Various Artists

I Hear Voices

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Nobody made more scrilla off the mid-'90s French house revolution than powerhouse electronica label Astralwerks. So no wonder years after the filtered funk of Daft Punk lost its relevance, Astralwerks continued to mine the Parisian studios for the next big thing. And wouldn't you know it, Astralwerks struck musical gold again. Just as the French breathed new life into house long ago, on I Hear Voices the distorto old school rap of the Rainbow Brother's "818.323.01" and the electro Hüsker Du-meets-shoegazer noise of A Visible Boy's "Side by Side" adds a whole new dimension to the '80s revisionism turned scenester paradise of electroclash. But if there's a retro-futuristic lean to the first several tracks on this compilation, it takes a hard left turn away from anything fashionable at all. DSL offers straight hip-hop in their native French tongue, while Newton produces trippy vocal jazz schmaltz on "So Long, Mr. Monroe." In fact, the traditional French taste for camp dominates the second half of this compilation with a strictly Francophone agenda that finds the skeptical folk of Notre Dame mixing with the throaty jazz vocal of Thomas Winter. The fact that all of these styles are generated with an electronic flavor does some a favor, while it burdens others that should be left in their traditional form. It is highly doubtful that anything on I Hear Voices will achieve the notoriety or record sales that Astralwerks once saw from their French charges. But that does nothing to suppress the pleasant grin you'll get from the industrial body jack of Electromenager's "Quittin' Time," or from the knowledge that the French are still out their, doing it on their own snotty terms.

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