Vitalic - Flashmob Album Review
Review of Vitalic's album Flashmob released through Different/PIAS
Those of us whose musical flames are usually ignited by loud guitars and astute lyricism rarely venture forth into the forbidden zone known as the dancefloor. Until the first coming of rave and acid house it was virtually unknown for the two to meet even halfway, despite the best efforts of Giorgio Moroder, George Clinton and New Order to bridge the gap. Since then, a lot has changed and genuine progression has ensured the crossover has become an almost expected given for any creative artist intent on pushing those boundaries that extra step further.
One of those currently at the helm is Pascal Arbez-Nicolas, a Dijon born techno enthusiast whose remixing skills for the likes of Bjork, Moby and Basement Jaxx has already attained his Vitalic alter ego legendary status in that field. That's not to say that his own creations weren't already making headway of their own, as 2005's 'OK Cowboy', released at the height of the 80s influenced electroclash scene's brief flirtation with serious clubland ably demonstrates.
Nevertheless, its in the current climate where dance music appears to have stumbled quite literally across a barren wasteland all of its own making that Vitalic, like fellow Gallic beatmasters Justice and Daft Punk stands out like a glistening beacon of light, an incendiary guiding force away from the commercially unlistenable pap like Cascada et al that seems to have dragged the genre back into the dark ages and beyond.
Whereas 'OK Cowboy' was Vitalic laying his cards on the table, 'Flashmob' is a stunning realisation of Arbez-Nicolas' decade-and-a-half's worth of dalliances and eventual mastering of electronic music that sits somewhere between 'Homework' era Daft Punk and the Dewaele brothers 2 Many DJs slant on corruptive underground electronica.
The introduction in two-parts that is 'See The Sea' - '(Red)' opens the record, 'Blue)' precedes the final third - intimates a much coarser variant on Vitalic's simmering electro tendencies than his previous records, mixing hard house beats with Jean Michel Jarre-like waves of sonic ambivalence. Likewise, the gorgeous duo of 'Poison Lips', cooed in sensual fashion by little known chanteuse Brigitte and the colossal 'One Above One', delivered in fine style by regular collaborator Linda Lamb, both of which sound like outtakes from another era, be that Gina X circa 'Voyeur' or indeed Soulwax's 2004 opus 'Any Minute Now', of which the latter is a close cousin of the Belgian ensemble's 'NY Excuse'.
If its cutting edge dance music that sets the pulse racing, then look no further than the ubiquitous 'Terminateur Benelux' or adrenalin surge of 'Chicken Lady' as prime examples of Vitalic's deft wizardry when it comes to concocting unique slabs of thrilling discotheque action that sound just as enthralling through a personal stereo as they would in a packed, sweaty club. For that reason alone, 'Flashmob' is possibly the most forward-thinking record of its genre released so far this year, and in the process Vitalic's elevation from underground sensation to household name is almost certainly assured as a result.
Vital by name, vital by product.
8/10 Dom Gourlay