Cassius return with the follow up to their critically acclaimed debut 1999. A bizarre...
David Silverman 2002
Cassius have been busy since the release of their superb debut album 1999. At the time, it was thrust alongside Daft Punk's Homework and Air's Moon Safari and fanned the flames of a burgeoning French house scene.
We were in a dream when we made this suggest Cassius - shame then that they suffer the occasional nightmare. When you're competing with the likes of FC Kahuna and Medicine 8, you've really got to be special and, alas, this album simply falls short. The burbling electronics are predominantly uninventive, save the digital lullaby "Hi Water" and the charming audio watercolours of "How Do You See Me Now".
By including fillers like "Thrilla" featuring Ghost Face Killah from Wu-Tang Clan (which sounds like a parody Austrian hip-house outfit) and the vocal noodles of "Protection", Au Reve, lets itself down in the misguided attempt at fusing house with rock and hip-hop. A prime example is the Jocelyn Brown fronted, disco-house "I'm a Woman" which kicks in with a Van Halen style soft rock guitar riff that should have handbag-housers rockin' all over The Ritzy.
However, there is some excellent work here including the glacial, slow-burn house of"Au Reve" (which means in a dream by the way) and the wonky weirdness of the Kraftwerk-esque "Telephone Love" - but these only add slight allure to Cassius vocal house blueprint.
The house flavours are varied though: from the meat-grinder bassline of new single "The Sound of Violence" to the disco-soul lament of "Under Influence", its obvious Cassius made this LP with ears as well as feet in mind.
Excellent in places, awkward and peculiar in others, Cassius' dream is an unusual mix of emotions, tempo and colour drawing on a mix of influences which take in rock, pop and electro.
There's nothing really new here, but then that isn't really the criteria for whether an album is good or not - its just a pity Cassius couldn't recapture the spontaneity of 1999. If giddy vocal house combined with dated synth action circa 1995 is your thing, it might just be worth checking out.