Beyond the bounds of a word like eclectic, this mix’n’match debut from French threesome Télépopmusik is a suptuous style feast, the likes of which we rarely hear. From jazz to rap, from ambient to pop, all the bases are covered, with effective and engrossing contributions from producer Alex Gopher, vocalists Angela McClusky, Soda-Pop and Juice Aleem and, not least, the band themselves.
Not since Gorillaz has there been such a melee of musical styles on a pop album. While The Avalanches have used samples to construct music, Télépopmusik use them to embellish their own creations. While Gorillaz feature Cubanesque brass sounds for atmospherics, Télépopmusik launch into the kind of full-scale jazz riffs that’d make Courtney Pine smile.
Parts of the album are pitched in the direction of film scores and there are myriad samples from television shows. There’s even a hint of the kind of vocoder vocals perfected by Alison Goldfrapp and some impressive rap with a high degree of lyrical dexterity as well as abundant vocal skills. Whilst Air were pretending to be Pink Floyd and Etienne de Crecy was happy to stick to Paris house/techno conventions, Télépopmusik show that in 2002, French pop music is in the UK to stay – and to change it’s surroundings.
Gopher’s slick production undoubtedly helps the record to invite itself into your mood, whatever it may be. But the threesome themselves offer suitably eclectic instrumentation to ensure they each stand out as individuals, too. Fabrice Dumont’s double bass is an especially pleasing touch to several tracks, while Stephan Haeri’s guitars and keyboards are spirited and never predicatable.
Anyone familiar with debut single Breathe will be surprised at the variety, depth and, ultimately, fun that are to be found on ‘Genetic World’. While it is an album that rewards repeat playings and isn’t as immediate as it should be, there are plenty of potential singles available on here too. Yet it is as a complete work, played in order, that the album reveals how jaw-droppingly inventive Télépopmusik – or could be, if they’d settle on a direction.
While it’s all impressive stuff, it does leave one wondering what it is that Télépopmusik wanted to achieve with this record. Pointing in so many differing directions simultaneously leaves the triad open to the charge of being a jack of all trades and master of none. There’s no denying that they’ve managed to squeeze a vast amount into one album. “That’s the best we can do and it’s more than enough for this job,” says the album’s surprise closing sample, coming along directly after the kind of ambient moods Aphex Twin would be proud of.
They’ve certainly given it a good shot – and their next album will be an intriguing prospect as a result. In the meantime, another French pop gem successfully crosses the channel to educate the manufactured pop nation in the ways of the world. All hail.