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Au Reve

Release Date: 10.01.02
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Rock


A Technical Achievement
by: bill aicher

Amidst the late-90's house music hubbub in the UK it became easy to consider house music as living and dying primarily within the confines of Great Britain. Sure, there were the bits and pieces to surface from the U.S. (BT and Moby's sudden popularity surges come to mind), but relatively little attention was paid to house music from elsewhere, much less the house music bubbling out of France. Yet, if you look back at the late 90's and what tracks really stood out as classics from the era, two are sure to be on most every list: Daft Punk's "Around the World" and Cassius's dance-floor smash "1999."

Apart from these flukes, however, it's been relatively easy to discount France as an important player in house music. After all, some of the more (popular) esoteric electronic music comes from France as well, including artists like Air, Dmitri from Paris, and St. Germain. But that's for those who never really heard either of Daft Punk's discs, or Cassius's debut 1999. Of course, like most other things out of France, the albums did have to be taken with a grain of salt - there was a bit of silliness there that wasn't quite funky... but was something altogether different (and quite good).

Now, in the latter half of 2002, Cassius has once again declared their mission to overtake dancefloors with a collection of dance anthems, telephone drone-outs, and electrified diva freak-outs with their sophomore release, Au Reve. Taking a bit of a key from Groove Armada, this time around Cassius opted for a more organic sound through the incorporation of live instruments rather than the tired samples and synths being used and abused by so many others in the genre.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment on Au Reve is the profound technical prowess found throughout the disc. There's a reason Boombass and Zdar are considered some of the top producers in France (having done production for French rapper, MC Solaar), and it shows up all over Au Reve.

The problem with teh disc, however, is the lack of cohesion. Cassius jump around a lot; interludes become songs, which in turn become distractions from the standout tracks. For example, "Telephone Love" and its ringing phone sample over a simple buzzbeat gets naggingly annoying, especially as you wait for something to kick in. But, distractions like these aside, the standout tracks really stand out. Maybe that was the point, but either way they do a major part to bring the album down as a whole.

As mentioned before, the standout tracks, while few and far-between, put Cassius back at the top of the house game in 2002. "The Sound of Violence" (featuring Steve Edwards) is tearing up dancefloors as I write this, and it is the house song of 2002. "I'm a Woman" tears things up with a crazy 80's guitar riff that works here, and Jocelyn Brown's voice simply can't be beat. Leroy Burgess's dual appearances on the disc, "Under the Influence" and "'Til We Got You and Me," shine as well, with the latter coming in a close second to "The Sound of Violence" for house track of the year.

Were it not for the misguided extended interludes, Cassius could have had an ace album on their hands. Instead, they've done an ace job making a handful of tip-top tracks with a few unfortunate indulgences along the way. 16-Dec-2002 3:00 PM