- Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant used to insist that the best music was happy / sad. That is, music which, at first, sounds ecstatic but which on closer examination, lyrically or melodically, has a melancholy quality. Think: Motown, disco, Chicago house. If Guillaume Coutu Dumont's music doesn't fit Tennant's theory exactly, it is similarly elusive and contradictory. The French-Canadian producer is a conundrum.
On Twice Around The Sun, GCD's third album, you will wait in vain for a whoosh of endorphins, an unmediated high. The final track, "Solar Flare" featuring vocalist Dave Aju, is upbeat, hip-swinging house, but, while it recalls Nôze or Ost & Kjex, stops short of their musical playfulness. Its lyrics extol the "rising heat" of the dance floor, but in a defiant way. It is a parable about how, in an evil world, clubbing is a form of passive resistance. Earlier, on "Discotic Space Capsule," Jo "JAW" Illel gabbles out an elliptical tale over skittering drums and jittery beeps that, like much of dOP's material, both sounds like a sublime heads-down dance floor moment and a rising panic attack.
Yet, compared to 2010's Breaking the Fourth Wall (a jazz and classical-inflected adventure in a fairytale forest), Twice Around the Sun sounds light. It is another hybrid of electronics and real world musicians—GCD's live band, the Side Effects, supply keyboards, guitar and sax—but it is less concerned with atmosphere than dancing. Opener "Time Outta Joint" echoes the punchy electro of Cobblestone Jazz's "Cromagnon Man." After that, it is often reminiscent of Justus Kohncke. There is a dusky, star-gazing disco quality to these tracks, which you're jolted out of by the angry monologue that marks out "Cascading Thoughts" or the romantic despair of "Last Call (When Space is the Bass)."
Maybe that's GCD's new thing: misery disco. If so, "Constellation" may be his masterpiece. All scrolling percolating bleeps and bobbling disco bass, overlaid with smoky, mournful sax and Paris, Texas guitars, it has the same epically sad, filmic quality as Trentemøller's recent work. Twice could have easily lost "Ten Thousand Feet" (an aimless lounge-disco longueur) and "Man, Woman & Soul," with its hackneyed rave-siren motif, but the album nonetheless confirms Guillaume Coutu Dumont as a singular voice. He understands that deep house requires you to go, well, deep.
01. Time Outta Joint
02. Cascading Thoughts
03. Last Call (When Space Is the Bass)
04. Morning Gin
05. Twice Around the Sun
06. Ten Thousand Feet
08. Discotic Space Capsule
09. Man, Woman and Soul
10. Solar Flare