A SLICE OF LIFE: Tabula Rasa (Selfrealeased 2022)

Photo by Wim Kempenaers

Photo by Wim Kempenaers

Four years ago, Restless came out, and now, the Belgian A Slice of Life are publishing their second album: Tabula Rasa. In these four years a few things have happened (even a global pandemic). Some of them were not predictable at all, just as some others were. What hasn’t changed in this whole time is that Mr. Dirk Vreys and his mates keep coming up with new music. Good music. Awesome music. Tabula Rasa is being released in 2022 to prove that. And here are again a thousand tangible influences in all aspects, that’s so magnifically done that it sounds fresh and original, even with everything that’s been said before.

Tabula Rasa is very well produced, it sounds very good and compact, everything is where it has to be and every single instrument (obviously including the voice) stands out over the rest without them stepping over each other. This is something that may seem so obvious, but when it isn’t the result is a construction of confused noise that’s been put together carelessly.2 faced leaves that very clear. A Slice of Life is different, they play in a league that nowadays is reserved to just a few bands, mainly because of the absence of said bands. We are living in a period of time where it’s missed (I at least do) albums that sound like there’s a band behind. Formed by six members in this case, with their guitars, their basses, their human drums and keyboards when necessary. It’s not all essential to make and release good songs, but it helps. Or I think so.

Moreover, Sweet Darkness, Seven Days and Matterhorn make it very clear that the album is diverse. They all sound quite different and they represent perfectly what you’ll find during the album itself. It all takes us back to the endless references I mentioned before. It all sounds quite modern, without giving up all those influences that keep them tightly tied to the classics. They define themselves, without actually defining themselves, in between the new wave, the post-punk or the alternative rock. Gothic rock from the new generations could be added to that list, case in which you wouldn’t be too far from reality. Anyhow, those are all labels where you could sort out something that’s beyond all labels and that wouldn’t fit in those classifications anyways. It’s catchy, danceable and highly recommendable.

Goodbye or Fortress Of Solitude also prove that they know how to get deep and how to make songs in a more slow and melancholic way. Cavern (with Els Van Herck’s feminine participation), Animal Instinct or Anywhere But Home go round everything already said. They are all good songs, the type of songs that you can dance to but also listen to on repeat. The second one mentioned sounds more like the 80’s than the first one, and it’s also quite nostalgic. Run for Cover might be the darkest one in the album, with no excesses but with reminiscences that keep them closer to those inspired in the genre of those distant 90’s. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve said they sound modern and going, but without giving up on what they’ve learned in the past decades. What Doesn’t Kill Me or In your Shade (which is probably one of my favourite tracks from Tabula Rasa) have enough of what it’s needed to become an immediate hit. If anyone even knows what that is at this point.

The last song in the album is The Foreign Resort’s remix of Coraline. I personally prefer the original track, even though the remix isn’t bad at all. As almost always, it’s more electronic, and, according to my knowledge, the melody blurs in between the synthetic, but not to the point of messing up the song though. Once again, it’s a good song that gives closure to an awesome album. A Slice of Life keeps in really good shape and it’s only left for us to wait until we get the chance to hear them live around here. Good exponent of that Belgian scene increasingly more consolidated, full of great bands and great albums, just as A Slice of Life and Tabula Rasa.