Wednesday, May 12, 1999

French Space Pop

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 1999 at 12:00 AM

France’s answer to seminal UK dance labels Mo’Wax and Metalheadz is grooving to a different drum these days. That Parisian label, Source – which brought us Air’s terrific Moon Safari LP and the acclaimed Source Lab series that unleashed the irresistible French flair of DJ Cam and Daft Punk – has traded in the beat, beat, beat for more grooving bass line-influenced "Moogedelica." Left Bank Soul Train, anyone? Just leave your flares and platforms at home, slip into a bit of white Prada and a pair of those sleek modern moon boots – all the better to move to these sleek electro-pop-rock grooves. The sound is clean and the aesthetic is freshly elegant.

In this collection of 13 original, unpublished numbers, quite a few of Source Material’s composers sound like they were heavily influenced by Air’s synthesizer pop: Synth swoops, mischievous melodies, comical asides and looping, popping beats. Either Mellow’s "Interlude" or Rob’s "Musique pour un Enfant-Jouet" could easily provide the sound track to "Dr. Who," while Oomiaq’s "L’Ultime Atome" delivers a theme for the yet-unreleased, spaghetti western version of The Fifth Element.

It’s not all pop and games, though. Sebastian Tellier’s "Fantino" is a cinematically beautiful ballad with bittersweet progressions reminiscent of early Slowdive. And Bertrand Burgalat’s "Kim" is a heady, hypnotizing, minimalist down-tempo meandering that demonstrates how far behind we’ve left the drum ’n’ bass scene.

As retro-futuristic and elegantly frolicky as the new Beetle, Source Material is a time capsule of sounds and ideas that will feel just as modern 10 years from now.

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