- Throughout his career, Jacques Renault has found success in just about every aspect of dance music. The New York-based artist has produced solo and collaborative projects (namely, Runaway with Marcos Cabral), proven himself skilled with edits and remixes, made his name as a DJ both home and abroad, and co-founded quality labels Let's Play House and On The Prowl. Eight years in and he's only now released his first solo album.
Zentrum doesn't reinvent Renault's sound; his penchant for disco-minded percussion samples and cosmic synths make up the record's core. This ensures that even the less compelling moments at least have a lively bounce and a bed of spiraling tones to get lost in. Last year's Out of Sync EP appears to have laid the groundwork here, as it also found Renault eager to bounce between different corners of the dance floor. After the mechanical pulse of "Goodnight Moon 004," Zentrum touches on dubby disco with "Your Sugar," sweeping Hi-NRG on "Words," sparse tribal rhythms on "Turbo Punsch" and dark analog futurism on "Touch You," doing what it can to connect the dots in between.
The eclecticism allows Renault to never repeat himself, though it also makes for a disjointed listen. Further playing into that nature is the almost constant presence of guests. Eight of the 11 tracks feature the likes of past collaborators Marcos Cabral and The Emperor Machine, The Rapture's Luke Jenner, vocalist Karl Dixon and others. For the long-awaited debut album by a solo producer, Zentrum relies too heavily on outsiders.
Early on, "Redlight Rubber" foreshadows another frustrating aspect. It's sharply produced, with a series of punchy chords and sidewinding melodies that are enjoyable enough, but after seven minutes the track hasn't accomplished much beyond toying with too many variations on its theme. Despite a handful of quality tunes (the organ-soaked "Shake That Body," the pounding "Mi Casa Samba" and the big room-ready "mmmhmmm" in particular), Zentrum fails to establish any clear direction. In fact, if it weren't for the 11-minute closer "Faith," the LP could be played on shuffle and deliver more or less the same results.
01. Goodnight Moon 004 feat. Mark Verbos
02. Redlight Rubber feat. Redlight Radio
03. Your Sugar
04. Swing That Body feat. Luke Jenner
05. Mi Casa Samba
06. Words feat. Alex "Fingers McGinty" Fankel
07. mmmhmmm feat. Teddy Stuart
08. Pleasure Lake feat. Marcos Cabral
09. Turbo Punsch
10. Touch You feat. The Emperor Machine
11. Faith feat. Karl Dixon