This voice certainly sounds familiar – and indeed: Maarten Devoldere aka Warhaus goes solo without his band Balthazar. With songs that shine a light somewhere between sexy noir and jazzy pop, the singer distances himself quite a bit from his band.
A modern look but dressed in an old-fashioned coat. Romantic but yet full of brutality. Maarten Devoldere loves contradictions. And opposite attracts – also on the belgian artists’ debut. For quite some time one fifth of Belgian band Balthazar has written his own songs under pseudonym Warhaus. Wrapped up in fine clothing and showered in decadence, “We Fucked a Flame into Being” – the album’s title is a quote from D. H. Lawrence “Lady Chatterley” – evokes memories of Serge Gainsbourg and recalls vivid memories of the voices of a young Leonhard Cohen or Nick Cave.
The role of the unapprochable and detached guy Devoldere still impersonates like no other. With his always slightly pissed off and arrogant expression on his face he stands in perfect symbiosis to his similar sounding music. Parting with guitar-heavy Indie tunes Devoldere still plays with unusual beats and rhythms, just like Balthazar have done ever since, but uses different instrumentation and waters down rigid pop constructs using jazzy brass and piano. Soaked in lies, decadence and sex the lyrics round off the profligate, gloomy yet glamorous concept. In his very own words: “You want magic count me in / You want Jesus, well I’m not him” (“I’m not Him”).
“You are my favourite new elusion / keep your secrets, keep your danger / love me, baby, like a stranger tonight.” (“Leave with Me”) – the lyrical Warhaus is the affair type of guy rather than one for the long relationships. The one you can have fun with, who is looking for an adventure. Before it might get boring he will set off. His songs work in a similar manner. Accentuated trumpets, smooth bass notes and scarcely used guitar chords are ground for his conjuring voice, singing in a susurrant tone. Inbetween Devoldere hides some instrumental songs that propelled by erratic bass and trumpets could have easily made it to the soundtrack of a Quentin Tarantino film.
After all Devoldere backtracks a little from his newly discovered musical path letting space for some classical indie tunes and Balthazar trade marks. Together with the stunning background singer who accompanies his dark voice on most of the songs on “We Fucked a Flame Into Being” he finds himself lasciviously swaying to “Ooohs” and “Aahs” in the chorus of beautiful melodies such as the poppy “Machinery” and ballad “Time and Again”. This is how Warhaus manages to keep the perfect balance of his former musical influence and a gloomyyet sexy new image. And this is what makes “We Fucked a Flame into Being” a thrilling record.
PIAS | Out: 02.09.16