Belleruche: Rollerchain

An initially intriguing affair that ultimately succeeds more as a novelty.



Label: Tru Thoughts
US Release Date: 2012-06-05
UK Release Date: 2012-05-07
Official Site

Defining its sound as “hip-hop blues soul,” London trio Belleruche is certainly aiming for a specific niche with their newest album, Rollerchain. Indeed, the group’s mixture of beats, reversed instrumentation, electronic foundations, and sweet, prepubescent female vocals make for a sound that will polarize its listeners (There’s really no way to be indifferent here). However, it’s hard to disagree that album’s uniqueness, coupled with its modesty and inventiveness, makes it a fun novelty, if nothing else.

The band is comprised of Kathrin deBoer (vocals), Ricky Fabulous (guitar), and DJ Modest (decks). According to their official biography, the trio formed “after Ricky and Modest, who played bizarre turntable and guitar sets in London bars, bumped in to Kathryn in the market one day." Furthermore, "She did some singing over a cup of tea with the pair and Belleruche was born.” In addition, they describe their sound as “Sarah Vaughan, Django Reinhardt, and Cut Chemist stuck in a lift with Russian beer and a sampler.” Considering the askew melodic structures and seductive dominance of deBoer’s timbre, it’s fair to say that there are also touches of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Joanna Newsom. There’s a very hip and vintage quality to the unity between her delivery and the other member’s tracks, which ensures that Rollerchain is thoroughly intriguing.

“Stormbird” starts the album with hand claps, programmed syncopation, muffled staccato guitar, and electronic effects. Truthfully, although hypnotic, deBoer’s contribution sounds remarkable like “We Are Siamese if You Please” from Lady and the Tramp. Cleverly, the vocals and music become perpetually faster as the song concludes, which makes it a bit more exciting. By contrast, “Wasted Time” is a slower and more suspenseful song; even so, the way manipulated sounds complement the melodies is very interesting.

Elsewhere, “Get More” is eerily reminiscent of Amos’ “Raspberry Swirl”, and “16 Minutes” succeeds because of its space; it’s a somber and classy piece that seems to revolve around haunting regret. “Reach for the Bottle”, with its hip-hop verses, smooth guitar chords, and funky bass, is a lot more fun, and “Passenger Seat”, like many tracks on Rollerchain, conveys a cold mysteriousness that forces the listener to continue investigating even as he or she feels distanced from the music. In other words, it’d be perfect for the soundtrack to a David Lynch film.

Unfortunately, because of its limited scope and the group’s limited resources, Rollerchain suffers from a bit of monotony and repetition. The trio definitely has a distinctive approach in terms of both production and songwriting, but once the figurative tricks have been revealed, a certain level of boredom sets in. Although these dozen or so songs don’t really sound like anything else, they all sound a bit too much like each other.

Even with its flaws, Rollerchain feels a bit like a breath of fresh air. The songs defy a conventional structure, which is a bit of a doubled edged sword; on the one hand, they aren’t really catchy or affective, but on the other hand, their originality makes them cool. Musically, Ricky and Modest make do with what they have and incorporate some interesting moments throughout. Overall, though, Belleruche is more notable for its quirkiness than its overall quality.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.