The Hacker - Le Théâtre Des Opérations

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  • Anyone who admits to loving electroclash these days is showing their age. Those who do are likely to have enjoyed it until around the mid-'00s, when it became a dirty word. It was a DIY movement—and a reaction to late '90s superstar DJ culture—built on inexpensive synths and silly, sexy club-kid fashion: garish prints, neon mascara, asymmetrical fringes. After a few years, though, the scene succumbed to regular accusations of style over substance and the easily lampooned dress sense of its most devoted crowds. Those who long for that era get reliably excited when they see the names Miss Kittin and The Hacker—AKA Michael Amato and Caroline Hervé—on a record sleeve, largely thanks to the electroclash classics they released 20 years ago. The pair, friends from Grenoble, France, fused '80s electronic pop with a dynamic dance floor sound that, thanks to Hervé's robotic, tongue-in-cheek delivery, was instantly recognisable. "Every night with my star friends / we eat caviar and drink champagne," she deadpanned over one of their best tracks, 1998's "Frank Sinatra." Those longing for new material from the pair might skip straight to "Time X," where Amato's synth-strobe beats and Hervé's vocals—a little more hushed here—still complement each other well. "Generation X / nothing to expect / experience your deviance," she sings, presumably addressing those who danced to their hits all those years ago. It's always a thrill to hear them on record together, and Hervé's vocals add welcome variety to a record that otherwise rests on Amato's relatively straightforward instrumental techno. The album offers few concessions to the present. There's an icy Detroit electro feel to "Underwater Sequence." You might hear something between LFO and Tangerine Dream in "Frozen Voices." Then there's the Kraftwerk-referencing "Dancing Mekanik," which seems as deeply indebted to the German quartet as Afrika Bambaataa once was. Le Théâtre Des Opérations is a nostalgia trip, but one embarked on with enough enthusiasm to make it worthwhile.
  • Tracklist
      01. Underwater Sequence 02. Frozen Voices 03. Time X feat. Miss Kittin 04. Dancing Mekanik 05. Dark Neon 06. Body Diktat 07. Complicated Dances 08. Camisole Chimique