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Electro Class Of 2009: In Touching Distance of Global Greatness

Will Hutchins writing for I V Y paris

Since the French electro/touch set, headed by the peerless Ed Banger record label, became the scenester’s musical tipple of choice 2-3 years ago, the ears of the globe have been fixedly turned to Paris. And while the nobility of the scene are taking a well earned break, becoming the biggest ‘rock-band’ on the planet or writing songs for Demis Roussos, who will the new frenchies be to follow in Le touch footsteps of Justice, Sebastian Tellier, Kavinsky et al. and achieve world domination in 2009?

Yuksek Well, due to some stellar remixes and crazy live shows, Yuksek has already been a star in dj land for a while, but if you want to break into the mainstream and have some 15 year old girl in Tasmania blu-tack your album artwork to her wall, then you better release an album of your own.

And so at the end of January that’s just what the musician born Pierre-Alexandre Busson did when his debut effort ‘Away form the sea’ hit shops. He’s certainly well placed for cross-over success in the UK as Fiction, the label that’s home to British indie heavyweights Snow Patrol and White Lies, are in charge of releasing the album over there. More importantly though, is that ‘Away from the sea’ is a very good record and one that has clearly been made in the wake of the phenomenon that was ‘Cross’.

With that modern masterpiece, Justice managed to turn thousands and thousands of rock, rap and r’n’b fans onto dance music by creating a truly exciting LP that combined the ambition, passion and sound of these genres while remaining very much in a dance field.

Yuksek has used this proven multi-million selling formula as the template for his own brand of hip-hop, rock, and r’n’b straddling electro. Many of the poppier synth melodies and sounds on ‘Away from the sea’ are very reminiscent of ‘Cross’, especially on single ‘Extraball’, as are the funked up bass riffs. But it would be fair to say that Yuksek has taken these elements even further in order to produce an even more accessible electro record than Justice did.

An oeuvre that plays to the masses by utilizing a lot of vocals and melodic chord changes, it trades some of the aggression and power of Xavier and Gaspard’s music for something with a groovier, funkier and poppier feel without ever losing its energy or excitement. It certainly caters to the ever-growing worldwide collection of music fans that are equally interested in the blog friendly hipster-hop and electro scenes, as it features collaborations with Hype Machine favourites Spank Rock, Shit Disco and Chromeo. If anyone is going to give the moustached duo a run for their money in the ‘world’s most popular electro act’ stakes, it’s this man.

However, if you’re not Yuksek but still desire similar success, then why not get him to produce your album? And while you’re at it, why not go all out and ask Justice if they’ll play keyboards and produce the last track on the record? This is just what Birdy Nam Nam have done for their sophomore effort ‘ Manual for Successful Rioting’, and by the sounds of it, success is on its way.

The four turntablists have started to make music digitally, rather than only with the aid of vinyl and turntables, with the effect being that Crazy-B, DJ Pone, DJ Need, and Little Mike can now collectively be classed as an electro outfit as their sound has started to shift away from their hip-hop, trip-hop, and jazz roots.

Of course that’s not to say that you can’t hear their hip-hop influences in the new material, indeed, following on from the aforementioned examples of Justice and Yuksek, the BNN use these touches with great intelligence on tracks such as ‘Trans Boulogne Express’ or the Justice produced ‘The Parachute Ending’ in order to shape another French electro album with huge cross-over potential.

However, whereas Yuksek has crafted ‘Away from the sea’ to be very much in essence a great stand alone album that one can enjoy via headphones just as much as in a club, ‘Manual for Successful Rioting’ attempts to capture the infamous madness of witnessing the four Djs of Birdy Nam Nam live. This means that unlike the Turkish titled musician’s debut, BNN’s first LP for major label Jive Epic very much retains a driving force of power and aggression that will have the crowd rioting when they come to rip up l’Olympia for two nights in May. A spring soirée that shouldn’t be missed.

And finally, if we were to talk about the Frenchman, or rather French 22 year old boy, whose take on electro-house will be pumping through the stereos of every decent club in all of Christendom and beyond for many years to come, then we would be talking about Surkin. This wunderkid, originally from the south and signed to Institubes, has no full-length release yet but a string of impressive Ep’s under his belt mean he’s steadily been building a name for himself. And with the title track from his last release ‘Next of Kin’ he has a little bomb of a song that slots perfectly into a timeline of the development of French electro-house beside Justice and Yuksek.

The cheers of a festival crowd that can be heard coming in and out throughout the track is a noise to which this young man is going to become very accustomed in the near future. The real killer track on the Ep for me though is ‘White Knight Two’ which has a classic 90’s house sound whilst still managing to feel very fresh. If you then chuck some quality Chromeo vocals over the top of the same song, as Surkin does on ‘Chrome Knight’ (from the digital only release ‘Next of Kin Mark II’) then you have an absolute, undeniable floor-filler.

Of course, these three will struggle to get near the dizzying heights of success that Justice have reached over the last few years but in a world where dance music is becoming ever more important to ‘the kids’, they have a mighty good chance.

Yuksek plays La Cigale April 9th.
Birdy Nam Nam play l’Olympia May 6th and 7th.

Bonapart Paris apartments

Comments

i feel like dance music has always been important, no?

awesome article, and that Yuksek album is hot fire.

Thanks for the tip on Yuksek. In the great traditions of French electro... as yet unappreciated in the UK.

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