that I have come to both expect and enjoy. Still, they offer some solid rock songs with “When She Comes Down,” “Is a Robot,” and “Oh Your God.” This last is one of my favorites because you need to have a really good rock song to support lyrics like:
“In the name of something bigger / Your god can only snigger / And the sight of all this rigour / With sex the only trigger / For love… or was it the other way round?”
On the page, these words look inane, but in the song, they carry a power that is surprising and genuine. Overall, however, the album is more introspective than previous ones. “Eternal Woman” is almost a ballad, an invocation of the search for beauty while “Slow” meditates on the nature of time and perception:
Already, as I listen closer to Vantage Point for the purposes of this post, I’m finding levels and depths that were not apparent on my first couple of listens. I’d still recommend Pocket Revolution and Worst Case Scenario to anyone who likes their music on the jarring side of things, but if you don’t like those, give Vantage Point a try. You can listen to all of the albums I’ve talked about on Last.fm (as well as dEUS’ album The Ideal Crash, which I don’t have, but am currently listening to for the first time as I write this sentence).
Ultimately, dEUS provide a unique combination of hard-rocking sensibilities with an eclectic mixture of musical styles in support of lyrics that range from ironic and post-modern, to smart and subtle, and with some poetry thrown into the mix as well. Plus, ya know, they totally rock.
Let me know what you think.