Album Reviews

Various – Kitsuné Maison 7

(Kitsuné) UK release date: 1 June 2009

Various - Kitsuné Maison 7 Unlike most labels specialising in electronic music, Kitsuné are hard to pigeonhole. Their roots are in the Paris club scene that spawned Daft Punk, but Kitsuné compilations thus far have covered far broader territories, including electro, grime, techno and nu-rave. Digitalism, Simian Mobile Disco, Klaxons and Hadouken! have all been on the roster at one time or another; and have helped them consistently bang out top-notch compilations at an impressive rate.

Seven releases down the line and they appear to be returning to their French disco roots. Cast your minds back to the early 2000s: on the one hand to the faultless electro-funk of Daft Punk; and on the other, to the decidedly cheesy soul-inflected Euro-dance of Stardust‘s Music Sounds Better With You. And there you have your two touchstones for episode 7 of the Kitsuné story.

Things kick off at the latter end of the spectrum with Two Door Cinema Club‘s Something Good Can Work, a shiny slice of beach-bar funk, which, with its similarities to Modjo‘s Lady (Hear Me Tonight), immediately conjurs up images of sun-dappled French teenagers cavorting on haystacks. Which is, of course, no bad thing at all. 80 Kidz‘ Miss Mars plays a similar game, to a lesser effect; as does Chew Lips‘ Solo, drawing on soul influences for maximum crusin’-with-the-top-down fun and games.

autoKratz lend some electroclash edge to the pop template with the more dancefloor-oriented Always More. Similarly, Beni‘s Fringe Element is not altogether devoid of cheesiness, veering into funky house with perky ’80s hip-hop breaks and synthesised congas. Whilst it’s technically club music – with the electro trick of sounding like the music’s made by turning knobs rather than pressing buttons – it’s technically too uncool for 99% of clubs, seeing as it’s the aural equivalent of a puppy trying to hump your leg.

The tracks at the harder, more serious end of the spectrum still manage to incorporate commercial pop and funk elements: hence the Daft Punk point of orientation. We Have Band‘s Time After Time combines driving funk, rave and mashed up Eastern European vocals: it’s distinctly odd and yet totally accessible. Lifelike‘s remix of La Roux‘s In For The Kill replaces trebly ’80s synths with bubbly electro-funk, and the end result is one of those rare remixes which actually holds its own alongside the original.

Whilst Kitsuné are uncategorizable by genre, this mix of hugely accessible commercial Euro-dance and more credible (and hugely diverse) source material probably stands as their unique selling point.

It’s not all plain sailing: Crystal Fighters‘ Xtatic Truth is hugely grating day-glo turbo-rave, The Golden Filter‘s Favourite Things comes over as a lightweight imitation of Simian Mobile Disco’s Hustler; and two-thirds of the way in, the compilation descends into faceless techno, repetition of dumb-ass phrases over generic electro, and dull rave punctuated by unforgivable woops.

It’s fun while it lasts, though. Kitsuné’s acts are as unashamedly focused on pure entertainment as ever, while still retaining plenty of credibility and originality. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem once claimed that he was losing his edge to the kids from France. The evidence suggests that he still might need to watch his back.

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Various – Kitsuné Maison 7