Off The Record: An Introduction To French Touch
French touch (or French disco house) was an important part of my entry into electronic music.
While we’re just about all familiar with Daft Punk, digging even just a tiny bit deeper into labels like Roulé, Disques Solid, Vulture Music and Robsoul unearths an incredible wealth of French talent that has soundtracked the lives of millions of people worldwide for the last 25 years (Pépé Bradock and Aubrey remain two active, forward-thinking producers who, quite unbelievably, never claimed the plaudits they deserve).
Fast-forward to the last five years and to something of a renaissance in French electronic music, with more than a handful of record labels reinvigorating house music with their brand of funk, jazz and soul.
To paraphrase The Smiths; yes, you can stop me, you’ve heard this one before. Making 4/4 sound fresh? Pfff. “House being influenced by funk, jazz and soul? C’mon mate. That probably describes stuff released every day!”
These French producers, however, are bringing their own distinctive take to the saturated house music market. That’s not something we find very often any more, and, even as lauded Parisian clubs continue to close down (Sydney is certainly not alone), it’s incredibly refreshing to see long-standing music crews break out on their own.
Here are four nuggets that might sway you.
Mad Rey [pictured above]
Quartier Sex (D.KO Records)
D.KO Records might just be the pick of the lot, boasting a very healthy roster of consistent producers. One of their most successful releases, Quartier Sex is equal parts slamming jit and sultry downtempo funk, with ‘Tribute To Roy Ayers’ a particular favourite.
Basement Jam (Popcorn Records)
Paul Cut’s aesthetic is slightly smoother, with an emphasis on the jacking bass. The title is fitting – these are smoky, jazzy basement jams, and no surprise that Moodymann showed ‘Else’ some love when touring France.
Chineurs De House: Calm Down Homie (La Chinerie)
Sweely perfectly blends together a downtempo selection of breakbeat, squelching acid synth, and vocals that aren’t far off ’90s R&B.
Those Guys (Ondulé Recordings)
Mid-tempo looped disco samples abound, and they’re emblematic of the label’s overall goal: to bring the groove.
This week’s playlist
It’s not so much releases this week, as classic mixes/sets from the first-ever Detroit Electronic Music Festival back in 2000, an event that few at the time would have predicted to be welcomed so quickly, so warmly and so openly by the city. These are now freely available on YouTube, featuring mixes from Stacey Pullen, Mike Huckaby and more.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 25
Cassette, Marc Jarvin @ Goodbar
FRIDAY MARCH 10
Robag Wruhme [below] @ The ArtHouse
Axel Boman & Mike Servito @ Goodbar
SUNDAY MARCH 12
Rahaan, Soul Of Sydney DJs @ TBA
SATURDAY MARCH 18
Pete Herbert & Dicky Trisco @ TBA
Talaboman – John Talabot & Axel Boman @ Jam Gallery