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Tim Paris – Dancers

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MFRCD086CD-cover-art.jpgLabel: My Favorite Robot RecordsScore: 7.5

Tim Paris is one of those artists whose work resists being boxed within any single genre. The French producer and DJ, who has spent the last eight years or so living in London, has put out house records on labels such as 20:20 Vision and Souvenir, co-run the leftfield imprint Marketing Music and as It’s A Fine Line alongside Ivan Smagghe, he has remixed The XX and Superpitcher.

As such, it’s no surprise that Paris’ debut album is similarly impossible to reduce to any one scene or sound. Released in Canada late last year and finally getting a re-release on European soil, the album tramples the usual conceptual boundaries that artists impose when they’re putting together an album. In its broad gaze, taking in old-school electro, house, krautrock and pop templates; it positions itself as the antithesis to the kind of monotonous dance-music records that limit themselves to re-treading the same formula over-and-over.

The album opens all guns blazing, with indie-dance crossover numbers ‘Golden Ratio’ and ‘Rain’, tracks which hybridise New Wave guitar riffs with dancey electronica. Followed by the joyous krautrock-leaning Outback, Stones & Vinyl’, it’s an opening that is almost unfaultable, giving the album an incredible forward momentum.

The album’s midsection arrives with a barrage of house numbers that wouldn’t feel out of place on the dancefloor at 2am. Moody tech-house vocal number ‘Minireich’ sets its coordinates for the kind of track that you can imagine Art Department drooling over, whilst, ‘Disco Eclipses’ weaves an old-school techno sound from looping samples, tinny blips and retro-futurist synths.

As the album reaches its third act, the sound shifts again. ‘The Grip’ offers droning guitar chords, distorted vocals and an electronic bassline that recalls Trentemøller’s recent work (and doesn’t compare favourably, if we’re being honest), whilst closing the pop-house sound of  ‘Backseat Reflection’ brings the album full circle.

Paris has taken a big risk in making an album that is diverse as this, but it is one that has paid off. The record’s single greatest strength is how effortless it makes the transition from one sound to the next, never once losing its footing or compromising its cogency. And whilst it would be wrong to reduce the album’s charm to one element, the warmth and generosity that each track exudes – whether it’s the soulful vocals of ‘Unsung Deaf Hero’ or the melodic hook of ‘Extreme Nails’ –  the album radiates with an unpretentiousness that joins the dots between even the most disparate of sounds.

That’s not to say, that the album is without its weakness. The second half of the album lacks the punchiness of the first half, and amongst the long list of influences and guest artist appearances it is sometimes difficult to distinguish Paris’ presence amongst it all. Yet, as debut albums go Dancers can’t be considered anything but a success. A sprint through electronic music’s various musical cul-de-sacs, it’s an audio experience that is as capacious as it is exhilarating.

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