Old friends get you through hard times; new friends show you a good one. There’s a concept behind the fourth release from Art Feast Records – it’s a collaboration between artists from Leipzig and Lyon, where Art Feast is located – but you don’t need to know any of that to enjoy this. Four marvelous tracks make this one of the best EPs of 2015 for me – one of those records that made me want to rewind it after I first heard it, and to tell everyone I know after I played it again.
All the names here are new to me other than the one that first attracted me. Ortella released a fantastic EP on Rutilance last summer called Mad In Lyon. Apparently he’s still in Lyon and still quite mad for it: “4 My City” is a stand-out track on a record packed to the seams, an uptempo grinder that will sneak up and get under your skin in the most pleasant sort of way. “The Man With The Yellow Skarf” sounds like the name of a student film, and while “cinematic” is a term quite overused by people writing about electronic music (or dancing about architecture), it fits for Map.ache’s track of the same name. I’m envisioning something blurry, something elliptical played at unnatural speeds, like when Wong Kar Wai first discovered digital photography. I think that was just before 2000, which was also the last time you could incorporate tribal themes into techno without getting cheesy about it. QY’s “Project 5” is a harder take on tech, dark and a little dangerous, the sound evoking an old and slightly dirty MPC playing the same five note shuffle over and over again until it slapped on its side.
Klaaar & Jaysper contributed “Blitz” to the compilation and it’s one hell of a closer. Henry Miller always said that if you start with the drums you better end with the dynamite, and K&J implode the entire fucking building. I’m not sure who the impresario on the keys is – if it’s a sample it’s used to great effect. Shannon Harris once gave me a mixtape with a bunch of tracks like this on it, filled with one sweaty jazz band solo after another, heavy on the Hammond with simple drums and claps providing a net for the virtuoso acrobatics to make sure everyone makes it out alive. Here’s a short clip at a terrible bitrate just so you know what I mean:
There are so many good records coming from France these days that I can’t really keep up with it. I don’t know if I’ve finally met the right company or if someone on the ground can give me some indication of what’s up with this, but these people have a fidelity for a real underground sound and they’re releasing some of the best House Music jams in the world right now. If you didn’t dig it before you better dig it now before all these labels and the young cats behind them pass us by.