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Things That Make You Go Hum #5

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Paul McClean | 11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

It's springtime in Paris, possibly post WWII, certainly sometime in black and white. The scent of chocolate on fresh bread is wafting through your nasal passage as you perfect your look of studied ennui. Welcome to a microcosm within a song by a Matthew Herbert aka Dr. Rockit.

The English DJ and producer had been critically acclaimed for making some of the most interesting and truly experimental techno up to this point, constantly tinkering under the bonnet of electronica to bring new takes on the genre, but this was still pretty unexpected. Commissioned as part of a film score 'Cafe de Flore' is another utterly underrated piece of music. Let's rectify that, shall we?

Released around the turn of the millenium, 'Cafe de Flore' is an homage (ok we'll stop now with the faux-intellectualism - ooops there we go again) to a legendary Parisien coffee house-cum-bar, where insufferably cool French types hang out and fight over Sartre and football while pouting Audrey Hepburns totter precariously past.

The track begins and ends with the sound of espresso cups chinking, and the chatter of bustling life around the cafe on Boulevard Saint Germain in the French capitol. Then the drums. It almost sounds like its being played out on the cutlery and sugar cellars with an egg whisk. There are accordians of course, and assorted concertina type affairs, with just a hint of late c.20th with a space age refrain creeping in towards the latter half. Despite its recurring placement on rather awful Ibiza chillout albums from time to time, it manages to steer clear of the garlic necklace cliche that could easily have dogged such a track.

Coming from Northern Ireland our DNA has been programmed to block any effort to look effortless sexy, so this is about as close as we will ever get to being the stars of a Godard movie. Thanks to Herbert though, we'll always have Paris.

Doctor Rockit - Cafe de Flore (Lifelike Recordings, 2000)

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