The man behind some of the most urgent, delirious and seductive house music ever made.
Matthew Bennett 2012-04-30
As everyone learns, history can be cruel. Back at the dawn of the 1990s, the embryonic French dance scene (sometimes known as "French Touch") was built by a bizarrely sparse tangle of hands: Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Air, Phillipe Zdar aka Cassius, Bob Sinclair. Yet there’s one producer who’s been pitilessly overlooked. Étienne Bernard Marie de Crécy was a draughtsman whose foundations still prop up the likes of Justice and the Ed Banger label with frictional aplomb.
De Crécy has been behind some of the most urgent, delirious and downright seductive house music ever to escape from across the channel. Readers of a certain vintage might, when reading or hearing the name Superdiscount, experience spontaneous pupil dilation. And so they should, at the thought of his lurid, filtered and thematic compositions scattered across this tasty five-disc set, collecting material from de Crécy’s 20 years of work.
DJ staples like Les Ondes, Le Patron est Devenu Fou and the epoch-defining Prix Choc laid the first bricks of the Francophile house obsession more than anything heard on Daft Punk’s Homework. No fewer than 70 tracks of de Crécy’s fare are here to study, with remixes in both directions name-checking Mylo, Kraftwerk, The Shoes, Mehdi, Moby and many more. It boldly includes all of his unreleased work, dating from 1992 up to 2011.
But the lesson is unfair. With the unreleased music it’s a case of too much, too late. We’ve never danced to his track called Iggy – nor did we know it existed. Here history arches its back and spits violently. Songs called Rhodes, Right and Hoo Haa collapse without the backbone of context. Memories and shared experiences are vital to carry music into the future – and without the hangovers or LP sleeves, or mothers screaming at you to turn the volume down, the two discs of previously unreleased tracks are merely ephemeral sketches of stillborn music.
The Essentials disc only compounds this ghostly sensation. All 17 tracks are absolutely brilliant. Classics like Binary tear off the bandages from the recently demised and faddish ‘fidget house’ scene ignited by Hervé and Crookers, then exposes it as even more derivative than we first thought.
Étienne de Crécy kept himself far from the limelight. He scampered off into the dark environs of techno as his career matured, a place where he still resides. But if you think history shouldn't just remember the champions, then address that cliché – class starts right now.