Eclectic, textural, and atmospheric, Belgian jazz/trip-hop outfit Boogie Belgique make a long-awaited return with their fifth record, Machine.
The Brussels-based group, founded in 2012 by producer Oswald Cromheecke, have become known for their intricate, layered grooves and creative use of big band samples. The pulsing dance beats, experimental edge, and blend of old and new sounds are all present on Machine. But the record is less reliant on retro samples than the band’s earlier work, often looping a simple sweep of strings or a flutter of woodwind rather than fully orchestrated passages. The result is a set of sleeker, dreamier tracks than the rich, bombastic melodies on 2016’s Volta or the cheery Charleston rhythms of the group’s second record Time for a Boogie.
After the cool, shimmery opener ‘Avenoir’, the band slips into the effervescent groove of ‘Pepper’s Ghost’. ‘Risk’ samples some vintage strings, swooning over a boxy beat and icy piano, before fading out with interwoven strains of trumpet and clarinet, while ‘Tales of Old’, with its wavering woodwinds and distant vocals, has a foggy mystique to it.
On ‘Wonder’ and ‘How Deep Is the Ocean’ the band revitalise old crooner songs, whereas, in a more subtle nod to the past, ‘Mercury’ is backed by the soft crackle of a record.
But the band saved the most daring tunes until the end. Penultimate track ‘Admiral’ takes on an ominous, militant tone with its abrasive ostinato, before ‘Machine’ closes the album with a tingling guitar outro.
Machine is out now
By: Zoë White