- Sometimes the best artists can produce the most unexpected music – it’s often what makes them great and keeps them a step ahead of the competition. Imagine the surprise, then, on hearing that Laurent Garnier, France’s premier exponent of techno, had apparently crossed over to jazz, virtually casting beats aside. Full marks for originality and risk taking!
It’s obviously not intended as music to dance to, with only a few exceptions depending on the mood you’re in. ‘The Cloud Making Machine’, rather than making those fluffy little clouds you see on a summer’s day, has produced some dark, brooding thunderclouds. Garnier has opted to use a lot of improvisation, a technique employed from the outset as a synthesizer wanders over softly menacing lower register chords. It sets the tone of the album, leading into the chromatic second track (titled ‘9.01-9.06’), and then on to ‘Barbiturik Blues’, with its low bass and faltering rhythm. The mood is extremely solemn, too – witness a barely veiled tribute to Garnier’s fellow countryman Satie in the accompaniment to a disembodied voice on ‘First Reaction’.
Finally the beats arrive properly, but not in a way that urges you to spring up and hit the dancefloor. ‘Controlling The House’ cuts loose with a minimal groove that hammers rather than uplifts, then the more commercial ‘(I Wanna Be) Waiting For My Plane’ marries rock and electro, a man shouting, “I need to clear my brain”.
If you approach this independent of the music Garnier has made previously you’ll reap the most rewards, but even then I found it patchy and dark almost to the point of grim faced – the machine’s clouds setting in for the whole day. An interesting diversion, but one that is ultimately unsuccessful.