Garnier, AF 0490

[Still Music]

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I have been listening to dance music for years, but I mostly know Laurent Garnier for the feedback he leaves other producers. When I spent more time checking these things, I remember him writing overwhelmingly positive comments about seemingly every new release — and always really mundane too, in the vein of, “5/5 will play! B1 is the one for me!” Garnier has thus come to represent a certain, not entirely positive sort of DJ for me — the sort who, out of some perverse sense of loyalty or true-school pride, actually plays every promo he receives, his sets made up of unsolicited scraps from shameless self-promoters. I digress — I’m just as bad. I put off listening to Swayzak for years because I didn’t like their clothes. I know Garnier is an elder I should at least grudgingly respect. And AF 0490, his big comeback single, arrives on Still Music, a very reputable label.

It’s not difficult to hear why it ended up there. It’s very much a house record about house, liberally borrowing from Chicago ghetto house records — “Beat (Da BoxX),” for example, interpolates large sections of Gant-Man’s “Bang Da Box 97.” Even if listeners are not familiar with that track, they should at least recognize some of the snips he uses. Ghetto house is still pretty trendy, but luckily Garnier doesn’t whitewash it as much as some of his contemporaries — he plainly grasps why dancers respond so enthusiastically to the genre. The record abounds with ghetto trademarks like spoken vocal hooks and funny sounds (the ringing cash register on “Beat (Da BoxX)”), and these ride persistent, energetic drums. In the middle of a party, it would be hard to deny the shouted refrain on “Bang (The Underground Doesn’t Stop),” or the high-pressure jack patterns on “Boom (Chakolak).” Like Gerd’s Geeeman project, AF 0490 applies a big-room approach to its stripped-down, utilitarian inspiration. Is this necessary? Dance Mania had its share of bad pressings, sure, but that’s kind of the point — it’s ghetto house. If you think those older records can’t cut it in a clean, modern set, go for it. Most people probably won’t know the difference. There is an eyebrow to be raised about a high-profile international DJ, one who apparently listens to everything and thus has a wealth of references to draw from, remaking this very basic, budget music. At any rate, this is an effective EP.

Tom  on March 14, 2014 at 3:17 AM

His RA podcast from years ago is amazing ( Excellent down-tempo house. Not the most original mix ever, but it has an amazing groove.

s.k.  on March 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM

thanks for the tip, tom

Pattern Burst  on March 15, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Great stuff. Most enjoyable review I’ve read for a while. Cheered up a crappy Saturday no end.

James  on March 16, 2014 at 10:55 PM

I think Laurent has always had a penchant (it rhymes!) for ghetto house. Anyone else old enough to remember The Hoe from 1996? ( I remember in interviews that people were a little bit taken aback by the vocal sample and he told people to relax and stop being so pc and was a nod to chicago labels like Dance Mania etc.

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on March 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Steve is so right about Laurent’s review of tracks he receives as promos. Too funny but he is a good guy & does not discriminate with the tracks that he likes.

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