IMPOSSIBLE TO CATEGORISE?

dEUS

Sometimes the free CDs/records/tapes that are given away with magazines work in that a listener might pick up an interest in a singer or band for the first time. Hasn’t happened to me all that often, but one such occasion was back in 1994.

It came courtesy of a tape entitled The Radio 1FM Sessions that came with the November 1994 edition of the now long-defunct VOX magazine. Among the 15 acts included was a Belgian band called dEUS, named after a song by an Icelandic band (Sugarcubes) with the track being a session version of a single that was also on their debut LP Worst Case Scenario which had come out on Island Records.

I was struck immediately by how unusual sounding the band were and made a mental note to keep an eye out for them. A few months later, I picked up second-hand copies of two singles and said debut album, all on CD, guessing that someone had taken an earlier chance on them but not found them to their taste. After playing the album I could see why as it was genuinely impossible to categorise them or indeed find a commonality among the songs  It was a perplexing album to listen to. I’ve found a review from back in the day which captures the way I felt back then:-

“This five-piece rock outfit from Belgium are destined either to become the trendiest toast of 1994 or forgotten by the year’s end as the naffest thing to come out of their homeland since Plastic Bertrand. With an erratic musical identity located somewhere between John Cale, Captain Beefheart and Sonic Youth and a 15-track debut album which veers effortlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, they have a truly unique appeal. That this appeal is often so powerful is thanks to a fresh, uninhibited approach to playing and arrangements, and a core of stunning songs ranging from the delicately acoustic, soul-twisting Right As Rain to the clattering, chaotically charismatic Suds & Soda. They get too way out weird occasionally, as on the erratic, art-rock meandering of Morticia’s Chair, but never go so far that they can’t be saved by a track like the album’s best, the mesmeric, alternately tense and soaring Hotel Lounge. And they sing in English too.”

But overall, I couldn’t really get myself immersed into the album, albeit, as the review indicated, the two singles I’d also picked up were among the highlights (and the latter is still mesmeric, tense, soaring and bloody brilliant):-

mp3 : dEUS – Suds and Soda (single version)
mp3 : dEUS – Hotellounge (Be The Death Of Me)

I’ve never bought anything else that the band have ever released. Indeed, I don’t even have a copy of the debut CD anymore and have no idea how it went missing. It could of course be in a storage box under the stairs by mistake and I’ll come across it again in years to come when it is finally time to move out of Villain Towers (been here since 1995 and unlikely to move until I’m physically incapable of climbing stairs); if I do it will seem like an ancient relic. And I probably still won’t quite get it.

dEUS are still going strong all these years later. There’s plenty info over at this wiki page.

Oh and the b-sides to these two singles are available on request.  Or if enough you demand it, as a bonus posting in due course.

JC

 

8 thoughts on “IMPOSSIBLE TO CATEGORISE?

  1. I bought their little arithmetics single which I still adore to this day. Never heard anything else though so looking forward to hearing these.

  2. I enjoyed those, thanks, never heard of them before, they’re a bit “everything but the kitchen sink” (perhaps even including the sink) but I liked the energy. As you say, impossible to categorise.
    By the way I have a lovely vision now of a fairy tale style Villain Towers right at the top of a long winding spiral staircase!

  3. Came across dEUS at T in the Park in 1999 (in the same tent as the Delgados and Idlewild!) and thought they were great. Sure they were late in starting and over-ran due to technical difficulties but still did an encore. They’ve become more normal progressively since the first album and whilst recent LPs have had their highlights they’ve had little really to add to what they did on the first four albums. ‘The Ideal Crash’ is probably their most cohesive album of the four – all of these are worth checking out.

  4. dEUS are amongst my favourite bands. First 2 albums (Worst Case Scenario & In A Bar Under The Sea) are phenomenal and as you say pretty eclectic. Subsequent albums saw changes in line-up & subsequent albums all became a little more focuses in sound. Still great but not quite as adventurous and sprawling in styles. More alt-rock than art-rock.

  5. I adore dEUS and actually made a list of songs for a possible dEUS ICA. Once had a great conversation with Alex, the singer for the band Johnny Foreigner, who also loves dEUS and had interpolated a few lines from “Hotellounge” into a JoFo song.

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