Band of the Day

2012.05.27

Belleruche

A UK trio makes groove-minded electronic music with a vintage hip hop and jazz flair
Come now and dare to be straight with me. I'll share, I might even be straight with you.
lyrics from Like 4 The Hard Way

Belleruche is a London, UK trio consisting of Kathrin deBoer (vocals), Ricky Fabulous (guitar) and DJ Modest (decks). The band formed in North London in 2005 and released a series of 7” on Hippoflex, their own record label. The limited edition recordings quickly sold out, and Belleruche signed to Brighton based Tru Thoughts Records, releasing their debut Turntable Soul in 2007. The album was the fastest selling debut in the label’s history. The band toured extensively, playing worldwide including high profile festival slots. Belleruche followed up with 2008’s The Express and the 2010 album 270 Stories, both well-regarded continuations of their soul, hip hop, jazz and electronic hybrid sound. Belleruche’s most recent effort is the recently released Rollerchain.

London trio Belleruche describe their sound as “turntable soul music,” and even used that as the title of their debut album. What exactly does turntable soul mean? They make soul that can only be played on a turntable, so classic 60s and 70s soul? They make soul music for machines? Belleruche dances around genres with such fluidity that abstract descriptions like that may be the best way to describe them. They're certainly soulful, singer Kathrin deBoer pumps every track with conviction via plaintive bluesy coos and brawny choruses. Additionally, they incorporate elements from a record store's bin of sources: hip hop drum machine beats, glitchy electro breaks, warm indie electric guitar, dub reverb and echo. It's the kind of eclecticism you get when one of your members lists his instrument as decks.

The band has released four albums to date, all excellent efforts well worth your time. Though they've been eclectic from day one, their earlier efforts displayed more hip hop influence and and tends towards upbeat danceable rhythms. Belleruche's just released full-length Rollerchain takes a turn for the shadows, and may just be the better for it. The band takes advantage of deBoer's capacity for truly bluesy vocals, and incorporate some elements of trip hop and the dark R&B experimentations of fellow Londoners like the xx. “16 Minutes” is satisfyingly simple, featuring creeping lead guitar and deBoer's oh-so-breathy, bluesy vocals. “Get More” features a skipping, nearly house beat and bouncing groove, not to mention one of deBoer's catchiest vocal lines. It feels like the band has a taught potential energy, they could pounce…if they wanted to. “Stormbird” is a slow burner with foreboding distorted guitar (or synth?) loops, sparse drum beats and bobbing, elfin vocals.

The album is excellent from start to finish, and an intriguing progression from their earlier work. It retains their hooky, groove oriented past, but adds a layer of dark complexity that works incredibly well.