Forgotten Album: Romantic Times - Lewis

Mandi Goodier

Nothing was known about Lewis Baloue beyond two albums made in such short runs that they were lost completely until 2014 when record label Light in the Attic did what they do best and shone light on this literally lost classic. But who is Lewis?

Lewis Barloue - RomanticTimes
Lewis Baloue - Romantic Times
Release date: 1985(?), August 2014
Label: Light in the Attic

4 and a Half stars Lewis Barloue Romantic Times

The cover depicts 1980s extravagance, but the album is deeper and darker than the sheen of its packaging suggests. Featuring minimal arrangements and a bittersweet vocal delivery, Romantic Times is a captivating tribute to love from an unhinged soul. More than an overlooked album, this is a lost talent. 

It was a mystery to everyone in the music industry. In 2014 Light in the Attic released L'Amour by mononymous Lewis when asked about this mysterious bloke on the cover they said: "In 1983, a man named Lewis recorded an album named L’Amour, which was released on the unknown label R.A.W. And that’s about all we know." Shortly after this release DJ and record collector Kevin “Sipreano” Howes found Romantic Times lurking in his vaults in Vancouver; but this time, a clue. There, on the cover was the same brooding figure, and next to the word Lewis, a surname "Baloue". Just when the Light in the Attic's excitement began to peak, they were again met with a dead end. 

Dan Lowe, credited as the sound engineer on the album barely remembers the session but that Lewis seemed to be "under the influence". Even Lewis's own brother said he hadn't seen him since 2007. It seemed that this man just ceased to exist; was nothing beyond a powerfully unsettling pair of albums. A spokesperson stated "Deciding that Lewis’ spider web-delicate songs demanded to be heard, we put the album out anyway, offering to present the due royalties to anyone who could prove they were Lewis."

The pacing of Romantic Times was off, slow moving and fragile. This album was dragged into reality via a lucid dream. Synths drone behind the melody giving an atmosphere akin to a hyper-real surrealist horror movie a la David Lynch. And then there is Lewis himself, crooning intense lyrics almost nonchalantly adding to this uneasy feeling. You want to reach out and touch him for reassurance of his conviction, but he is an apparition of something gone desperately wrong. But it is so right! Like falling in love with with a person whose imperfections make them beautiful, this too is beauty, pure, simple, and irrational.

And that seemed to be that until... They found him. After months of searching and uncovering yet another pseudonym, Randall A. Wulff, they finally found him "looking calm, cool and collected, sitting outside a little neighbourhood coffee shop drinking a large hot coffee. He had no idea about the recent interest in his old records and didn’t seem to care in the slightest. We had a check for him but he wasn’t interested ... [He] said, ‘I wish you guys all the best. [But] I’m not looking back.'”

Feeling somewhat confused by his ambivalence, Light in the Attic told The Guardian: "It doesn’t feel right collecting money from [Lewis’s] art and him not sharing in it regardless of how incredibly positive he was about the entire thing,”

After all this time, Wulff is still recording and making records: “I’m not looking into coin,” Wulff told Light In The Attic. “I’m not looking into anything. I’m just strumming my guitar.” The man, the mystery, and the music seems destined to the vaults and those lucky, savvy collectors out there. Thankfully, Lewis's fan base is thriving online and it doesn't take too much googling to find his music online. Here's one such treat.

Read more articles by Mandi Goodier here