Disco is perhaps the most influential genre when it comes to present-day electronic music, and so one can understand why a legend like Cerrone would want to stay in the scene. And so he has, a prolific run giving way to intermittent releases in the mid ’90s and continuing to this day. But a question is then asked: what does Cerrone have to contribute in the 2020s? And judging by this record, the answer is not much.
DNA is heavy on dramatic chords, 4×4 grooves and sequenced synth loops, but you can find all of these in a more interesting format elsewhere. Opening track The Impact pits rising strings against a sample of someone talking about climate change (a noble sentiment that comes across quite arbitrary in context), while the album’s title track moves from a Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene-style intro to a mid-tempo groove, but it’s all just one step up from royalty-free accompaniment music.
If you listen back to classics like Love In C Minor and Cerrone’s Paradise, now roughly 45 years old, the funk is infectious and the arrangements are inventive. The opposite is true here, as a lack of imagination makes the disco beats feel plodding and tiresome. Let Me Feel is an island of quality, the production unexpectedly stepping up a notch and the bassline being genuinely groovy, but one swallow does not a summer make.
Cerrone is in the odd position where there are now (at least) two subsequent generations of producers inspired by his music, putting their spin on the old style while he’s also still making records. From Daft Punk to Justice to modern-day house producers like Purple Disco Machine, the comparisons are not flattering to a producer that once defined a sound and is now left sounding like an imitator.