The first time I played this 12″, Mrs 1537^ fixed me with her gimlet eye and said ‘Hmm, they sound Belgian!’* this being her standard insult of choice for anything she thought seemed a bit iffy musically; not that I consider that hailing from the same country as the mighty Plastic Bertrand means that you can’t rock out, but you have no idea what I’m dealing with here.  Funnily enough in the case of dEUS Via she was completely right, it is totally, wonderfully, 100%-ily Belgian.

dEUS Via 01

Now I’d never heard of the band before I was sent this 12″ back in September 1994 but I fell for this single, big time.  Via is a really interesting mix of stuff, with a pretty unique sound, then and now.  Lest we forget, according to my own faulty memory, in 1994 we were wallowing about after grunge, watching the rise of Green Day and waiting for something more interesting to fall into our laps.  dEUS had a touch or two of grunge forcefulness about them and a vocalist who really didn’t mind how much like Kurt he sounded, but they mixed it up with a very prominent violin sound in amongst the more standard instruments and a very arty sensibility.

dEUS Via 02

The title track is great, when it gets going it really does lurch forwards to great effect, the violin adds a really interesting propulsive texture to the music, there’s a really good tune and the track has an interesting dramatic structure.  There’s even a little sonic roughness around the edges, not quite enough for my tastes but its almost there.  I’d really recommend it.  The lyrics might be a bit too complex for your tiny mind though^^:

I’m gonna hit it and against the rock
I’m gonna hit it and against the rock, hit it
I’m gonna hit it and against the rock, hit it
I’m gonna hit it and against the rock, hit it
I’m gonna hit it and against the rock, hit it

dEUS Via 06

The three (count ’em!) B-sides are a pretty mixed bunch too:

‘Violins And Happy Endings’ somehow knits together Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’ and Velvet Underground’s ‘Black Angel’s Death Song’, not entirely successfully – if this were a knit, you wouldn’t really like the buttons and you’d be a little unsure as to why it had three arms, but you get the picture.

‘Great American Nude (Strip Mix)’, is great though.  Neat spoken word elements, sounding a little like a Belgian Lou Reed narrates an obsession with a girl who likes Alesteir Crowley over a brilliant baseline and all manner of rhythmic tricks.  I really love this track and always used to put it on tape mixes for my long-suffering friends.  Arty, clever and something you can strut your stuff too, what more do you need?

dEUS Via 04

‘Niche’ on the other hand is what happens if you just art about in the studio for too long.  Piano biffing, free-associative (or badly translated?) spoken word passages – I can just make out something shameful about a Belgian toilet at some point; it really is utter bollocks and even a little bit of swearing can’t save this bastard.  This is exactly why you can’t fully trust art rockers.  Don’t make me listen to it again.

They may be Belgian ...
They may be Belgian … not the most effusive press release I’ve ever read!

So half good, touching aceness for half of its’ length, but uneven.  I did get my hands on their second CD In A Bar, Under The Sea which thrillingly sounded like a pissed-off Tom Waits in places and had a gorgeous ballad called ‘Little Arithmetics’ on it.  I’d recommend it, in fact I may even try to find it.  Then dEUS, probably not helped by their utterly pants nAME went through line-up upheavals and sank from view.  So if you feel the need for some arty goodness then dip in, if not, see you tomorrow.

That’s what makes a kilo heavier than a gram, man
That’s what makes a kilo heavier than a gram, man

542 Down.

PS: Have an arty photo of some blue bells I took on Sunday at a local hill fort.

Burton Hill Fort Bluebells

^although she was just Girlfriend 1537 in those far off days.

*European rock not being a good thing in her book**

**I know I know, I’ve tried to educate her, she even saw Europe when she was 16.

^^you know I’d never quote non-English language bands’ English lyrics for cheap, comic effect.  I just wouldn’t do that, I have far too much integrity.



16 thoughts on “Viva Belgium!

  1. Gimlet eye! Nice! Never heard that one before. You are as erudite as ever!

    I like to think I have a good geographical spread in my Metal collection but, to date, there are still no Belgians. Although I did recently get some Hungarians and some Albanians! Nothing to say about these guys except the band name really is awful.

    1. Thank you, that’s uncommonly kind of you. I’d love to. You reckon I could?

      (Now go and read my recent-ish one on the Lurkers – you must have seen them live, surely?)

  2. A very nice insult that Mrs 1537 throws around. As for the band here, I very much liked Suds and Soda and this track. As a result I very much enjoy Worst Case Scenario (though I haven’t listened to it in a while).

  3. Haha this makes me think of when Rollins says he refers to things from Belgium as ‘Belgique.’ His word. You can thank ol’ Angry Ass Hank when it becomes part of your lexicon.

    Art Rock. I must learn more. So I will continue to come here and read your Artful Rock posts.

  4. ‘They sound Belgian’ is one of the greatest insults I’ve ever heard. It’s like they’re being compared to a giant waffle!
    And if your Missus saw Europe when she was 16 it’s no wonder she’s not a fan of European rock.

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