Para One Epiphanie

[Naïve/Ryko; 2007]

Styles:  electro/techno
Others: Justice, MSTRKRFT, Mr. Oizo

Electro and its kissing cousin funky house really have to do something special to get anywhere with me. Don’t get me wrong: we make it a general rule to give anything a fair shot here at the TMT office [in fact, we’re looking for mescaline and/or peyote right now, if any of you readers can put down the bong long enough to e-mail us], so I try to give everything that crosses my desk the benefit of the doubt. Funky house just happens to consistently land in my top five most easily hated genres, at the same level as young country, popstar pop, whatever’s playing at 7-Eleven, and the Kings Of Leon, for sure. While tracks like the innocuously fun-kay “Midnight Swim” and the fluffy, vocal-driven “F.U.D.G.E.” certainly reinforce my thoroughly experienced stereotyping, Para One’s sophomore full-length -- or debut, as far as North America is concerned -- toes the dangerous cheese line most of the way, yet still comes out smelling like fries and gravy (there’s a rare poutine reference for ya).

The first few moments of opener “Piste Bleue” had me dreading the next hour of my life, seemingly content to ride ’80s cheeseball funk synths over a 4/4 beat to their natural sweaty e-tard hug conclusion. But it actually acts as a two-minute build toward a one-two punch that works perfectly for a home-listening album, as the following “Turtle Trouble” stomps in with crude acid synths, quickly developing into a thoroughly impressive glitch-crazed thumper, the likes of which could get Mr. Oizo’s Muppet headbanging. Surprisingly, this little French fucker actually got me dancing on the bus ride home from work, and that is not a regular occurrence for me. “Clubhoppin’” is another track that irks me with its pixie-like electronic sounds, but Para saves the effort through well-extended bass stutters and bubbling blip tweaks. There’s nothing camp about “Sages-Femmes” either, riding a raunchy bassline and a pumping hip-hop beat straight through Compton without getting shot.

On the whole, however, Epiphanie feels like it’s trying a little too hard to positively spin and re-envision ’80s electronica, which is fine to take as a mere influence, but here it's the bane of his existence. Buddy obviously has some mad programming skills and could probably make just about anything he set his mind to. It seems to me as though he’s kinda limiting himself by trying to stick so closely to a theme. One can only wonder what kind of crazy shit he’d be capable of producing if he opened up his sonic palette a little. Not everything is worth the effort of saving, you know. Contemporize, man! Blow these peons some new ear holes.

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