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dEUS Mark 2, part 2,
This review is from: Vantage Point (Audio CD)
dEUS quietly released two of the best albums of the late 1990s with 'In A Bar, Under The Sea' and 'The Ideal Crash' before disappearing from everyone's radar. In 2005, Tom Barman (who pretty much *is* dEUS in the same way that Matt Johnson *is* The The) returned with a comeback album 'Pocket Revolution', which saw half the band replaced and a slightly calmer, though somehow even more enigmatic sound. What had previously been schizophrenically genre-hopping was now split into more or less two opposing poles: smoky barroom ballads and dark travelogues like 'Bad Timing' and 'Sun Ra' where you wondered what the hell was going through Barman's mind...
Here's the next chapter, and it's obvious that the answers aren't any clearer. dEUS have always been a band that exist and encapsulate their own world, one of arty bohemia and melancholy, late-night regret, but also one underpinned with a vaguely frightening atmosphere of churning neuroses and split-second, barely repressed violent impulses. They totally immerse the listener inside the song's narrator's head, and they are also defiantly European - a song like 'The Architect' (Kraftwerk-goes-disco, essentially) couldn't and indeed wouldn't be written by any British band, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why Barman is such a perpetually overlooked figure.
He has the songwriting chops, however. It is true that dEUS' softer songs are nowadays more soporific than the tense noir they used to radiate ('Eternal Woman' and 'Smokers Reflect' are dolefully pretty but not especially attention-grabbing) but their harder tracks are getting ever more ornate and hypnotic. The languidly sinister, smeared guitars (reflecting the album artwork) of 'Is A Robot' and the krautrock-grunge 'Favourite Game' are cases in point here, as is 'Oh Your God' (spiralling Queens Of The Stone Age verses juxtaposed with an unexpectedly folky, rousing chorus). But the album highlight is undoubtedly 'Slow', which rides a rumbling Beefheartian rhythm to a unforgettably ghoulish, synthesised refrain. It sounds deeply sinister and deeply sad all at once.
You get the impression the set could have been a couple of songs longer, which is not something you'd ordinarily say in the age of overstuffed 79:59 double concept albums, but maybe it's for the best. Barman has crafted another portrait of lingering European ennui and nagging doubt, and then he gets the hell outta Dodge. A new album could (already) be on the way, apparently, so watch him do the same next time around.