CD, Diffusion Records, 2005
Recently re-released in re-mastered form by Diffusion Records, the debut album from the Belgian-American duo of Peter van Ewijk (vocals and guitar) and James Watts (personal computer) was entirely conceived over the Internet without the musicians meeting in person until after its completion. While this fact could be merely a marketing gimmick it actually becomes quite important when one hears “Rawq”, the end result of their collaborative effort.
From the beginning it becomes apparent that Kilowatts and Vanek have succeeded in breaking some new ground with “Rawq” thanks to skillful and very detailed compositions combining IDM, glitch, breakbeats and a pop sensibility with blues influenced moody guitar work and clear vocals. The music in “Rawq” is quite balanced and very consistent whether one looks at the album as a whole or as separate tracks, with most of the songs easily standing on their own and being very catchy.
Lyrically, the songs in “Rawq” are mostly melancholic and somewhat introspective ballads, written with intelligence and feeling. Although it may seem that Peter’s vocals are somewhat restricted in range, which eventually adds a touch of repetitiveness to “Rawq”, they are still quite good and overall adequate to the songs. Sometimes, his singing is reminiscent of Josh Hayden (from “The Blue Moods of Spain”), particularly in “Tumblin Down” and “Nighthawks”, and, in at least one track (“Gone”) I can’t shake off an association with Brian Molko.
In addition to the opening track, “Lies”, tracks like “Kaleidoscopic Eyes”, “Conviction” and “Silver Screen (director’s cut)” are particularly worthy of mention (and also the catchier songs). It would have been a nice addition to have the video animation for “Lies” (a clip which is available in the duo’s website) as an extra to this album but one can’t have everything.
Interestingly, despite the combination of what can almost be considered as antagonistic music styles (some of which are certainly acquired tastes), the music of Kilowatts and Vanek is very likely to appeal to the sensibilities of wider, more ‘mainstream’ audiences. This is one of those memorable albums that should be at least checked out by anyone with some interest in good music.
— Miguel de Sousa