- Para One is Jean-Baptiste de Laubier, a DJ, producer and filmmaker who has been working out of southern Paris since the city's mid-'90s heyday. Initially a doyen of the indie hip-hop scene, his sound has become more splintered and diffuse, taking in a raft of styles which he breaks up and repackages in his upbeat, nail bomb productions.
After a rather grand opening fanfare, like a synth-borne liner proceeding slowly down the slipway, "Wake Me Up" and "Every Little Thing" set the tone of his new album Passion—brisk, silvery, synthetic soul coming at you in a shower of micro-beats that recall every production technique of the last two decades. "Vibrations + Poisoned Apples Interlude" is a segmented piece, commencing with a field recording of what sounds like a typically ill-tempered Parisian traffic jam, before the title is chanted over a cleansed and rinsed Burial backbeat, the scene then shifting to include skewed hip-hop beats that bring back hazy memories of MC Solaar.
"When The Night" follows, another highly polished slab of old school neo-funk, the sparks flying upward as an agonised soul vocal flies its face in a micro-blizzard of nuts, bolts and shards of IDM, techno and recycled disco samples. "Lean On Me," the first single from the album, featuring vocals by Teki Latex, takes you on a similar ride, a series of impossible 2-step twists and turns that hark all the way back to the early '80s.
There's none of the dark side about Passion. "Love Ave" is dappled and pretty, a genuine waft of vitamin D, while "You" is a neat homage to Daft Punk (remixed by Para One in the past), with its nicely twisted neon plastic tubing and strangulated vocoders. "The Talking Drums" marks a slight shift of mood, with its slightly stern injunctions to submit to the lure of the rhythm, while closer "Empire" ends the album on a similarly grandiose note to its beginning, its luxurious cascades of synth faintly recalling the solemnity of Art Of Noise. But overall Passion is an angst-free experience, finely wrought with a view to banishing the black and the blues.
01. Ice Cold
02. Wake Me Up
03. Every Little Thing feat. Teki Latex and Irfane
04. Vibrations followed by
05. When The Night feat. Jaw
07. Love Ave feat. Jaw
10. Lean On Me feat. Teki Latex
11. The Talking Drums