France can sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to house and techno, but while their most famous export Daft Punk jumped off the house train a long time ago, those keeping the house tricolore flying high have been doing so with aplomb for decades. Château Flight continue to impress, both as a production duo and in their respective solo endeavors; and just to remind everyone how good they have always been, Versatile Records has recently reissued two of their very finest tracks. “Cosmic Race” was originally released in 2002 but sounds perhaps even more essential today. Its carefully placed low-end grumbles, insistent forward propulsion, and chaotic melody that seems to never repeat itself all coalesce into a masterstroke that never even thinks of edging into complacency. It’s an anthem that doesn’t even know it — too reduced to resort to big-room clichés, too subliminal to appeal to those in search of cheap thrills, and far too smart to resort to the bombastic timbres and melodies that dance floor “anthems” tend to (indeed its “hook” feels almost Reich-ian).
Flipside, “Instant Replay,” is culled from their 2000 album Puzzle and is the perfect counterpoint to “Cosmic Race.” Where the A-side is an urgent piece of techno, “Instant Replay” is a laid-back house cut much in the vein of Pépé Bradock or Theo Parrish’s early-2000s best. Samples mingle for the first couple minutes until a particularly triumphant bass line locks everything into place. Nothing else is needed, and Château Flight smartly let it vibe out for the rest of its runtime. As a 12″, Cosmic Race/Instant Replay is a no-brainer. But as a reissue, it more importantly solidifies Château Flight’s place on the pedestal of house heavyweights, injecting a certain Franco je ne sais quoi into a field sorely lacking in it.