Vitalic - Flashmob

Nick Lewis 28/09/2009

Rating: 3/5

Ah French electro, what better way to signify to the world that you're a hip young thing than displaying a taste for French electro? Well get me a pack of unfiltered Gauloises and a stripy jumper - today I'm going Francophile.

Not really. A reliable source tells me that Vitalic's first album OK Cowboy is considered something of a dance classic, and the press release for this tells me that Flashmob is just as good. Either my friend's lying or the press release is. Don't get me wrong, this is a decent record, it's just not exactly the “gigantic step ahead for electronic music” our friends at Bang On PR would have us believe.

The tunes are good, the synths are fuzzy, the beat insistent and foot-tapping. There are flashes of Aphex Twin style digital genius. However, there's nothing on here that fans of Warp Records would find surprising, nor are there any absolutely irresistible, euphoric, body shaking T.U.N.E.S on here.

Vitalic seems to occupy an odd space between full on dance music and IDM. There's nothing here that will quite blow your mind in the way Autechre do, but at the same time the strange bits are probably a bit too strange for a dancefloor full of people tripping on unmentionable substances. What our friend Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (for that is the artist's real name) seems to have a taste for is disjointed, detuned synths and it's hard to shake the feeling that he likes them because it makes him sound like a challenging artist. What it really does is make it harder to love his music - it's difficult to engage with something when there's not even pitch to hold onto.

Flashmob does get better as it goes on though. The use of vocal samples (although heavily treated) increases towards the end, as do occasional glimpses of something resembling humanity; something that cold, hard electro needs to stop it sounding like something to put on when your friends are over to show off your exquisite taste. This is most typified by the reprise of opener See The Sea (Red) when it becomes See The Sea (Blue) eight tracks later. The second version is much more stripped down, much more interesting and much warmer. It could even draw favourable comparisons to Ricardo Villolobos' excellent Easy Lee.

All in all then, a decent dance record that although it gets better as it goes on, never quite reaches the euphoria it perhaps could, or quite gives enough for the beard-strokers.

Release date: 28.09.09