CD Total [SebastiAn (France)] (CD 7052778),
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Total [SebastiAn (France)]
1. Hudson River
2. Love in Motion - (featuring Mayer Hawthorne)
3. Tough Games [Interlude]
5. Ross Ross Ross
8. Water Games [Interlude]
10. Jack Wire [Instrumental Version]
11. C.T.F.O. - (featuring M.I.A.)
12. Cartoon [Interlude]
15. Mean Games [Interlude]
18. Night [Interlude]
20. Bird Games [Interlude]
22. Frustra [Outro]
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CD 528137
Recording information: A.S. Studio; XL Studio, London.
Seemingly influenced just as much by Daft Punk's work ethic as their musical M.O., the hard-partying gallic hordes at Ed Banger records may be capable of some massively adrenalized, barnstorming electro-house, but they're sure in no hurry about it. In 2011, four years after Justice's watershed debut album, a follow-up from that label flagship was only beginning to appear on the horizon (see also Germany's like-minded Digitalism); meanwhile, the shadowy SebastiAn, who'd been issuing singles (and at least one compilation's worth of remixes) on Ed Banger since 2005, was just getting around to his first full-length. At least he took the "full" part seriously enough: Total boasts a staggering 22 tracks. True, a third of them are brief, spurt-like interludes under a minute long, and SebastiAn could theoretically have crammed almost another half-hour of music on here, but anybody not ready to cry for mercy after 50 minutes is made of steely stuff indeed. The experience is a bit like somebody scanning slowly across a radio dial, catching snatches of classic rock, soul, disco, funk, punk, metal, and even classical music (check the harpsichord trills on the delectable, too-short "Tetra," produced with Justice's Gaspard Auge), all with the equalizer settings permanently stuck on hyper-compressed bombast, and occasionally lingering on the static between stations just for the sheer agony and ecstasy of it all. Especially with the interludes ensuring a total dearth of silence between tracks, Total can feel pretty monolithic, and certainly, nothing here strays too far from the sort of scuzzy, overdriven, body-slamming rock-techno that's pretty much synonymous with Ed Banger, but there are some intriguing diversions along the way. Lead single "Embody" is a smooth, strutting, electro-R&B confection boasting woozily crooned talk-box vocals, and several other stand-outs feature a similarly soulful vibe, including the atypically breezy lounge-pop cut-up "Arabest" and the swaggering paisley chug of "Love in Motion" (featuring retro-soulster Mayer Hawthorne in a vocal performance so processed and mixed-down it might as well be a sample.) Elsewhere, Total cleaves to SebastiAn's more familiar, trashy, glitch-funk maximalism, including a few retooled old singles (the name-making 2006 spazzfest "Ross Ross Ross," the petulant whine and grind of "Motor") and a few similarly styled new productions. The most brutal barrages, though, come with "Doggg"'s screamo-disco and the fairly tepid electro-punk M.I.A. collabo "C.T.F.O." ("chill the fuck out," ironically enough.) Whether you'll want to cherry-pick favorites or wade through the whole unwieldy mess may depend on context (and your personal level of tolerance), but there's no denying that, a half-decade late or not, SebastiAn has delivered. ~ K. Ross Hoffman
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Big Beat Records (Dance) 528137
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