- In the wake of 2012's "M" Megamix, France's Nicolas Chaix has continued to service the dance floor as reliably as ever. His latest is something a little different. Perhaps expecting confusion, Chaix's label, Versatile, nervously asks listeners to "take some time to listen and enjoy the experience." They needn't have worried. VER105 is an engrossing and sophisticated EP from an artist whose funds of imagination show no signs of running out.
The EP's most club-ready moment comes early: opener "Prepgav I" is techno, only it's made of what sounds like the sour thwacks and clonks of a prepared piano. At first the effect is similar to Aphex Twin's Computer Controlled Electronic Instruments pt2, but Chaix builds a muscular momentum of his own. "Ou Allieurs" might be DJ-able, too, though its electro beat is kept in careful suspense, leaving the stage open for a chorus of saxophones.
The pungent mood of these tracks has been present in Chaix's discography for a while, but VER105's increasingly drum-less compositions show it in a new light. On "Prepgav II," percussion tolls portentously under thick droning textures. The combination might be familiar from a hundred vogueish goth-ambient releases, but I:Cube's version navigates so many subtle shades of dark and light that it enters into its own class. "Sequence III" is a roomful of woodwinds producing gleaming, slow-moving chords, and "A Walk With You" is a bleary-eyed piano ballad. Even by the standards of this head-turning EP, the latter track comes as a surprise. Then again, if there's one thing we know about I:Cube, it's that he can't sit still for long.
A1 Prepgav I
A2 Prepgav II
B1 A Walk With You
B2 Ou Ailleurs
B3 Sequence III