Amsterdam-based electronic duo Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte Albers first made their debut as Weval in 2013 with the release of their impressive ‘Half Age’ EP on Atomnation. In the wake of two subsequent 12” releases on Kompakt, this self-titled collection finally offers up their debut album, and it’s certainly been worth the wait. From the very outset there’s an emphasis upon dark and highly emotive atmospheres amongst the twelve tracks gathered here, which flit between genres rather than really conforming to any one particular style. It’s also no surprise to learn that both Coolen and Albers have backgrounds in film production. While there’s a focus upon dark spectral synthscapes, there’s never a sense of unnecessary adornment here, with the economy of elements and rich sense of space making a particular impact here.
‘The Battle’ takes things wandering off amidst loose-limbed percussion and downbeat rhythms as vocalist KW Toering’s pitched-down tones get looped and layered against bright synth shimmers and gauzy chords. If the resulting fusion doesn’t exactly sit a million miles away from Royksopp’s Euro-tinged downbeat pop, ‘I Don’t Need It’ drags things off into considerably more stark and forbidding territory as spiralling synths give way to dark swelling sub-bass and clattering off-beat drum, the collision betweem monolithic synths and Toering’s spectral-sounding processed vocals calling to mind The Knife’s similarly ominous, slightly alien grandeur.
Elsewhere, ‘You’re Mine’ takes things out on a night time flight through rich swelling bass tones and rattling snare flurries as Toering’s pitch-bent vocals glide through a haze of urgently bleeping synth arpeggios, the sense of contemplative weariness that ebbs through the entire track smoothing out the more chaotic edges, before the two-part ‘You Made It’ shifts from an opening section of muted aged-sounding piano keys, snare flutters and reversed tones, into a second half driven by shuffling house rhythms and plangent synth bends, the whirring minor key elements in the background heightening the nocturnal atmospheres. An extremely impressive debut album from Weval that arrives fully formed.