The fires of electro-fidget/ghetto-bass/whatever you wanna call it, won’t burn out without a fight. Here’s Theo Keating, ex “Ooh La La” Wiseguy, man behind one of fidget house’s most distinctive stormers in “Mars” as well as the disco scramble “I Think I Like It,” revving up to blow the house down. Up to its eyeballs in hands-up riffs, rave-researched vibes and synth-bass propulsion, the immediacy of FB’s Cells research tips you from your seat and hits you head-on, rather than jabbing at your ears with sounds akin to silly string. “Airbrushed” is a classy electro-disco skirmish with enough force for the badboys and enough boogie in its body to rollerskate to. That little bit of cavalier amusement from Keating’s past indulges in “Another World” and its flatulent Kossak bass, the show-time pianoman camping up “All in the Blink,” and a sub-espionage plot to the big beat-threaded “Phantom Power.”
Maybe better suited mixed, it’s not a compendium of house and bass that will make a long lasting impression (and there’s not much to give “Mars” a run for its money either). Dated is not quite the right description – “End of Days” fits the EDM remit perfectly with personal touches including fluffy flutes – but supplying add-ons to a formula thought past its best builds up a head of niggling negatives which prevent this from being the go-to, jump-up party album it really should be. Good, if limited, rush-hour dance music.
When Tiga opens with Kindness’ first-rate “Swingin’ Party,” you’ve every right to think it’s gonna be one of those mixes constantly running around looking for a mirror. Happily it represents the right amount of electro-synth shock and vanity to be mixed with acid-laced firepower and tribal pounds, a bit of crowd-lifting when needed (without finding itself in a slump, Lula Circus’ diva-spotting “Once Upon a Time” is a timely tonic) and a sense of the eclectic being played as an all-in-together collection.
It being Tiga’s party, his are the focal points tying everything together. There’s “Plush,” with its unsubtle vocal harassment and languid electro attitude; “Track City Bitch” in the thick of it having been set up by Adam Marshall’s “Bass Tracking,” and “The Picture” bumping hard and funkily despite being introduced by another art school/Prince wannabe vocal. A classic mix model of build-up into peak time and sifting through a swift turnover of tracks (a fair percentage of which are reduced to easily missable intersections), an expression of playing one lack of subtlety against another triumphs as style and substance grapple. The idea of inclusion stretches to one particularly boxy run of techno putting window panes on full alert thanks to Duke Dumont, Clouds and Blawan, and a closing shot of rave nostalgia. If you can’t get yourself up for this mix, go hail a cab.
Planting himself in the middle of a crossroads makes Vitalic’s cause a case of picking which side of the Frenchman you’re on. Synth-pop designs one minute, bracing, balls-out electro-bass/fidget marauders the next, are raised on near enough a rolling one on-one off basis, pulling you between rooms. For example, in no way are the opening two tracks related, though you can at least say, with an open mind, that Pascal Arbez-Nicolas is rolling with a very definite flow. Don’t like it, then rearrange the playlist accordingly.
Basically Vitalic wants to have it both ways, and not with a great deal of subtlety in either direction; big sounds are always at the top of the list, nailing “Fade Away” and “Under Your Sun” as electro-heart-stoppers prancing though the dry ice glazing ’80s keyboards. It’s hard to tell what’s playing Vitalic’s teacher’s pet and what is more of a hobby.
The midpoint “Nexus” dips in between with a stadium-sized epiphany of crystal-cut hope and awe that could also house a first person shooter, and “Lucky Star” has the traits of an EDM hit as it puts fire into the Euro framework without going over the top. He’ll save that for electro infernos “La Mort Sur le Dancefloor” and “Next I’m Ready”, jarring together the indie-precious lyrics and lawnmower revs. Thrills and spills, intent on contradicting one another at every turn.