The ex-Smith proves his greatness on a spiky live album
Don't know what's brought on this mood in [a]Laurent Garnier[/a]. Apart from having dislocated his shoulder back in 1995, his life's been one bangin' sequencer-driven run of happy and successful DJing
Which, of course, makes a savoury change from the glib upfulness of most dance music in these deliriously complacent boom years. 'City Sphere', with its melancholy sirens and looming menace sets the tone - imagine driving around the sodium-lit streets after chucking-out time, near-empty except for the occasional psycho and mugger, hoping you won't get car-jacked. If that's anxious, 'Forgotten Thoughts' is practically post-nuclear, all empty craters of dub and Geiger counters sweeping and crackling.
The single, 'The Sound Of The Big Babou', provides some relief, swelling into a genial, trebly, fuzzy monster of a track, while 'Cycles D'Oppositions' brings to mind the Aphex Twin at his most charming, with a bleeping, farting, contraption of a rhythm track counterpointed by fragrant billowing synthtones.
Then comes 'The Man With The Red Face', however, the like of which hasn't been heard in electronica since Cabaret Voltaire at their most '80s angst-ridden, especially in Philippe Nadot's Richard H Kirk-style sax, squealing and echoing, like a lament for the city from the overlooking hilltops. 'Dangerous Drive' is like the last dancefloor outing before the four-minute warning, with its propeller beats and low hum rising to a pitch of tension as somewhere in the background, ticking clocks begin to go haywire.
FInally, there's 'Last Tribute From The 20th Century', in which a Vader-esque, vocoderised voiceover, presumably Garnier's own, offers homage to the old citadels of techno, "New York, Chicago, Detroit", though the sonic sweep here suggests that these are now depopulated, ghost cities where the lights of joy and inspiration have long since gone out.
"If you watch the news every day you will see we are surrounded by unreasonable people - it's all fucked up." He's right, of course. This album could do with being just a little more fucked up itself in places but Garnier's to be congratulated for adding this little drop of the dark stuff into the hedonistic Ibiza pool of modern dance music.
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