Para One’s third album ‘Passion’ was a work of art, mixing genres and musical eras. Improving upon such perfection should be impossible, until that is, I listened to ‘Club‘. ‘Passion’ was arguably Jean-Baptiste de Laubier’s best dive into the pop sphere with its bevy of catchy hooks and chord progressions. ‘Club’ takes some of the classics off his last album and injects them with a throwback club bravado. This album, the ‘riding-dirty’ version of ‘Passion’, helps these tracks realise their nineties-rave potential.
The distinction between both albums is best exemplified in tracks, ‘You Too’ and ‘When the Night’. ‘You Too’ the number two version of ‘You’ dials up the playful bounciness and inserts frenzied piano chords alongside the incoherent, yet distinct, vocoder syllables of the original. The video produced in conjunction with the track is a perfect snapshot of Laubier’s retrospective vision of the energetic club scene of the nineties and an aggressive euphoria.
If you ever need a stark example of Para One’s work, ’When the Night’ contains an ample spectrum of genres within the confines of four minutes. It’s a little bit hip-hop, a little bit funky and has enough vocal samples from the past to satisfy any wistful longing. The ‘Acid Mix’ of the track on ‘Club’ drips with the bubbling gurgle notorious to acid house near the beginning but also gives the track a noticeably Daft Punk post-‘Discovery’-feel as the track progresses (must be a French thing).
There is something oddly unique in Para One’s ability to combine influences ranging from R&B, funk, techno and ‘every little thing’ in between. Not many can match his artistic ear to realise how these seemingly incongruous genres mash together but he somehow does it with ease. For ‘Club’ he takes this ability and drives up the energy to appease club-goers whilst somehow maintaining an artistic departure from the monotony of today’s club scene.
When ‘Passion’ was released it was heralded among those well-versed in the underground electronic scene, but after the fall of his early label Instatubes, there was no other label but his newly born Marble Records to house the record. His masterpiece became a word of mouth novelty. Almost two years later, a matured scene and appreciation for his style, alongside the heightened acclaim of Marble, Para One can finally see the recognition his genre bending versatility deserves.
An innate ability to craft timeless works with a modern flare through digital and analog elements is what places Para One at the top. He is constantly morphing between twangy, bouncing synths and weird blends of hip hop oriented grooves. ‘Club’ is how Para One believes club tracks should be, a relentless energy focused around the community made through dance. Just like the pioneering ‘Nite Versions’ of Soulwax, he has also made his music accessible to a larger audience by pumping up the energy and returning the music to the dance floor.
HBF Rating: 4/5