This is a group that can do pretty much whatever they want. Working under the various guises of Soulwax, Soulwax Nite Versions, 2MANYDJS and Radio Soulwax, the influence they’ve had on today’s music scene is under-rated, yet colossal. Even this week’s revelations that the band have, for some time, been secretly releasing hit singles under false names barely comes as a surprise considering how much power they seem to quietly wield.
Saam Farahmand’s documentary attempts to capture the confusing nature of what it’s like to follow Soulwax on tour, rather than explore who these mysterious Belgians really are. Thankfully, the differences between Soulwax, Radio Soulwax, 2MANYDJS and Nite Versions is the first thing to be (sort of) clarified in this film, a conundrum which seems to confuse not only fans but perhaps even the band themselves. I’ll do my best here…
Soulwax is the rock band. 2MANYDJS is the group’s Dewaele brothers remixing other bands and artists. Soulwax Nite Versions is the band remixing itself live and Radio Soulwax is the whole lot thrown together on the same bill, plus guest bands/DJs. Got it???
So with so much confusion surrounding the band, it’s no surprise that the film takes this as it’s central theme, with much of it padded out by artistic, yet other-worldly shots of views from windows, backstage carnage, dishevelled band members and euphoric, yet largely vaccuous, teenage fans. There is a notable lack of input from the band, who seem uncomfortable on camera and there is no in-depth discussion with the Dewaele brothers themselves, who they are or where they come from.
The sense of detachment you get from the shots of everyday life on the road, interspersed with the bass-pounding and neon strobe-lit electronica of their stage shows is stark and does serve to highlight what it’s like to be on tour for long periods. You want to fast-forward the weird, bleary daytime to get to the music and debauchery at night because that’s the only bit that makes any sense.
The live footage is first-class, showing how the band combine electronic and dance remixing with ‘proper’ instruments, an imposing and chaotic stage presence, effortless cool and musical mastery, while footage of them as 2MANYDJS is, itself, jarringly remixed to match the cut and paste fun of the music. It’s a must if you’ve seen them live (in any of their various formats).
Contributions come from the band’s peers and collaborators, with the likes of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Erol Alkan, Justice and the Klaxons all discussing what Soulwax mean to them.
Don’t expect in-depth conversation with the band or to really find out anything about them. Don’t even expect much dialogue. Do expect an anything-goes approach to musical madness and a sense-numbing insight into the drearyness and boredom of touring life remixed with the soundtrack to some of your best nights out.
Confused? You will be.
Find out more about Soulwax.