Les Rythmes Digitales

Darkdancer

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While his debut album ran with the Wall of Sound crowd to the detriment of some interesting ideas, Jacques Lu Cont came into his own with the second Les Rythmes Digitales album. Consider Darkdancer as Lu Cont's senior thesis in the major course of study: "History of Dance Music: The Early to Mid-'80s." And give him straight A's because he's obviously done his homework and actually studied the texts, without resorting to rote memorization and subsequent regurgitation come test time. Every club-oriented stylistic speed-bump of the decade is right here, including the era of female dance-pop before Madonna (yes, it did exist) with "Take a Little Time," an earnest little electro-groover that earns Lu Cont bonus points for utilizing the crucial '80s diva Shannon. "Hypnotise" is a nice little electro-paranoia track to fit in with Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," and "Brothers" takes on streamlined dance intellectualism a la New Order (with a straining pseudo-bassline to match). The house era is probably best represented, with nods to Chicago jacking house -- complete with stuttered vocal tags -- on the standouts "Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)" and "Music Makes You Lose Control." Even when he strays into territory last inhabited by Level 42, as on "Sometimes" (with Nik Kershaw on vocals), a great song and a great production rescue Lu Cont from anything potentially cringe-worthy. That's the secret of Darkdancer; well-written songs and excellent production skills -- plus a sense of fun that takes no prisoners -- make artistic originality nothing more than an academician's game.

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