Gaspard Augé (of Justice fame) delivers a spellbinding debut that sees the producer delve into his own world of leftfield disco and obscure cinema for a bombastic debut album.
Known as the quiet one of Parisian duo Justice, Augé has always remained in the background when it comes to the stadium-conquering duo, who soundtracked the early 2000s with their breakout album, ‘Cross’.
Justice are still very much alive and well, and are currently in the throes of recording their next opus having recently confirmed they expect to be touring again next year.
Created in just two months, alongside French composer Victor le Masne (known for his work with Chilly Gonzales and Metronomy’s Joseph Mount), Augé’s debut, ‘Escapades’ came together quickly, something that Augé encouraged as he wanted to experiment freely “without overthinking it.”
“I’ve always been obsessed with making larger than life music,” he says. “Mostly because it’s more fun.”
With the world still reeling from the zombie apocalyse, instead of baking banana bread, Augé was busy in the studio. Well, two studios actually: Enterprise – where they used a synthesizer that had once belonged to Yes – and Motorbass Studios, which had belonged to their friend, the late legend Philippe Zdar of Cassius.
Straight from the opening bars of ‘Welcome’, a symphonic inspired nod to Close In Counters of the Third Kind, you know you’re going to be treated to an album that’s doesn’t take itself too seriously.
‘Welcome’ neatly segues into ‘Force Majeure’ which the football fans of you will instantly recognise as the opening music from the BBC’s coverage of the Euros (c’mon England) featuring classic Justice slap-bass and shimmering, wide-angled synths.
But this isn’t a Justice album, it’s Augé striking out on his own, and yes it certainly sounds like a Justice record in places, but it also sounds like one half of Justice just having some fun, inspired by everything from baroque symphonies to obscure 20th-century film scores.
‘Recombal’ features rising, stabbing keys that cascade off into the distance, whilst the title track, ‘Escapades’ sounds like a lost cut from the Pink Panther — you can just picture a hopeless French gendarme searching a crime scene and struggling to find clues that are right under his nose.
There are some absolute bangers nestling towards the final third of the album, too, notably the galloping electro-disco of ‘Hey’, which fans of the duo will really appreciate, as will those of you who have a penchant for steely violins and stirring choirs. It’s so over-the-top that only a Frenchman with fantastic hair could possibly get away with it, without it sounding like a pastiche.
Other notable highs, come in the form of jaunty ‘Captain’, a happy-go-lucky slice of baroque-sounding pop, whereas ‘Lacrimosa’ offers a slightly darker feel — but it’s still pretty out there and could easily soundtrack a scene from The Three Musketeers, as they geared up for impending attack.
The album really picks up the pace for the finale — and what a finale, the driving keys and wide-angle soundscapes of ‘Belladone’ sound as if they are inspired by fellow Parisian oddball Kavinsky and it’s the album’s highpoint for us.
If this is what Augé can produce in just two months, well, we for one can’t wait to see what he can deliver for his next solo effort.
In the meantime, the quiet one of Justice has let the music doing do the talking and it sees Augé finding a voice we never knew he had.