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Biography

David & Stephen Dewaele (aka Soulwax/2manydjs) have always been fascinated by collecting instruments and recording gear. Their passion hasn’t been born by completism: simply every new item inspires a world of possibilities. The one item that always eluded them was the EMS Synthi 100—a huge and rare analogue synthesizer, of which there were only 31 ever produced, that can create a near infinite array of sounds.

Shortly after opening the DEEWEE HQ in Ghent, Belgium, David & Stephen, discovered that IPEM (the research institute for systematic musicology based in the city’s university) not only had a Synthi 100, but were looking for a temporary home for it while they moved buildings. And so, after a lot of begging a deal was struck with IPEM. The Synthi 100 would spend almost a year at DEEWEE, during which time EMS repair guru Constantin Papageorgiadis would sporadically continue the restoration started at IPEM, while the brothers would make an album of music entirely produced on it.

“It was our belief that there were tons of melodies and rhythms hidden within the machine,” commented David & Stephen Dewaele. “We just had to make it sing. Every sound you hear on this record, however hard to believe, originates from the mighty EMS Synthi 100. Some were easy to make, some took days to get right. A few of the compositions were written beforehand, with the Synthi 100 in mind, then translated onto it. A couple were created by just messing around for hours, and some of it is the machine randomly playing by itself, inspiring us to build onto its unique chaos.”

The album sounds simultaneously futuristic and retro as it highlights the versatility, uniqueness and warmth of the Synthi 100. Remarkably, a synthesizer that was first launched in 1971 continues to excel in 2020, aided only by patient restoration and fresh creative input. Each side of the vinyl features a long piece of music, each of which is divided into three movements. While they can be heard separately, David & Stephen urge people to listen to the entire experience from start to finish.

Despite releasing over 36 minutes of music, the Dewaele brothers believe that there’s so much more for them to discover through the Synthi 100. And with the synth now back at home at IPEM, not too far from the DEEWEE studio, they hope to have an opportunity to return to it in the future to turn this album into a series of recordings.

‘DEEWEE Sessions Vol.01’ is a highly collectible package featuring the album on heavyweight 180g vinyl along with a fully-illustrated 48-page book which explores the background behind the album and history of the Synthi 100. The book compiles a foreword from David & Stephen Dewaele; an introduction from 3030, the specific Synthi 100 unit that was used for the album; a history of its creation and an exploration of its sounds; and finally an interview with Ivan Schepers, the IPEM technician who has been 3030’s long-term custodian.

Fittingly, this tribute to such an elegant machine is presented in a beautiful style, art directed by Ill-Studio. The vinyl is held in a perforated ‘patch bay’ cover with a fully artworked inner sleeve, while both the disc and book are housed in a clear PVC bag.

This album was made with the kind assistance of and in collaboration with IPEM, Ghent.

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