Grand Soleil's Restless House Tracks on 'Réalité' Marks Them as One to Watch

Grand Soleil's Restless House Tracks on 'Réalité' Marks Them as One to Watch
Having generated some decent buzz via a handful of EPs over the last few years, French duo Grand Soleil have returned with another set of likeable house tracks ahead of their full-length Human Error, due later this fall. In terms of general focus and fidelity, Réalité is definitely a step up from these early releases, and while there's nothing groundbreaking happening here, it's fresh and fun, and bodes well for more substantial releases down the road.

One of the album's strengths is its forward momentum. Whether it's a quick dynamic flip, or a subtle reworking of the main melody, sixteen bars rarely go by without something new coming along. None of these details are particularly revolutionary (a lead-in here, a beat dropping out there, variation and repetition of the same melody as opposed to any strong formal movement), but it's all handled skilfully enough, and the down-to-Earth analog production has a nice crackle to it, with plenty of knobs being turned in real time.

It makes for a generally successful formula. Whether it's the funky lead synth of the title track being put through its many convolutions (perhaps too many), the commanding sample in "Human Error" that calls out the duo's namesake (perfect for an afternoon festival gig), or the bittersweet vocoder reminiscent of early Air on "What Are My Dreams" (a surprise mid-tempo closer that drifts by like a dreamy cloud), there's a human energy to the album that's clearly the result of it being practiced live many times.

The highlight of the whole affair just might be "Sables Mouvants," a driving club track with a slightly sinister edge not unlike the hard-hitting analogue sounds of Acid Castello. Its tight focus is refreshing after the shifting nature of the earlier tracks, which aren't always given enough time to settle in. On balance, this restless energy is appealing, however, and marks Le Grand Soleil as one to watch. (Nowadays Records)