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Phases and Stages

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Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, May 10, 2002, Music

Quoi? Le memo must have gotten perdu. Four years apres Air French duo's space breaking Moon Safari -- and un after 2001's short-circuited 10,000HZ Legend -- musique Français has broken free of its bad pop Bastille and stormed the international market. In the last six months alone, a boulanger's dozen releases have crossed mon bureau; rock to hip-hop and dance to jazz. Bertrand Burgalat's The Sssound of Mmmusic (Emperor Norton) odelays beaucoup potential -- big beat, English, Français, and Portuguese (??) ici, slithery, thumping bottom-end there -- but hasn't arrivée just yet. Rinoçérose's Music Kills Me (V2) has, a lethal combinaison of New Wave, R&B, et disco, whereas the Montpellier duo's U.S. debut, 1999's Installation Sonore, infused more rock et roll. Le shift, while a bit précieux, is still a grand knee-knocker. So is VHS or Beta's chunky goodness debut Le Funk (On!), with its "Disco Paradise" house music and "Solid Gold" booty moves. Louisville, Ky., is an ocean away from Paris, but the quartet's Daft Punk worship bridges the gap. So does the fact that these cats play this live -- sans machines! Senegalese-born, Paris-bred M.C. Solaar brings le funk sur le dope Cinquieme As, Fifth Ace (Elektra), which loses something in its non-translation, but whose magnifique, laid-back ambient flow is tres chaud, hot "¡Hasta La Vista Mi Amor!" is the double-cross(over). Dimitri From Paris knows bien how to flow, After the Playboy Mansion (Astralwerks) remixing two CDs worth of satiny smoking jacket lounge. Jephté Guillaume ("Ibo Lele"), Gwen Guthrie ("Peanut Butter"), and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes ("Don't Leave Me This Way") -- a ménage à trois to make Hugh Hefner reach for the viagra. Exhaustive mixers like My House in Montmatre (Astralwerks), avec Dimitri, Daft Punk, We in Music, Ben Diamond, et Cassius; the divalicious Champs-Élysées-Cafe, The Finest Electro-tunes From Paris (Wagram), starring Bertie Burgalat's sizzling "Ok Scorpions," backed by Laurent Garnier's bongo boogie; both discs of Paris Lounge 2 (Wagram), seating Burgalat, Gopher, Rinoçérose, et beaucoup more; and Mellow's Air-y CQ soundtrack (Emperor Norton) are all suitably Eiffel Tower. That last one, accompanying Roman Coppola's upcoming ciné-roman debut, rips a page out of sister Sofia's Air-driven Virgin Suicides souvenir. Rien compares to throbbing, late-night, pardon-my-French, fuck music of last year's I Love Serge -- Electronic Gainsbourg (Pagan) compilation. The Orb's space funk "Requiem Pour Un C," and Chateau Flight's dubby "Lola Rastaquouère" are fantastique! Close behind are St. Germain's new Boulevard (Piasa) and Erik Truffaz's Mantis (Blue Note), first-rate nouveau jazz sides. The former, Ludovic Navarre's pantheresque house jazz, highlights Pascal Oshe's trumpet prowess, while the latter's fusiony Miles Davis dub boasts Truffaz and Manu Codjia's horn/axe duels. En garde. Ah oui, let us not oublier Air's recent Everybody Hertz (Astralwerks), 45 minutes worth of remixes, plus a dreamy "The Way You Look Tonight." As le French like to say when they're unimpressed, ouf!

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