Painting by Bo Bartlett
Most of us were taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all. When considering the three-year gap between original Pépé Bradock releases — and indeed his relatively slender discography over 15 years’ time — one suspects the brilliant French producer applies a similar maxim to putting new music into the world: wait until you have something new or at least interesting to say before pressing it up. With remixes for Manuel Tur, Nicolas Jaar, Brandt Brauer Frick, and Zero 7 in the intervening years, it’s not like Bradock, nee Julien Auger, has been absent from the racks. Despite their quixotic charms, however, these remixes merely hinted at his genius in a way that only stoked listeners’ hunger for more concentrated dispatches. Imbroglios Part I, then, is a well-balanced meal, bearing four new tracks that cater to DJs, home listeners, and those in-between.
While generally keeping to the deep, effervescent house sound for which fans know and love him, this new EP does find Bradock focusing less on the almost pointillist microsampling featured on his last few records. It’s merely one texture found in the shaded rush of “12Turn13,” where syncopated bass notes, canned horns and rustling hi-hats course effortlessly around dancers. A splashy synth lead dives into the stream like a kingfisher, pulling out protesting vocal stutters. “Katoucha?” is more lighthearted but equally floor-friendly. Like sinking into an aural bubble bath, its catchy descending organ riff grows prunish and dessicated as the track progresses. Yet some elements retain their crispness: claps clacking like a billiards break shot, elegant marimba phrases, and a menagerie of minute samples that keep dancers company. The EP’s claims to be part of a film soundtrack are bolstered by the interlude “Attaque De Boulangerie,” whose jazzy, orchestrated movements are pieced together a mischievous soprano of a synthesizer. And like the cat whose purring resonates throughout, “Inconsequent Pussy” only occasionally engages with dancers with chintzy organ riffs, tambourine shakes and plinking keys. The upside of waiting for Pépé Bradock to form his statements is that when he does, there’s often a lot to be said. More established producers should apply this approach.