The Frenchman fuses a series of contemporary dance structures into an accessible whole.
Mike Diver 2012-06-27
Jean-Baptiste de Laubier’s second album as Para One presents an array of ebullient electronica, superbly suited to those few days in the British summertime when the sun cracks cloud cover to scorch tan-lines into the ill-prepared.
Passion frequently belies its maker’s hip hop background – he was a producer for Parisian rap crew TTC – but not before it sets its stall out in rather incongruous style. Opener Ice Cold is an ominous drone comparable to Lorn’s more underworld-ly emissions, or Vangelis with a particularly pounding hangover. The following Wake Me Up skips with a skittering gait, like SBTRKT with the jitters. The two pieces couldn’t be much more different – and they set a tone for the variety to follow.
But while Passion flits between pigeonholes, it never compromises a key coherency – and even when guest vocalists come to the fore, they’re never spot-lit in such a manner as to place de Laubier in the shadows.
When the Night is another bouncy affair balancing hip hop beats and samples with glittery percussion and euphoric vocals from Jaw, and is one of the most instant dancefloor delights on offer. Another is the 2-step-goes-RnB number Lean on Me, replete with vocoder vocals from Teki Latex; rewind a decade or so and it could knock Shanks & Bigfoot from the chart’s summit.
The interlude of Poisoned Apples is a scratch-topped slow jam instrumental that trips minds back to The Pharcyde’s most bizarre rides. Another retro flashback comes in the acid-tinged shape of Albatros, which could be Orbital sipping margaritas on the most chilled festival weekend they’d ever headlined.
Closer Empire is, like this album’s opener, a more ponderous arrangement than much that the two cuts bookend. Liberally embellished with scratched vocals and scattered samples, it’s another nod to this musician’s past as a hip hop producer. It brings the curtain down on what, for the most part, is a very successful collection which commendably fuses a series of contemporary "dance" music structures into an easily accessible whole.
So long as there’s Justice in this industry, Para One will always find a party to soundtrack.