Make no mistake, if there is ever to be a house music equivalent of Rock Family Trees, then Etienne de Crécy will feature prominently in the early to mid ’90s edition of the series. This is on account of his involvement with the hugely influential Superdiscount compilation, which showed how French dance music lifted disco to a new, switched on level, and also thanks to his part in the celebrated Motorbass duo, formed with Philippe Zdar of Cassius.
In addition to this de Crécy completed his own highly accomplished Tempovision album in 2001, a cleverly structured set of songs and finely brushed instrumentals that looked at the issues of the day, especially the environment. Maybe that’s where the title of this compilation comes from – but at any rate it’s great to hear a selection of hits, unreleased offcuts and remixes, all reminders that on his day de Crécy is a funk-fuelled force to be reckoned with.
The first few tracks of the ‘Classics’ CD immediately establishes the quality threshold. Prix Choc will forever be treasured as a wonderfully breezy example of French house, given a light disco dusting, while Am I Wrong?, the lead single from Tempovision, is a deceptive piece of work that sounds initially quite safe but which gradually works its way in to the consciousness, a catchy piece of work asking the pertinent question “Am I wrong to hunger?” as it does so.
As ‘Classics’ progresses so does the 303 input, the music becoming far more pumped up and aggressive as it moves forward chronologically. By the end we get to the music of Beats ‘n’ cubes, where de Crécy was rocking a much sharper approach – and the simply titled Funk, from the Commercial EP, is evidence of this indeed.
There are two discs of unreleased tracks, divided in to segments of 1992-2005 and 2006-2011, and they range from relatively inconsequential instrumentals to more substantial pieces of work. Duplicate and My Mind are enjoyably funky in this regard, the latter skipping out of the blocks and down the road, while Rhodes has clever off beat play. Elsewhere there are hints of hip hop among the synthesizers, de Crécy freely experimenting with beats, harmonies and structure. Through the offcuts runs a strong sense of artistic freedom, and it’s good to have the tracks as complements to the more ordered albums.
Good, too, to have confirmation of de Crécy’s standing as a quality remixer, a discipline for which he has not always had the credit he deserves. A look at the variety of artists he takes on confirms his willingness for a challenge – presumably that rather than taking the chance to boost his bank balance! Breezy takes on the music of Air and Mylo rub shoulders with more aggressive efforts on the music of Kraftwerk (a no nonsense Aerodynamik reworking with Alex Gopher) and Adam Freeland (a coruscating take on How To Fake Your Own Life).
When all these elements are combined we should be grateful, then, for de Crécy’s contribution to warming not just the globe but the hearts and dancing feet of the good part of a generation of electronic music listeners. This handsomely packaged anthology serves him very well indeed.