Cute Heels’ Spiritual is a bit of an anomaly in the discography of the project’s label Dark Entries. Where DE dedicates most of their energy to releasing forgotten wave classics and obscure platters of darkwave, Cute Heels is the rare contemporary artist to make the well-curated imprint’s cut. A cursory listen to Spiritual would seem to make the reason clear; in spite of some modern production touches, the Belgian project is doing a sort of primitive techno and body music that sounds akin to each genre’s earliest examples from decades ago.
For a producer of what is nominally dance music, Cute Heels’ Victor Lenis certainly doesn’t pander to those seeking some straightahead club numbers. Many of the tracks on Spiritual forego easy dancefloor tropes in favour of textural concerns or complex modular sequences more suited for the high-end headphone listening. Opener “La Symphonie” does the former quite well, it’s buzzing bass sound and erratic kick drum laying out a bed for some heavily reverbed clangs and ghostly moans. Less moody by virtue of it’s busyness is “Sv Forest”, where many of its predecessors’ elements are married to a rapidly evolving analogue sequence the bubbles and boils away for a solid four minutes without ever settling into a singular groove.
The album does have a few numbers that might suit your jones for the weird funky proto-EBM bands like White Car have brought back into focus. “Metal Disco” is all about a bouncing bassline that slowly accumulates percussive elements and detuned pad sounds before tumbling into a full-on drum breakdown in it’s final moments. No less groovy but slightly more straightforward are “Watch the Neon” and the title track, both of which play the middle ground of slow-tempo body music and minimal, even venturing slightly into some neo-80s synthwave for a brief moment or two.
Spiritual is sonically the kind of thing you would expect to unearth in some dusty record store, it’s value only perceptible to those truly into its specific genus. I guess Dark Entries decided to skip the part where it lays dormant for a few decades and gets reissued. There’s definitely an audience primed for this sort of thing, and minus the cachet that comes with being some unheard gem of yesteryear it’s got legs enough to warrant a few listens. Hell, in a climate where Gesaffelstein can do something similar but a little more on the nose and suddenly become the biggest thing on the planet maybe it’s exactly the right time for the new music of yesterday to emerge.