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Vitalic, ‘OK Cowboy’ (Citizen)

Certainly Daft Punk have been playing at Vitalic’s house, as have Les Rythmes Digitales, and the Prodigy. On Vitalic’s debut, OK Cowboy, the French-born knob-twiddler (aka Pascal Arbez) churns out complex arrangements of heart-stopping, space age retrograde. He cops only his houseguests’ finer moves, leaving untouched their collective tendency towards chintzy disco accoutrements, hyper-stylized breakbeats, and braggadocious synth lurches. While Vitalic may add little to electronic music or its various subgenres, he interweaves effortlessly their prevailing styles into complex arrangements that are neither kinked-up innovation nor neutered homage.

Vitalic’s retro-futuristic grooves are tub-thumped out like a phosphorescent collage. He swirls thundering drum loops, grimy layers of processed textures, waxy reverb, and virile Vocoders, showing he’s done his homework on what makes electronic music thrillingly multifarious. From the stiletto stabs of “My Friend Dario” to the resting BPM of “The Past” to the warm and spongy pulses of “Woo,” Vitalic navigates both loungey atmospherics and choppy cyborg territory. The disc’s most exciting track, “La Rock 01,” finds the technician accelerating his robotic lashes from benign synth-flutters to diesel-fueled squeals. The combustible song reaches its apotheosis in its’ final seconds, vortexing out with crash-and-burn grandeur. The terminating boom is stadium-sized enough to make Vitalic’s listeners — most likely sci-fi aficionados dancing as if they’re IDM-enthusiasts — rejoice, and maybe even earn him an invite to play at Daft Punk’s house.

See also: Mirwais, Production (Epic, 2000)

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