Boogie Belgique are one of those acts that you just know every release will be fantastic. Serving the more trip hop-based, cloudier end of electro swing, the music that the band puts out is always a fine reminder of what can be done with the genre when one escapes from the clichéd stereotypes that so easily haunt this style. A lot of their work for example – and this is certainly the case with Lure of Little Voices – isn’t really intended for dancing; the ideal listening environment for this release is wherever one is at their most relaxed, with the ability to just lie down and drown in the music. As with my most recent Aesop Rock review, this EP serves a slightly different purpose than just standard listening entertainment – where Freedom Finger served as the soundtrack to a video game, Lure of Little Voices works as the effective soundtrack to a book: Ian Urbina’s The Outlaw Ocean.
The EP begins with ‘Shepard’, which starts off very minimally, both in terms of composition and dynamics. The vocal samples and field recordings which feature throughout take you elegantly away to a new setting, and the overall feel of this piece sets the tone for the whole EP, making one feel as if they could just float away on these soundwaves. After a while, a nice trip hop beat kicks in seamlessly, which builds upon itself with every repetition, and some dark tones towards the end signal something a little more sombre. No musical element goes on any longer than it should in this piece, and everything works flawlessly. The next piece is ‘Pelican’, whose tuned percussion-based intro establishes an almost childlike, innocent tone. Again, this is a very minimalistic track, and particularly during the first minute, sounds almost trance-like in mood. The feelings of childlike wonder continue, with some gentle major chords above an upbeat bassline, before the entrance of some absolutely beautiful orchestral strings. These continue, and with the addition of both trumpet and flute towards the end, there’s almost a full orchestra playing, featuring both Western and Eastern elements.
Following this is ‘Bunker’, another piece with a heavy minimalistic influence, beginning with a loop that keeps on flowing around and around. There’s no clear beat in this to start, and it’s very easy to get lost in the sound. This piece also features a lot of strong influence from outside the standard Western music canon, and the beat is made up entirely of percussion instruments associated with world music. A powerful synth-led beat is brought in about halfway through, which changes the feeling of the piece somewhat, and this happens again once the beat kicks in even more heavily towards the end – perhaps more than any other song on the release, this piece communicates a sense of storytelling. There’s quite the mystical feeling to this one – in fact, although I’m very hesitant to use the word –I’d even say a spiritual sound. And then the final track is ‘Cessna’, which begins with a lovely reverberant piano which I always appreciate, before introducing a smooth drum beat. There are some choral vocals which wash straight over the listener, and some nice brass samples too – this being the only track that could really pass for standard electro swing. Various nautical samples throughout this one do much more to keep you located within this incredible setting, before the piece is ended and you’re brought back to reality.
This is a magnificent EP, and there’s no reason to describe it any other way. There’s not a single bad thing I could say about it, and if pressed, I’d likely place it as the best release of the year thus far. Whilst it’s certainly recognisable as Boogie Belgique, it does represent something of a slight departure, seeing as it barely sounds a thing like electro swing. But far be this from a criticism, not at all; this release is more in line with acts such as the Cinematic Orchestra – whom I love – and I’d be very very keen to hear more from them in this direction. One feels unbelievably refreshed by the end of this EP, and in days like these, that is exactly what is needed.
Written by Chris Swinglis Date: 2020-04-10