Gaspard Augé – ‘Escapades’ review: Justice producer’s laudably weird space oddity

You may already know one banging track, ‘Force Majeure’, from the BBC’s Euro 2020 coverage. But that's just the beginning of the dance don's journey

As one half of the French dance duo Justice, Gaspard Augé spent nearly 15 years conquering the dancefloor with his electro teammate Xavier de Rosnay. Now Augé has finally broken free and unleashed his first solo album ‘Escapades’. Don’t worry: Augé and Rosnay aren’t doing a Daft Punk and are very much still a thing, but the latter has form when it comes to stretching his musical legs.

While you may be familiar with stone cold Justice classics such as ‘D.A.N.C.E’ and their infamous 2006 collaboration with Simian, ‘We Are Your Friends’, you may also be more acquainted with Augé’s solo work than you think.

Anyone who has tuned into the BBC’s Euro 2020 coverage over the last few weeks will have undoubtedly already heard the thumping electro anthem that soundtracks the opening animated credits. This epic track, ‘Force Majeure’, admittedly could have easily slotted into any Justice record with its trademark industrial synth jabs and propulsive beats. But its bursting bombast makes it a banger in its own right, playing out perfectly alongside cartoon cutouts of England’s Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.

Other tracks on this record also unashamedly tread the same disco path – ‘Pentacle’ and ‘Hey’ are equally thrilling. Thankfully Augé doesn’t rely too heavily on his day job and instead trades his illuminated DJ box in for a surreal proggy space opera heavily influenced by Italian musical innovators such as Giorgio Moroder and Ennio Morricone. The eerie ‘Europa’, for instance, conjures up images of space cowboys preparing to draw their pistols in an off world desert with its tense, uneasy whirrs and haunting operatic wails.

‘Lacrimosa’ is an even more surreal space oddity, driven by a gloomy organ that eventually gives way to ethereal flute sounds. ‘Belladone’, meanwhile, comes on like a space bar jam you’d imagine Alan Partridge going full on air bass to – in a crowd full of robots, mind – while the twinkly ‘Captain’ is a Euro-pop throwback to a bygone ’70s disco era.

It would have been a major disappointment had ‘Escapades’ just been a rehash of leftover Justice cuts. Thankfully Augé’s thirst for the strange makes this album an odd but interesting solo proposition, which still makes some room for dancefloor slayers. Plus: the album’s centrepiece will be fondly remembered as a Euro 2020 banger from the summer that saw us edge tentatively back to good times.

Details

Release date: June 25

Record label: Genesis / Ed Banger Records / Because Music

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